"The Lord is There"
"The name of the city
from that day shall be, JEHOVAH-SHAMMAH" (Ezekiel
So, the end sees the eternal
object attained: that which prompted creation; that which
motivated Providence; that which has always been the dynamic of
Sovereignty; and that which carried through Redemption.
The supreme and all-inclusive
object has been God's presence in pleasure and satisfaction in
the midst of men.
The City of Ezekiel's prophecy
has its realisation in the "holy city, new Jerusalem, coming
down out of heaven from God" (Rev. 21:2). "And God
himself shall be with them" (verse 3).
This has ever been God's quest.
From one of many standpoints, the Bible can be said to be from
beginning to end a record of God's quest for a place and for
conditions suitable for His presence. In many symbols, types, and
representations, this is the spiritual principle which governs
In a comprehensive way the
Incarnation gathers up everything in this one connection:
"Immanuel - God with us". The Cross is set in this one
relationship - to clear the ground for God's dwelling. The Advent
of the Holy Spirit must be seen supremely in the light of this
eternal purpose. The Church is explained and justified in this
one design. The individual believer is apprehended with this
pre-eminent Divine thought. In all God is working toward this one
issue and verdict
LORD IS THERE"
If this is true, and surely it
is obvious in the Scriptures, then certain very practical
conclusions and issues follow.
is the Explanation of the Cosmic Conflict
That there is such a conflict
is surely more apparent now than at any previous time in history.
The new attitude toward this matter is one of the many signs of
the times. We have passed through a phase in which Satan's
cleverest ruse has been widely successful. He has persuaded men
not to believe in him, and has resolved the whole matter of evil
into 'complexes', 'neuroses', 'good in the making', etc. Theology
has bowed out the Devil, and he has grinned behind the mask of
deception, as he sees his dupes so 'clever'. But there is a
come-back, and it is largely due to an altogether new appraisal
of the New Testament and of Paul in particular. Paul has come
into a place that he has never before held, and this postulates a
principle, that a return movement is always stronger than the
first position because it has in it all the strength of bitter
lessons learned through experience.
A modern writer of no mean
authority, a professor in one of the premier universities of
Scotland, drawing attention to this return movement on the part
of other outstanding intellectuals, says:
"It is the cosmic
range and the sheer malignity of the evil they have seen in
our world which have led them to re-espouse the Pauline view
[of demonology]. And when we see, as we have seen in our
time... insensate madness taking complete possession of a
great and cultured nation and issuing in unspeakable horrors
and cruelties - can we wonder that thoughtful men draw the
"There is no
metaphysical reason why the cosmos should not contain spirits
higher than man who have made evil their good, who are
ill-disposed to the human race, and whose activities are
co-ordinated by a master-strategist."
This writer goes on to
"There are times when
the police lay their hands on a criminal, and yet are not
satisfied. Behind this petty thief is some other person,
dimly guessed at, some master-hand moving the pawn. The
police can recognise that other's strategy, for the man in
their hands could never have thought it all out by himself.
The marks of Satan-like strategy in our world have moved many
to Paul's view that more than human agents are pitted against
us in the battle, that 'the Power of darkness' is more than
an outworn figure of speech, and that, though Luther said,
'his doom is writ', he still contrives to bedevil the affairs
of men and nations."
What is the inclusive objective
of this kingdom of evil? It is nothing less or other than to oust
God and usurp His throne; "setting himself [Satan] forth as
God" (2 Thess. 2:4).
So we find ourselves in a time
when the battle is joined, on a scale beyond anything known
before, between a true, spiritual, heavenly expression
of 'God's House', and the anti-God forces. No, not between the
evil powers and formal and lifeless Christianity, but between
them and any vital representation in corporate form of
God in Christ as here by the Holy Spirit. The more vital, the
more intense the conflict! Truly spiritual and devoted people of
God, who are more concerned for Christ than for 'Christian' things,
are feeling the pressure from that dark and vicious realm in
a way that sometimes nears the overwhelming point. God is present
in them and in the midst of them, and from Satan's point of view
they are a menace and must be 'liquidated'. This intensive
pressure points to a nearing advent of Christ, when His presence
will bring the other presence to a climax. "The devil is
gone down... having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short
time" (Rev. 12:12).
is the Ultimate Criterion of Christianity
There is a 'judgment beginning
at the house of God' to which the Bible brings us in the first
part of its final book. The climax of the sevenfold
interrogation, examination and judgment of chapters 1-3 finds
Christ outside of the door of a Christian church (3:20). The
verdict passed and the admonition given shows that the ultimate
criterion is whether God is found within.
To put that in other words: It
is not our orthodoxy, 'soundness' of doctrine, correctness of
procedure, many 'good works', zeal, 'success', reputation, etc.,
that is the final criterion and justification (so say all of
these messages), but whether the Lord is met with in us and in
our midst. The Lord never commits Himself to that which is not
according to His mind. If He is truly present and can be sensed
by open-hearted and pure-spirited seekers after Him, then that is
the argument for things being, at least in measure, not contrary
to but according to His heart. The Lord Himself is the 'First and
the Last', the test of everything. The final question is: 'Do I
meet the Lord in that man or woman, in that company and place?'
Many other things are made the
basis of judgment by so many, but this is God's test
"Jehovah-Shammah" - "The Lord is there". This
does not mean that there is never any room for a larger measure
of His presence. The measure will always be determined by
suitability to that presence. 'To fill all things' is the
determined end made known as God's purpose.
This leads us to
Meaning of the Life of Believers, Individual and Corporate
It is sometimes a good thing to
stand back from all that comes into our lives as believers, both
personally and collectively, and ask some fundamental
questions. 'Why, really, are we here? Why am I a Christian? What
did God mean when He brought Christ into my life? Above and
beyond all the details of life and work - the trials, sufferings,
perplexities; the hopes, blessings, and activities - is there one
thing that, in God's thought, governs all?'
Yes, there is! It is that there
may be written on the life initially, to become progressively
clearer and more luminous: "Jehovah-Shammah" - "The
Lord is there". This is a statement of fact supported by the
whole Bible. This is a test of everything and the standard of all
values and judgment. This is the explanation of all discipline
The same is true of the
collective aspect. The 'meetings', 'congregations', 'services',
'churches', etc., are to God's pleasure and satisfaction just -
and only - in the measure in which it is positively true that the
Lord is there, and is met there. Not artificial and formal ways
and means of making an impression of solemnity and reverence; not
mysticism and artistry; not soulish emotions, either sober or
ecstatic; but the sin-challenging, life and light-giving,
heart-satisfying and soul-saving presence of God. The verdict
must be - not this or that about any feature, but - 'We have been
in the presence of the Lord: the Lord was there; we have met the
May the Lord keep us alive in
all things to this ultimate criterion. May we ever be exercised
that when people meet us they shall meet the Lord, and that when
they gather with us the predominant and abiding impression may be
LORD IS THERE"
First published in "A Witness and A Testimony"
magazine, Jul-Aug 1956, Vol 34-4