THE GOD, JEHOVAH, TO WHOM WE PRAY
Beloved, for us to effectively communicate with God or anyone at all, we must have an idea of who that person is, even if we have never met that person in the flesh. This is basic to our human nature. We know that in these modern times, we can meet friends on the net, and we can gradually get to know them, even if all we have seen is their image in the form of photographs.
We get to know friends better by telling each other about ourselves, our families and our past experiences; and thereby get a wider picture, a clearer photograph, a deeper insight into who this our friend is. Further to that, we can become closer friends still through personal interactions with our friends; coming to know their likes and dislikes by the way they react to issues. This is why many believe that they know their internet-friends so completely that they run off to meet them! A lot of the time, there is disappointment and hurt, but that would be because our picture of that person has been built on deception. That person has not been completely honest with us; and whatsoever is built on lies eventually collapses and causes pain.
We know that our God is not like that at all; in that He has hidden nothing essential about Himself from us. Even though, it is impossible to know all about our great God, what we need to know for us to have a working relationship with Him, is written in His Holy Book, The Bible. And He once came in the form of a Man, The Lord Jesus His only begotten Son, to physically introduce Himself to us…
“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high”
God’s very essence is love and all His operations are based on truth. God has no reason to lie to us because a liar is motivated by fear – he is afraid to tell the truth because of rejection or because he may get into trouble. Our God is not afraid of anything or anyone at all because God Himself is the ultimate fear!
“Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’ Concerning all that this people call a conspiracy, Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. For the Lord spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying: The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear, And let Him be your dread. He will be as a sanctuary, But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense To both the houses of Israel, As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”
“Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?”
“But the LORD is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten.”
This God has also made provisions for Him to become Father to each and every one of us who would seek Him! Our good God to Whom we pray has an open invitation for us to come and become His Children through our faith in His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ –
“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: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Since no good father hides from his children, our God most definitely expects us to know Him, and He wants to have a father-son loving, intimate relationship with us. That is not a hide and seek affair at all!
“But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord , exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord .’’
And we clearly see that intimate relationship in His dealings with Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses and so many others who have learnt to love Him and walk with Him.
“And they (Adam and Eve) heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day:..”
“And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said,…”
“After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”
“And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.”
“And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;… And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;… For I know him,…”
….to quote just a few Scriptures which reveal the amazing intimacy between God and Abraham! Let’s look at Moses and his relationship with God. Moses even went further and asked to see God and God could not deny him, even though, for his protection, he was only shown His back-parts!
“…God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I…6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.”
“And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. 7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. 8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold:..”
“And he (Moses) said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory…. 5 And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD…. 8 And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.”
Wow! What a gracious God! As well, He graciously invites us to come and reason with Him even when we sin and would rather hide from Him like Adam and Eve did in Eden –
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool”
Of course, that is not to say that we can ever know the totality of God, in His amazing and manifold wisdom. That would be similar to expecting a two-year-old son of the leader of a complicated nation like the United States, to understand even a fraction of what his father does! The toddler simply does not have the cerebral capacity for such a complex and advanced feat! However, he can have a working relationship with his father enough to love and trust him TOTALLY. And that is all God expects of us.
The story is told of a night during the north-south civil war in the US and a whole lot of generals and other important leaders of the nation have been waiting for hours to see President Abraham Lincoln. He was in his study having a crucial meeting with some important national figures when a sleepy little boy in pyjamas walked slowly but steadily past all the great men waiting in the corridor, right to the door and entered the study! The President’s young son needed to see his dad, no matter who was waiting to see him and no matter who was with him. He knew he would not be turned away, neither would he need to stand in line!
Now that is the heavenly picture God wants us to have of us and Himself – our approachable loving Father, even though He is the King and Judge of the whole universe! What a privilege! Bless His Holy Name. However, we must never forget that, as matured sons of God, He expects us to be sensible and realise that all the grace He extends to us does not preclude our due reverence for Him. No! God fully expects us to give Him the proper honour due to Him. Jer.5:22 quoted above comes to mind here. God is not humble at all, and He has no reason to be, for He is The Most High!
The Intercessor and God
The Intercessor is simply someone who prays a whole lot. That is, he/she talks to God a whole lot, especially on behalf of others. God would lay what the bible calls a burden like a weight on his/her heart and he/she will not be able to leave the place of prayer until the burden lifts. Becoming an intercessor starts with us having to pray about our personal challenges. God actually allows challenges in our lives so that He can use them to show Himself as our very ready and present helper in any trouble whose door is always open to receive us. He then uses that closeness and trust to develop our faith in Himself as a prayer-answering God! The beauty of it all is that He monitors how far the challenges would stress us! We have dealt with this extensively in the study titled “The Mystery of The Waters” on our “Walking with God” page.
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
Every Believer who is a loving and responsible son of God has a mandate to be an intercessor simply because God needs us to pray into challenging situations on earth so that He can move and do something about them, or so that He can temper justice with mercy. God has made us His representatives on earth and He wants us to be involved in His works here through prayer…
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 15 Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.”
“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. 31 Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD.”
Examples of times when the judgement of God was moderated or stopped are found in the Biblical records of the intercessions of Abraham (Gen.18:17-33), Moses (Ex.32:7-14), Daniel (Da.9:1-19), all the Prophetic Books, The Lord Jesus (Jn.17) and Paul (Eph.1:16-23).
Approaching God by His Names
We learn in Scripture that when God would call to Himself those who would regularly approach unto Him, He would introduce Himself to them by one or the other of His numerous Names. The beauty of this is that the Names of God describe His numerous glorious attributes and abilities; and when He gives a Name into a particular relationship over a particular issue, it is that He is saying “Hold Me to ransom by this Name; I will do whatsoever that Name says I Am”. Wow!
A case in point – When He introduced Himself to Moses as “Jehovah, I Am, I am that I Am,” little did Moses know that that was the covenant redemptive Name of God by which He would compel Himself to do whatsoever was needed to be done to deliver the Israelites from their 320 years of slavery-captivity in a strange land. The situation demanded for war against all the gods of Egypt, so the war against Pharaoh was really started by God Himself. God judged all the gods of Egypt, both on earth, in the waters and in the heavenlies; and He thereby brought down Pharaoh’s massive dynasty, using a dry rod in the hand of an anointed shepherd! God also afflicted Pharaoh with suicidal stubbornness which led to God drowning his best military force as well, thereby crippling Pharaoh’s kingdom no end!
At the safe side of the Red Sea, the Israelites looked back at the dead bodies of the pursuing Egyptian army on the sea shore and sang ‘Phew! That was close! We never knew it, but Jehovah is a Man of War! Ex.15:3.
Abraham had learnt early that God used His various Names in His dealings with him –
In Gen.14:19, the mysterious King Melchizedek introduced God to Abraham as ‘El Elyon, the Most High God, the Creator and Possessor of heaven and earth’. Remember that this was Abraham whom God had just brought out of Babylon with their myriad of gods, barely eight years previously, so he needed a further revelation of God as Creator and the Most High God. By the time God paid the next visit to Abraham, he was ready with a profound name for God, a name which matched his request perfectly! No doubt it was the Holy Spirit Who whispered that Name to Him, but he was yet to know the depth and height and vastness and greatness of the extent that God uses that great Name to perform His wonders! Hear the tentative and rather fearful request of the Father-of-Faith then and remember that he was still being trained in how to exercise perfect and total faith in God –
After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. 2 And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? 3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
Here, Abraham addresses God as Lord GOD, Adonai Jehovah, The Sovereign God; He Who has the authority and ability to do whatsoever He wishes, by whomsoever He wishes, howsoever He wishes, whenever He wishes and for and by whomsoever He wishes and nobody can query Him and say What doest thou?
Where the word of a king is, there is power; And who may say to him, “What are you doing?”’
All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, “What have You done?”’
But, by then, Abraham had not known God in all this majestic greatness and over-ruling power; hence he still thought that God somehow needed his help so he suggested a way out of this ‘inability’ of God to give him his own promised child which he promised some eight solid years ago! Abraham proceeded to ask God to approve of him adopting Eliezer’s child as his own, as was the custom of his people. (Here, some preachers would interject and cry, “Jesus wept!”; because this was the kind of unbelief He saw in Mary, weeping needlessly at the tomb of Lazarus whom He had come to raise from the dead even though it was four days after his burial!)
In essence, Abraham was saying to God, ‘‘Lord GOD, You can do whatsoever You will, but it seems You cannot give me a child. Since You have rather given Eliezer a child, let me save You the embarrassment and take that child as mine and then You are free of the promise’’. Oh no!!
Little did Abraham know that the operations of God as Sovereign Lord did not include compromise! Abraham still had a lot to learn in his faith-walk with the Almighty God. However, God graciously put Abraham’s mind to rest about the promise by making a covenant with him that day; and the next time they met, God still reminded him of His immense power and abilities by introducing Himself to Abraham as the El Shaddai, The Almighty God, Who is mightier than any mountain; the multi-breasted One Who nourishes us and causes us to be fruitful and multiply. Hear Him in Gen.17:1,2 –
And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. 2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
To drive home His point that He is the divine Nourisher, God still waited until Abraham and Sarah’s bodies had physically dried up, then He gave them Isaac, a seed of promise, literarily out of dead trees!
‘’And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.’’
By then, Abraham had got to really, really know God to the extent that in Gen.21:33, he called God ‘El Olam, The Everlasting God’, the God that knows no decay nor any degree of variableness, the God that cannot lie. Isaiah the Prophet also had the same revelation of God. See Isa.40:28,29 –
‘’Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.’’
Hence by the time the ultimate test of Abraham’s love for God and his faith in Him came in Gen.22, he was ready. He took Isaac with all that he would need to sacrifice him to God, and set out for Mount Moriah without hesitation. When they got to the foot of the mount, he told the servants to wait, saying confidently to them, ‘’Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.’’ And when Isaac asked him where the sacrifice was, he said, without hesitation, ‘’My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.’’ That Prophetic writer of the Book of Hebrews put it this way in Heb.11:17-19:
‘’By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.’’
What amazing faith! God was so pleased that, apart from the ram He substituted for Isaac immediately, He gave another Lamb without blemish, His Own precious Son, more than 2000 years later, to be crucified on that same mount for all those who would later be called The Seed of Abraham. What a glorious God!
Because of Abraham and his love for God, even the strange woman in his life, Hagar, had a revelation of God as El Roi, the God whose ‘’eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him…’’, to quote the Prophet in 11Chro.16:9.
This was when she ran off from Sarah’s wrath at the time she was pregnant with Ishmael. Gen.16:6-13. Later when God told Abraham to send Hagar and her young son away, that loving God saw her again and honoured that name. As she agonised, thinking her son would die of thirst in the desert, God came to her, comforted her and saved her son. See Gen.21:9-20.
Beloved, observe that the redemptive Name of God, I Am that I Am, is strange in that it is repetitive, a thing God does for emphasis. Joseph gave us this clue in Gen.41:32 – And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. Observe also that that glorious name is open-ended, as though we are free to add whatever we need Him to be to us to the Name! I trust that by that Name, God is saying ‘’My Child, I will surely be whatsoever you need Me to be to you at any given time. You just add what you need Me to do for you to ‘I Am that I Am’ and call Me by that compound Name and I will surely arise on your behalf accordingly.’’ Consequently,
- Moses called Him Jehovah Nissi, the Lord our Banner of safety in the time of war and danger. Ex.17:15.
- God told Moses that, under certain conditions, He could become our Jehovah Rapha, The Lord Who heals us and also causes us to live in health. Ex.15:26.
- God had earlier been discovered by Abraham to be Jehovah Jireh, the Provider, after He provided a ram in exchange for Isaac on Mount Moriah.
- David saw God as Jehovah Raah, our Shepherd, our Great Leader Who directs our paths daily. Ps.23:1
- Jeremiah saw God as Jehovah Tsidkenu, The LORD our Righteousness, the only One by Whom we are made righteous. Jer.23:6
- Ezekiel saw God as Jehovah Shammah, The LORD is there, the LORD Who is always present in His Temple. Eze.48:35. Remember though that we are now His Temples.
By now we have surely caught a glimpse of the Lord Jesus in this glorious Name of God – I Am. That was the title Jesus used in His redemptive work on earth so that when He spoke of Himself, He would say ‘’I Am (Jehovah) the good Shepherd’’; “I am (Jehovah) the Light of the world” and so on. Then He plainly told them, “I and my Father are one” Jn.10:30 and that made the Jewish Teachers finally to lose their temper with Him, accusing Him of making Himself equal with God and they picked up stones to stone Him!
By far the most tender and touching appellations of God are given through the only One Who has seen Him and has always been with Him – His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. We glean these appellations in His intercessory prayer for the Church whom He was about to lay down His life to redeem.
Let’s look at that great chapter of Prayer – The Gospel of John, chapter 17 – and note the way the Lord spoke to God, addressing Him in such a way that will surely make even the most hard-hearted father pay attention to what his child is saying. Jesus addressed God reverentially yet lovingly as…
- Father – confidently, lovingly yet with all reverence. Verses1,21,24.
- O Father – indicating some seriousness and urgency in the matter at hand. Verse 5.
- Holy Father – specifying the very Father He is appealing to, by His greatest attribute, His Holiness. Verse 11.
- O Righteous Father – still appealing to God’s Holiness which is what sets Him apart from all other fathers and all so-called gods that other people pray to. Verse 25.
I trust you will study this beautiful prayer and learn from the Lord Himself, the most eloquent and excellent way to commune with God.
I believe this prayer of our Lord teaches us that the most intimate way to address God in our communications with Him is as ‘Father’, reminding and assuring ourselves of our deep relationship with Him. However, God desires to have sons who are also His friends! Hear what Jesus says in Jn.15:15 –
Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
A son who has been taught of God and has knowledge, becomes His friend as well; friends like Abraham, Moses, Enoch, Daniel, Paul and so on. And a friend always has more intimate knowledge of his friend than others do. That is why we have learnt the Names by which those great Bible Friends of God used to address their lofty, powerful, gracious, prayer-answering Friend; so that we might do likewise, as the Holy Spirit would lead us.
O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.