Names of God: Advocate

Name of God: Advocate
by Dan Gibson

I John 2: 1, 2 — My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

For about thirty-five years, I have served as a prosecutor.  The first ten years of that time I spent in criminal prosecution, seeking the conviction of persons guilty of committing crimes.  Most often, my counterpart in the process was a public defender.  I had no desire to be a public defender, and often had pondered the especially difficult task that they had, defending those whom I deemed to be guilty of the crimes with which they were charged, whose excuses frequently ran counter to reason and truth.

So it is a challenge for me to realize and digest the nature of Christ’s work as set forth in the text above.  He is here portrayed for us as the great Public Defender, who pleads our case for us in the courts of heaven, before the perfect judge, his Father.  We are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  We deserve the ultimate punishment, even if we have managed to fool ourselves about our status.  There is no fooling the Judge of earth and heaven, who sees through us to the very heart of our being.  If we stand alone, on our own, we are doomed.  But we have one who stands with us, making our case to the Father.  He doesn’t seek to put a pretty face on our behavior.  Instead he pleads his own righteousness for us.  He can do this with utter conviction because he himself has both perfectly satisfied the Father and borne the penalty for us through his own death.  The Dutch word for lawyer is “advocaat.”  That is the word picture that these verses  from John’s first epistle paint for us.

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea
A great High Priest whose name is love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in heav’n He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart

VERSE 2
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me

VERSE 3
Behold Him there, the risen Lamb
My perfect, spotless Righteousness
The great unchangeable I AM
The King of glory and of grace
One with Himself, I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God
With Christ my Savior and my God
Original words by Charitie Lees Bancroft (1841-1892), music and alt. words by Vikki Cook. © 1997

Names of God: Jesus the Righteousness

JEHOVAH TSIDKENU “The Lord our Righteousness “[yah-way- tzid-kay- noo]
from Nick and Diana Laninga

 

God from the very beginning saw our desperate need when our parents Adam and Eve sinned and tried to cover their nakedness with self-effort, they covered themselves with leaves.

How inadequate; yet God in His mercy provided for them by killing an animal and covering Adam & Eve. His doing, His provision. Like Adam & Eve we can never do enough to cover our sins and be right before a Holy God.. We need the robe of Christ’s righteousness.

Let us look to Scripture.

Jeremiah 23: 5-6. “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth, In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name[ not an attribute] by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Isaiah 61:10 tells us of our new condition in Christ.

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” {Put off the old man of self & put on Christ. Eph. 4: 25-42.]

Zechariah 3 gives us a great picture of this.

“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And the Lord said to Satan. “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.” — — So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put clothes on him.
8 “Hear, O Joshua, the high priest, You and your companions who sit before you, For they are a wondrous sign; For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the branch. 9b. and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.

{God will take away His people’s sin through the Branch. The priestly system could not do this it pointed to Christ who would truly deal with man’s sin.]

In one day, Christ, on a single day [Good Friday ] once for all made atonement for the sins of God’s people.

II Corinthians 5:21- For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.The question must be asked, am I, are you, in Him. We need to be dressed in the righteousness of Christ alone.

Matthew 22: 11-12 tells the parable of the wedding feast and how one of the guests was found without a wedding garment and was thrown into hell. Not good!

Horatius Bonar wrote these words in verse 4 of “THY WORKS, NOT MINE, O CHRIST.”

Thy righteousness, O Christ, alone can cover me;
no righteousness avails save that which is of thee.
[ Chorus]
To whom, save thee,
who alone for sin atones,
Lord, shall I flee?

A close friend of Horatius Bonar was Robert Murray M’Cheyne. who wrote the following poem:

I once was a stranger to grace and to God,
I knew not my danger, and felt not my load;
Though friends spoke in rapture of Christ on the tree,
JEHOVAH TSIDKENU was nothing to me.

I oft read with pleasure, to soothe or engage,
Isaiah’s wild measure and John’s simple page;
But e’en when they pictured the blood-sprinkled tree J
EHOVAH TSIDKENU seemed nothing to me.

Like tears from the daughters of Zion that roll,
I wept when the waters went over His soul;
Yet thought not my sins had nailed to the tree
JEHOVAH TSIDKENU—‘twas nothing to me.

When free grace awoke me, by light from on high,
Then legal fears shook me, I trembled to die;
No refuge, no safety in self could I see—
JEHOVAH TSIDKENU my Saviour must be.

My terrors all vanished before the sweet name;
My guilty fears banished, with boldness I came
To drink at the fountain, life-giving and free—
JEHOVAH TSIDKENU is all things to me.

JEHOVAH TSIDKENU ! my treasure and boast,
JEHOVAH TSIDKENU ! I ne’er can be lost.
In Thee I shall conquer by flood and by field—
My cable my anchor, my breastplate and shield. !

Even treading the valley, the shadow of death,
This” WATCHWORD” shall rally my faltering breath;
For while from life’s fever my God sets me free,
JEHOVAH TSIDKENU my death-song shall be.

AND THOSE WHO KNOW YOUR NAME WILL PUT THEIR TRUST IN YOU;
FOR YOU, LORD, HAVE NOT FORSAKEN THOSE WHO SEEK YOU. Psalm 9:10

 

Blessings from the Laninga’s.

 

Names of God: Tender Shoot

Tender Shoot
by Katlyn Heck

 

He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
-Isaiah 53:2

 

When I read this verse and think about my Savior, there are two things that stand out to me. First, the inconspicuous and humble nature of a seed, and secondly, the apparent lack of strength and power of a tender shoot. It makes me hesitant, at first blush, to compare these things to Jesus.

Every spring I have the same struggle, maybe some of you out there have a suggestion or two for me, I cannot evenly space my carrot seeds. I fight with their size and I fight with their ability to blend into the soil around them or float away on a breeze. Unlike the bright orange and crisp carrots I am able to pull out of the ground once they have reached their maturity, I am not attracted to any beauty or majesty in those seeds. Their appearance does not make me desire them and their humble beginning does little to predict their future as a life giving plant. Similar maybe to the man many thought was a simple son of a carpenter laying claim to a heavenly heritage and then offering up His life to save the world.

Then it happens, those tiny unassuming seeds germinate and I can see my row of future carrots! It is beautiful and it is hopeful seeing those tiny green tender shoots. They become precious and their appearance starts to reflect their life-giving nature. Sadly, the growth of these life-giving tender shoots often exposes the carelessness and impatience that plagued my planting of the seemingly less gratifying seeds as oftentimes my rows are full of clumps and gaps. I then vow to be a better gardener and I throw myself into protecting these tiny vulnerable shoots of green. They seem like a breath away from being eaten, trampled, choked out or dried up (Matthew: 13). They seem so new and full of life, new life, yet so powerless. Speaking as a new mom, NOTHING has changed my day-to-day more than a seemingly powerless new life. What is it that God tells us about the least of these? He says that they will become the greatest. How many times have we seen those little green leaves pushing up through and cracking concrete?

Jesus, our Tender Shoot, our life-giving Savior with a tender love and humble beginning, our POWERFUL New Life every day.

I came upon a crack today
In my cement foundation,
Your love was fighting to get in
And break my isolation.
Hammers and the like abound,
Who knew tender was the key.
In awe I pray these two small leaves
Will grow into a tree.
~Katlyn Heck

Names of God: Foundation

“Foundation” Isaiah 28:16
by Emily Larkin

therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’

Because this verse begins in the middle of the sentence, one has to read back to verse 14 to understand the context. The rulers of Israel have just told the Lord that they have made friends with their enemies, that they are confiding in the security of their enemies, and that they are sure that they will be safe from all calamities. This is when the Lord answers them in verse 16 with, “therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’

He is teaching His people that there is no other way to security, no other refuge, no other safe place apart from Him! On Him all security from every tempter and assault is laid. As a builder lays a strong foundation for a safe and solid house, so the Lord has laid the foundation for His People for safety from the storm of the wicked. He knows the enemy will work tirelessly to deceive and to torment. He knows that sin has made His People easily tempted and confused, chasing after the things of this world which will surely fade away. He knows the hearts of His People and that they need a safe shelter from the storm. He loves us enough to provide for us! That is what he is telling the leaders of Israel in verse 16. There is no safe place apart from God. And He welcomes us with open arms if we only ask to build upon His sure foundation.

Hymn: Christ is Made the Sure Foundation

Christ is made the sure foundation,

Christ, our head and cornerstone,

chosen of the Lord and precious,

binding all the Church in one;

holy Zion’s help forever,

and our confidence alone.

To this temple, where we call you,

come, O Lord of hosts, and stay;

come, with all your loving-kindness;

hear your people as they pray,

and your fullest benediction

shed within these walls today.

Here bestow on all your servants

what they seek from you to gain.

What they gain from you, forever

with the blessed to retain;

and hereafter in your glory

evermore with you to reign.

Praise and honor to the Father,

praise and honor to the Son,

praise and honor to the Spirit,

ever three and ever one:

one in might and one in glory

while unending ages run!

Names of God: High Priest

Jesus “The High Priest”
by Pastor Bert Hitchcock

In most religions, including parts of Christianity, there are individuals who are separated from the common people and considered the holy ones; they are often called “priests”. Supposedly, these priests stand between common people and God; representing God to the people and representing the people to God. But these human priests have two, limiting weaknesses.

First, they are often, even from childhood, set apart from the kind of life everyone else lives. They probably never do the same kinds of work; they may by shielded from life’s troubles; and they probably receive very different education. So, when common people encounter problems – when they cry out for help that only God could give – it may never occur to them to seek out a priest. They may think, “The priest doesn’t know anything about the real world – he has no experience with the problems I’m facing!”

Second, in spite of the aura of holiness surrounding priests, the truth is, they have their own sin to deal with. The outward trappings of religion, can hide terrible trouble inside – weaknesses which actually alienate them from God, more than common people are alienated. And so, whatever ritual help they may have to offer, it is powerless to actually minister grace and healing to needy souls.

But Jesus is a different kind of High Priest! He does not have those two common weaknesses! When he lived in our world, he walked in our shoes. As a boy growing up in a carpenter shop, he undoubtedly smashed his fingers, splintered his hands, and experienced the weariness of labor that everyone else knows. Then as an adult, seeking to serve his Heavenly Father, he faced betrayal, rejection, hatred, persecution, and even the pain of death, like no one before or since.

But through it all, this Jesus – tempted as he was, like everyone else – never sinned against the Father – never broke God’s laws. So, while he suffered outwardly, he was not alienated from the Father by his own sin.

That alienation from the Father would come only on the cross, where he willingly took upon himself our guilt and paid our penalty, in order to make atonement for us and reconcile us to His Father. And after his death, the Father raised him from the dead, proving that his sacrifice was sufficient – that God was pleased.

So now that Jesus is ascended to the Father’s right hand, we have a Great High Priest unlike any earthly priest ever! For Jesus the High Priest does not have the common weaknesses of all other priests: He is not distant from us for he actually walked in our shoes. But since he does not have his own sin to deal with; he is able to rescue us from our guilt and despair. And so he prays to the Father for us; he sends his Spirit work in us; and he invites us to come to him and find help.

That is the wonderful promise of Hebrews 4:

“We have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the

Son of God . . . We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Charles Wesley set forth that wonderful truth of Jesus’ high priestly work and the bold faith it should give us, in the hymn Arise, My Soul Arise.

Arise, my soul, arise,
shake off thy guilty fears;

The bleeding Sacrifice
in my behalf appears:

Before the throne my Surety stands; before the throne my Surety stands.

My name is written on his hands.

He ever lives above,
for me to intercede,

His all redeeming love,
His precious blood to plead;

His blood atoned for all our race,
His blood atoned for all our race,

And sprinkles now the throne of grace.

Five bleeding wounds he bears, received on Calvary;

They pour effectual prayers, they strongly plead for me.

“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry, “forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,

“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

My God is reconciled;
His pardoning voice I hear:

He owns me for his child I can no longer fear;

With confidence I now draw nigh, With confidence I now draw nigh,

And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.

 

 

Names of God: Emmanuel

Emmanuel
By Tate Garrett

The virgin shall be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel – which means “God with us.”
Matthew 1: 23

This proclamation, first recorded in Isaiah and later fulfilled in Matthew is the embodiment of Israel’s hope; of all humanity’s hope. This was God’s promise that He would one day miraculously send his son down to earth, in Israel, to free us from our sin by becoming human – “God with us”. And so He came, just as Isaiah had prophesied; Emmanuel was born in Bethlehem, to the virgin Mary, and through his life and death, the barrier of sin was torn down with salvation, ransoming us from Satan’s grasp. In everything we do God is with us, instructing and guiding, disciplining and loving; the gift of the Holy Spirit is perhaps the greatest manifestation of God’s presence in us.

The name “Emmanuel” is a promise from the one true God, a light for a world living in darkness, and hope fulfilled for all who have the faith to accept God’s forgiveness. These truths have been proclaimed many times over, and not least by the classic hymn, O come O come Emmanuel:

 

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times did’st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

 

Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Names of God: The Branch

The Branch
by Chris Lovegren

Zechariah 3:8 – Listen, High Priest Joshua, you and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch.

Zechariah 6:12 – Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord.

When I first saw this reference to Christ Himself as the branch I thought, “Wait, I thought that we were the branches. (‘I am the vine, you are the branches.’”) It turns out that both are true.

Jesus, called The Branch here is referenced as a tender shoot coming up from dry ground and inheriting the priestly and kingly duties and mantles of the LORD. Isaiah 11 says of Him:  1A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him — the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord —and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.”

He is the fruit of the LORD Himself and He is come to save His people.

Matthew Henry: “Christ, though excellent in himself, was as a tender plant out of a dry ground. Being the Tree of life, bearing all the fruits of salvation, he yields spiritual food to the souls of his people.”

So He is the vine, the main branch, and we are grafted into Him and are to bear fruit just as He has and does.

I have learned a method of pruning our grape vine that is the accepted practice and seems to be the most shocking in its implementation: cut the entire branch grown last year all the way back to two buds. This removes 90% of the entire plant. The result: two branches grow (six to eight feet each!) and both bear plentiful fruit. It seems painful and even wasteful but the yield is the best possible. In the same way we yield ourselves up to our Lord for His pruning (by way of the ultimate pruning shear, the cross) so He can produce in us the most fruit for His kingdom.
~Chris Lovegren