The Power Of God’s Name

“God’s name marks Him out; by it will we address Him; it embodies His character. … This name that is written all over the Bible, but specially exhibited in Christ Jesus, Who came to declare to us the Father’s name, is a name—

  1. Of greatness. Jehovah, God, Creator, El-Shaddai; all expressive of majesty and power and glory. The Lord God omnipotent.
  2. Of grace. It is the declaration of free love. Merciful and gracious. He to whom it belongs must be the fountain-head of love. God is love. In Him is infinity of compassion and longsuffering.
  3. Of forgiveness. He pardons iniquity, transgression, and sin; all sin, great and small; there is forgiveness with Him, that He may be feared; forgiveness to the uttermost.
  4. Of righteousness and holiness. It is holy love that is to be found in Him; righteous grace to the unrighteous; righteous pardon to the guilty.” —Horatius Bonar, in Light & Truth—The Old Testament

Loving Obedience

Love and obeySuppose you had to do a secret project on a remote island. In fact, the island is so remote that it doesn’t even have a name or show up on a map. I am your only point of contact, and the only one with the latitude and longitude coordinates to come get you. You have a satellite phone to use. If I truly cared about you, I would give you the precise sequence of digits to reach me. If I didn’t care about you, I’d let you call any number you wanted to call: perhaps you would eventually reach someone who could help you.

The most loving thing I could do for you is to make sure you knew the one number to call in order to get the help you needed. 

This is exactly how God starts the Ten CommandmentsAnd God spoke all these words: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.”

How confusing and utterly unloving it would be if God said, “Call any number you want to see if you can find the help you need.” Instead, in His great love for us God says, “I am the only One you will ever need!”

Notice the wording here: “…I am the LORD your God…”

  • I AM—all that you need.
  • the—not one among many, but the One and Only.
  • LORD—God’s covenant name: Jehovah, His name of personal relationship.
  • your—this is a you-Me relationship, not a you-it relationship.
  • God—the All-Powerful, All-Loving One.

This First Commandment is the orientating commandment. When we see all of God’s commandments are rooted in His love (by the way, God uses the phrase the LORD your God five times in the Ten Commandments), everything else in our lives and attitudes is properly aligned.

Jesus demonstrated this for us. He said He loved His Father and therefore obeyed all of His commands (John 14:31). Christ’s obedience was motivated and aligned by love. The Apostle John said this loving obedience is to be the distinguishing characteristic for us too:

This is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3)

We honor God and obey the First Commandment best when we know He is the One Who loves us enough to say, “I am the only One you need. Don’t look to anyone or anything else, but just come to Me!”

We are continuing our series The Love In The Law next Sunday. Please join us!

Forethought Or After-Thought?

What is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him? You made him ruler over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet. (Psalm 8:4-5)

forethoughtafterIn mythology, humans are an after-thought, a nuisance, slaves and servants of the gods, and usually pawns in the gods’ scheming against each other.

But Jehovah God created man as a part of His creation. He created mankind in His own image and breathed His own life into him. After the first five days of creation, God said, “It is good.” But on the sixth day, after creating man, He said, “It is very good!”

Jehovah God has man at the forefront of His mind. He not only calls us into a relationship with Him, but the Trinity works in divine cooperation to make it possible for us to come to Him.

He doesn’t see a mass of humanity, but He sees each one of us individually and uniquely. And He is attentive to us—“For the Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer” (Psalm 6:9).

As David burst into praise with this realization of God’s forethought of us, let us echo this praise (Psalm 8:9)—

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!

I Am Jehovah

I Am JehovahOne of the misconceptions about Jesus that He first appears on the scene in a manger in Bethlehem. Nothing could be further from the truth! Jesus appears in the opening words of the Bible—In the beginning God created—and in the last words of the Bible—Yes, I am coming soon. And He appears in every word in between!

It was Christ’s claims of being one with the Father that enraged the Jewish religious leadership. When He proclaimed His “I Am” statements in the New Testament, they knew He was tying Himself to the “Jehovah” titles of the Old Testament.

B.B. Warfield has a great picture of the Old Testament being a mansion with richly-decorated, beautifully-ornate rooms, but which are dimply lit. So with just the Old Testament by itself, it is hard to appreciate the magnificent beauty that’s there. In Jesus, the light is turned on, and we can now appreciate the glory and majesty that was always there!

So notice how the “I Am” statements shine a bright light on the titles of “Jehovah”

  • Jehovah Jireh (I Am Your Provider) → I am the Bread of Life (John 6:35)
  • Jehovah Rapha (I Am Your Healing) → I am the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25-26)
  • Jehovah Nissi (I Am Your Source) → I am the Vine (John 15:5)
  • Jehovah Shalom (I Am Your Peace) → I am the Light of the world (John 8:12)
  • Jehovah Raah (I Am Your Shepherd) → I am the Good Shepherd (John 10:11)
  • Jehovah Sabaoth (I Am Your Wall Of Protection) → I am the Gate (John 10:9)
  • Jehovah Tsid-kenu (I Am Your Righteousness) → I am the Way, Truth, and Life (John 14:6)
  • Jehovah Shammah (I Am Here) → I am the Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8; 22:13).

In essence Jesus is saying “I Am Jehovah in all His fullness.” So what are we to make of that? What are we to make of Jesus Christ? Here’s how C.S. Lewis addressed that question:

This is a question which has, in a sense, a frantically comic side. For the real question is not what are we to make of Christ, but what is He to make of us? The picture of a fly sitting deciding what it is going to make of an elephant has comic elements about it. But perhaps the questioner meant what are we to make of Him in the sense of ‘How are we to solve the historical problem set us by the recorded sayings of this Man?’ 

The problem is to reconcile two things. On the one hand you have got the almost generally admitted depth of sanity of His moral teaching, which is not very seriously questioned, even by those who are opposed to Christianity. In fact, I find when I am arguing with very anti-God people that they rather make a point of saying, ‘I am entirely in favor of the moral teaching of Christianity….’ 

On the one side clear, definite moral teaching. On the other, claims which, if not true, are those of a megalomaniac, compared with whom Hitler was the most sane and humble of men. There is no halfway house and there is no parallel in other religions. If you had gone to Buddha and asked him, ‘Are you the son of Bramah?’ he would have said, ‘My son, you are still in the vale of illusion.’ If you have gone to Socrates and asked, ‘Are you Zeus?’ he would have laughed at you. If you had gone to Mohammed and asked, ‘Are you Allah?’ he would first have rent his clothes and then cut your head off. If you had asked Confucius, ‘Are you Heaven?’ I think he would have probably replied, ‘Remarks which are not in accordance with Nature are in bad taste.’ 

The idea of a great moral teacher saying what Christ said is out of the question. In my opinion, the only person who can say that sort of thing is either God or a complete lunatic suffering from that form of delusion which undermines the whole mind of man. (emphasis mine)

C.S. Lewis gives us three choices about Jesus. We can either say (1) He is a liar, (2) He is a lunatic, or (3) He is who He says He is.

What do you say about Him?

I will be continuing my series of messages in the series Who Is Jesus? next Sunday, and I’d love to have you join me!

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