Continuing my 2020 Lenten Journey- with personal thoughts and commentary by Martha McDuff Wiggins on the book “Lord I Want To Know You” by Kay Arthur.
Day 40 – 41
Jehovah-shammah, The LORD Is There (Part 2)
The LORD may be slow to anger, but He does get angry and His anger has consequences. His chosen people had chosen the world over Him, and so He chose to place them in captivity to the Babylonians for seventy years. The city of Jerusalem would be invaded by the Babylonians three times, each time taking more captives.
The Study book tells us how in biblical times a name usually described an individual’s character. The first reference to the name Jehovah-shammah, The LORD Is There, is from the LORD Himself in the Book of Ezekiel.
—“The distance all around will be 18,000 cubits. “And the name of the city from that time on will be: the Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35).
In Ezekiel the Lord lays out very detailed plans for a city, a new Jerusalem, for the old was to be destroyed. By naming His city using the word shammah, which literally means ‘there’, the LORD is assuring His people that He will come. He will be there in the new Jerusalem.
The reference to the name Jehovah-shammah, The LORD Is There, is actually the last sentence in the Book of Ezekiel. We also read in the Study book that Ezekiel can basically be broken into two parts; the LORD is NOT there (Chapters 1-32) and the LORD IS there (Chapters 33-48).
It was written for those Jews who had been taken into Babylonian captivity. Ezekiel was taken in the second invasion and was not called to prophesy until he had been captive for about five years. It was clear the LORD’s judgment of captivity had not brought about the repentance and reform so necessary for His people to be reconciled. The same sinfulness and idolatry followed them from Jerusalem into captivity. In fact, they thought Ezekiel’s prophesy about the impending destruction coming on the city of Jerusalem was not believable. They couldn’t accept that the LORD would give the Babylonians world dominion, especially over them. After all, they were His chosen people. Falsely believing all was well, because they had the ‘necessary credentials’, they made no changes in their wayward lifestyle. (Think saying I am Saved because I believe, and then living life outside of His commandments.)
So, in the first part of Ezekiel, the city of Jerusalem had not yet been destroyed. But the people had greatly angered a jealous LORD (Qanna).
—“You shall have no other Gods before me… You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children…”(Exodus 20:3-6)
In Chapter 10, after repeated warnings to the people, and right before Jerusalem fell in battle and was to be destroyed, Ezekiel actually witnessed, and recorded, the glory of the LORD departing from the temple.
—“Then the glory of the Lord departed from over the threshold of the temple and stopped above the cherubim. While I watched, the cherubim spread their wings and rose from the ground, and as they went, the wheels went with them. They stopped at the entrance of the east gate of the Lord’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them” (Ezekiel 10:18-19).
It’s hard to accept that we could anger the LORD so much He would depart from us. Idolatry will trigger a jealous God’s anger about as quick as anything. We must remember though that His is a holy and godly jealousy.
He created each of us in His image and likeness. There is no room, nor reason, to bow down and worship any other God, be it spirit, or worldly. We must be careful to whom or what we give reign over our lives, lest we become like the captives and see Him depart from our temple.
“—and God acted according to His name, just as He had warned His people He would. He left Jerusalem”(2 Corinthians 11:2).
When Ezekiel fell on his face and cried out to the LORD asking if He was to bring the remaining remnant of Israel to a complete end, He gave a message to take to the people.
—“Thus says the LORD GOD, ‘I shall gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries among which you have been scattered, and I shall give you the land of Israel.’ …And I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them. I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:16-19).
So, our name is still Jehovah-shammah, The LORD Is There.
Yet, today we have learned that He can also not be there! Keep in mind here, that while we may be wandering or captive to our own evil ways; while we may have angered Him so that He has departed from our temple, He has not left us without hope, without a vision for our future… where He is already there waiting.
Still, today we haven’t quite reached that point of fully understanding the name of Jehovah-shammah, The LORD Is There.
And yes, we will continue to seek that full understanding as we go forward.
Mental action to facilitate your Lenten Journey:
Can you think of a time you know made the LORD angry? Did you feel cut off or abandoned? Did you regret it? Did you repent, confess, and try to make reparations? If not, it’s not too late. He is there waiting. He lovingly forgives all.
Further action if so inclined:
Do you believe the LORD sent this virus into our world? Is He holding us captive within our own homes? If so, what is He asking of us? Think this through honestly and decide, either way, what you will change. How will you be different or better, when set free? Who will you thank and praise? Hopefully, Jehovah-shammah, The LORD Is There.