Monday, April 30, 2012

Yahweh Tsidkenu

Jeremiah 23:6 “And this will be his name: ‘Yahweh Is Our Righteousness (Yahweh Tsidkenu).’ In that day Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety.

God is Righteous. He is completely righteous, there could never be the slightest hint of wickedness in Him. That’s why He stands in direct opposition of sin - He hates it. God is so righteous that He sees the wicked thought in the same way He sees the wicked action. He will punish both of them in the same way.

David couldn’t help to declare God’s righteousness. In his mind, that’s who God is! Look at just a few of the things David wrote about God’s righteousness.
Psalm 36:6 “Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths.”
Psalm 11:7 “For Yahweh is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright.
Psalm 45:6 “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
Psalm 97:2 “Clouds and darkness surround Him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.”

There are many, many more verses in David’s psalms about the righteousness of God. As far as David was concerned, God’s righteousness and justice were what gave Him the right to rule.

Now, from our point of view, God’s righteousness can be a fearful thing. Our righteousness and His righteousness won’t ever match or line up. The best mankind can do - the most righteous we could ever be - is described in Isaiah 64:6: “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is like filthy rags.” We just don’t measure up. We can’t do enough righteous things to become righteous. Why? Because there isn’t enough good deeds in the world to erase a single act of wickedness.

Is it any wonder then that our first reaction to God’s righteousness is fear? Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5), Manoah (Judges 13:22), and David (1 Chronicles 21:16) were all terrified when they saw God. Why? Because their first thoughts were about God’s righteousness and their sinfulness. As Paul preached to Felix (the man who held Paul prisoner) about God’s righteousness, it brought fear to him too. Acts 24:25 says, “As he reasoned with them about righteousness and self-control and the coming day of judgment, Felix became frightened. ‘Go away for now,’ he replied. ‘When it is more convenient, I’ll call for you again.’” The righteousness of God makes sinners a little nervous.

But the separation of our wickedness and God’s righteousness didn’t only affect us. One reason God hates our wickedness so much is because of the separation it brings with it! Listen to what He said in Isaiah 48:18 “Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.”

God hates our wickedness, but He hated our separation even more! This is why He paid such a high cost to eliminate them both. 2 Corinthians 5:21 shows us what He really wanted for the sinner; “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” As much as God hates our sin, He still took it on Himself to destroy the separation between us. This is how it worked; He took our sin and gave us His righteousness.

Romans 3:21-22 agrees - “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law (apart from working to earn it) is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.” God plan was to provide righteousness to those who would put their trust in Him. His desire was to become our righteousness!

Incidentally, this was always His plan. The first time you see the word “righteousness” in the Bible is in Genesis 15:6, “And he [Abram] believed in Yahweh, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” Righteousness has never come by trying to do, do, do, do....anytime you see it, it has only come by faith.

So then, this should be the response of everyone who has received the free gift of righteousness:

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness”
(Isaiah 61:10)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Yahweh Rapha - Willing To Heal

Exodus 15:26 “He said, ‘If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the lord who heals you (Yahweh Rapha).’”

God is a Healer. Even in the Old Testament, even when His people were bound up in religious rites and ceremonies, He still healed them. Often, their rebellion limited what He could do; but whenever they would turn to Him in faith, He was always there with healing “in His wings.”

Many people in the church have been duped into believing that God doesn’t want us healed. Some ministers preach that sickness is something we just endure. The majority of ministers will simply ignore the topic altogether. I have even heard a minister say that sickness is a blessing! This man asked why God would take our sickness away when it “makes us look forward to Heaven?” It is claimed that the healing scriptures are referring to internal healing, not physical health.

But this teaching is in direct opposition to what God has already revealed about Himself! God was talking about physical diseases in Exodus 15:26. Then why wouldn’t he be talking about physical healing too? When David wrote Psalm 103 - he was also writing about physical healing: “Bless Yahweh, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases...” Healing from physical diseases is a benefit that Yahweh gives us!

God is able to heal any sickness or disease that could ever attack our bodies. We know that. We don’t have any issues with God’s ability. Our problem isn’t whether He can heal us, it’s whether He wants to heal us. How many preacher have you heard pray, “God, if it’s Your will, please heal this person.” Do we really think God wants us to be riddled with sickness?

There was a man in Matthew chapter 8 who faced the same question. He was a leper, an outcast because of his disease. The highly contagious illness that plagued his body meant that he wasn’t allowed to touch, talk to, or be near anyone. He was completely alone - and he was told that God wanted it that way. All that the religious law could do for him was keep him alone in his suffering so the disease wouldn’t spread to others.

Then he heard about Jesus, a man that was healing all kinds of sicknesses - including other lepers. When this man approached Jesus in 8:2, he said: “Lord, if You are willing, You can heal me and make me clean.” He knew that Jesus could heal his leprosy, but he didn’t know if He wanted to heal him. Jesus’ response was simply to put His hand on the man and say, “I am willing, be healed.” From that day forward, the man was healed. This man was healed because he found out that Jesus’ willingness matched His ability.

You see, this is the reason Jesus spent a lot of His time healing people. He wanted to plainly reveal to us what God’s will had been all along. Matthew 4:23-24 is one of many verses that shows Jesus’ heart to heal: “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them.” It didn’t matter who was sick, why they were sick, or what they were sick with - if they came to Jesus, He healed them!

This is still true today! It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter why you’re sick or whether you did it to yourself. It doesn’t matter whether you have a head that hurts or a heart that’s about to stop - Jesus wants to heal you!

Think about this; if Jesus didn’t want us healed, why did He endure the Roman whip? 1 Peter 2:24 says, “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by Whose stripes you were healed.” If His goal was only our salvation, He would’ve gone straight to the cross. Jesus died to save us from our sin - but He was whipped to save us from our sickness!

It doesn’t matter that they told you God doesn’t want to heal anymore. It doesn’t matter what your experiences have taught you. It doesn’t matter if you had friends and relatives that never got their healing. I’m telling you now - the Bible declares to us that God is a Healer! He named Himself Yahweh Rapha - don’t you think He knew what He was saying? So forget everything you’ve ever learned or thought about sickness, and listen to Jesus’ own words - “I am willing, be healed!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Yahweh Jireh - Provision For A Purpose

Genesis 22:14 “And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide (Yahweh Jireh); as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.

This is the first time in the Bible that we see the name “Yahweh” joined to another name. It’s found in the story of Abraham, specifically when he was about to offer his son as a sacrifice. God tested Abraham’s commitment to Himself by asking him to give Isaac as an offering. Abraham obeyed, trusting in the fact that God promised him descendants through Isaac. If Isaac died, then Abraham knew that God would have to bring him back to life again. After he tied Isaac up and placed him on the altar, just as Abraham was about to bring the knife down on him, God stopped him. Abraham passed the test and God sent a sheep for Abraham to offer up instead. In response to the provision of a sacrifice, Abraham called that altar and that place “Yahweh Jireh”.

This story shows us a common principle in many of God’s names. Many times people would build an altar in a certain place and name it after the name of God. This is why, even though Yahweh Jireh was technically the name of the altar, it is also the name for the God of provision.

It’s significant that the first time God ever connected His name Yahweh (I AM WHAT I AM) to a part of His nature, He connected it to His provision. God want to provide for you! Sadly, it’s a common teaching that God wants His people to be poor instead of rich. It’s claimed that God even opposes the rich and wealthy. But can’t you see how that teaching opposes what He reveals about Himself in this name?

Proverbs 10:22 shows us what God’s blessing will do for us; “The blessing of Yahweh makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.” We see the effect of that blessing on Isaac’s life in Genesis 26:13-14: “The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants. So the Philistines envied him.” Isaac was so blessed that an entire nation became jealous of one man!

In fact, many of the men and women God used throughout the Bible were very wealthy.
God’s blessing on Noah allowed him to build the largest vessel the world had ever seen before.
God’s blessing on David allowed him to personally donate the equivalent of five billion dollars to help build God’s temple.
God’s blessing on Solomon made him the wealthiest king the world had ever seen.
God’s blessing on Joseph gave him access to the entire nation of Egypt.
God’s blessing on His people in the exodus let them walk into the wilderness with all the wealth of Egypt.
Jesus Himself had enough to care for twelve men and their families - He had His own personal treasurer!
God is not opposed to His people being wealthy!

What He is opposed to is giving people what they can’t handle. Third John 2 declares, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” If your soul isn’t prosperous - if your mind, will and emotions remain uncontrolled - God won’t allow prosperity to come your way. Why, is He keeping it back to punish you? Not at all! He loves you!

But Proverbs 1:32 tells us that prosperity will destroy a fool. We see this over and over when someone wins the lottery. People who barely manage their paychecks suddenly get swept away by a tidal wave of money. What happens to them? It usually destroys them in the end. God will not be the Author of your destruction! He will always give you what you can handle.

What you need to see behind God’s provision is that it’s provided for a purpose. God provided that sheep to Abraham to spare his son and provide a sacrifice. God blessed Noah so He could build an ark and save the human race. God blessed David and Solomon so they could build the most impressive building on earth for His people to meet with Him. God always provides to fulfill His purpose.

One of our favorite verses is Philippians 4:19 “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus.” We memorize it, quote it, claim it and hang it up on our refrigerator. What we never notice is the first word - “And”. Let’s read the verse in context, starting with verse 18: “Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Paul was writing to a church that had just sent an offering to help him preach the Gospel! Even our favorite prosperity and provision verse shows that God always has a reason for prospering His people!

Christians often have an attitude of, “as soon as I have more than I need, then I’ll be able to be generous.” But that’s absolutely backwards! Proverbs 11:25 says, “The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.” We need to show ourselves faithful with little before we’re trusted with more. So generosity comes first - and then the blessing.

Remember this: God’s provision is not intended to support a “me-first” mentality! Yahweh Jireh will provide prosperity for His people for His purpose!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Thirteen More "El" Names

When I first started studying the names of God, I thought that I would do two or three “El” articles and then move into the well-known Yahweh names.  I had no idea that there were close to twenty different “El” names! Each of these names give a picture of a different part of God’s nature and shows us another perspective of the God we serve. Each one of these could be a separate post, but I’ll condense it to save about three weeks!

El Echad - The One God
Malachi 2:10 “Have we not all one Father? Has not One God (El Echad) created us? Why do we deal treacherously with one another by profaning the covenant of the fathers?
Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is One (El Echad) Yahweh.”
It doesn’t matter what the world says. It doesn’t matter what compromising preachers say. It doesn’t matter what’s politically correct. There is only one God - period.

El Hanne’eman - The Faithful God
Deuteronomy 7:9 “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the Faithful God (El Hanne’eman) who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments
Hebrews 13:5 “For He Himself has said,“I will never leave you nor forsake you.
God keeps His covenant. He is always faithful. If He said something in His Word, whether it’s a warning or a promise - you can bet on it!

El Emmett - The God of Truth
Psalm 31:5 “Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Yahweh, God of truth (El Emmett).”
Psalm 57:3 “God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.”
Now we can see why it’s impossible for God to lie. He’s the God of truth! God speaks the truth, loves the truth, and expects the truth.

El De’ot - The God of Knowledge
1 Samuel 2:3 “Talk no more so very proudly; let no arrogance come from your mouth, for Yahweh is the God of knowledge (El De’ot); and by Him actions are weighed.
God knows every thought, every intent, every secret thing. Believers never have to worry about what they don’t know. When it’s time to know, God will give us the knowledge!

El Kabowd - The God of Glory
Psalm 29:3 “The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory (El Kabowd) thunders; Yahweh is over many waters.”
Our God is glorious - the God of Glory!

El Qadowsh - The Holy God
Isaiah 5:16 “But Yahweh of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God who is holy (El Qadowsh) shall be hallowed in righteousness.”
It’s God’s holiness that calls us to be holy in our conduct. Leviticus 11:45 (quoted in 1 Peter 1:16) says, “You shall therefore be holy, for I [God] am holy.”

El Channun - The Gracious God
Jonah 4:2 “So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious God (El Channun) and merciful, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.”
Jonah knew this part of God’s nature, and He didn’t want to share it with Israel’s enemies in Ninevah. God is still just as gracious to us today. (He isn’t more or less gracious, as we’ve already found out.) God’s grace is a part of His nature - aren’t you glad?

El Ma`owz Chayil - God My Strength and Power
2 Samuel 22:33 “God [is] my strength [and] power (El Ma’owz Chayil): and he makes my way perfect.”
When you’re weak, He is strong! Literally, Ma’owz  is a place of strength - as long as you’re there, you’re strong! Notice what He does with His strength - He makes our way perfect! We have God's strength behind us when we decide to obey what He says!

El Rachum - Merciful God
Deuteronomy 4:30-31 “When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the Lord your God and obey His voice (for yahweh your God is a Merciful God [El Rachum]), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them.”
Even after we sin, God will always have mercy on us when we repent. He is our Merciful God! Remember though, there is a flip side to El Rachum...

El Tsaddik - The Just God
Isaiah 45:21 “Tell and bring forth your case; yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, yahweh? And there is no other God besides Me, a Just God (El Tsaddik) and a Savior; there is none besides Me.”
Even though He is merciful, God can never let sin go unpunished. Even repented sin requires punishment - that is why Jesus came. He came to take our punishment so that God could be just when He let us go free. God is just, and sin is costly!

El Yeshua - God of My Salvation
Isaiah 12:2 “Behold, God my salvation (El Yeshua), I will trust and not be afraid; for Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.
When did God become our salvation? When Jesus (Yeshua) bore our sin on the cross! Isn’t it amazing that Yeshua was part of God’s name even in the Old Testament?

El Kanno - The Jealous God
Exodus 20:5 “You shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God (El Kanno), visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.”
God hates sharing you. He hates getting half of you and losing the other half of you to the world. He wants every part of you, every second of your day, and every ounce of your devotion.

El Chaiyai - The God of My Life
Psalm 42:8 “yahweh will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me— a prayer to the God of my life (El Chaiyai).”
This name makes everything that God is personal to us. The God of Salvation is the God of my life! The Gracious and Merciful God is the God of my life! The God of Strength and Power is the God of my life! If you’ll let Him, He wants to be the God of your life too!

Romans 8:31 “What then shall we say to these things? If God (the Faithful God, the God of Truth, the God of Knowledge, the God of Strength and Power, the Gracious God, the Merciful God, the Holy God) is for us, who can be against us?

Monday, April 23, 2012

El Shaddai

Genesis 17:1 “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God (El Shaddai); walk before Me and be blameless. 2 And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.

El Shaddai is another name or title of God. Like the other “El” names - El Shaddai is used to describe a specific characteristic or trait of God. In most English translations, this name is translated as God Almighty. This is a little unusual, considering the literal meaning. Shaddai literally means “many breasted”. This reference to the female body as a description of God must’ve made the translators a little nervous.

To be clear, God is NOT female! El Shaddai is not speaking of a lewd or pagan concept of God. Remember, the “El” names are descriptive of God’s nature. So what in God’s nature could “the many breasted God” be describing?

Let’s go back to Genesis 1:27. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” God made man in His image, but that isn’t a reference to males. When we read that man was made in His image, it’s better said “mankind.” We know it’s referring to males and female because this verse says so! Both men and women were made in God’s image. God put part of His nature in the male and part in the female. Together, they were to reflect God’s entire nature. After God made mankind (male and female), He blessed them and gave them dominion over the earth (verse 28). Men and women were made to display God’s nature on the earth. This is why it has always been God’s will for children to have a mother and a father. Together they can relate God’s entire nature to that child.

When we realize this, we can understand that there is something in a mother’s nature that reflects God’s own nature. This is what the word shaddai pictures, the care that a nursing mother has for her child. So El Shaddai is the God Who cares for us.

El Shaddai is named many times in the book of Genesis, as God is dealing with the Patriarchs. Isn’t it interesting that God revealed Himself to these great fathers as Someone who cares like a mother?
Genesis 28:3 “May El Shaddai bless you, and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may be an assembly of peoples
Genesis 35:11 “Also God said to him: “I am El Shaddai. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body.

Although Isaiah doesn’t use the name El Shaddai, he clearly describes the care God has for His people. Isaiah 66:13 gives us a beautiful word picture: “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” The next time you see a mother comforting a child who hurt himself, you’re looking at a picture of how God comforts us in our own trouble!

Isaiah 49:15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you.” Sadly, we have seen many mothers who have forgotten and forsaken their children. You see, a mother’s love isn’t perfect anymore - we live in a fallen world now. But no matter how your parents cared for you (good or bad), God’s tender care goes far beyond that! Psalm 27:10 says, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then Yahweh will take care of me.

God cares for you. He’ll never leave you or abandon you (Hebrews 13:5). If you stay close to Him, He will bring you through whatever problem you’re in. Trust in the care of El Shaddai!

Psalm 91:1 “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High (El Elyon) shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty (El Shaddai).”

Friday, April 20, 2012

El Roi

Genesis 16:13 Then she called the name of Yahweh who spoke to her, You are The-God-Who-Sees (El Roi); for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?

El Roi is another name of God (like El Elyon and El Olam) that describes one of His specific attributes. It literally means the God who sees. It tells us that He observes, considers, and distinguishes. It is the name of the all-seeing God. El Roi sees us, knows us as we really are, sees what we try to hide, and sees what we’re going through.

God sees us as we really are. For an unbeliever, that is not a good thing. But for the ones who have faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, it’s a very good thing! Why? Because He doesn’t see us as sinners any more.

He sees believers the way that 2 Corinthians 5:21 describes us: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 1 Corinthians 1:30 declares that Jesus became righteousness for us. So because of what Jesus gave us, God now sees us the same way He saw Noah in Genesis 7:1. “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.” God sees us the way we really are - righteous, the way Jesus made us.

That’s worth repeating -  God sees us as righteous!

There is another side to this, though - we’re called to pursue righteousness (1 Timothy 6:11) and to seek righteousness (Matthew 6:33). We can’t live a sinful, rebellious lifestyle, refuse to repent, and then claim that we’re righteous in Jesus. Righteous people seek and pursue the righteous way of life. It’s cause and effect - we were made righteous, so we seek righteousness! Why? Because now we serve a righteous God who sees everything!

Hebrews 4:13 warns us, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

Even after we’re saved, God sees our conduct. One day we’ll be required to account for what we do on earth, and nothing is going to be hidden on that day! Psalm 94:7 speaks of the people who claim that God won’t see their wrongdoing. It says, “Yet they say, ‘The Lord does not see, nor does the God of Jacob understand.’ Understand, you senseless among the people; and you fools, when will you be wise? He who planted the ear, shall He not hear? He who formed the eye, shall He not see?

In the book of Jeremiah, God saw the sins of His people - those who were called by His name and who were worshipping in His temple! Out of love for them, He sent Jeremiah to warn them. God’s exact words were “Behold, I have seen.” Nothing they were doing was hidden from God’s sight - and nothing we do is either.

Some Christians ignorantly say, “Doesn’t the Bible say that God doesn’t see my sin?” Yes, that is part of the truth. But it isn’t the whole truth. You see, God does say in Hebrews 10:17, “Your sins and your lawless deeds, I will remember no more” - but read it again carefully! God chose not to remember our sins, but He did see them at first! There’s a crucial step between God seeing our sin and God forgetting our sin. That step we all have to take is called repentance!

Thankfully, God sees repentance too! Nineveh is a great example of how God sees repentance. When Jonah preached about impending judgement, the entire city of Nineveh repented. Jonah 3:10 says “When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.” God saw their repentant hearts and forgave them. And, since El Elyon never chages, He will do the same for us. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.

Repentance and forgiveness isn’t about God closing His eyes to the sin that’s in our life. El Roi never closes His eyes, God always sees everything! Instead, God’s forgiveness is about Him washing us clean from our sin. When we’re forgiven, there is nothing in our life anymore for Him to see! Think about this, the God Who sees everything, sees us as righteous! When we’re forgiven, there is literally no sin in us for Him to look at!

Let’s start seeing ourselves the way El Roi sees us!