Episode 1. God Forever
Listen to the radio broadcast
Download audio file
They say that nothing is forever. Everything has to come to an end. But … what if that’s not true? What if there are some things that are forever? How does that change our perspective on …
They say that nothing is forever. Everything has to come to an end. But … what if that’s not true? What if there are some things that are forever? How does that change your perspective on life, here and now?
You know as I look back on my life there was a very important constant right from my earliest memories. It was my dad, my father. I used to call him papa since we grew up in a German speaking home. Now my dad, he wasn’t perfect, just as you’re not perfect and I’m not perfect. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses, it’s a package deal right.
Well my dad was no different. He passed away quite a long time ago now but in a sense he still remains a constant in my life. In fact perhaps even more so now that I’m in my 50’s. This is perhaps the time more than any other time in my life that I’d value the opportunity to get to know him better. Of course that’s not possible but in a very real sense I know that I’m very much like him and that I get to carry on his name in this world.
Having a dad, albeit dad’s that our dads are never perfect, is like having a bedrock beneath your feet. It’s something that never ever goes away. Funny how we’re programmed like that. But my hunch is that most people would know what I’m talking about here. Who we are. Our family. Our parents. Our grandparents.
There’s something comforting about that and I suspect, I suspect that this sense of constancy and place and meaning to do with our parents, in particular with our fathers, I suspect that comes from God.
These days in many parts of the world the sense of community and family has broken down. Let me give you an example. We live in a 19th century terrace house or a row house. You know, they were built in rows each one butting up right next to the next one. We’ve met our neighbours on both sides but everybody lives busy lives.
Our back fences are 11 foot brick walls and so we never see much of one another. The couple to one side had a baby about 18 months ago. We’ve never seen the baby. That’s pretty incredible isn’t it? But it’s the way that society is headed. The more affluent a society becomes the more disconnected we seem to become from one another.
Of course there are parts of the world where that’s just not the case. The Philippines, now there’s a country where the sense of community and connectedness is a profound part of the psyche. Go to places in Africa and parts of Asia, you find the same thing. But in many of those places poverty is an issue. Political instability, even wars, natural disasters. And do you know what I’ve noticed, in those times, times we’re going through difficult things we feel incredibly disconnected from other people, isolated.
Even though we may well have people, families and community around us, I guess the point is, the point I’m trying to make is that with all that life throws at us one of the things that we need, I mean really need, is a safe anchor point. Something or someone who’s constant, who never fails, who’s always there, who’s absolutely rock solid.
Last week and again this week on the program we’re looking at some of the names used for God throughout His word, the Bible. There are over twenty of them and we’ll only be going through ten, exploring them because through them God is in the business of telling us who He is.
The different names given to Him in the Bible, we’ll spend some time and unpack them a little bit, they reveal the nature of God to us. And I for one, I want to discover Him and know Him more and more deeper and deeper.
Today we’re going to have a look at the name Jehovah which comes from the original Hebrew word Yahweh. And this name quite simply means “I am” or perhaps “I am who I am”. One of the places it’s used is when Moses is being told by God to go to Pharaoh in Egypt and tell Pharaoh “let God’s people go”.
It’s scary. Pharaoh had the power of life and death over people and so Moses came up with a series of excuses to kind of explain to God why God should really pick someone else for this job. I love the fact that Moses was so human. He was scared and why wouldn’t he be? I would be, you would be. Have a listen to this little conversation between God and Moses. It starts in Exodus chapter 3 beginning at verse 9:
‘The cry of the Israelites has now come to me’, says God. ‘I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ‘who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’
He said, ‘I will be with you and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you. When you have brought your people out of Egypt you shall worship God on this mountain.’ But Moses said to God, ‘if I come to the Israelites and I say to them, ‘the God of our ancestors has sent me’ and they ask me, ‘what is His name?’ What shall I say to them?
God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am’. He said, ‘further, thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.’
There it is. Tell them, “I am who I am has sent you.” Sounds kind of weird when you read it the first few times. “I am who I am.” It’s the name ‘Yahweh’. Transliterated into the English language ‘Jehovah’. A name so holy that the Israelites wouldn’t utter it. They wouldn’t let it pass their lips.
So let me ask you something, what’s God trying to say to Moses here? What’s God trying to say to the Israelites here? What’s God trying to say to you and to me here through this “I am who I am?” Well it’s the name that speaks of the constancy of God. God just is.
Everything else around us changes, falls apart, fails us, dies, gets sick but not God. He is who He is from everlasting to everlasting. He never changes. His promises never fail. When we fail Him He never fails us. Have a listen to how the Psalmist put it. Psalm 90, verse 2:
Before the mountains were brought forth or ever had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.
It doesn’t matter what’s going on, God always was, He is and He always will be. He’s like the bedrock beneath our feet. Rock solid. Full of promise. Full of future. 2 Chronicles chapter 20, verse 21:
Give thanks to the Lord, (to Yahweh, to Jehovah) for His steadfast love endures forever.
I wonder whether there aren’t more than a few of us who need to hear this message today. God is who He is. He always has been. He always will be. And what’s going on around us, our circumstances – however confronting, however disappointing, however impossible they may appear from time to time – our circumstances never change the fact that God is who He is. Faithful, steadfast in His love, the Lord over the whole universe.
Can I tell you something? I face challenges and disappointments in my life just the way you do. We all do and anybody who says any different is kidding themselves. And I know just as you know how easy it is to do a Moses. You know, go to God and say, “But God, you don’t understand, look how hard this is, how am I possibly going to get through this? Go on, send someone else.”
And into that sense of inadequacy in the face of what we’re confronting, into that sense of being this little cork bopping up and down in some dark and dangerous and angry ocean of life, God would speak these profound words. These powerfully encouraging words into your heart and mine. “I am who I am and my steadfast love for you endures forever.”