Jesus Plus Nothing Bible Studies
Knowledge of the Holy: Ezekiel sees Jehovah Shammah - The Lord is there!
by I Gordon
Ezekiel 48:35 "... and the name of the city from that day
shall be, 'The LORD is there.'"
The next name of the Lord that I want to study is
found preciously one time in the Bible and that is the name Jehovah Shammah
(meaning 'the Lord is there'). If I were to tell you that it is found in the
book of Ezekiel somewhere, you would do well to start from the end (with the
intention of working backwards) for it is found in the very last verse of
the very last chapter of Ezekiel. Not a bad way to end don't you think?
There are a lot of prophecies of judgement in the book of Ezekiel and a lot
of warnings that Ezekiel himself had to give to both Israel and the
surrounding nations, but it is comforting that it ends on this truly high
note of seeing a vision of the future city of Jerusalem which will have a
new name - Jehovah Shammah, the Lord is there!
So let's explore this name a little, both for our
own personal life today and also in regards to this glorious day that is
prophesied to come. Let's start with... um which one... ok, the prophetic
and then look at a personal aspect. Got it? Right...
Background background background. Never forget the
The Believers Bible Commentary gives the following
background to the book and days of Ezekiel:
"Ezekiel (God strengthens or strengthened by God)
was one of those who was taken to Babylonia with the second group of
captives, eleven years before Jerusalem was destroyed.... Ezekiel ministered
to his fellow-exiles immediately before and during the first twenty-some
years of the captivity. They falsely expected to return to Jerusalem, so he
taught them that they must first return to the Lord. Ezekiel's prophecy is
divided into three parts.
First, he rehearses the sins of Judah and
warns of God's impending judgment in the captivity of the people and the
destruction of the capital. This is all vividly announced in unusual visions
and symbolic acts. A bright, shining cloud, a figure of God's presence, is
seen lingering over the temple, then reluctantly departing. This meant that
God could no longer dwell among His people because of their sin, and His
sword of judgment must soon descend on the polluted temple. The glory of the
Lord is one of the key thoughts running throughout the Book of Ezekiel.
In the second section, Judah's neighbors are condemned because of their
idolatry and their cruel treatment of God's people. These are the Ammonites,
Moabites, Edomites, Philistines, Tyrians, Sidonians, and Egyptians.
Finally, in the last section, Ezekiel tells of the restoration and reunion
of the entire nation - both Israel and Judah. When the people repent of their
sins, God will put His Holy Spirit within them. The Messiah will come to His
people and destroy their last enemies. The temple will be rebuilt, and the
glory of the Lord will return to it. These prophecies have not yet been
fulfilled, but look forward to Christ's one-thousand-year reign on earth,
Ichabod - the departure of the Glory in stages
Now it is easy to just quote the very last verse in
the book of Ezekiel and think 'Great, the Lord will be there. Wonderful. All
is well!' But the significance of this is undermined without knowing what
else Ezekiel saw. You see, before seeing this prophetic vision of a future
city of Jerusalem with the Lord present within, Ezekiel saw the departure of
God's glory from Israel. Ezekiel actually saw this happening in stages:
Ezekiel 10:4 Then the glory of the LORD rose from above
the cherubim and moved to the threshold of the temple. The cloud filled the
temple, and the court was full of the radiance of the glory of the LORD.
So first of all Ezekiel saw the glory cloud of the
Lord, symbolising the very presence of God, rise from Ark of the Covenant in
the Holy of Holies in the Temple and move to the very edge of the temple.
Judgement from the Babylonians (allowed by the Lord) was coming and the Lord
was departing. Yet at this stage Ezekiel may not have know what this vision
Ezekiel 10:18-19 Then the glory of the LORD departed
from over the threshold of the temple and stopped above the cherubim. (19)
While I watched, the cherubim spread their wings and rose from the ground,
and as they went, the wheels went with them. They stopped at the entrance to
the east gate of the LORD's house, and the glory of the God of Israel was
From the edge of the temple, Ezekiel next sees the
glory of the Lord moving away to the east gate. This would have been a
devastating vision for Ezekiel to see because God was essentially writing
'Ichabod' - meaning 'there is no glory' over Judah. He was leaving,
judgement was coming and it wasn't clear at this stage when or if He would
Ezekiel 11:22-23 Then the cherubim, with the wheels
beside them, spread their wings, and the glory of the God of Israel was
above them. (23) The glory of the LORD went up from within the city and
stopped above the mountain east of it.
From the east gate of the city, Ezekiel next saw the
glory of the Lord depart outside the city to the mountain on the east. thus,
it would have passed over the Kidron valley to the Mount of Olives. The
glory had departed to the east and left... but for how long? Would the glory
return? The Bible knowledge commentary adds here:
"This departure signaled Jerusalem's doom. The
city would be devoid of God's blessing till the glory will return via the
Mount of Olives. It is no coincidence that Christ ascended to heaven
from the Mount of Olives (Act 1:9-12) and promised to return to the same
place (Act 1:11; cf. Zec 14:4)."
This departure occurred during the days of Ezekiel
and was played out again with the rejection and departure of the Lord Jesus.
But is that the end of Judah and Israel as a whole? Or did Ezekiel see more
than would give hope for the future?
YES! He saw the return!
Yes! You know it! God may have departed but
his plan and promises are never thwarted! We now live nearly two thousand
years since Jesus returned back to Heaven from the Mount of Olives on the
east of Jerusalem. For much of that time the land of Israel has lay
abandoned. And yet Ezekiel saw a tremendous final vision of a restored
Jerusalem and, most importantly, the return of the glory of the Lord from
Ezekiel 43:1-7 Then the man brought me to the gate
facing east, (2) and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming
from the east. His voice was like the roar of rushing
waters, and the land was radiant with his glory.
(3) The vision I saw was like the vision I had seen when he came to destroy
the city and like the visions I had seen by the Kebar River, and I fell
facedown. (4) The glory of the LORD entered the temple through the
gate facing east. (5) Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me
into the inner court, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. (6) While
the man was standing beside me, I heard someone speaking to me from inside
the temple. (7) He said: "Son of man, this is the place of my throne
and the place for the soles of my feet. This is where I will live among the
Israelites forever. The house of Israel will never again defile my
holy name--neither they nor their kings--by their prostitution and the
lifeless idols of their kings at their high places.
saw the glory of God depart but thank God, he also saw it return. God NEVER
gives up on those that are His and He will NEVER fail to fulfill His many
promises. So Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord return through the east gate.
Today, this gate is called the 'Golden gate' or 'Beautiful Gate' (Acts 3:2)
and is pictured to the right. It is believed that the present gate was built
in the 520's on top of the remains of the previous gate destroyed by the
Roman Empire. Under the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent
sealed off the Golden Gate in 1541 and a Muslim cemetery was placed in front
of it in the belief that this would prevent the Jewish Messiah from coming
back (good luck with that!).
But man's effort will in no way stop the scripture
from being fulfilled and this passage will come to pass with the second
coming of Jesus Christ and His rule and reign from Jerusalem. He is the
glory of God and Jerusalem is the place of His throne during His reign. It
is a day when no one will even speak or think of the Ark of Covenant anymore
because the very real presence of God will with man. Just as the prophet
Jer 3:16-17 In those days, when your numbers have
increased greatly in the land," declares the LORD, "men will no longer say,
'The ark of the covenant of the LORD.' It will never enter their minds or be
remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. (17) At
that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations
will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the LORD. No longer will they
follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts.
The Lord Jesus, the Messiah of Israel and the world,
will return and the gates will be opened to Him as shown in Psalm 24:
Psa 24:9-10 Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift
them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he,
this King of glory? The LORD Almighty-- he is the King of glory. Selah
Truly, as Ezekiel states in the last verse of his
book 'And the name of the city from that time on will be: Jehovah Shammah -
THE LORD IS THERE."
Jehovah Shammah - The personal application
We've seen a brief glimpse of what 'Jehovah Shammah'
means for the future and that is that Jesus Christ, who is the very presence
and glory of God, will dwell in the earthly city of Jerusalem. But what of
Jehovah Shammah for our lives now? There are many verses that could be
looked at but one example is Psalm 46 which emphasizes the closeness and
ever-present God we serve. It is a wonderful Psalm which gave the theme for
Martin Luther's great hymn, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God."
Psa 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an
ever-present help in trouble.
God is an ever-present help... Especially in times
of need or trouble. He is Jehovah Shammah - the One who is there! Have you
experienced that? Have you seen that He is close when your need is greatest?
Maybe it is health problems. Maybe it is family or relationships. Maybe you are going through
difficult financial trouble. Know this today - God IS an ever-present help
in times of need. He is the One who is with you (if you are a believer) and
upholds you. I can state from experience that God has been very kind to me
in my times of real difficulty. He has been present. He has encouraged me,
strengthened me and upheld me. Often I have had to continue in the
difficulty longer than I would choose but He like a Father holding the hand of
His young son, so God has kept me from falling through many dangers, toils
Heb 4:15-16 For we do not have a High Priest who
cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we
are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of
grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
He is Jehovah Shammah. The One who is there. Have
you learned to experience this name of God? Look at what the Psalmist found:
Psa 46:7-11 The LORD of hosts is with us; The God
of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. (8) Come, behold the works of the LORD,
Who has wrought desolations in the earth. (9) He makes wars to cease to the
end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the
chariots with fire. (10) "Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be
exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." (11)
The LORD of
hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.
The LORD of hosts is with us. He is not a God who is
distant or far away but One that is present with His people. That knowledge
becomes our stronghold, our security, our foundation in tough times. Do you
know this? Are you putting into practice the command of the Lord in this
passage to 'cease striving (or be still) and know that I am God.' We
struggle and strive a lot do we not? We feel the weight of problems and rush
around trying to find an answer and a way of escape. Jehovah Shammah would
say to us this day 'Be still and know that I am God'. 'I am with you - right
unto the very end of the age.' 'It is in hand... I am present and all that you need'.
The Psalmist ends with a 'Selah' - that is, stop,
think and meditate on this. It is important... then and now. Finally, our response to
this knowledge is in verse 2 and 3:
Psa 46:2-3 Therefore we will not fear, though the
earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, (3) though
its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah
In the days ahead may you experience more of Jehovah