Yahweh Shammah – The God Who is There
God was incredibly gracious to the Israelites in making His presence known to them. Just a few familiar examples are the pillars of cloud and fire by which He led them out of Egypt and through the wilderness (Exodus 13). When He appeared on Mount Sinai to Moses, we read, “the glory of the LORD [YHWH] settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the LORD [YHWH] called to Moses from within the cloud” (Exodus 24:16)
Then, once the tabernacle had been completed, we read,
“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD [YHWH] filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD [YHWH] filled the tabernacle.
“In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the LORD [YHWH] was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels” (Exodus 40:34-38).
In 2 Chronicles we learn what happened when Solomon’s temple was dedicated.
“When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD [YHWH] filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD [YHWH] because the glory of the LORD [YHWH] filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD [YHWH] above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD [YHWH], saying, ‘He is good; his love endures forever’” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3).
There is little doubt that the Israelites identified these displays of fire and clouds as visible signs of God’s presence. When they saw those signs, they knew God was with them. When they were absent, they doubted.
But there came a time, as we saw when we looked at Yahweh Mekoddishkem, that the Israelites’ blatant disregard for God’s laws caused Him to withdraw those visible signs of His presence. His glory left the temple [Ezekiel 10]. A few years later, the temple itself—God’s dwelling place among His people—was destroyed. God, it would seem, had utterly abandoned them.
But we know the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say. We get a glimpse of that in Isaiah 7 where we read, “Therefore the Lord Himself [Adonai] will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son, and will call Him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
And what does Immanuel mean? Matthew tells us: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’)” (Matthew 1:22-23).
God with us. God Himself came to earth, was born to the virgin, and walked among us for a number of years. Near the end of His life, when He was about to return to heaven, He promised “another Comforter,” the Holy Spirit—God, who would continue to dwell among us and within us for the rest of our lives [John 14:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19]. God with us.
But He gave us other promises as well. Sit down and read Psalm 139 to see just how much of your life God involves Himself in. You can’t sit, stand, walk, run, eat, sleep, worry, think or dream without Him being there and aware. Far from having a body that was “randomly assigned at birth,” we read that we have been “knit together in [our] mother’s womb,” and are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13-14).
The big theological word that describes this is omnipresence—God is everywhere present. You cannot escape Him. And that’s a good thing!
- “‘Am I only a God [Elohim] nearby,’ declares the LORD [YHWH], ‘and not a God [Elohim] far away? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?’ declares the LORD [YHWH]. ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ declares the LORD [YHWH]” (Jeremiah 23:23-24).
- “For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly of spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite’” (Isaiah 57:15).
But the promises of Yahweh Shammah do not stop there. Consider these verses:
- “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be afraid, for the LORD [YHWH] your God [Elohim] is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
- “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God [Elohim]; I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
- “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
Ultimately, we have that promise from God that we who belong to Him will be with Him for all eternity in that city whose name is Yahweh Shammah—the Lord is there (Ezekiel 48:35)—the New Jerusalem!