‘Getting to know you, getting to know all about you’ is a song from ‘The king and I.’ It expresses some of the reasons why I read the Bible. I want to know the Lord. He has revealed His character and purposes through Israel and individual’s historical events. In certain cases He added a ‘surname’ to Yahweh. Genesis 22:14 is the first where He is called Yahweh-Jireh.
The second ‘surname’ is recorded in Exodus 15:26. Against the backdrop of Israel’s mumbling and grumbling at the waters of bitterness God graciously gave them a promise. First, He healed the waters. Moses had to throw a piece of a tree into the waters which cured the bitterness. (This is a type of the cross. Israel called the cross a tree in the light of Deuteronomy 21:22-23 and Galatians 3:13.) Following on from that Yahweh made the nation a promise. Conditions were attached but it was to be a sign to them of their faithfulness to Yahweh’s commandments.
God had redeemed them and given them a mission. He had also determined that they would be a unique nation, separate from and distinct to the other nations. When their ways were in keeping with the character of God there would be blessings. These are spelt out in Leviticus 26. Forty years later they are re-issued to the second generation in Deuteronomy 28-30. One feature was that He would not bring upon them any of the diseases brought upon the Egyptians. (Deuteronomy 28:27-28). This was a promise to the Nation. It would have had individual implications but it was a sign to the Nation as to its spiritual condition. It was also tied in with their possession of the land. How they cared for ‘God’s land’ was part of their calling and accountability.
On the basis of His promise, Yahweh ‘surnames’ Himself Yahweh-Rophe, the God who heals. He knew they would fail. He provided a way by which they could maintain their uniqueness. That would be by repentance and the sacrificial system to be given at Mount Sinai. No other Nation had this promise. The other side of the proverbial ‘coin’ was the huge price for treating Yahweh with contempt by trampling His commands. This is clearly spelt out in the Leviticus and Deuteronomy passages. We are witnesses to the Lord’s judgement upon them in their history and their hardness of heart in the land today. However, Deuteronomy 30:1-10 promises a brighter and healthier future for them. We should never forget this. Yahweh is their healer as well as their scourge.
The sadness of this unique nation is in the fact that they didn’t want to be different. In 1st Samuel is the account of them wanting a king. There wasn’t much wrong with this request. It had already been legislated for in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. Their problem was they wanted to be like the other nations. This is a constant ‘disease’ attacking people who belong to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 12:1-2 lays it on the line for us today. We are not to be conformed to this world, easier said than done. The World is ever trying to break us down and put us into its mould. Our power to resist and escape it is by the transforming power of a renewed mind. How does that come about? By knowing Christ Jesus in a fresh, intelligent and obedient manner through His word. Failure to keep our relationship fresh will have a hardening of our spiritual life, a deafening of our ears to His voice and a blindness to His path.
Next week we will look at such a hardening, deafness and blindness which affected Israel with terrible consequences. Isaiah spells it out in no uncertain terms. He also points us to how Yahweh had to deal with His curses upon the nation because of their unbelief and disobedience. Without this sacrifice and its fulfilment there could be no future for the Nation.
In closing, let’s read part of Psalm 103. This is usually applied to individuals in our day. Is it not David’s confidence in Yahweh-Rophe’s promise to which David looked especially on behalf of the Nation? ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits – who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit…’
©Ray Hawkins August 24th 2015.