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By Quek Keng Khwang

Preached at / Published Life BPC Weekly, 2002-08-04

Text: Ezekiel 48:35

It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there. 

INTRODUCTION

The LORD is There or Jehovah Shammah is today's topic. In this fast-paced society that we are living in, have you stopped and paused and considered those who are around you, your spouse, parents, children, loved ones and friends. Have you taken their everyday presence for granted? It would be unthinkable if we ever take those who loved and cared for us for granted. But it nothing can be worst if we ever take God's presence and love for us for granted. We have heard the messages on the attributes and character of our awesome God that He is the all seeing one who watches over us - El-Rohi, He is the eternal one who is El-Olam, He is the Most High God - El- Elyon and He is the Almighty One - El -Shaddai. 

But look at our lives today, is there something amiss? Where is the reverential fear for God in His presence, where is the purity of life that is demand of us when we say we love Him? Where is the trust in His goodness in times of trouble?

The Israelites very well realized their spiritual heritage. They knew who God is. His awesome power and goodness brought their fathers into the Promised Land. The problem was they had taken the LORD God for granted who had. They reciprocated God�s love by hardening their hearts and turning against the commandments of God,

And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day. For they are impudent children and stiffhearted. I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD. And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them. Eze. 2:3-5 

Instead of fearing, honouring and loving Him, they dragged themselves down into the miry pit of spiritual adultery and a blatant disregard to the statutes and judgments of God. Having witnessed the destruction of the Northern Kingdom by the Assyrians in 722 B.C., they never realized the imminence of the wrath of God and persisted in their rebellion. Finally, God sent the Babylonians under the leadership of Nebuchadnezzar to conquer the Southern Kingdom in three waves of invasion in 605 BC; 597 BC and 586 BC. 

By the sovereign hand of God, Ezekiel, the priest from the line of Zadok and the son of Buzi was taken captive in the second invasion of 597 BC when he was 25 years old. At the age of 30 God commissioned him to be His prophet to bring message of the imminent total destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC and to warn the exiled Israelites to repent of their sins. But sadly, they refused to believe (Eze 3:7) thinking that the reigning king Zedekiah would fight a winning battle against Nebuchadnezzar.

But God is love. In the midst of His fury against His disobedient children who were the apple of His eyes and for His name's sake, He gave a promise of future restoration. Chapter 33 of Ezekiel tells us the third wave of destruction by Nebuchadnezzar because of king Zedekiah's rebellion against the superpower of Babylon. Ezekiel's tongue was loosed not to preach a 'see, you deserve it' kind of message but a message of a wonderful promise of future restoration. That the Israelites will re-gather, their land would be restored and allotted according to the 12 tribes as specified by God, there would be a millennial temple with measurements dictated by God and there will be a holy city with given specific measurements. In profound assertion and excitement, Ezekiel inspired by the Holy God named the city, Jehovah-Shammah, the LORD is there.

It matters very much to Ezekiel to know of God's returning presence. Because in Ezekiel 10-11, God's glorious presence has departed from the temple in Jerusalem. It was a tremendous good news and joy not only to the hearers but to Ezekiel himself to have seen God's glorious visions in the beginning and now seeing it come to full circle that His presence with His Shekinah glory would return in the millennium. God's presence would return and dwell with them. A great honour and privilege that God would name this city in His name. Unlike Elohim that is, God speaks of His overwhelming majesty, power and eternal Creator, God's intensely personal name, Jehovah or Yahweh was used. The word shammah comes with a directive he. The sham means there and God adds the mah, to point to a direction and purpose. The LORD says He is not only there but it also speaks of His determined purpose to abide with His children. It manifests the depth, the height and the breadth of God's love to condescend to dwell with His people.

Ezekiel referred to a city in the Millennium. Likewise John also saw this vision in John 21:12 in the eternal state, the new heavens and new earth of this holy city Rev 21:12-13. However, we have a foretaste of it here. God dwells (tabernacled), or reside among us in the Person of Jesus Christ. He is the Emmanuel. God is with us yesterday, today and forever. He redeemed us by His precious blood when He sheds it upon the cross of Calvary to pay the penalty for our sins that we may abide in Him and He in us. The Holy Spirit would also indwell in us in this holy temple. My dear friends, the LORD is Here. His presence abides with us.

The Knowledge of the Presence of God would Compel Us to Fear and Obey Him

With this knowledge of the abiding presence of God and His omniscience, does it compel your to fear Him with a reverential fear. The Jews out of reverential fear refused to pronounce it but called the name adonai or hashem (the Name). In the King James it is spelt as LORD in the upper case. It is said that when the scribes before writing this name into the manuscripts, would have to bathe themselves before they could write this name.

There was no fear of God in the Israelites' eyes. They took Him for granted. They did what was right in their own eyes as in the time of Judges. They indulge in earthly pleasure inspite of divine displeasure. We may condemn the Israelites of their stubbornness and hardened hearts but do we fear God ourselves. Do we care about His abiding presence in our worship and in our daily lives? 

Look at us how we prepare ourselves for the Lord's day. Do we delight in the Sabbath day? We stay up late for late night matinees on TV, latest movies on videos, surfing the internet, getting a thrill out of computer games.

In worship, do we seek His face? Do we praise Him with a heart of praise, adoration and gratitude? Why are we late to come and enter into His presence? Should we treat Worship as attending a Chinese Wedding Dinner when we casually stroll in to take our seats? Why are we so lethargic to come into His presence every morning to have communion with Him? Isa 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men cf Matt15:8.

8.00 am & 10.30 am services are not times where you gather for casual conversation and sharing juicy news. It is not a time for daydreaming. It is not a time when you catch up with your forty winks. It is not a time when you pretend to be holy before men but not before God. It is not a time that you could be entertained. It is a time to bow your hearts before the LORD, to give your worship and praise to His awesome and holy Name and to be hearers and doers of God's Word.

Are we living in obedience to His Word? Does the lust of the eyes gripped you that you are addicted to pornography, to have a long lasting look at lewd magazine covers? Does it gripped that you covet and spent on things that are not necessary and beyond your means? Does the lust of the flesh so let you succumbed to the moral vices of the world? Where is the holiness demanded of you Christians, the called out saints, the ones that are set apart for holiness? Have you brought down the Lord's name to no repute?

The millennial temple, the land allotted to the tribes and the holy city of Jerusalem is measured to its precise measurements. God gave the specific measurements to impress upon Ezekiel that all things must be done in God's way. How we conduct our lives must also be done in God's ways based on the full authority of God's infallible and inerrant Word that is the Bible.

The Knowledge of the Presence of God would Compel Us to Believe in Him.

What a wonderful name Jehovah is. Jehovah speaks of the direct and personal character of God's merciful and loving relationship with His people. It speaks of His covenantal love and a covenantal keeping God. God kept His covenant unilaterally. The covenant depends not on man's faithfulness for there is none but God's faithfulness (Lam 3:23). He kept His promise to send His Son Jesus Christ in Gen 3:15 and He fulfilled it. The name Jesus means Jehovah Saves. He is the great I Am. (Ex 3:14). He is called the Wonderful, Couselor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. He is Emmanuel. God with us. John 1:14: And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil 2: 6-11: Jehovah took the form of a servant made in the likeness of men to abide with us but the apostle John gave a sad commentary of the world's response to His glorious dwelling among us: He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. John 1:10

But John continued that those who knew the Lord Jesus, He gave a wonderful promise: But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1:12-13 The sins that clogged and choked our lives can only be washed away, be forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ, Emmanuel. Do not doubt but repent and only believe. Jesus is Emmanuel Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. Acts 16:31.

The Knowledge of the Presence of God would Compel Us to be Comforted in Him

When Ezekiel was struck dumb by the LORD and that He would open his mouth only when God caused Him to prophesy. It is a sign of God's indictment against His people. The LORD fulfilled the promise as in 24:2, In that day shall thy mouth be opened to him which is escaped, and thou shalt speak, and be no more dumb: and thou shalt be a sign unto them; and they shall know that I am the LORD. But God was slow to wrath but quick to love and to give His divine blessings. He promised the future restoration of Israel and her glory in eight chapters 40-48 and ending with the climactic statement by Ezekiel - The LORD is There.

The building of the temple, the restoration of the land, the promise of the holy city would not mean anything to Ezekiel if the LORD is not there. But Ezekiel knew God's presence would return in chapter 36: 27-28 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Moreover, in chapter 34:10-31, compared to the false shepherds. God would be our Shepherd. God gave many comforting I wills. It echoes the Shepherd Psalm of David, Psalm 23: The LORD is my Shepherd. I shall lack nothing� Thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. That is also God's assurance to Joshua, Jos 1:5. there shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Jesus gave this assurance too, I will not leave you comfortless Jn 14:18. The apostle Paul reiterated this assurance in 2 Cor 1:3, 4: Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4: Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Is your heart sorrowful, is your heart filled with pain or grief? Is your heart filled with discouragement? Is your heart carrying burdens that are heavy to bear Call upon the name of the LORD for He is there. Isaiah 43:2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

Allow me to share my testimony. It was 12.50 am Friday morning, I was already in the coach to Kemaman to preach at the Worship service. When my handphone rang and my wife in a frantic voice says that my daughter was vomiting very badly. At that time, in the darkness of the coach and the night, I wished that I was there to be with my wife and daughter and son. I wished I would be the one to bring my daughter to the hospital instead of my wife having to trouble my parents- in-law who were living in Bishan and we in Woodlands. I wished I could be there. The Lord was good to bring to my mind that Jehovah Shammah, The LORD is there. He would be there to take care and watch over my family and to heal my daughter. My anxious hearts was assuaged with the abiding Presence of my LORD and my God. All went well, my daughter has been discharged from hospital. He has seen my family through that troubled moment. 

CONCLUSION

Remember that wonderful name of Jehovah Shammah. Do not take the LORD our God for granted. He deserved every ounce of our reverential awe and worship and obedience. He is our Great Shepherd the God of all comforts that though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Jehovah Shammah, the LORD is there.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

December 3 & 10 - Holy Living

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 2 Peter 3:11