February 29, 2016

Judges 6:21-24

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Judges 6:24 is the only reference in the Bible for Jehovah-ShalomThe LORD is Peace.  Judges 6:11 through 8:32 is the story of Gideon.  The Midianites were enemies of Israel, yet related to them through the son of that name, born to Abraham of Katurah, his concubine (see Genesis 25:1, 2).  The tribe of Midian lived to the south of Palestine in Arabia, east of the Gulf of Aqaba.  In Judges 6:1 it says that in Gideon’s day that they ruled over Israel for seven years.

God called Gideon to fight the Midianites and deliver Israel from their dominion.  But Gideon needed confirmation.  So he tested God twice by putting out the fleece of a sheep (see Judges 6:36-40).  But before the fleece, when God first called him by sending “…the Angel of the LORD…to him…” (Judges 6:12), Gideon wanted proof that the call was from God.  He told the Angel in Judges 6:17, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who talk with me.”  Then Gideon went and prepared a goat with unleavened bread for an offering.  Here are the featured verses, Judges 6:21 through 24 9 (English Standard Version):

      Then the Angel of the LORD reached out the tip of the staff that was
      in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes.  And fire
      sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened
      cakes.  And the Angel of the LORD vanished from his sight.  Then Gid-
      eon perceived that He was the Angel of the LORD.  And Gideon said,
      “Alas, O Lord GOD!  For now I have seen the Angel of the LORD face
      to face.”  But the LORD said to him, “Peace be to you.  Do not fear;
      you shall not die.”  Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and
      called it, The LORD Is Peace [Jehovah-Shalom].

It seems Gideon was familiar with Moses’ writings.  For Moses had recorded in Exodus 33:20 what God told him when he had requested of Lord “Please, show me Your glory.” (Exodus 33:18).  God said, “You cannot see my face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”  Gideon was afraid he would die for having seen the Angel of the LORD face to face!  Many Bible scholars identify the Angel of the LORD with the pre-incarnate Christ!  When God assured him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die…,” Gideon honored God by building an altar “…and called it, The LORD Is Peace [Jehovah-Shalom].

In the Old Testament we find the word peace 318 times!  Ten times in the gospels it is recorded that Jesus told people to be at peace!  Forty-seven times Paul wrote of peace!  Fifteen times in the general epistles peace is mentioned!  Twice we see the word peace in Revelation!  Peace must be an important concept in the Bible!

How is it that the LORD is peace for us?

•      We were created to be centered in the Lord God – to be at peace with Him and so experience peace within ourselves.

•      It says in Romans 8:7 and 8 (Good News Bible):

      …people become enemies of God when they are controlled by their human
      nature; for they do not obey God’s law, and in fact they cannot obey it. 
      Those who obey their human nature cannot please God.

Before we submit to Jesus Christ, all we have out of which to operate our lives is the human nature!

•      In Colossians 1:21 Paul writes, “…you…once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works….”  If God is the source of peace, we cannot experience peace if we are alienated from God and enemies of God!

•      But, according to the verse just before – Colossians 1:20 (Modern King James Version) – it is written:  “…through…[Jesus] having made peace through the blood of His cross, it pleased the Father to reconcile all things to Himself through Him….

•      And in Romans 5:1:  “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand….

•      When we have peace with God, we also can experience peace within!  Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

•      When we have peace with God and peace within, then we can experience peace with others!  As Paul said in I Thessalonians 5:13, “Be at peace among yourselves.

•      According to Proverbs 16:7, the Bible even holds the answer to war in this old world!  “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”  This principle holds true with nations as well as individuals!

So experience Jehovah-ShalomThe LORD Is Peace!  And let the peaceful blessings flow!


February 26, 2016

Genesis 22:13, 14

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Only once in the Bible does Jehovah-Jireh occur, in Genesis 22:14.  God had told Abraham in verse 2 of Genesis 22:

      Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the
      land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the
      mountains of which I shall tell you.

The Scripture spares us the agony of the struggle Abraham must have had that night.  Isaac was the old man’s son of promise, the son born to him when he was a hundred years old!  But it says in verse 3, “So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took…Isaac his son…and went to the place of which God had told him.”  He was actually going to do it!  Abraham had Isaac tied up on the altar and the knife raised to plunge into his son!  It was then…

      …the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham,
      Abraham!…Do not lay your hand on the lad…for now I know that you
      fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from
      Me.” (Genesis 22:11, 12).

Now to our featured Scripture – Genesis 22:13 and 14:

      Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a
      ram caught in a thicket by its horns.  So Abraham went and took the ram,
      and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.  And Abraham
      called the name of the place The-LORD-Will-Provide [Jehovah-Jireh];
      as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”

Oh, to have the faith of Abraham!  He knew, without a doubt, The-LORD-Will-Provide!  But he did not know God would deliver his only son by substituting a ram for the burnt offering sacrifice God told him to give.  But in the ‘faith chapter’ of Hebrews 11, it says this in verses 17 through 19:

      By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who
      had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it
      was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” accounting that God was
      able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received
      him in a figurative sense.

Abraham firmly believed, if God made the promise to bless him with a multitude of descendants through Isaac (see Genesis 15:5; 21:12), then Isaac would live to fulfill that promise, even if God had to raise him from the dead!  Hebrews 11:19 (above) tells us that figuratively speaking, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead!  For in the old man’s mind, it was settled that Isaac would die as an offering to God!

But God provided in an unusual way!  There was a ram – a little ways off, but far enough that at first Abraham had not noticed it – and it was caught in a thicket by its horns, perhaps a bramble bush.  But there that ram was, obviously provided by God, to offer in the place of Isaac!

Now here is something of which you may not have realized:  Mount Moriah, upon which Abraham offered Isaac, is thought by some scholars to be the same hill upon which Jesus was crucified!  He was the offering for sin in our place!  And through Him, God pours out to us all His marvelous blessings! (See Romans 8:32).

Jehovah-Jireh – The-LORD-Will-Provide!  Paul tells us in Philippians 4:19, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”  Do you believe thatall your need will be provided?  How big are His riches in glory?  In Psalm 50:10 through 12, the psalmist writes:

      For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. 
      I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field
      are Mine.  If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine,
      and all its fullness.

John W. Peterson wrote a gospel song based on Psalm 5:10 through 12:

               He owns the cattle on a thousand hills,
                      The wealth in every mine;
               He owns the rivers and the rocks and rills,
                      The sun and stars that shine.
               Wonderful riches, more than tongue can tell –
                       He is my Father so they’re mine as well;
               He owns the cattle on a thousand hills –
                       I know that He will care for me.

There are many other Scriptures that tell of God’s provision (see Psalm 23:1; 37:3-5, 25; Matthew 6:24-34; Luke 6:38; II Corinthians 9:8).  Read these Scriptures!  Study them!  Memorize them!  The-LORD-Will-Provide – Jehovah-Jireh!  May you prove Him to be so in your life!


February 24, 2016

Exodus 31:12, 13; Leviticus 20:7, 8

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

This name of God combined with Jehovah is one I have rarely heard – Jehovah-Mekoddishkem.  But the characteristic of God it represents is so important!  Translated from Hebrew it means, the LORD who sanctifies you, or the LORD who makes you holy.  This name is found two times in the Bible, in Exodus 31:12 &13 and Leviticus 20:7 & 8:

      And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak also to the children of
      Israel, saying, ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign be-
      tween Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know
      that I am the LORD who sanctifies you.’”

      Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be holy:  for I am the LORD your God. 
      And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them:  I am the LORD who
      sanctifies you.

According to Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary, Mekoddishkem is derived from kaw-dash’, “A primitive root; to be (causatively make, pronounce or observe as) clean (ceremonially or morally)….”  Eerdman’s The New Bible Dictionary says this in the article, Sanctification, Sanctify – in the Old Testament :

      God’s exhortation, “Be…holy, for I am holy” [Levitcus 11:44, 45], re-
      quired a moral and spiritual response from the people, a reflection of
      His moral excellence of righteousness, purity, hatred of moral evil, lov-
      ing concern for the welfare of others in obedience to His will; for the
      Holy One of Israel was actively engaged for the good of His people…
      as well as being separated from evil….His holiness was both transcen-
      dent [the exaltation of God above the universe and His distinction from it]
      and immanent [presence of God in the world, in oppostion to trancendence]
      …and theirs was to be correspondingly characterized.

Jehovah-Mekoddishkem the LORD who makes you holy.  I remember the early morning prayer times of which I was a part with a group of ministers and lay people.  It was held three times a week for seven years as we gathered to pray for revival.  Sometimes we met in the Nazarene church.  There, as we knelt before the altar rail, I would look up at the cross on the wall.  Above it was a bold sign – “Holiness To The Lord”!  I thought that sign should be posted prominently in all our churches!

Too often this important aspect of God is not emphasized enough in Christianity – even in evangelical circles.  The author of Hebrews reminds us in Hebrews 12:14:  “Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”  Since God is holy, He demands His children to be holy!  But here is wonderful news – and it is proclaimed in our second featured scripture, Leviticus 20:7 and 8:  “Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be holy: for I am the LORD your God….I am the LORD who sanctifies you.”  While God requires sanctification in His sons and daughters, it is He Himself who accomplishes that sanctification within us! (See March 13, 2013 post – A Little Help Here, Please!).  How does He do that?  In II Peter 1:3 and 4 it is written:

      His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness,
      through the knowledge of Him who called us to glory and virtue, by which
      have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through
      these you may be partakers of the divine nature….

What has God given us?  What gives us the transforming knowledge of Him?  It is the Word of God – the Bible, of course!  Jesus showed us this truth as He prayed in the garden just before He went to the cross.  In John 17:17 He beseeched the Father, “Sanctify them by Your truth.  Your word is truth.”  Sanctify them – make My followers holy – by Your word !  Is it any wonder, then, that Paul pleads with us in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly….”  For if the word dwells in you richly – reading, studying, meditating, memorizing – holiness will be manifested richly in your life!

Dear Christian, may the Lord God be Jehovah-Mekoddishkem to you – and in and through you, to His greater glory!


February 22, 2016

Jeremiah 23:5, 6; 33:14-16

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

The next combination name for Jehovah we will consider is Jehovah-Tsidkenu – the LORD our righteousness.  It is found only twice, and both in the same major prophetic book – Jeremiah 23:5 & 6 and 33:14 through 16:

      “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “that I will raise to David
      a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute
      judgment and righteousness in the earth.  In His days Judah will be saved,
      and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: 

      “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “that I will perform that
      good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house
      of Judah:  in those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David
      a Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgment and righteousness
      in the earth.  In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell
      safely.  And this Is the name by which she [Jerusalem] will be called: 
      The LORD our righteousness.”

Let’s take a fresh look at both parts of this combination name of God:

•      Jehovah comes from Exodus 3:14 and 15 – “I AM WHO I AM….Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’….This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.”  From  “Jehovah is derived from the Hebrew word Havah meaning ‘to be’ or ‘to exist.’  It also suggests ‘to become’ or specifically ‘to become known’ – this denotes a God who reveals Himself unceasingly.

•      Tsidkenu means right – naturally, morally, or legally, and several times in the Bible the Hebrew word is translated justice or righteousness.

Hence, Jehovah-Tsidkenu means the LORD our righteousness.  And since Jehovah denotes a God who reveals Himself unceasingly, and Tsidkenu means our righteousness, then I see where God unceasingly reveals to us more and more how He is our righteousness!

Back on March 27, 2013, I wrote a blog called The Great Exchange, based on II Corinthians 5:21.  Then from April 3 through April 15 of that same year, I followed up with a six-part series called Forgiven And Free!  You would do well to review these seven blogs.  But the main idea of the first blog mentioned above, The Great Exchange, is the truth found in II Corinthians 5:21:  “For He [the Father] made Him [the Son, Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  There are two important parts outlined in this verse:

•      “…He…who knew no sin…[became] sin for us….”  Jesus was absolutely sinless!  Even when He challenged His adversaries by sayingCan any of you convict me of committing a sin?” (John 8:46 – God’s Word), they could not come up with one sin He had committed!  His adversaries – the Jewish leaders – were, by this time in His ministry, watching Jesus closely.  Yet no one could truthfully say He was a sinner!  (See Isaiah 53:9 – 1965 Bible in Basic English, Brenton’s English Septuagint, 1899 Douay-Rheims Bible, Easy-To-Read Version, Jubilee Bible; I Peter 2:22).

And then the Lord took His perfect life and voluntarily laid it down on the cross on our behalf! (See John 10:18).  He took our sins upon Himself, and became sin and sinner before God!  He received the total punishment for our sins! (See Isaiah 53:5, 6; Hebrews 9:26; I Peter 2:24).

But that is only half of the equation outlined in II Corinthians 5:21…

•      “…that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  He strips us of the filthy rags of our sin (see Isaiah 64:4; Zachariah 3:1-4), and clothes us with His own robe of righteousness! (See Isaiah 61:10; Zechariah 3:4, 5; Revelation 7:9-14).  Now, as we stand before God, we are seen by Him as being completely righteous – clothed with the garment of salvation, the perfect robe of Jesus Christ Himself!  As Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:6, “…He has made us accepted in the Beloved.”  We are accepted in God’s holy presence as much as the Father accepts His own Son, Jesus Christ!

As I have grown in my Christian faith, Jehovah God has revealed His imputed righteousness to me more and more! (See Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3, 22-25).  For this I truly thank God, for I have committed numerous and grievous sins in my past.  But my sins and yours are gone – paid for by Jesus Christ on the cross!  I now stand in His perfect righteousness!

And so God is Jehovah-Tsidkenu – the LORD our righteousness!


February 19, 2016

Ezekiel 48:35

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

The last nine chapters of Ezekiel – chapters 40 through 48 – describe an extended vision God gave the prophet concerning the future temple the Jews would someday build.  This was not the edifice Herod the Great built.  The construction that temple continued for about 80 years, from 19 BC to 63 AD.  The temple building itself was finished in ten years or less.  But the decorations and outbuilding construction went on for decades – long after King Herod died.

Herod’s temple was the third Jewish temple.  The first was built by King Solomon, David’s son, and stood by some scholarly estimates from 964 to 586 BC when the Babylonians destroyed it.  The second temple was built by Israelites returning from the 70 year Babylonian captivity.  It was started around 538 BC, and completed about 16 years later.  This second temple stood for over 500 years until it was torn down and replaced by Herod’s temple.

Some say Herod’s temple was not the third one built, but just the second one renovated.  At, I found this:

      Although the reconstruction was equal to an entire rebuilding, still the Herodian
      Temple cannot be spoken of as a third Temple, for Herod even said himself, that
      it was only intended to be regarded as an enlarging and further beautifying of
      that of Zerubbabel’s [the temple built after the Babylonian captivity].

The Jewish temple described in Ezekiel is considered the final temple – built during the first half of the final seven-year Tribulation, and in use and inhabited by the Shekinah glory during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ on earth!

In Ezekiel 48:35, at the very end of the description of this temple (and of Jerusalem where the temple will be located), we are introduced to Jehovah-Shammah – The LORD is there: All the way around [the city of Jerusalem] shall be eighteen thousand cubit:  and the name of the city from that day shall be:  THE LORD IS THERE.

Jehovah-Shammah:  this concept was and is so important to pious Jews.  God had left the temple and the holy city (see Ezekiel chapters 10 and 11) because of the unrepentant sins of His chosen people.  That Shekinah glory never returned!  But God will come back to His temple – the millennial temple – and He will once again His glory will shine forth! (See Ezekiel 43:1-5. Compare Revelation 22:3-5).

What has this to do with us today?  When God gave the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14, He said, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”  Over 700 years later, an angel came to Joseph with this message recorded in Matthew 1:20 through 23.  The angel gave to this man entrusted to be the earthly father of Jesus the meaning of Isaiah’s prophecy:

      “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife,
      for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  And she will
      bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save
      His people from their sins.”  Now all this was done that it might be ful-
      filled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:  “Be-
      hold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a son, and they shall
      call His name Emmanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

God with usin the person of Jesus Christ, who is God come in the flesh! (See I John 4:3).  Jehovah left that first Jewish temple, taking His glory with Him.   But Jesus tells us in Hebrews 13:5 and Matthew 28:20:  “I will never leave you nor forsake you….I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  We are safe in His presence!  He told us in John 6:37, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”  We are not only near God, but He dwells within us permanently by His abiding Holy Spirit! (See John 14:17; I Corinthians 6:19; II Corinthians 6:16; I John 3:24).

Seeing there is not a physical temple today on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, consider what it says in Ephesians 2:20 through 22 (Easy-To-Read Version) and I Peter 2:5 (Good News Bible):

      You believers are like a building that God owns.  That building was built
      on the foundation that the apostles and prophets prepared.  Christ Jesus
      Himself is the most important stone in that building.  The whole building
      is joined together in Christ, and He makes it grow and become a holy
      temple in the Lord.  And in Christ you are being built together with His
      other people. You are being made into a place where God lives through
      the Spirit….Come as living stones, and let yourselves be used in building
      the spiritual temple, where you will serve as holy priests to offer spiritual
      and acceptable sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.

We are the temple of God! (See I Corinthians 6:19).  And while God is there – Jehovah-Shammahit may make for better understanding to say, God is here – right here with you and me, and every other true believer!  Wherever you are, that is where God is!

So remember this!  Practice His presence!  Let His Shekinah glory shine forth!  This truth – Jehovah-Shammah – will radically transform your life!

Jehovah-Raphah – II

February 17, 2016

Exodus 15:26

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

We are looking at one of the names of Jehovah God – Jehovah-Rapha, the LORD who heals. The only Scripture where this name is found is in Exodus 15:26:

      If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God, and do what
      is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His
      statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought
      on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you.

I want to share with you a couple of instances when God has shown Himself to me as Jehovah-Raphah – “…the LORD who heals you.

I have struggled with depression for most of my life. I believe it stems from when my father deserted the family when I was ten years old and my mother had to sell the family dairy farm a few months later. My world fell apart. I searched in a lot of ways – sometimes destructive ways – to make sense of my life. I finally found the right way when I was 19, the Lord Jesus Christ! And He began to bring real meaning back into my life!

But the depression has lingered over the years. Finally, about 20 years ago, my wife told me I should seek help. My doctor suggested an antidepressant which has worked most of the time over the last two decades. But it stopped working when I hit a major challenge about nine years ago. I took a job with the state that was an ill fit, and hit a mental and emotional low. I struggled for two years to regain my proper balance – different doctors, meds, etc. But I still tried to fulfil my Christian and pastoral obligations.

Now I thank God for doctors, medicines, counselors, procedures, and all the rest that we have today in modern medical practice. After all, in Bible days, God had Dr. Luke as a very important part of the early church and spread of Christianity!

At one communion service I was leading in the church where I was then pastor, the ushers were distributing the elements to the people in the pews – the way our church usually did it. I usually greatly enjoy leading in and partaking of communion. But that morning I was seeing everything in shades of black and gray! As I waited for the ushers to finish, I was thinking about testimonies I had heard concerning people receiving healing during communion. I looked up and silently prayed, “Lord, I need a healing too.Immediately I felt the darkness lift! God did a miraculous healing! Although I struggled some after that – and I still do occasionally – that was a major step in getting me back to where I was suppose to be!

A second occurrence of healing happened just two weeks ago. I had been running low-grade fevers for five weeks – half a degree or so above normal – just enough to sap my energy and make me feel physically tired and ‘off.’ Then three weeks ago I experienced severe abdominal pain (I have been occasionally afflicted with colitis for many years). My wife took me to the Emergency Room and, after examination, I was admitted. Many tests later (including the joy of a colonoscopy!) I was diagnose with lymphocytic colitis – a relatively rare microscopic colitis that can cause severe pain and diarrhea. Some people, I learned by researching the disease, were afflicted with such symptoms for years!

The following Tuesday after being released from the hospital, I led a Bible study at a friend’s home. This study group has met for 15 years – a wonderful, supportive gathering of twelve to twenty Christians. I asked them to gather around me and pray for my healing. My dear wife anointed me with oil as we prayed. Two days later I was symptom free – no more fevers or pain! I praise God for His healing! Surely He is Jehovah-Raphah – the LORD who heals me!

There have been many other miracles in my life, involving healing, provision, protection, and the meeting of other needs. And I have been used to facilitate miracles in the lives of others. Bob called the other day after he had heard I was in the hospital. As we talked, he reminded me of the time a small group of ministers prayed for him while I anointed him with oil for healing. His doctor had found a tumor on his leg, and he was going back for another appointment to have it checked out further. The group met again two days later, and I asked Bob how his doctor’s appointment had gone. This 70 year old man burst into tears! “It’s gone!” he said, “The doctor couldn’t even find it!Jehovah-Raphah – the LORD who heals Bob!

I am still studying and learning a lot about healing. I suggest you read those two books I recommended in the last blog. And may you be challenged to learn more about Jehovah-Raphah – the LORD who heals you!

Jehovah-Raphah – I

February 15, 2016

Jesus Healing the Leper, 1864 Giclee Print

Exodus 15:26

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

The combination name of God, Jehovah-Rapha, is found only in Exodus 15:26:

      If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God, and do what
      is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His
      statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought
      on the Egyptians.  For I am the LORD who heals you.

Jehovah means Self-Existant or Eternal One.  Raphah means…

      …“to restore”, “to heal” or “to make healthful” in Hebrew.  When the two
      words are combined – Jehovah Rapha – it can be translated as “Jehovah
      Who Heals.”…Jehovah is the Great Physician who heals the physical and
      emotional needs of His people. ( – see also Jere-
      miah 3:22; 30:17; Isaiah 30:26; Isa 61:1; Psalm 103:3).

My wife and I have been studying divine healing and its application for today’s Christians.  I recommend two books that have challenged my thinking on the subject, and will challenge yours if you read them with an open mind:

•      Christ The Healer by F. F. Bosworth.  It is an older book still in print – sermons on healing by a great evangelist of the early twentieth century.

•      Healing The Sick by T. L. Osborn.  Originally written in 1959, the principles therein make this a classic for all time.

What kinds of healing does the Lord offer us?

•      Almost all evangelical Christians agree that we are healed spiritually.  When we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, an amazing transformation takes place!  In Ephesians 2:1 Paul writes, “And you He made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins. In our natural sinful state, we are spiritually dead – separated from God! (See Isaiah 59:2).  If that condition is not rectified, we will suffer eternal death – separated from God forever in hell!

But Christ paid for our sins on the cross, and offers us His own righteousness to wear as a robe (see Isaiah 61:10; Revelation 19:8) as we stand before the Father.  We are covered with the Lord’s own perfection – as if we had never sinned! (See II Corinthians 5:21).  Talk about a healing!  We are taken from a state of spiritual death to life in Christ! (See John 11:25, 26).  If Lazareth was ‘healed’ by being physically raised from the dead four days after he died (see John 11:38-44), how much more are we ‘healed’ when we are spiritually resurrected in Jesus?

•      Is there also physical healing in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross?  It is written in Isaiah 53:3 through 5 (Jewish Publication Society Bible):

      He was despised, and forsaken of men, a man of pains, and acquainted
      with disease….Surely our diseases he did bear, and our pains he carried;
      whereas we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But
      he was wounded because of our transgressions, he was crushed because
      of our iniquities:  the chastisement of our welfare was upon him, and
      with his stripes we were healed.

The King James, New King James, and Modern King James Versions all translate verse 53 nearly the same:  “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (NJKV).  Six other versions I checked translate disease in verse 3 as sicknesses.  Thirteen others (including the JPS Bible above) translate disease variously by the words disease, grief, suffering, terrible suffering, infirmity, pain or pains, sickness, and weakness.  Pains (above in JPS Bible) is so translated in three other versions.  Sixteen more Bible versions use either the words sorrows or suffering.

Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary tells us:

•      Pains (JPS Bible) – is the Hebrew word mak-obe’ meaning “anguish or (figuratively) affliction….
•      Diseases (JPS Bible) – is the Hebrew word khol-ee’ meaning “malady, anxiety, calamity

The debate still rages whether the healing miracles of the Bible are yet for us today.  I believe that healing is still a valid gift to be practiced by believers all through the Church Age!  But this short blog will not put the argument to rest by any means.  I do hope that it may stir your interest in divine healing so you study the issue and come to your own conclusion as you live out of your faith in Jesus.

On Wednesday we will finish our brief look at Jehovah-Raphah.

Jehovah-Raah – II

February 12, 2016

Psalm 23:1-6

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

We are looking at Psalm 23 to discern the characteristics of God as Jehovah-Raah.  David uses this name of God in the opening verse where he writes, “The LORD is my shepherd….”  In six verses this shepherd/king describes the self-existing eternal God (Jehovah) who (as Raah) carefully watches over His flock of believers; who also came to earth in human flesh (Jesus) to beThe good shepherd [who] gives His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11).  Here is Psalm 23:1 through 6:

      A Psalm of David.  The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He
      makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still
      waters.  He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteous-
      ness for His name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of
      the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your
      rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me
      in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup
      runs over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days
      of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

In our last blog we began to look at the testimony of a sheep under the care of the Good Shepherd:

•      Psalm 23:1 – “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want…,or suffer lack of any good thing I need to be a faithful, following sheep.

•      Psalm 23:2, 3 – “He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.  He restores my soul….”  To restore our soul is to supply the needs of life.  The needs of an actual sheep are good grazing, clean water, and rest.  In our case God gives us whatever we need to successfully face life! (See Psalm 34:10; Matthew 6:24-34; John 10:10; Philippians 4:19).

•      Psalm 23:3 – “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”  God guides and leads His sheep rightly – in the paths of righteousness – because He is righteous!  And we are to become more and more like Him as we follow! (See Romans 8:29; I Corinthians 15:49; II Corinthians 3:18; I John 3:2).

Let’s go on:

•      Psalm 23:4 – “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”  Yes, we will go through dark and hard times in this life.  This world is under the control of the one who …does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy…” (John 10:10) – Satan, who in John 12:31 is called “…the ruler of this world…” (English Standard Version).  But even when we face death, Jesus’ victory over the grave has made it but a shadow – something without final substance and victory! (See I Corinthians 15:26, 51-57).

A shepherd’s rod and staff are instruments of protection against predators.  But if a sheep continually wanders away, the shepherd might even use the rod to break its leg!  Then he will carry that sheep until it heals.  And the sheep will learn to stay close to the shepherd.  The staff is not the long stick gracefully bent at the end, as usually depicted in shepherd scenes.  It is a staff with a sharp stub of branch pointing back.  If a sheep falls into a crevice or onto a ledge, the shepherd can reach down with the staff and entwine the sharp hook into the sheep’s wool, and pull the endangered animal to safety!  Both rod and staff can cause momentary pain for the sheep, but in the hands of the good shepherd, they bring great comfort as well as protection!

•      Psalm 23:5 – “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.”  The table is where the sheep graze.  Before allowing his flock to graze, the shepherd will inspect the area for poisonous plants, snakes, and other harmful enemies.  Once harm is out of the way, the sheep can safely eat.

A shepherd always carried a medicinal bottle of oil.  When a sheep was attacked by a foe, or wounded in an accident, the shepherd would anoint the wound with the healing and comforting oil.  My cup runs over refers to the place where the sheep would drink.  It would be flowing water, constantly filling a quiet place in the stream or river, and so providing water fresh and clear!  If there was no suitable place found, the shepherd might dip water out and let the sheep drink out of a container until satisfied.

•      Psalm 23:6 – “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”  If it is a good shepherd, the sheep remain well cared for and safe.  Jesus said “I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11).  If SomeOne would do that for you and me – and so much more (see Romans 8:32) – why would we follow anyone else?  I want to stay close by my Shepherd, Jesus Christ, forever dwelling where He is!

Jehovah-Raah – The Lord is my shepherd.

Jehovah-Raah – I

February 10, 2016

Psalm 23:1-6

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

The second of nine names of God involving Jehovahthe Self-Existent One – is Jehovah-Raah.  While found in three other Scriptures (Genesis 48:15; 49:24; and Psalm 80:1), the best known and most descriptive passage of Jehovah-Raah is Psalm 23:1 though 6:

      A Psalm of David.  The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He 
      makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still
      waters.  He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteous-
      ness for His name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of
      the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your
      rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me
      in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup
      runs over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days
      of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

You see, Raah is the Hebrew word for shepherd in Psalm 23 – “The LORD is my shepherd….”  It means, “…to tend a flock, that is, pasture it; intransitively to graze (literally or figuratively); generally to rule; by extension to associate with (as a friend)….” (Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary).  Volumes have been written about Psalm 23!  Let’s take a brief look at some of the benefits of having “The LORD…[as] my shepherd.

Keep in mind as we examine this Psalm, that the title in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures is reproduced above:  “A Psalm of David.”  God called David,…a man after my own heart…” (see I Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22).  David knew first hand what it was to be a shepherd because he served his father in that capacity for much of his youth (see I Samuel 16:11; 17:15, 20, 28, 34).

•      Psalm 23:1 – “…I shall not want.”  Want means to suffer lack.  To not want refers to our needs being supplied, as Paul tells us in Philippians 4:19:  “…my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”  Whatever the sheep need, a good shepherd will make sure those needs are met!  And Jesus said in John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.  He met our ultimate need – forgiveness of our sins – by giving the ultimate gift – His own life on the cross!  And Paul reminds us in Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”  Surely,…I shall not want…!

•      Psalm 23:2, 3 – “He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.  He restores my soul….”  The needs of sheep are not that complex – good grazing, clean water, and rest.  These need, when met, will restore a sheep’s soul (life- force).  The Lord came to keep our life-force strong!  He put it this way in John 10:10 – the same passage where He tells us, I am the good shepherd:  “I have come that they may have life [eternal life], and that they may have it more abundantly [what is needed in this life].

•      Psalm 23:3 – “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”  Sheep, if not properly guided, will wander off the path.  And paths traversed in the wilderness that lead to good pasture and clean water can be steep and dangerous.  And, by the way, as Jesus said in John 10:2 through 4, “…the shepherd…calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  And…he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.  It is an intimate relationship between the shepherd and his sheep!

So it is with Jesus and us, His sheep! (See Psalm 100:3).  He leads through safe passage – keeping us out of trouble – if we follow Him closely!  The problem is, as Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? ”  If left to our own devices – our own choice of paths – we end up in trouble!

Why does He do all this for us?  “…for His name’s sake.”  In the Bible, the person’s name often represents the individual – who he is and what he does.  The name and title Jesus Christ means ‘Jehovah saves’ being ‘God’s chosen One.’  That Name, that Person, that Mission is holy and righteous!  Our Lord wants our lives – our paths – to reflect this truth as we follow Him!

More on Jehovah-Raah and Psalm 23 in our next blog.


February 8, 2016

Exodus 17:8-16

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

The nine featured verses of Exodus 17 records the attack of the Amalekites against Israel, and Joshua’s ultimate defeat of them.  According to Deuteronomy 25:17 and 18 (Good News Bible), Moses reviewed the incident this way:

      Remember what the Amalekites did to you as you were coming from
      Egypt.  They had no fear of God, and so attacked you from the rear
      when you were tired and exhausted, and killed all who were straggling

Due to limited space, I have shortened the Exodus 17 episode.  Here are verse :8 & 9, and 13 through 16:

       Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim.  And Moses said
      unto Joshua, “Choose us some men, and go out, fight with Amalek”….
      So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. 
      Then the LORD said to Moses…I will utterly blot out the remembrance
      of Amalek from under heaven.  And Moses built an altar, and called its
      name the-Lord-Is-My-Banner [Jehovah-Nissi]; for he said, “Because the
      LORD has sworn: the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation
      to generation.

The history of Amalek (and his Amalekite descendants) is an interesting Bible study in itself.

•      Amalek was the grandson of Esau, the first-born son of Jacob who, according to Genesis 25:34, “…despised his birthright…” when he “…for one morsel of food sold his birthright.” (Hebrews 12:16).  The birthright of the first-born included the responsibility and privilege of keeping his extended family in Israel together, and representing the family name with honor.  The birthright also gave a double portion of inheritance from the father’s estate.

•      In…despise[ing]…his birthright…,Esau also despised God! His grandson Amalek inherited this disposition of despising God! (See Exodus 20:5).

•      Because this godless tribe attacked the Israelites, God told Moses in our featured Scripture, “I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.

•      Four centuries later, God gave King Saul this task in I Samuel 15:3:  “Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them.”  But Saul did not obey, and “…spared [King] Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good….” (I Samuel 15:9).  He also apparently spared some of the Amalekite men and women themselves!

•      Five centuries after that, “…Haman…the Agagite…” (Esther 3:1) – a descendant of Agag, king of the Amalekites – became prime minister of Persia, and plotted to destroy all the Jews in the empire.  He was thwarted by God! (See the book of Esther).

•      When over four more centuries had passed, Herod the Great became ruler of Palestine.  He tried to kill the young Messiah Jesus after the visit of the Magi (see Matthew 2:1-18).  Some trace his lineage back to the Amalekites also.

I want to emphasize Jehovah-Nissi, the first of nine names of God that incorporate Jehovah into it.  Obviously, God’s miraculous power was involved in winning the battle against the Amalekites!  The part of the story above that I left out of the battle between Amalek and Israel is how God miraculously used Moses.  He, Aaron and Hur went to the top of hill overlooking the fighting – Moses holding “…the rod of God in [his]…hand.” (verse 9).

      And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed;
      and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.  But Moses’ hands
      became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat
      on it.  And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and
      the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going
      down of the sun.  So Joshua defeated Amalek…. (verses 11 and 13).

Moses knew it was not his victory, nor was it Joshua’s or Israel’s!  It was God’s!  Jehovah – the Self-Existent or Eternal One (see last Friday’s bog, Jehovah…) – had raised His powerful banner, using Moses and the staff in his hand, and the Israelites had rallied to that banner and had drawn supernatural fighting strength when it was lifted high!  So when Moses commemorated the event of victory by building an alter unto God, He called it Jehovah-Nissi (1898 Young’s Literal Translation).  Nissi comes from a root word meaning a flag, pole, banner, standard, even one fluttering in the wind so it is readily seen.

When the battles of life seem to be defeating you, think of Moses holding aloft the rod of God!  Remember Jehovah-Nissi who never changes! (See Malachi 3:6).  And He will hold His miraculous and powerful banner over you for victory also!  Jehovah-Nissithe-Lord-Is-My-Banner!