Summary: Jesus is Immanuel -- God with us.
*It is important to understand the times in which the angel appeared to Mary and Joseph to pronounce the birth of Jesus. It was a time of great oppression for the Jewish people. It was a time where it seemed as though God was no longer concerned with or involved in the lives of His people. There had been 400+ years of silence in terms of Scriptural writing. Hearing from God in a personal way was extremely rare. The last prophetic word that they had heard was found in Malachi 4, about the Son of Righteousness arising and the coming of Elijah to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord.
From Malachi to Jesus:
Malachi was written around 430 BC and there were 4 periods of rule between that writing and the coming of Christ. Christ came during the 4th period.
Period 1: The Persian Period – This was a stretch of about 100 years in which the Persians controlled Judah. The Jews were allowed to carry on their religious observances and were not interfered with during this time. The rule of Judah was conducted by high priests who were responsible to the Jewish government. A period marked with a level of freedom and independence.
Period 2: The Hellenistic Period – Around 333 BC the Persian armies were defeated by Alexander the Great. Alexander was convinced that Greek culture could unify the world. He permitted the Jews to observe their laws and even granted them exemption from tribute or tax during their Sabbath years. This conquest prepared the way for the OT translation into Grrek. Alexander’s rule was short lived, however, and Jerusalem fell under the rule of the Egyptians and then the Syrians who brought great oppression.
Period 3: The Hasmonean Period – When this period began, the Jews were being greatly oppressed. The Syrian rulers were determined to force Hellenism and Hellenistic practices upon them to replace their Jewish religious practices. Scripture was destroyed and cruel laws were enforced upon them. Time of great testing and challenge to their faith. Judas the Maccabee led a strong Jewish revolt during this time, hoping to find freedom. Hanukah – the festival of lights – began during this time.
Period 4: The Roman Period – In 63 BC, Roman general Pompey captured Jerusalem. The local government was entrusted part of the time to princes and the rest of the time to procurators who were appointed by the emperors. Herod the Great was ruler of all Palestine at the time of the birth of Christ.
Essentially what we have is a group of people who have been under inconsistent control and authority for approximately 400 years. Back when they had asked God for a king to rule over them and their request had been granted, they felt as though they would be forever established. But, with the split of the kingdom, the overthrow of the city, the outside rule and the oppression, they were dealing with a new desire for God’s intervention. Surely, there was another Davidic rule to come. Many of their own prophets had prophesied and spoken of such a kingdom. Isaiah 9:6-7 is the perfect example.