The name of God

The name of God

IN THE BIBLE names often have meaning— they tell us something about the person. For example Abraham was the ancestor of the Jews and many of the Arabs, and the spiritual ancestor of all God’s people (Galatians 3:29): and his name means ‘Father of a multitude’. There is one name which occurs far more often than any other name. It appears only in the Old Testament, but it appears nearly 7,000 times. It’s a beautiful and majestic name which is full of meaning. As you would expect, it’s the name of God Himself. If you’re a Bible reader you may just be wondering how you’ve missed it. The answer is that most Bibles don’t print it—but they indicate where it should be. Wherever you see the words Lord or God in capital letters, that’s where God’s name was in the original Hebrew manuscripts. Some Bible readers insert the name wherever

Getting to Know the Devil

Getting to Know the Devil

THE DEVIL is something that many people fear, believing it to be a powerful evil being or force, the enemy of God who incites us to do bad things (or sin). Mythology, art and horror fiction have added to the idea; it is also convenient to have something to blame for our own misdeeds! Let’s look for the truth about this subject. The Bible is the Word of God, and so is the only authority we can turn to. The fact is that the devil is less frightening but more personal than we might think. Let’s start with the good news. Whatever we will discover about the devil, whatever it is, it has no power to harm us. The Bible explains that Jesus destroyed the devil, through his own death as a perfect sacrifice: Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared in

Does It Matter Who Governs?

Does It Matter Who Governs?

MANY YEARS AGO there was a king who was told that his dynasty would be replaced by an inferior one. He was not prepared to accept that, and expressed his defiance very publicly. He was later made to realise the folly of his attitude. Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon at the height of its power in the 6th Century BC. Daniel chapter 2 describes a dream he had, of an immense statue with a golden head, and other parts of its body made of different metals. The dream was interpreted by the Hebrew prophet Daniel, who revealed that the statue represented four successive empires. “You are this head of gold,” Daniel explained (v. 38). That sounded promising. But Daniel continued: “But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth” (v. 39). The four empires having

The Suffering Servant

The Suffering Servant

ISAIAH CHAPTER 53 contains a remarkable prophecy, which is sometimes known as the ‘suffering servant’ prophecy. It was probably written at the time of the illness of the Jewish King Hezekiah which is described in Isaiah 38, and it seems that some of the prophecy’s details were fulfilled by Hezekiah. But the New Testament writers quote from and allude to this prophecy on a number of occasions and apply it to Jesus Christ (for example Matthew 8:17, Acts 8:30-35 and 1 Peter 2:22). I’m going to suggest that Hezekiah’s illness, his miraculous recovery and the gracious extension of his life comprise a partial fulfilment of the suffering servant prophecy. This period of the king’s life was a parable about the saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom the prophecy was completely fulfilled. The Exalted Servant The prophecy begins in chapter 52: “Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently; he

Zechariah

Zechariah

AFTER THE RETURN of some of the Jews from exile in Babylon around 520 bc, in the reign of Darius I of Persia, Zechariah received prophecies from God about the future of Jerusalem and of God’s people. First prophecy (1:1–6) This is a call to God’s people to return to Him and to the words of His former prophets. Then He will bless them. Second prophecy (1:7– 6:15) This consists of eight visions which look ahead to God’s dealings with Israel, and encompass the cutting off of oppressing nations, the restoration of Jerusalem, the rise and fall of false worship, and the judgement of the nations when the Messiah comes. Third prophecy (chapters 7–14) This fills out the message from “the Lord of hosts”, whose armies fight for Israel. Chapter 7: God appeals to His people to hear Him. Chapter 8: He promises a future restoration. Chapter 9: the Greek

The Glories of the Age to Come

The Glories of the Age to Come

ONE GOVERNMENT throughout the world, ruling solely by the law of God: its fruits, peace and fulness of life for humankind from pole to pole. That seems the most futile of utopian dreams in a world of international conflict: yet it is as sure as the unceasing roll of the heavenly bodies, for “the mouth of the Lord” by Whom they were made “has spoken” (Isaiah 40:5). Many Bible prophets speak of the splendid Temple to be reared in Jerusalem (for example Ezekiel 40–48). And the prophecies of Isaiah 2:1–4 and Micah 4:1–4 draw a picture of the new world order of which it will be the centre. With Christ’s return to the earth, the throne of King David will be restored as the seat of his rule (Luke 1:32); and people from far countries, sickened by slaughter and the ruin which humanity’s evil has brought, will turn to it

Meditate on These Things

Meditate on These Things

ON MY WAY to work I pass a pub called the Waterloo, and every day I have to look away in case I start humming the Eurovision song. When I get to work there’s a security pad on the door, and it happens that as you punch in the code the beeps play the first five notes of an oratorio of Handel’s Messiah. If I’m not careful I start whistling the tune, to the annoyance of myself and everyone else. Sometimes tunes get stuck in your head. They’re called ‘ear worms’. Experience shows that the best way to avoid succumbing to an ear worm, or to get rid of it once you’ve got one, is to get something else into your head instead. And here’s the spiritual principle. Jesus told a parable: When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding