From Praying the Names of God Week Twenty-Five, Day Four
Strictly speaking, Yahweh Shammah is a name for a city rather than a title of God. But it is so closely associated with God's presence and power that it has often been equated with a name for God, at least in popular parlance. The name in the New Testament that is most closely associated with it is Immanuel, "God with us," a name that was given to Jesus. Yahweh Shammah (yah-WEH SHAM-mah), "The LORD is there," reminds us that we were created both to enjoy and to manifest God's presence..
And the name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE. (Ezekiel 48:35)
PRAYING THE NAME
Then the LORD said to me:"Even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before me,my heart would not go out to this people. Send them away from my presence! Let them go!" (Jeremiah 15:1)
Then he will say to those on his left,"Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me." (Matthew 25:41-43)
Praise God: For his presence in your life.
Offer Thanks: For the ways God has revealed himself to you.
Confess: Any neglect of the poor and needy.
Ask God: To make you an instrument of his love, revealing his presence through your acts of kindness.
If someone asked you who said the most terrifying words in the Bible, how would you answer? Would you cite one of the prophets? Perhaps Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Ezekiel, who thundered on about fire, famine, conquest, doom, and calamity? Would you go back to the beginning, quoting God himself in Genesis' account of Adam and Eve's expulsion from Paradise?
It might not occur to you that the most terrifying words of all are spoken not in the Hebrew Scriptures but in the New Testament, and they are spoken not by some stern prophet but by Jesus himself: "Depart from me." Three little words that sum up the worst of all fears. Why? Because they describe hell, define damnation. To be cast out of paradise with no hope of return is to be separated from God forever. Abandoning God, we find ourselves abandoned.
Instead of Yahweh Shammah, we hear "God is not there." Instead of Immanuel ("God with us"), we hear, "God is not with you." When we lose God, we lose hope, love, mercy, faith, kindness, beauty, joy, happiness, comfort, pleasure, strength, wonder, justice, goodness, friendship, peace, protection, understanding, tenderness. You can make up your own list of all the good things that would be subtracted from your life were there no trace of God in it.
But why entertain such thoughts? Because, to paraphrase the words of an old song, we don't know what we've got 'til it's gone. We don't realize the benefits of air, for instance, until we are deprived of it for even a few seconds. If you want to grasp the importance of something, it may help to consider what life would be like without it. Don't take my word for it. Spend ten minutes today imagining even a day of your life without God in it. Then spend ten minutes calling to mind all the blessings of his presence you regularly take for granted. Remember, too, that God's presence in your life should overflow into the world around you. Do what you can while you can to feed the hungry, welcome strangers, clothe the poor, heal the sick, and care for those in prison. As you do, you will understand more deeply the words spoken by Ezekiel more than five hundred years before the birth of Christ: "And the name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE."
Two of Ann Spangler's most-loved books have been released in paperback: Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus.
These books help us understand the biblical context in which these names and titles were revealed, and help us gain a more intimate knowledge of the Father and of the Son.