2022 Advent Devotional – Immanuel, God is With Us is Now Available on Kindle

The Twenty-Fourth Day of Advent- December 20

PREPARATION: lighting the candle and readying myself to listen. 

REFLECTION:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“See, the home of God is among mortals. 
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples, 
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes. 
Death will be no more; 
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.” 
Revelation 21:1-4 

Ah, home! Home sweet home! Is there a thought, a word, more beautiful than home? The longing for home seems especially strong at Christmas. A popular Christmas song imagines a soldier overseas at wartime dreaming of home and promising “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.” A question often asked this time of year is, “Are you going home for Christmas?” We sing, “There is no place like home for the holidays!” 

With today’s scripture we enter a wholly new dimension of thought and being as we learn of God’s longing to be at home with us: “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them.” Here is God Himself, fully realizing His name, Immanuel. Finally, the relationship that God has always wanted with us is reality! 

The long story of the Bible is about the eternal God, the Creator of the Universe, wanting to make His home with us. It is all about Immanuel leaving His home in order to make His home with us, forever. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was at home, and then He wasn’t: He became flesh and dwelt among us, making His home with us (See John 1:1, 14). 

With today’s scripture we have come to the last book of the Bible, “The Apocalypse”, or, “The Revelation” of Jesus Immanuel. In this text the apostle John paints a picture of indescribable reality: the glory of God at home with us. John witnesses the transformation of all things into a new heaven and new earth. John sees into the essential reality of the world to come: God is with His people, at home with them. “God himself will be with them.” “Sorrow is to be forgotten; sin is vanquished; darkness is to be at an end; the temporariness of time is to turn into the everlastingness of eternity.” (Marvin Vincent, Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament

If you read this scripture in the King James Version, it says, “the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them.” The word “tabernacle” is an accurate translation of the Greek word skene, first used of the Tabernacle in the wilderness in which God dwelt with His people. John picks up on that and uses the same word skene in his Gospel, “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt (skene: tabernacled) among us” (John 1:14). In the coming of Immanuel to be with us, God took up temporary dwelling among humanity. “During the church age, God indwells his church, which is his temple (Ephesians 2:22); but this is a dwelling ‘in the Spirit’, which can only be apprehended by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). In the consummation, all this is changed; faith will be changed to sight.” (George Eldon Ladd, A Commentary on the Gospel of John) What we now see through a glass darkly, we will see face to face as God makes His home with us. Eternal life in the full and final sense is God at home with us, and we with Him, and forever with each other! 

Notice the apostle John’s deliberate use of the plural in this scripture: “He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples.” The plural signifies “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages…” (Revelation 7:9). This is Immanuel’s longing, to be at home with you and me! 


CONVERSATION: I talk with God about the thoughts and feelings stirring within. 

REST: I take time to be present to Immanuel who is present to me. 

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