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God is Present

Ezekiel 48:35
   It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there. [Jehovah Shammah]

   One of the Jehovah names of God that He gave to Himself to describe His relationship to His people is Jehovah Shammah - "The Lord is Present."  In Ezekiel, God is present for Israel in the new city He will establish for them.  God is always present for us.  In times of trouble He is a very present help:

Psalm 46:1
   God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Psalm 23:4
   Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

   Even if we had to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, God would be with us.  In the 23rd Psalm, God is likened to a shepherd.  The shepherd's staff was a short 18" club used to fight off animals and thieves.  His rod was a long crook used to pull down branches to feed the sheep.  God is always there for us to defend and care for us just as the shepherd cares for the sheep.

Hebrews 13:5
   Let your conversation [way of life] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

   When it comes to having the things that we need in life we do not have to focus our way of life on get, get, get . . . We know from God's Word that God is present to supply our needs.  He has promised in His Word that He will never, never leave us; nor never, never, never forsake us.  He is there to care for us.

   God is also there to defend and fight for us in times of trouble.  As the children of Israel prepared to enter the promised land (which was full of unbelieving nations that would fight against them) Moses reminded them of God's promise.  God would be with them and GO BEFORE them to clear the way:

Deuteronomy 31:6,8
   Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
   And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.

   God's presence is dramatically seen in the record of Elijah and the prophets of Baal.  The Devil attempts to get people to worship anything other than the true God.  He devises religious systems and gods to worship.  One of the gods that the Devil provided for the children of Israel to worship to turn them away from the one true God was Baal.  Ahab, the king of Israel, and his wife, Jezebel, led the children of Israel to worship Baal.  They supported four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and they killed the prophets of the true God.  Elijah stood as God's man in that day and challenged the children of Israel to choose between Baal and God:

I Kings 18:21-24
   And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions?  if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.  And the people answered him not a word.
   Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
   Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:
   And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God.  And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.

  Elijah challenged the people to choose; but the people did not answer.  They saw four hundred and fifty men vs one man - Elijah.  They were suppose to be God's people; but they were being led to worship other gods by their king.  Elijah stood alone to challenge - but not alone; because God was there with him.  So the challenge was:  Which God is really present for His people?  God or Baal?  Lets find out.  Let the 450 prophets call on Baal to burn up a sacrifice and Elijah would call upon God.  Whoever is there to answer by fire - that one is the true God.  This was OK by the children of Israel. They did not have to do anything but watch.  It did not require any commitment on their part.  The prophets of Baal got to go first:

I Kings 18:26
   And they [the 450 prophets of Baal] took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us.  But there was no voice, nor any that answered.  And they leaped upon the altar which was made.

   All morning the 450 cried to Baal but they got no answer.  Baal was not there for them.  At noon Elijah began to mock them regarding the presence of their god:

I Kings 18:27
   And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.

   Where is your god, boys?  Maybe he is talking on the phone?  That's it, he is having a conversation with someone and he can't hear you.  Call out louder.  No! No! I know what it is, he went on a hunting trip - he is out pursuing someone.  Must not be near his cell phone.  Maybe he went on a journey - vacation trip - that must be it.  He is not home right now.  (In the Bible, taking a journey sometimes refers to going to the bathroom)  I'll bet that's it; he is in the bathroom and he can't hear you calling.  Yell louder.  Oh!  I know what it is: he is sleeping and you need to wake him up.  Baal just was not there for them.  Well, they continued to call for the rest of the day:

I Kings 18:28-29
   And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.
   And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

   The prophets of Baal called all day.  They even shed their own blood for their god.  But no one answered.  Baal was not present for them.  Finally, it was Elijah's turn:

I Kings 18:36-37
   And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
   Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.

   Just one short prayer.  Two little sentences.  Lord, show them who God is.  Show them that You are present for them!

I Kings 18:38-39
   Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
   And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces:  and they said, The Lord, he is the God;  the Lord, he is the God.

   God is present!  No matter what we need.  No matter what the situation in life.  Our God is THE GOD!  He is present for us always.  Jehovah Shammah - The Lord is There!

April, 1999
Michael Cortright