Introduction: This week, museum officials and government troops struggle to protect the treasures of Egypt from the looting and chaos which are threatening to take over their country. By contrast, how we should rejoice that the “crown jewels” of our inheritance, contained in the name of God, cannot be plundered or stolen! Do you remember the words of Peter, bequeathing the name of the Lord Jesus to that humble beggar in Acts 4:8-10? “Then know this… It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you completely healed.” As those “healed” from our disease of sin by that same name, let us go forward in life, “walking and leaping and praising God” (Acts 3:8), rejoicing this week to discover more about the precious name of our Savior.
Monday: read Exodus 3:16-18. In these verses, three times in capital letters, the precious name “Jehovah,” translated as “LORD,” is declared: “The LORD, the God of your fathers” (v. 16); “The LORD, the God of the Hebrews” (v. 18); and (in the request of Moses to Pharaoh), “Let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God.”
What good news this “name of names” brings to God’s people! Sadly, this name is often misunderstood, either out of ignorance, or superstitious fear. For example, when Moses introduces the LORD to Pharaoh, his response is: “Who is the LORD, that I should obey Him…?” (Ex. 5:2). Centuries later, even God’s people, out of a fear of misusing this name, limited its use to once a year on the great Atonement Day, in the Most Holy Place in the temple. The result, as one scholar puts it, is that, “…when, in reading the Scriptures, they came to that word, “LORD,” they used a euphemism, putting another word instead of LORD.” Thus the reading of the sacred name in Hebrew was lost, symptomatic of the growing distance between God and His people before the birth of Christ. How desperately, therefore, did men of faith look for the coming of the LORD Jesus Christ to reintroduce the name of God to men!
Meditate and Pray: Thank God for the LORD Jesus Christ, who came down invested with the full authority of God’s personal name. Though all mankind had lost the knowledge of the LORD, we rejoice that the LORD Jesus Christ represented the return of the LORD to His people. No wonder Paul continually introduces His Savior, not merely as “Jesus Christ,” but as the “LORD Jesus Christ”! Just go to the beginning of all of his letters (Romans; 1 & 2 Corinthians; Galatians; Ephesians; Philippians; Colossians; 1 & 2 Thessalonians; 1 & 2 Timothy; Titus and Philemon) and see His greeting: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the LORD Jesus Christ.”
Tuesday: read Exodus 3:16-18 and Matthew 3:1-3. All the prophets, from Moses to John the Baptist, declared with one voice that the coming Savior would be none other than the LORD. See, for example, Matthew’s quotation from Isaiah 40:3 which points to the LORD Jesus Christ: “Prepare the way for the LORD; make straight paths for Him.” How amazing that John applies the most revered, personal name, the LORD, directly to Jesus of Nazareth, the humble carpenter! John grew up, like every Jew, daily affirming that the LORD is one by reciting the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” But now, as Derek Thomas puts it, John is saying, “There is more than One who is the One God!” The Father is LORD! Jesus is LORD! The Spirit is LORD!” – and at the same time, the LORD is one! Surely we must bow, with John, and Moses, before this great mystery of the Trinity.
Meditate and Pray: Let us never fail to treasure the revelation of the Triune Godhead in the Son of God for becoming man. Without the Incarnation, we could never have understood the “three-personed nature” of the One true God. Sing about the Trinity, with love and adoration in your hearts, from hymn # 103, verses 1 & 4:
Holy God, we praise your name; Lord of all, we bow before Thee!
Holy Father, Holy Son,
Wednesday: read Exodus 3:18, Leviticus 9:23-24 and Romans 12:1. God instructed Moses to go with the elders to the king of Egypt, demanding in Ex. 3:18: “Let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God.” This was in accordance with the LORD’s promise that, after the exodus, all His people would “worship on this mountain” (Ex. 3:12). Notice especially that the means of their worship would be to “offer sacrifices” (Ex. 3:18). How then would God show that He accepted those sacrifices at “the mountain of God”? For an answer, look again at that fire which burned in the bush in Ex. 3:2. Would not that fire come down again from heaven, to consume what was offered, as a sign to God’s people that they were accepted before Him? For example, think of Moses’ brother Aaron, whom we will meet in Exodus 4:27. Look at how God accepted Aaron as High Priest to offer sacrifices on behalf of His people in Leviticus 9:24: “Fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions of the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.” Do we not have the same grounds for joy today? Our unchangeable God the Father has accepted the burnt offering of our LORD Jesus, and proves His acceptance by sending down the fire of the Holy Spirit! Let us also bow down and shout with joy!
Meditate and Pray: Thank your perfect Sacrifice, the LORD Jesus, that He has brought down the fire of God’s favor upon us from Heaven. This is what Pentecost meant for the church: the “fire” of God’s acceptance being poured out on the whole church by the LORD, the Spirit! Now, in view of such mercies, we can indeed, with Moses’ and God’s people of old, “offer our bodies as living sacrifices” (Rom. 12:1). Sing about this wonderful fire of grace, with which you can serve the LORD, in hymn # 565:
All for Jesus, all for Jesus!
All my being’s ransomed powers:
All my thoughts and words and doings,
All my days and all my hours.
Let my hands perform His bidding,
Let my feet run in His ways;
Let my eyes see Jesus only,
Let my lips speak forth His praise.
Thursday: read Exodus 3:18; 19:16-20 and Matthew 17:5. God’s glory was revealed at the place called in Exodus 3:1, “the mountain of God”. But it was also called Mt. Horeb or Mt Sinai: names referring to the mountain complex where the LORD “came down” in Exodus 19:20. This “dense cloud” (Ex. 19:9), with which the LORD robed Himself in His descent, is the same cloud by which the LORD appeared to Abraham and walked between the pieces of his sacrifice (Gen. 15:12,17) and is called the Shekinah glory of the Old Testament. This cloud also guided Israel through the Red Sea and through the wilderness, as well as appearing in the burning bush to Moses. In the New Testament Jesus is the glorious LORD, in Matthew 17:5, when the cloud of glory rolls down upon the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration. This was the same “cloud of the glory of the LORD” from the Old Testament, bearing testimony that Jesus was the LORD in the New!
Meditate and Pray: Thank the Father for the primary emphasis of the Gospels on the Divinity and Lordship of Jesus Christ. Men seek salvation and protection from human rulers and feverishly throw off the yoke of their current governments, hoping that the next administration will provide all their needs. But we preach only one as LORD, Ruler, Savior, Protector. Only in bowing the knee to Christ will the nations find any lasting hope. Ask God to preserve the true preaching of His Christ-centered Gospel in your church. May we never become a man-centered church, but always magnify Christ alone.
Friday: read Exodus 3:19-20. Notice the anthropomorphic language, as God promises Moses that He will get so personally involved in the redemption of His people from Pharaoh that it will be as if He literally “stretched out His hand” to save them (v. 20). But many of the Jewish commentators, known as the Rabbis who wrote the “Targums,” became very uncomfortable with this human language used of God, and so revised the Hebrew in order to describe God as more distant. For example, they changed verses which read, “God was with so-and-so,” to “the word of God was there to help so-and-so…”; or, “Is the LORD among us or not…?”, is changed to the less personal, “Is the Shekina of the LORD among us or not?” (Ex. 17:7). Instead of God Himself “dwelling in heaven and earth,” we read in the Targums, “Your Shekina is in heaven above and reigns on earth below.”
Meditate and Pray: How sad to take God’s own language of being “with His people” out of the Biblical text! Though it was technically true that God’s Shekinah glory was with His people in the pillar of cloud and fire, Israel was too sinful and weak to survive in the face of God’s undimmed glory! We also need more than God’s glory with us, don’t we? We need the LORD Himself to dwell in our homes; engage in hand-to-hand combat for us; stoop down to our weakness and to “carry us as a father carries his son.” Let us not surrender one of the inspired, living, and human pictures of God to any rationalist or scholar who seeks to “edit” the Bible! Rather, let us rejoice in God’s love for us, expressed in a way we can understand, like a father to his son.
Meditate and Pray: Could we end this week with anything better than hymn # 76, taken from Psalm 103?
Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven;
To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Evermore His praises sing:
Praise the everlasting King.
Father-like He tends and spares us;
Well our feeble frame He knows.
In His hands He gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes.
Widely yet His mercy flows.