Summary: “Immanuel” is a code name, with a secret meaning. The wonderful secret of that name is that God has come into our lives in the form of Jesus, and he will be with us always, in every situation.


January 9, 2005

Isaiah 7:10-16

2299 words

10 Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying,

11 Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.

12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test.

13 Then Isaiah said: "Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also?

14 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.

15 He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.

16 For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted.

17 The LORD will bring on you and on your people and on your ancestral house such days as have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah--the king of Assyria."

A mother was looking for a good name for her newborn child. She saw on the door of a building the word “Nosmo.” She liked it. Some time later, passing the same building, she saw the name “King” on another door. She thought the two would sound well together, and so the boy was baptized, “Nosmo King Smith.”

On her way home from the church where the baptism had taken place, she passed the building again. The two doors on which she had seen the names were now closed together, and what she read was not “Nosmo King,” but “No Smoking.” [“Funny Names,”, Retrieved June 18, 2004.]

What is in a name? the popular internet search engine Google was originally named “Googol,” a word for the number represented by 1 followed by 100 zeros. After founders — Stanford grad students Sergey Brin and Larry Page — presented their project to an angel investor, they received a check made out to “Google”! well, as usual, money talks. That check decided the name of the company.

George Eastman liked the letter “K.” He wanted his company name to begin and end with a “K”—hence, we have the Kodak camera.

Nintendo is composed of three Japanese Kanji characters, Nin-ten-do, which can be translated to “Heaven blesses hard work.”

[Derived from “List of company name etymologies,” Fact Index Web Site,]

What’s in a name? If you are in business, billions of dollars. A name like “Nike” is thought to be worth about $7 billion and “Coca Cola” 10 times that much.

The Internet has expanded the global marketplace exponentially, and with so much stuff and so many people making it or selling it, the pool of available brand and domain names has apparently dried up. There just are not enough original names to go around. Naming has become so complicated that you can take courses in it in college. The academic study of names is called onomastics. Onomatics tells us that expanding social structures means expanding name systems. In other words, when people lived in a tribe or a village, a single name for each person was enough. But as cities and societies grew and became more complex, so did the complexity and conflict over naming rights.

Choosing the wrong name can cost lots of money. I read in the newspaper recently about a man that named his fast-food place “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” and Jimmy Buffet’s lawyers promptly showed up and laid a lawsuit on him.

When you give a name, you want something original, something unique and identifiable, when you give a name to a company, you want something that provides the ultimate product recognition. You want people to say that name and be reminded instantly of your product.

God is good at giving names. In today’s passage from Isaiah, the prophet tells King Ahaz to ask for a sign to strengthen his faith. Ahaz certainly needed all the strength he could get. Judah was threatened with invasion by powerful armies. Ahaz, however, refuses to ask God what to do. Isaiah replies that God will provide a sign anyway (7:14), “Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”

Biblical names are never accidents. You do not see Abraham and Sarah, for example, sitting around looking at Canaanite baby name books before naming Isaac. Every name is descriptive of its holder. The name Abraham, for example means “father of a multitude.”

In Isaiah’s time, God does the naming of the child who will represent his message of hope to people through a dark time in their history. The boy named “Immanuel,” who the context suggests may have even been Isaiah’s own son (8:3), is God’s logo of love — a sign that God will not leave them to fend for themselves.

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