“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” – Genesis 28:15 (NASB)
After his trickery and snatching the blessing Isaac intended for Esau, Jacob had to flee for his life. It is Jacob who woke up from a dream of seeing angels ascending and descending a ladder to heaven named the spot El-Bethel because it was where he met God. God affirmed for him the promises and covenant already given to Abraham and Isaac. It was through Ezekiel who described the gates of the New Jerusalem and the city spoke these last words of his prophecy, “And the name of the city from that time on shall be, Yahweh shammah “The LORD Is There.”” (Ezekiel 48:30-35) This name of the LORD expresses a blessed promise and truth about Him: the LORD delights to be wherever His people are. God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. When they sinned, God instituted sacrifices so that relationships could be partly restored. Ezekiel prophesied a lot about God’s glorious presence with His people. Jesus promises that we would experience His presence wherever we go as His disciples (Matthew 28:20). The heavenly Jerusalem will be marked by the presence of God dwelling with His people as He has always promised.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. ” – Psalm 23:1 (ESV)
A very familiar verse we share on this 20th anniversary of a tragic day. It is good for us to remember such horrific events so that we can remember again that we have a caretaker who watches over us. Of the thousands who lost their lives on this day in 2001 we know many were believers in Jesus Christ. Many others were not and that compounds the tragedy for them. Also, many first responders who were there that day and lived through it have had residual health effects. God, our Shepherd know this. Nothing happened or happens today that our God is not aware of. We do have this promise: strictly speaking, Yahweh roh is the beginning phrase of Psalm 23, “the LORD is my shepherd.” It combines the personal name of God, Yahweh, with the descriptive name of God, rohi or ro‘i, meaning, “my Shepherd.” The root word ra‘ah means to feed and tend domestic animals by pasturing them. This name speaks of God caring for His people in practical ways as well as providing spiritual sustenance. God provides and cares for everything we need, thus we can say today, no matter what happens, “I shall not want.”
“And the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever.” – Ezekiel 37:28 (NASB)
What is to be ‘removed from common use?’ It is sanctification, what the Holy Spirit does for us. Today we consider a title of God some call a name. This is a promise to us as it was a promise to the people of Israel in Ezekiel’s prophecy⸺a promise for the future we have today. YAHWEH M’KADDEESHCHEM: “The Lord Who Sanctifies, Makes Holy” The word Kaddosh means holy, to dedicate, set apart, sanctify. We can find this title name in Leviticus 20:8 “You shall keep My statutes and practice them; I am the Lord who sanctifies you.” Let’s notice the last word of this verse ‘forever.’ Ezekiel was giving a prophecy regarding what would be at the end of time when Israel is fully restored in God’s Kingdom. Then there will be an everlasting sanctuary for all the people of God. When God sanctifies Israel and all true Israel it means to make holy, separate. This is the work of the Holy Spirit who is sanctifying all of God’s people. This sanctification, it’s a promise we have now and will be fully realized and experienced when we are with Jesus in heaven.
“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” ” – Genesis 15:1-2 (ESV)
Have you ever been promised something that seemed impossible that you would see come true? Abram (not yet Abraham) was in that fix. God had promised descendants, children, and so many that they would be impossible to count. To Abram, God’s promise had stalled and he believed he had an answer. Abram suggested adoption of a servant as the male heir—a well-known contemporary custom of the time and culture. Abram considered it a done deal as it was the best official arrangement to make it come to pass⸺humanly speaking. God said No! It will not be ‘this man’ for it will be your very own son who will be your heir. Now eighty-six years old, time was running out for Abram and Sarai (not yet Sarah). In this exchange Abram address God by the name ‘Adonai’ which was a common name meaning lord, master and God. Abram also addressed God by the name YHWH. This is the name God revealed to Moses when He said “I AM WHO I AM.” While many titles are given for God, the name Yahweh is the true name for God. Most translations render the name as LORD – using all capitals.
“And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “This is what you shall say to the sons of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” ” – Exodus 3:14 (NASB)
Our verse today is from a conversation God had with Moses. Moses, divinely protected from death when he was born had an amazing upbringing being trained up in the house of Pharaoh’s daughter in Egypt. The best education and training possible in the day. But he had fled from Egypt after defending one of his own people and killing an Egyptian oppressor. After 40 years in the wilderness Moses thinks he is safe but God comes and tells him to return to Egypt. You are to confront Pharaoh and lead the people out of Egypt and slavery. Moses is reluctant for several reasons and asks who he should tell his people has sent him. God reveals His name to Moses. A name that declares that He is eternally present. He has always been, He is now and He will always be. This is also a promise of God’s eternal presence with His people. He is present to help us, comfort us, guide us, and so much more. His presence never leaves us, and He will always be with us. That is the greatest comfort we can ever find, and we learn it from the very name of God: I AM.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” – Ephesians 1:3-4 (ESV)
Whenever we attend a memorial service at a funeral, one part is almost always included is a eulogy. It may be given by a minister, a family member, or friend. The eulogy’s purpose is to speak well and to bless the one being memorialized. The first word in our verses today is “Blessed” and it is derived from the same Greek word we get “eulogy.” It means to praise or commend. Every human has a supreme duty to bless God by thought, word and deed. Not all do. As faith believers we have already been fully blessed in Christ. When the Apostle Paul writes “blessed be” he is using the meaning to give praise to God. When the Apostle writes “has blessed” he is saying that all who are in Christ have already received from Him every spiritual blessing possible. God has already given believers total blessings. And, this He did when God chose us to be in Christ before the world was made by Him. This promise of being holy and blameless before God became ours before the worlds foundations were set. It was God’s choice to promise this for His creatures and its for His praise and glory.
“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” – Hebrews 1:1–2 (NASB)
The promises we consider each day come from the Word of God and are God’s inspired words. The Bible is trustworthy as the God’s word to us. While the literary form and style of the Bible varies as it was scribed by different people, it was and is always God’s revelation of what He wanted us to know. The Old Testament was written over a span of as many as 1,800 years.* Many portions: there are 39 different books during different historical times, locations, cultures, and situations. Many ways: included visions, symbols, and parables using both poetry and prose styles. Last days: Jews in the first century understood the reference to “last days” to mean the time when Messiah (Christ) would come. The messianic prophecies fulfillment began with the arrival of the Messiah in Bethlehem and was revealed by Jesus during his ministry on the earth. Since then, that is since He came until this day, it has been the “last days.” God’s message of redemption was spoken through the Messiah, His Son who is heir of all things. So, everything that exists will eventually come under the control of the Son of God.
*(from Job to Nehemiah, circa 2200 – 400 B.C.)
“The LORD is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words.” – Psalm 119:57” – (NASB)
In the original language, verse 57 may be a broken sentence. The translators mended it by insertions, but even as it is without the fix it makes good sense. It would appear as an exclamation,—“My portion, O Lord!” As one nearly overcome with God’s goodness, the psalmist (likely David) is lost in wonder while he sees that the great and glorious God is all his own! This is understandable, for there is no possession we might have like the LORD himself. The sentence expresses joyous recognition and assumption,—“My portion, O LORD!” The idea of “a portion” springs from the lawful practice of the Levites when they were sacrificing animals brought to the Temple as offerings. They were given a portion of the meat that they might eat. In this way the priests were sustained since their work was fully within the compound of the Temple when they served. For the psalmist and for us, God is a great and permanent portion, our heritage. It includes all, and more than all; it outlasts all; and yet no one chooses it for themselves until God has chosen and renewed their life by being born of God.
“Remember the word to Your servant, In which You have made me hope. – Psalm 119:49 (NASB)
I have remembered Your ordinances from of old, O LORD, And comfort myself. – Psalm 119:52 (NASB)
O LORD, I remember Your name in the night, And keep Your law. – Psalm 119:55 (NASB)
Can you consider for a moment what life would be like if you were unable to remember? Memory is critical part of our lives and when we know someone in their later life whose memory is failing them, we understand the critical factor of danger. Perhaps they no longer remember what might hurt them such as a hot pot on the stove. Perhaps they no longer remember their way home. Perhaps even they no longer remember their family or even their own selves. It is tragic. The Psalmist affirms three remembrances in his life and we’ve selected the verses that declare what he remembers. He remembers the word God has given him and from that He has acquired hope. He remembers the ordinances he learned in the past and he is comforted by them. And, perhaps most important and valuable, he remembers God’s name in the night which helps him keep God’s law. Those afflicted with the diseases that rob them of their memory often struggle most at the end of the day as the sun sets. Let us rejoice for it is a blessing when we can remember God’s Word all through each day.
“May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O LORD,
Your salvation according to Your word;
So I will have an answer for him who reproaches me,
For I trust in Your word.” – Psalm 119:41-42 (NASB)
There is an increase in the resistance of our world to the Word of God. There is also a significant decrease in the number who hold the Bible to be absolute truth. Within this battle, those who oppose the teachings in the Bible are becoming more active in demonstrating their hostility. The psalmist called on God to deliver him through His love and His Word and He will for us based on the promise God has given to us. He sought and trusted that he would have an answer for his enemy. He prayed and affirmed that the Word would continue to be his pattern of life. That is the way God has prepared for us to enjoy victory over the obstructions they set to the spreading of His Word. When opposition comes we frequently take it very personally but here we can know that it is God that the non-believer is rejecting and fighting against. We can like this passage teaches learn to delight in God’s commandments grow to love them for they are life to our soul. Next time we meet resistance, lets remember, God’s Word has an answer for us to give in return.