The Lord God of Truth

Series: “The Names of God” (post #5)

Here’s a trivia question for you. In our English translations of the Bible, what were the last words that Jesus spoke while hanging on the cross? Were they?

A. “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.”

B. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

C. “It is finished.”

D. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

The correct answer is A: “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46). Good for you if you got it right. Now let’s move on to the bonus round. For major extra credit, what Old Testament passage was Jesus quoting with those words? Ah, that’s tougher. And the answer is Psalm 31:5, the entirety of which reads:

Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth. (N.K.J.V.)

You’ll notice that the close of this verse provides us with another name for God. He is “The Lord God of Truth.” In the original Hebrew, it reads Jehovah El Emeth. The operative word there is emeth. It is defined as: truth, trustworthiness, establishment, faithfulness, rightness, and sureness. God is all of that.

If you want to know just how seriously God takes this matter of Him being the truth, consider these ten Bible facts:

  • God’s word is true. (Psalm 119:160)
  • The Old Testament law that God gave the Jews to live by was called “truth.” (Psalm 119:142)
  • The written word of God is called “the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
  • Jesus said to God the Father, “Your word is truth.” (John 17:17)
  • Jesus, who was God the Son in the flesh, called Himself “the truth.” (John 14:6)
  • Jesus referred to God the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:17)
  • The gospel is referred to as “the truth of the gospel.” (Galatians 2:5,14; Colossians 1:5)
  • God wants worshipers to worship Him not only in spirit but also in truth. (John 4:24)
  • Christians are called to love not only in deed but also in truth. (1 John 3:18)
  • Christians are described as being people “of the truth.” (1 John 3:19)

In direct contrast to God being Jehovah El Emeth (The Lord God of Truth), Jesus said of Satan, “…When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44, N.I.V.). Based upon this assessment from Jesus, we can say that truth is of God and lying is of the devil. Satan enjoys nothing better than lying in order to create doubt about the truth of God and His word. As evidence of this, the first time we meet Satan in scripture he is causing Eve to doubt the truth regarding what God had said about eating the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:1-3). He even paints God as a liar who withholds the truth from His people for His own selfish purposes (Genesis 3:4-5).

The takeaway from today’s post is that you would do well to call God by His name Jehovah El Emeth (The Lord God of Truth) when you pray to Him. This specific name becomes especially important anytime you are going through a period of doubt and confusion in your life. Ask Jehovah El Emeth to give you clarity. Ask Him to blow away the fog for you. Ask Him to silence the lies and let the truth ring out loud and clear in your ears. Remember, if some voice is messing with you by lying to you, that’s not God. He doesn’t deal in untruth. Satan is the one who rolls that way. That’s why you must always be sure just exactly who it is whose voice you are following.

Posted in Choices, Christ's Death, Discernment, Doubt, God's Name, God's Will, God's Word, Lying, Prayer, Prayer Requests, Satan, Scripture, Temptation, The Bible, The Devil, The Old Testament Law, Truth | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Lord My Shepherd

Series: “The Names of God” (post #4)

“The Lord is my shepherd.” These opening words of the 23rd Psalm are probably the most well known words in the Bible, only rivaled by the words of John 3:16. Far less known, however, are the Hebrew words behind them. The Hebrew for Psalm 23:1 uses the name Jehovah Roi. The name’s meaning is easy to understand. Jehovah translates as “The Lord” and Roi translates as “my shepherd.”

This idea of the Lord as the shepherd and the saved believer as the sheep is vividly descriptive. Let’s consider three of the most obvious implications from it. Christian, as we list these, think about how each one specifically relates to your own walk with Jesus.

First, the name Jehovah Roi implies that the Christian isn’t responsible for charting his or her own course in life. The Christian’s job is simply to submit to Christ’s leadership and fall in behind Him. The relationship is almost childlike. Jesus provides a shepherd’s leadership while the Christian provides a sheep’s followship. You don’t get much more basic than that.

Second, the name Jehovah Roi implies that Jesus is taking the Christian somewhere. The journey might be to a place a thousand miles away or to a place just up the road, but Jesus doesn’t want the Christian to remain stationary or stagnant. According to the Psalm, Jesus will lead the Christian to green pastures, to still waters, in the paths of righteousness, through the valley of the shadow of death, to a table prepared for him in the presence of his enemies, and to Christ’s own eternal house. All in all, that sounds like a trip anyone would be wise to take.

Third, the name Jehovah Roi implies that Jesus is responsible for the Christian’s protection. The human writer of Psalm 23 was David, and in another passage (1 Samuel 17:31-37) he recalls how he killed a lion and a bear during his former days as a shepherd. He even says of one of those ferocious creatures, “I delivered the lamb from its mouth.” But why did David kill that lion and that bear? He did it to protect his sheep. That is, after all, what shepherds do. They don’t just lead their sheep. They protect them.

So tell me, Christian, could you use some leadership in your life? Could you use some direction? Could you use some protection? Well, allow me to reintroduce you to your Savior, Jesus Christ. Have you forgotten that He said of Himself, “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own” (John 10:14, N.K.J.V.)? Have you forgotten that He said of Himself, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11, N.K.J.V.)? You can best believe that any shepherd who loves His sheep enough to die for them is surely a worthy shepherd. The question, then, for each of us is not, “Is Jesus a shepherd worth following?” The question is, “How am I doing these days at following Him?” And that’s a question that each of us has to answer afresh and anew every day.

Posted in Choices, Commitment, Discipleship, Dying To Self, Faithfulness, God's Provision, Heaven, Leadership, Needs, Obedience, Salvation, Service, Submission, Trusting In God | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Lord My Refuge

Series: “The Names of God” (post #3)

One of the three rounds of temptation that Satan inflicted upon Jesus involved the suggestion that Jesus leap from the pinnacle of the Jewish temple and expect God the Father to dispatch angels to ensure His safe landing. As part of that temptation, Satan even quoted a certain passage of scripture. The passage was Psalm 91:11-12, which says:

For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. (N.K.J.V.)

Jesus refused to play along with Satan’s game, choosing instead to quote a portion of another passage (Deuteronomy 6:16), “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” It is interesting, however, that Jesus didn’t say, “Come on now, Satan, you know that you are blatantly misinterpreting Psalm 91.” No, the fact is that all of Psalm 91 is about one subject: God’s protection of the one who abides in His presence.

It is in the midst of this Psalm that we find yet another name for God. In the Hebrew, the name is Jehovah Machis. In English, that means “The Lord My Refuge.” The specific passage is Psalm 91:9-10:

Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling… (N.K.J.V.)

Another verse that can be placed alongside Psalm 91:9-10 is Proverbs 18:10, which says:

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe. (N.K.J.V.)

The Bible’s most famous tower is the ill-fated tower of Babylon (Genesis 11:1-9), but many ancient cities had less elaborate towers. Towers are mentioned in several passages from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. The simplest of these towers acted as mere watchtowers, but the more elaborate ones were small fortresses into which the citizens could find shelter when an enemy army was coming against the city. The latter type is being referenced in Proverbs 18:10 when the Lord is described as a strong tower into which the righteous can find safety.

The general promise in all of this is that God protects His people from bodily, physical harm. Obviously, not only history but also scripture teaches us that this doesn’t mean that a child of God will never get sick. The apostle Paul left his Christian friend, Trophimus, in Miletus sick (2 Timothy 4:20), and that’s not even mentioning the millions of devout Christians who have died from cancer and other diseases over the course of the centuries. It also doesn’t mean that a child of God will never get injured or martyred. The likes of Abel, John the Baptist, and Stephen can attest to that.

How, then, do we Christians claim the name Jehovah Machis (The Lord My Refuge) in prayer? We do it by boldly citing that specific name when we ask the Lord to protect us during dangerous times. We do it by citing that specific name when we ask Him to be the shelter that keeps us safe during enemy attacks. We do it by citing that specific name when we ask Him to shield us from the trouble that is creeping all around us.

Again, it’s impossible to use either the Bible or own personal history to prove that God will always say, “Yes” to such prayers. If you think about it, even Jesus couldn’t claim Psalm 91 to keep Him from being roughly arrested, beaten, scourged, and crucified. Still, though, we are living beneath our privilege if we don’t regularly ask God to be our Jehovah Machis. Sure, there will be times when He will allow us to experience sickness or bodily injury. That’s a byproduct of being part of a sin-cursed race who lives in a sin-ruined world. But, on the other hand, think of all the hours, days, weeks, months, years, and decades when God does provide us with the refuge of safety and health. Most of us have had far more good days than bad ones, haven’t we?

It is because of this that we shouldn’t hesitate to call out to the Lord and ask Him to be our refuge. When trouble comes our way, our first instinct should be to run to Him just like the citizens of ancient cities ran inside their towers. Even if He chooses, in His sinless righteousness, not to keep the trouble from touching us, He will provide us with the grace and strength to face it. As He said to Paul after Paul had asked Him three times to take away the “thorn in the flesh,” “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

You see, God never abandons His people. He always has our back one way or the other. If He doesn’t grant us protective refuge He will certainly grant us grace-induced strength. Our problem is that human logic tells us that protective refuge is always better. Divine wisdom, however, knows that certain “good” simply cannot be accomplished from safety.

Posted in Adversity, Balance, Christ's Death, Disappointment, God's Name, Persecution, Prayer, Prayer Requests, Problems, Suffering | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Lord Our Provider

Series: “The Names of God” (post #2)

Most Bible readers know the story of God testing Abraham by asking him to offer up his son Isaac as a burnt offering (Genesis 22:1-19). What isn’t so well known is that the story provides us with one of the Old Testament’s classic names for God. That name is Jehovah Jireh, and it means “The Lord Will Provide” or “The Lord Our Provider.”

The name is found near the end of the story. Abraham commits himself to the sacrifice, to the point that he has Isaac tied on the altar and has the knife in hand to slit the young man’s throat. Only then does the Angel of the Lord call to him and stop him from going through with the deed. This Angel (capital A) is none other than Jesus Christ making a preincarnate appearance. We know this because the Angel speaks to Abraham directly from heaven and uses the pronoun “Me” in reference to God.

After Jesus puts an end to the test, Abraham looks and sees a ram whose horns have gotten caught in a nearby thicket. Abraham captures the ram, kills it, and offers it up as a burnt sacrifice in the place of Isaac. Abraham then calls the name of the site “The Lord Will Provide” (Genesis 22:14). This name plays off something that Abraham has said earlier in the story. In answer to Isaac’s logical question, “Father, I see the fire and the wood for the burnt offering, but where is the lamb?” Abraham has replied, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.”

It’s impossible to know exactly what Abraham had in mind when he said that, but Hebrews 11:19 tells us that he had concluded that God had the power to raise Isaac from the dead. Apparently the elderly patriarch had done the mental math and had reached this conclusion. God had promised that Abraham would become the father of a great nation through Isaac. Isaac hadn’t even gotten married yet, let alone have a son of his own to continue the family line. God had commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering. Therefore, God must be going to resurrect Isaac once the sacrifice was finished. Let’s be sure to give Abraham credit for being willing to think outside the box!

But rather than resurrect Isaac, God provided a substitutionary sacrifice to die in Isaac’s place. That substitionary sacrifice was the ram. Typologically speaking, the ram was a type of Jesus Christ, who would later die as a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of the world. While the Bible’s classic typological animal for Jesus is a lamb, in this instance the typology involves a ram. The symbolism works just fine, though, because just as a ram is more powerful than a lamb, Jesus had power. He proved His power by casting out demons, healing the sick, raising the dead, silencing the storm, and walking on the water.

In the end, though, like that powerful ram that was fatally caught by its horns in that thicket, Jesus was fatally caught by the “thicket” of the fallen human race. That’s why, despite His power, He ended up crucified on a cross. What role was He playing as He hung on that cross? He was playing the role of substitionary sacrifice. You see, He died for a human race full of “Isaacs.”

To further continue the typology, guess where Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac took place. If you guessed Mount Moriah, you’re correct. If that name rings a bell, it should because it was the site where centuries later the Jews built their temple. Do you see how it all fits together? The mountain site where Abraham built his altar would ultimately become the centerpiece of the city of Jerusalem, and a couple thousand years later Jesus Himself would be sacrificed in that same general area.

Now let’s get back to the name “The Lord Will Provide.” In the Old Testament’s original Hebrew, this names translates Jehovah Jireh. Does this name mean that God can provide the money to pay your electric bill? Yes. Does it means that He can provide a spouse for you to marry? Yes. Does it mean that He can provide exactly what you need at the exact moment you need it? Yes. Does it mean that when you have a very real need you should call God by this specific name when you pray to Him? Yes.

In the grandest sense, though, what this name means most is that God has provided the answer for your greatest need: salvation. No need you will ever have measures up to your need to be forgiven of all your sins and thus guaranteed not to spend eternity in that gruesomely awful place the Bible calls “the lake of fire.” And how has God provided for that particular need in your life? You know the answer. Jesus (God the Son) left heaven, became part of the human race, was miraculously born to a virgin, proved His divinity by living a sinless life for 33+ years and performing miracles, died on a Roman cross as a sinless substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of the world, and then proved His divinity again by arising from the dead.

You see, God has done His part. Now all that is required is you doing your part. And what is your part? It is to willfully place your belief in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Have you done that? If you haven’t, then the hard, cold truth of the matter is that you really don’t know God as Jehovah Jireh.

Posted in Belief, Christ's Birth, Christ's Death, Christ's Miracles, Christ's Resurrection, Crucifixion, Eternity, Forgiveness, God's Love, God's Mercy, God's Name, God's Provision, Grace, Needs, Problems, Sacrifice, Salvation | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Lord of Hosts

Series: “The Names of God” (post #1)

The Bible provides a long list of names for God. The reason most of us miss this fact is because we don’t read the Old Testament in its original Hebrew. For example, if someone asks us, “Where in the Old Testament is God called a shepherd?” we’ll be quick to quote Psalm 23:1, where David writes, “The Lord is my shepherd….” However, what we don’t realize is that the Hebrew words behind those translated English words “The Lord is my shepherd” are “Jehovah Roi.” That makes “Jehovah Roi” a name for God. He is “The Lord My Shepherd.”

In his pamphlet Knowing God By Name, David Jeremiah lists no less than 85 Old Testament names for God, each name being listed with its corresponding passage. He categorizes these 85 names under four major headings:

  • Heading #1 is “The Primary Names of God.” There are three of these: ElohimJehovah, and Adonai.
  • Heading #2 is “The Compound Names of the Lord God.” A few of these are Jehovah El ElohimJehovah El Elyon, and Jehovah El Emeth.
  • Heading #3 is “The Compound Names of God.” Some of these are El Bethel, El Elyon, and El Mauzi.
  • Heading #4 is “The Compound Names of Jehovah.” A few of these are Jehovah GoelekhJehovah Magen, and Jehovah Makkeh.

Along the same lines, Tony Evans, in his book The Power of God’s Names, lists over 80 of the Old Testament’s names for God. Like David Jeremiah, he breaks the list down into those same four categories, with the only exception being that he labels the first heading “The Foundational Names of God” rather than the “The Primary Names of God.” For the purposes of his book, however, Evans pulls out 14 of the Old Testament names and devotes a chapter to each one.

What I’d like to do for the next handful of blog posts is take the Evans approach and cite a few of God’s name for special emphasis. For this first post in the series I’ll go with the name Jehovah Sabaoth. “What does that name mean?” you ask. It means “The Lord of Hosts.” This name for God is used over 250 times in the Old Testament. The first usage is found in 1 Samuel 1:3, which says of Elkanah, who would soon father the prophet Samuel:

This man went up from his city yearly to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of hosts in Shiloh… (N.K.J.V.)

Even though the Hebrew noun for “host” — saba —  has a varied list of meanings, it most frequently refers to either some type of military service or some type of army. Similarly, when the word is used as a verb it means “to muster an army” or “to wage war.” In light of all this, the name “The Lord of Hosts” speaks of God as being a mighty General. He is the Commander in Chief of the unbeatable army of heaven’s angels. The name is similar to another Old Testament name, Jehovah Elohim Tsebaoth, which means “The Lord God of Hosts.” That name is used in Psalm 59:5, where David (who was a great leader of armies himself) writes:

You therefore, O Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel, Awake to punish all the nations; Do not be merciful to any wicked transgressors… (N.K.J.V.)

The takeaway from all this for you, Christian, is that God is the leader of a mighty army that can come to your aid if your situation requires it. This is why you would do well to learn to call Him by His name Jehovah Sabatoh in prayer. If you can’t remember the Hebrew, or if you worry that you aren’t pronouncing it correctly, just go with the English “The Lord of Hosts.” That will work just fine.

What we are talking about here is you evoking God’s military name when you sense that a group of demons from Satan’s demonic army is coming against you in the spiritual realm. You are no match for such an opposing force, and God knows it. This is why He is willing to dispatch some of His angelic army to help you overcome your battles with spiritual warfare. What you must learn to do, though, is talk to Him in the most effective manner to accomplish that specific purpose. And what we’ve learned from today’s post is that those prayers evoke the name Jehovah Sabatoh (The Lord of Hosts).

Posted in Adversity, Demons, God's Name, God's Sovereignty, Persecution, Prayer, Prayer Requests, Problems, Satan, Spiritual Warfare | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You Just Never Know

With each passing year the name “Billy Graham” becomes less recognizable to the younger folks. This seems strange to those of us who grew up watching Graham’s crusades on t.v., reading his Decision magazine, buying his books, hearing all about the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and thinking of him as “America’s pastor.” To paraphrase a line from Exodus 1:8 and put a modern spin on it, a generation is arising that does not know Graham.

Similarly, any generation that does not know Billy Graham doesn’t know Cliff Barrows either. He was Graham’s right-hand man for close to fifty years, serving as Graham’s song leader for his crusades and as the host of Graham’s weekly Hour of Decision radio program. The two traveled the world together and became as close as brothers. Barrows died in 2016 at the age of 93. Graham died in 2018 at the age of 99.

The story of how Barrows began working with Graham is a classic example of God’s providence. In 1945, Barrows and his fiancee, Billie, scraped together enough money for a simple wedding, two train tickets, and a honeymoon in a resort hotel in Asheville, North Carolina. When they arrived at the hotel, however, they learned that it had been shut down. So there they were, newlyweds, stranded in a strange town, with no room and little money.

They didn’t even have a destination in mind when they thumbed a ride and happened to be picked up by a sympathetic local. He drove them to a grocery store that was owned by a woman he knew. She had a vacant room directly above her store. That’s where Cliff and Billie spent the night, in a room above a grocery store in a strange town.

The next day Cliff pulled out his trombone and began playing Christian songs. Not only was the store owner impressed with his musical talent, she took a liking to the young couple and arranged for them to spend the rest of their honeymoon at a friend’s house. Several days later that friend invited the couple to attend a Youth for Christ rally in Asheville. The featured speaker at the rally was a twenty-six-year-old evangelist named Billy Graham.

After arriving at the rally, Barrows learned that the song leader/piano player was sick and Graham was looking for a volunteer to fill in that night. Barrows’ name was submitted to Graham, and Barrows was awarded the job when Graham grabbed both of his hands and said, “No time to be choosy!” That’s how the two men first met, and that meeting began a lifetime ministry partnership that became the stuff of evangelistic legend.

Was it chance that brought those two men together? Fate? Destiny? Blind luck? Nope. It was a sovereign God who knows how to turn unplanned meetings into divine encounters. That’s why we shouldn’t question Him or get mad at Him when our plans get upset and things don’t go like we expect them to go. We never fully know what He is up to in our lives, and His plans can be infinitely greater than anything we would ever dare plan for ourselves. As the Bible says in Ephesians 3:20-21:

 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (N.K.J.V.)

Posted in Adversity, Complaining, Disappointment, Encouragement, God's Timing, God's Omniscience, God's Sovereignty, God's Will, Problems, Trusting In God | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Being in a Relationship With a Jealous God

A.B. Simpson, the great Canadian preacher, used to tell the story of a father and a daughter. One day the father was sitting in his library reading one of his many books. At his feet was his little girl. She wore a cheap bead necklace around her neck as she played quietly.

Suddenly the father looked down at her and said, “Darling, do you love me?” The child answered, “Yes, Daddy, I love you more than anything else in the world.” Upon hearing that, the father said, “Then I want you to throw your necklace into the fire.”

Now the little girl was confused. “Daddy, do you really mean it?” she asked. “Yes,” said the father, “I really mean it. If you love me enough, you will want to please me at any cost.” The little girl didn’t respond immediately, but after a few agonizing seconds of inward turmoil she finally did stand up, walk over to the fireplace, take off her necklace, and throw it into the fire. Then she ran to her father, hugged him, and with tears in her eyes said, “Daddy, I don’t understand why you wanted me to do that, but I do love you.”

A few weeks later the father and child found themselves in that same library setting once again. This time, however, the father pulled a jewel case from his pocket, opened it, and brought out a beautiful necklace of real pearls. He reached it down to his daughter and said, “Darling, I want you to put these on your neck and wear them for me.” The child’s eyes filled with tears again as she gave her father another hug and said, “Daddy, I think I understand now.”

In Exodus 34:14, God illustrates how jealous He is by saying that His very name is Jealous. This shows us just how seriously He takes His relationship with His people. He doesn’t want anything or anyone to come between us and Him. Like a jealous spouse, God wants us all to Himself.

A.B. Simpson’s story reminds me of the Biblical story of God asking Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice (Genesis 22:1-19). The request was a test for Abraham, a test that would prove how much he loved God. Isaac was the miracle baby, the promised son that Abraham and his wife Sarah had waited 25 years to hold. Now God was commanding Abraham to travel to the land of Moriah and offer the now grown Isaac as a burnt offering. The whole thing seemed crazy to Abraham, but nevertheless he obeyed.

If you know the story, you know that God stopped Abraham just as Abraham was about to inflict the fatal blow with a knife. The test was over and Abraham had made an A+. The Angel of the Lord (an Old Testament preincarnate appearance of Jesus) then pronounced a great promise of blessing upon Abraham and his seed. Likening the story to A.B. Simpson’s, that was God handing Abraham an expensive pearl necklace.

Christian, the takeaway for each of us isn’t hard to understand. We must constantly stay on guard against allowing anything or anyone to come between us and God. Remember that God’s name is Jealous. That means that He is going to deal with whatever or whoever interferes with our relationship to Him. I don’t know what your “necklace” or your “Isaac” is, but you’d better make sure that it doesn’t become bigger than God in your life. And if God ever does ask you to give up something for Him, just know that He will reward you handsomely on the back end, not just in this life but in the one to come (Mark 10:28-30).

Posted in Commitment, Desires, Faithfulness, God's Love, God's Name, Jealousy, Obedience, Priorities, Reward, Service, Submission, Trusting In God | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment