Jehovah-Shammah: The Lord is There
When I first heard the name, “Jehovah-Shammah,” I was intrigued to see that this name of God does not mean what I originally thought it meant. Initially, I took Jehovah Shammah to mean something along the lines of, “The Lord is there is our hardships.” However, it means something entirely different, and I am beyond excited to share this facet of the Lord’s character that had not been revealed to me before.
The name Jehovah-Shammah is mentioned in Ezekiel 48:35, “The city shall be 18,000 cubits round about; and the name of the city from that day shall be, ‘The LORD is there.’” Without any background information this can seem rather insignificant, so the following is a brief synopsis of what was taking place during the account from Ezekiel. The nation of Israel had been split apart and judgment was falling upon them. Some people would remain in their city under foreign rule and capture, while the others were exiled away from everything they had known. This nation of Israel was not innocent by any means, so this was simply a consequence of serial adultery to their God, the God of the universe. It had been prophesied to them that this would happen and here it was, the prophecy eventually came true. Briefly skimming through the book you can see that the nation of Israel had abused the Lord’s grace for long enough, and the language is very intense as it calls Israel “The Faithless Bride” and “The Useless Vine”. Israel's adulterous actions had brought forth devastating consequences and extreme punishment from God. You might see now why I initially thought the name Jehovah-Shammah indicated the Lord is present in hard times, even when He is punishing them. Still, my original definition of the name isn’t entirely what it actually indicates.
Because of Israel’s unfaithfulness, the Lord was removing His glory from the people. Chapter 10 in Ezekiel expresses in vivid language God’s glory leaving the temple. This led me to ask, “What exactly is the glory of the Lord?” John Piper simply stated, “Intrinsically holy, intrinsically holy, and the whole earth is full of his glory from which I stab at a definition by saying the glory of God is the manifest beauty of His holiness. It is the going public of His holiness. It is the way He puts His holiness on display for people to apprehend. So the glory of God is the holiness of God made manifest.” Piper helped me to understand a little more of what exactly it means for God’s glory to depart, however, why is the departure of the Lord’s glory such a bad thing for the Israelites? The Lord is our light and void of that is darkness. At times, when the Lord removes His presence from His people, it is to show them there is no hope and light apart from Himself. It is to bring His people to repentance and allow them to place their hope back in Him while being faithful to the Father. We eventually see that the Lord is only absent for a season and His glory returns in a vision from Ezekiel in the new temple (chapter 43).
So what about the name Jehovah-Shammah? How does this play a part in this narrative if it does not mean that the Lord is there through this season of consequence? As mentioned earlier in Ezekiel 48:35, it says to name the new city where this new temple will be built, “The Lord is There.” It is a message and name of future hope or future grace. The Lord may have removed His light, or rather His glory from His people for a season, but that is all it is, a season. There is the future grace He will bestow on the people of Israel; a future grace named, “The Lord is There.”
How can we apply this to our lives then? We don’t have prophets these days who tell us the Lord is going to remove His glory from us or prophets sharing visions with us telling us the hope of His return. We do have His own Word though, and it is called the Bible. We put our hope in the promises of God and His future grace to us. If you feel that the Lord has removed Himself from your life and you are walking through a season of darkness, examine your heart. Like the Israelites, God may be allowing you through this season to reveal your helplessness and depraved-self. You have hope because God is Jehovah-Shammah. The Lord is there. He is the light at the end of your tunnel.