O Emmanuel: December 23rd, The “O Antiphons”

Mathis_Gothart_Grünewald_030-333O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Hymn Verse:

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Latin Text:

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,
expectratio gentium, et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos,
Domines, Deus noster.

English Translation:

O Emmanuel, Our King and Lawgiver,
The Desire of the nations, and their Savior:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.

LSB ”O Antiphons” under Hymn 357 and in Treasury of Daily Prayer p. 1046:

O Emmanuel, our king and our Lord,
the anointed for the nations and
their | Savior: *
Come and save us, O | Lord our God.

Emmanuel is the Hebrew עִמָּנוּאֵל “God With Us.” This title for Christ refers Him as the Restoration of fallen sinful humanity to the presence of God. Drawing on Isaiah 7:14 this title is explicitly incarnational, that is, it refers to the fact of God taking upon Himself human flesh. This final antiphon summarizes the relationship God would have with us through His Son in all the antiphons leading up to this confession on the day before the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus Christ. He is the θεανθρωπος “God Man.”

Study on O Emmanuel

God walked with us in the garden in Eden. He would walk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. There was nothing that came between God and His people. And there was nothing that came between one person and another. This fact is drawn out in two passages:

Genesis 1:31

31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.

Genesis 2:25:

25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

The point of this verse in context is the contrast between relationships before the fall into sin with the same relationships after the fall into sin.

The summary of the Law of God: Love God above all, and love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:29-31). Adam and Eve were living in perfect love with God and each other. No cause for shame existed.

The relationship of love between Adam and Eve was broken when they broke God’s Word. They stole the one thing that God had reserved for Himself in the whole of this new world:

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. (Genesis 3)

The relationship they had with God was broken:

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3)

So many false teaching surround the fall into sin. The basic issue is that they did not trust God’s Word above all other speech. They chose another love than the love of God above all. Intimately related to that failure to love God was their failure to love each other. They did not protect each other by relying on God’s Word above all else.

They could no longer exist in the presence of the Pure and Holy God. God had every right to destroy the world He had made right there. But He loved Adam and Eve. And He loved all the children that would be conceived into this world through them.

As we saw in the study for yesterday’s antiphon (O Rex Gentium) He promised to destroy the works of Satan (Genesis 3:15) to restore not just Adam and Eve, but all their children. So that by this Promise, all could again live in the presence of God without shame.

O Emmanuel is the confession that God fulfilled His Promise of restoration in the Son conceived in the virgin Mary.

Adam and Eve were separated from God’s direct glorious presence. They were placed out of the garden of Eden away from the Tree of Life so that they could never grab from that tree, eat, and live eternally separated from God.

Throughout the O Antiphons we have confessed several of the ways in which God manifested His gracious presence among fallen humanity. O Emmanuel focuses on the actual manifestation of God’s presence in human flesh as promised in Genesis 3:15. Isaiah repeated that promise:

10 Moreover the Lord spoke again to Ahaz, saying, 11 “Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God; ask it either in the depth or in the height above.”
12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord!”
13 Then he said, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7)

According to God’s Word through Isaiah, it would happen some time after the Northern Kingdom was destroyed, some time after Judah was desolate for a season and then restored. But the the Promise would be fulfilled.

The Messiah would be God and Man, Emmanuel, “God With Us.”

This is the ancient confession that became known to the Greek speaking Church as Χριστος ο Θεανθρωπος “Christos ho Theanthropos” “Christ the God-Man.”

Luke 1

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”
38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Matthew 1

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.

John writes about the fulfillment of this specific prophecy in in the first chapter of his Gospel with these words:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. …
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

The word translated “dwelt” in verse 14 means literally “he made his tent among ours.” It is a reference to the Incarnation of the Son of God Who is also the Angel of the Lord that dwelt in the tent of meeting among the Israelites who were the guardians of this Promise.

This first advent marks the self-humiliation of the Son of God to take upon Himself the burden we owed in fulfilling the Law of God to love God above all and to love our neighbor as ourself (His Active Obedience). His humiliation included also His suffering at the hands of sinful mankind, from His own people, from all Gentiles; but especially His suffering under the wrath of the Heavenly Father against all sin-inherited or committed by every human conceived as a child of Adam in this world (His Passive Obedience).

Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4)

The humiliation of the Son of God began with His conception and ended with His death on the cross.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2)

When His work of humble substitution was done, He was raised from the dead and seated at His own throne on High. Now the God-Man, Jesus Christ, waits for the full number of the church to be conceived in this world–just as he waited patiently in the time of Abraham before giving Canaan to his children (Genesis 15:12-16)

Paul warns:

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. 18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.

The antiphon O Emmanuel is the confession that we belong dwelling with God, not by any right of our own working, but by the working of the Son of God for us.

Hebrews 8:

11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

The heavenly tabernacle, the dwelling place of the Most High is now with men.

Revelation 21:3

Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

O Lord Jesus Christ, You were foretold as the King in whom God would manifest His presence, Who should reign in righteousness, bringing peace and happiness to all peoples; You are indeed Emmanuel, the very Son and Word of God made man:
Come, we pray You, by Your grace, and reign over us, so saving us from our spiritual enemies of Satan, sin and death, and from the hand of all that hate us, that we may serve You without fear in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life, and at last, by Your grace, through Your Word and Sacrament, we may be kept in faith in You until You return to this world to take us to make Your dwelling place with us and all believers forever. Amen.

O Come, All Ye Faithful

1 O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels;

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

2 God of God, Light of Light,
Lo! He comes forth from the Virgin’s womb:
Our very God, begotten, not created, [Refrain]

3 Sing, choirs of angels; sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of heav’n above;
Glory to God, all glory in the highest; [Refrain]

4 Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be glory giv’n;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing; [Refrain]

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