O Come, O Come, Immanuel

O Come, O Come, Immanuel

O come, O come, Immanuel, and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

O come, O Wisdom from on high, who ordered all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show and teach us in its ways to go.

O come, O come, great Lord of might, who to your tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times did give the law in cloud and majesty and awe. Refrain

O come, O Branch of Jesse's stem, unto your own and rescue them!
From depths of hell your people save, and give them victory o'er the grave.

O come, O Key of David, come and open wide our heavenly home.
Make safe for us the heavenward road and bar the way to death's abode.

O come, O Bright and Morning Star, and bring us comfort from afar!
Dispel the shadows of the night and turn our darkness into light.

O come, O King of nations, bind in one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease and be yourself our King of Peace.

Since the time of the Early Church, Advent has been observed as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the Nativity of Jesus. On each day of the week before Christmas, a different chant was sung, each focusing in sequence, on a name of Jesus Christ the Messiah: Wisdom, Lord, the Root of Jesse, Key of David, Morning Star, King of the Nations and finally, Immanuel - God with us. In 1851 an English translation was made and set to music. To make it more appropriate as a Christmas hymn, the last verse was moved to the beginning, and so we have "O come, O come, Immanuel".

Let us reflect on these names of Jesus, all of which comes from the messianic passages of the prophet Isaiah:

Wisdom: Isaiah prophesied “he is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in wisdom." (28:29). He is compare to the wise farmer who does not plough his field for nothing; he does not plant randomly, nor does he use the same threshing tool for all his grains.

Lord: "For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our ruler, the Lord is our king; he will save us." (33:22). Isaiah’s prophecy gave Hezekiah and the nation hope when the Assyrians besieged Jerusalem. Salvation indeed came from the Lord when an angel was sent to strike down the Assyrians (37:36).

Root of Jesse: "A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots." (11:1). This was confirmed by the genealogies in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

Key of David: "I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open." (22:22). Having the Key of David is to have authority over King David’s domain, i.e. Jerusalem and Israel. Christ in Rev. 3:7 holds this key as ruler of the New Jerusalem and Lord of the Kingdom of God.

Morning Star: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined." (9:2). Jesus said “I am the Light of the World” (John 8:12), He is “the light [that] shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:4). But there are still many places in the world where the light of Jesus Christ, the good news of the Gospel has not reached.

King of the Nations: "For a child has been born for us, a son given us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (9:6). King Herod understood the implication of this birth too well – to protect his position and privilege he had all boys in his kingdom who were two years old and below slaughtered.

Immanuel: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel." (7:14). Finally, the child who was born will have the name Immanuel, meaning “God with us”. The King of kings and Lord of lords became flesh and was born in a small town in a remote corner of the Roman Empire according to the Scriptures. The event Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25,36) were waiting for had come. This is the first Advent.

But there is the second Advent, far more glorious, for Jesus will come again. The all-wise God will come again as judge, as the fulfilment of all scriptures including the promises to Abraham and the house of David. He has the keys to heaven, admitting all who by faith are adopted to be children of God and closing the door to those who reject the Gospel. His coming will overcome all darkness. All the nations will recognise his kingship for every knee will bow and every tongue confess. We will be His people and He will be our God.

Let us by faith wait and work for His Coming again!