The first place in scripture that this name appears is in Isaiah.
“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 7:14
Immanuel is a Hebrew compound word. The word Immanu means “with us” and El as we know means God. In Isaiah this was a prophecy given to Ahaz who was King of Judah who was wicked and worshipping other gods to the point of even sacrificing his own son to Molech. From what I read in my study there was immediate meaning given to this prophecy as well as future meaning of the birth of Jesus to this prophecy. And you can see that in the previous verse.
“And he said, ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also?” Isaiah 7:13
The prophecy was for Ahaz. There would be a near fulfillment in Ahaz’s lifetime as there would be a child born in his kingdom that would be named Immanuel and during that time there would be an attack from Israel and Syria. The name Immanuel and it’s meaning was a rebuke to Ahaz who did not put his trust in God but feared his enemies.
But our concern at this time is the far fulfillment of this prophecy. This was a prophecy of the virgin birth of Jesus!! This was the best baby reveal of all time! This prophecy was addressed to the House of David. We know that Jesus was from the lineage of David so with the language “O house of David” we can see that this was not just for Ahaz but for all. It also speaks of the virgin birth and we know that only happened once. It would still take hundreds of years but He was coming. Commentary I read said it best.
“Immanuel speaks both of the deity of Jesus (God with us) and His identification and nearness to man (God with us).
Before Jesus was born of a virgin, God spoke to His people through prophets and a few chosen people, Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, to name just a few. We know that there was a Holy of Holies in the temple and the Priest could only enter there once a year and had to be completely purified of all sin before He did so. God’s presence was felt by only a chosen few. But with the birth of Jesus, Immanuel was born and became God with us! Jesus dwelt among ALL people when He had His earthly ministry. He dined with sinners and saints alike. No longer did we have to wait for a prophet or for the priest to go into the temple to meet with God. Then after Jesus death and resurrection we were ALL left with the Holy Spirit so that we can all have Immanuel, God with us all the time! How exciting is that! I can be so guilty at times of wanting a burning bush or a pillar of cloud because I think I just don’t know which direction to turn. But truthfully, I like having Him in my heart and knowing His voice in my head much better. I am so grateful that God is with me always and that I don’t have to wait for someone else to speak to me about what God has to say!