Summary: Men have a crucial part to play in the lives of their children. Unfortunately, we have bought into the lie that we that play a minor role in raising up our own children. We need to shake off that lie and step up and own up to our responsibility as men of God.
Poppa … Pops … Pa … Dad … Daddy … Father … Sir!
Our heavenly Father, like our earthly fathers, has many different names. He is our “Father” because He is “Elohim” … the One … with a capital “O” … who created us. He is our “Father” because He’s “Jehovah Jireh” … He provides everything for us. And He is our “Father” because He’s “Jehovah Shammah” … because He is there for us … whenever … wherever … we need Him.
After King Solomon’s reign, the Israelites had a family feud that eventually divided the Kingdom of Israel into two separate neighboring nations. The northern kingdom kept the name “Israel” … while the southern kingdom called itself “Judah.” In 723 bc, the northern nation of Israel was overrun by the Assyrians … never to be heard from again. Around a hundred years later … in 607 bc … Babylon invaded Judah. They allowed Judah’s king to continue to rule … but only if the nation of Judah paid huge taxes. This went on for about 10 years until the king of Judah … Jehoiachin … decided to host the Jewish version of the Boston Tea Party and stopped paying taxes. It didn’t go well for King Jehoiachin and the nation of Judah.
Nebuchadnezzar’s response was swift and deadly. He invaded Judah, sacked the city of Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, and carted off Jehoiachin and his surviving subjects to Babylon to be his slaves. Amongst those who were led off as slaves was the prophet Ezekiel.
In 574 bc … 14 years after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the first Temple … God gave Ezekiel a powerful vision. In the vision, Jerusalem and the Temple were rebuilt and the name of Jerusalem … the “City of God’s Peace” … which is what the name “Jerusalem” means … was changed to “Jehovah Shammah” … meaning “God is There.”
It is hard for us to appreciate the significance of the name “Jehovah Shammah” to the Jews living in exile without a temple. Since King Solomon had built the Temple and the Spirit of the Lord had descended upon it, that was where God lived … in the Temple … which was located in the center of Jerusalem. God was there … physically present in the Temple, in the city … just as He was present with them in the Tabernacle as He led them through the wilderness to the Promised Land. The name “Jehovah Shammah” reminded them that God was still there … with them … even though their nation, their city, and God’s house had been destroyed and they were now living in exile. The name “Jehovah Shammah” also suggested that God the Father would one day gather up His children, rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple … where He would once again be with them. Every time they heard the name “Jehovah Shammah” they would be reminded of this promise while they were in exile and it would help them to never forget how God had kept His promise after they had rebuilt their city, became a nation again, and God had once again taken up residence in His newly re-built Temple.
From the very moment of humanity’s inception, God was there. In Genesis … the story of our beginning … God didn’t just create us and provided for us … He had a relationship with us. In Genesis 3, it says that God walked and talked with Adam and Eve in Paradise. He was with them and they were with Him … and they had everything … love … security … acceptance … innocence … perfection … and best of all, a close, intimate relationship with their Creator … until. A moment in time … an act of rebellion … and that beautiful relationship was changed. Adam and Eve were forced to leave the Garden of Eden. They no longer walked with Elohim in the Garden. They no longer talked to Jehovah Jireh in Paradise. And even though they had to leave the Garden of Eden, God went with them into the world that we live in today.
God is still “Jehovah Shammah” … God who is here with us … but not like He was with us in the Garden of Eden. In the Garden He was “Jehovah Shammah” … God Right There … in the most literal sense. After the fall, He was still “Jehovah Shammah” … He was still with us … but the proximity and the nature of our contact with Him was changed.
The closest we could get to God was through His Holy Spirit, His Presence … with a capital “P.” God didn’t physically travel in front of the Israelites in the wilderness … His Spirit, His Presence led them as a column of cloud or smoke by day and a column of fire or light by night. God didn’t physically dwell in the Tent of Meeting or the Tabernacle … His Spirit, His Presence did. God didn’t physically dwell in the Temple but His Spirit, His Presence did.