Special Descriptions of God
“Jehovah” is the proper Hebrew name for God. Occasionally in the Old Testament, however, the word “Jehovah” is coupled with another Hebrew word to spell out some attribute of God Himself. This is somewhat similar to the human practice of calling rulers names like, “Cyrus the Great” or “Ivan the Terrible.” Let’s explore some of these interesting cases:
“The Lord will provide” (Genesis 22:14) — Abraham faithfully trusted God so much that he was willing to sacrifice his own son, Isaac. When an angel stopped Abraham’s hand, Abraham named that place, “Jehovah Jireh,” or, “the Lord will provide.” God had promised Abraham a son (Gen. 18:14), and He provided exactly what He promised in the form of Isaac. Likewise, for us God has promised His provisions to those who faithfully obey Him (Matt. 6:33; Phil. 4:19). How we need to trust Him more!
“The Lord who heals” (Exodus 15:26) — To the wandering Israelites God said, “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.” The healing of the Israelites was dependent on their faithfulness to the Lord. Our God is interested in healing those who are sick with sin, “He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted” (Luke 4:18). Why don’t more of us go to Him for treatment?
“The Lord our banner” (Exodus 17:15) — Just when the Israelites were seriously doubting whether God was still with them (Exodus 17:7), they defeated the Amalekites in battle. So Moses erected an altar and named it, “Jehovah Nissi,” or, “the Lord is my banner.” God always fights for His people (Exodus 14:14). Why then are we so quick to think He has abandoned us? There are times we may be tempted to doubt His presence or concern, but the Bible still promises: “I will never leave you nor forsake you, says the Lord” (Hebrews 13:5).
“The Lord who sanctifies” (Leviticus 20:8) — “You shall keep My statutes and perform them, for I am the Lord who sanctifies you.” Israel was to be different from all the other nations around them, and God’s commandments were to be the difference-maker. To be sanctified means to be set apart, different. When we obey God’s will we are set apart and made holy by God (1 Peter 1:15-16). We need to believe more in the sanctifying power of God’s truth (John 17:17). Do people see holiness and sanctification in your life? Has His word made much difference in you?
“The Lord our peace” (Judges 6:24) — In the dark days of the Judges, Gideon, too, doubted whether God was still with Israel (Jud. 6:13). When he discovered that he had encountered the Angel of the Lord face to face, Gideon thought he would die as a result. God reassured him, “Peace be with you, do not fear, you shall not die” (Jud. 6:23). As a result, Gideon built an altar and called it, “Jehovah Shalom,” or, “the Lord is Peace” (Jud. 6:24). Gideon thought that God was out to get him, but instead God was really interested in a relationship with Gideon. Friends, God is not anxious or eager to catch us in sin, but rather He is anxiously waiting to have the peace of reconciliation with us (Luke 15:20-21). What a great God we serve, who is not willing that any should perish, but that all men should repent (2 Pet. 3:9)! Won’t you turn your life over to, “the Lord our Peace” today?
“The Lord my Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1) — In the Hebrew language, God is called, “Jehovah Rohi” (the Lord my Shepherd) in Psalm 23. The word “is” is not specifically in the original language, although it is implied. So the Psalmist is saying, literally, “The Lord my Shepherd, I shall not want.” The focus is on God, not on David. As he contemplates God’s “goodness and mercy” in His life, David breaks forth in praise because goodness and mercy are part of God’s very nature. When we find ourselves in the valleys of life, He faithfully walks by our side. When we find ourselves in the presence of enemies, His abundant provision is made clear. When we’re confused and don’t know what to do next, He leads us in the paths of righteousness. We need to place more trust in God our Shepherd.
“The Lord of armies (hosts)” (Psalm 46:7) — “Jehovah Sebaoth is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge” (Ps. 46:7). “Jehovah Sebaoth” literally means, “The Lord of Armies.” God is indeed powerful, and His power is a genuine refuge to the sincere believer who trusts in Him. Psalm 46 contemplates a time of great change, heartache, and turmoil: “Even though the earth be removed and the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea…” (Ps. 46:2). James also calls God, “Jehovah Sebaoth” in James 5:4 as he contemplates the injustices we sometimes impose on other people. Both the Psalmist and James seem to be saying that God’s full power will be brought to bear in favor of those who find refuge in Him. When we suffer and when life is difficult, we have a powerful friend in God, the Lord of armies.
“The Lord our righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6) — Jeremiah spoke of the coming Christ, and as he looked forward to the Messiah’s reign, Jeremiah called Him, “Jehovah Tsidkenu” — “The Lord our righteousness.” This statement implied two things about Jesus. First, He is Divine, sharing the very same nature as Jehovah in the Old Testament. No wonder John would say, “the Word was God” (John 1:1). Second, this statement implies that the Messiah would become our righteousness. We cannot earn righteousness once sin is on our account (cf. Rom. 4:1-4). By faith, however, we have access to the righteousness that Jesus Christ provides: “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Indeed, the Lord is our righteousness!
“The Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35) — Ezekiel’s book describes God leaving His people (chapters 1-10), destroying His people (chapters 11-33), and reviving His people (chapters 34-48). The Jews were devastated when God’s glory left the temple because of their sin (Ezekiel 10:3-19). This signified that God was going to execute punishment upon them per the terms of His covenant (Deut. 28:64ff). As Ezekiel preaches restoration in chapters 40-48, he sees a temple being rebuilt and confidently declares the name of the city will be, “Jehovah Shammah,” “the Lord is there!” God will abide with those who earnestly and obediently seek His will. Does He dwell with you? — JB