The No-Name God
A Bible Study by Fred Kenison
Jehovah’s goodness and wrath
The name Isaiah means "Jehovah is helper, or salvation is of the lord." Isaiah’s ministry was during the reign of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahab, and Hezekiah. He is generally considered one of the greatest of all the prophets. Isaiah could be strict, curt, kind, or poetic in his writings and speeches. He was also tactless and fearless enough to confront kings in their sin. However, this study concerns Jehovah, and Isaiah was only an interlude as one who spoke of him.
Isaiah 1:10 says,
"Hear the word of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), rulers of Sodom; give ear to the teaching of our god (‘elohiym:H430), people of Gomorrah."
Isaiah’s brashness was displayed when he addressed Israel as Sodom and Gomorrah. The people of Israel evidently had fallen a long way from being godly, and following the commands of their god, Jehovah. Notice, too, that Isaiah called Jehovah "our god."
Isaiah 1:11-16 reveals a new side of Jehovah.
"What to me the multitude of your sacrifices, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068)? I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and the blood of bulls, or lambs, or he-goats I do not delight in. When you come to appear before me, who requires this trampling of my courts of your hand? Bring no more offerings (of) vain incense; it is an abomination to me. New moon, and sabbath, and the calling of assemblies I cannot endure. My soul hates your new moons and your appointed feasts; they have become a burden to me. I am weary of bearing them. When you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you. Even though you make many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean, remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes, cease to do evil."
This reveals that Jehovah was not pleased when Israel only went through the motions of religion without any real heart-felt feelings toward him. They were supposed to acknowledge all the good things which their god, Jehovah, had done for them. Instead they merely repeated a ritual without any true sense of devotion.
Isaiah continued to list the many shortcomings of Israel and describe Jehovah’s wrath, and then Isaiah 2:10 noted what the Israelites should do.
"Enter into the rock and hide in the dust from before the terror of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and from the glory of his majesty."
Isaiah said that Jehovah could be a terror, and the glory of his majesty a frightful experience to those who are disobedient to his concepts and who worship other gods.
Isaiah’s prophecy has not yet come to fruition. Isaiah 2:20-21 says,
"In that day, men will cast forth the idols (of) their silver, and idols of their gold, which they made for themselves to worship, to the moles and to the bats, to enter the clefts of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs from before the terror of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and from the glory of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth."
Isaiah 3:16 says,
"Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with outstretched neck, glancing wantonly with their eyes, (walking) mincing along as they go, with their feet tinkling. The Lord (‘adonay:H136) will smite the heads of the daughters of Zion, and Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) will lay bare their secret parts."
Evidently, Jehovah does not appreciate seeing women flaunting their sex. It is not clear whether the punishment of laying bare their secret parts refers to rape, or venereal diseases, or perhaps both. In Isaiah 4:4, Jehovah referred to such actions as
"the filth of the daughters of Zion."
Notice, too, in the above scripture that Isaiah used the word adon as a proper name, perhaps because he used it in place of the word Jehovah. In other instances, he used it as a common noun, which has been the general practice previously in the Bible.
Isaiah 5:16 points out,
"But Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) of hosts is exalted in justice, and the holy god (‘el:H410)shows himself holy in righteousness."
The point is that Jehovah is just and holy because of his righteousness, or faithfulness to his covenant.
Isaiah 8:10 says,
"Take counsel together, but it will come to nought; speak a word, but it will not stand: for god (‘el:H410) is with us (Immanuel)."
The phrase "god is with us" is the word Immanuel which is capitalized. Later in the study, this word will appear again.
The next several chapters describe the details about the horrible punishment of Jehovah when he allows the Assyrians to capture his people, Israel. Isaiah 13:13 says,
"Therefore, I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place at the wrath of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) of hosts, in the day of his fierce anger."
Jehovah’s power is so great that he can make the heavens tremble, and shake the earth out of its place! It is difficult to pass over all the wonderful prophecies of Isaiah about the future of Israel. However, the purpose of this study is to seek out the attributes of Jehovah.
Isaiah 14:27 says no one can thwart the purposes or plans of Jehovah.
"For Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?"
Later verses in Isaiah 19 reveal that Jehovah punished Egypt. His purpose was to persuade Egypt to desert idol worship and worship him. Isaiah 19:24-25 gives the final result of Jehovah’s disciplining of Egypt.
"In that day Israel will be the third (on par with the other two) with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) of hosts has blessed (him), saying, Blessed be Egypt, my people, and Assyria, the work of my hands, and Israel my heritage."
The attribute revealed here is Jehovah’s control over nations. Egypt was called "my people" because of the help they gave Jacob and his family during the great drought. Assyria was called "the work of my hands" because Jehovah disciplined them for the manner in which they treated the Egyptians, and finally they would worship him as their god. Israel was called "my heritage" because they were the nation chosen by Jehovah to demonstrate to the other nations how he could work through them and bless them.
Isaiah 24:21-23 declares,
"On that day, Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) will punish the host of heaven in heaven, and the kings of the earth on the earth. They will be gathered together (a collecting) as prisoners in the pit, (and) they will be shut up in a prison, and after many days will be punished. The moon will be confounded and the sun ashamed, for Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) of hosts will reign on Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his elders glory."
Jehovah was depicted as strong enough to punish all in heaven in need of punishment, and all the great kings on earth who need punishment. No one is found strong enough to resist the will of Jehovah!
Isaiah described the time when Jehovah will descend upon his mountain.
"Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) of hosts will make a feast for all people on this mountain, a feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, fat things full of marrow, wine on the lees well refined; and on this mountain he will destroy (the face of) covering (which covereth) over all peoples, (and) the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death for ever, and Yahweh (yehovih:H3069), the lord (‘adonay:H136), will wipe away tears from all faces, and he will take away the reproach of his people from all the earth, for Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) has spoken. (Isaiah 25:6-8).
Note carefully that Isaiah said the veil would be taken away.
Isaiah 26:21 notes,
"For, behold, Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) is coming forth out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their (upon them) iniquity (of), and the earth will disclose the blood shed upon her, and will no more cover her slain."
Earlier scriptures spoke about the attribute of Jehovah in the punishing iniquity. Here, however, a new dimension was added; Jehovah will come out of his place to punish. Jehovah’s usual "place" is that of mercy. When Jehovah leaves his place of mercy, it will be to bring judgment, or punishment, for people’s iniquity.
Isaiah 27:1 contains much symbolism.
"In that day Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) will punish with his hard and great and strong sword (upon) serpent Leviathan, [the] fleeing, twisting (crooked) serpent Leviathan, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea."
When Jehovah comes out of his place to punish, that punishment will be upon Leviathan, or the dragon, symbolic of the evil of mankind. [The dragon was spoken of as "in the sea," or among the people of the earth. For a thorough discussion on this point, see our article, A Study of Satan.]
Isaiah 28:21 still referred to that day when Jehovah will come out of his place to punish iniquity.
"For Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) will rise up as on Mount (of) Perazim, as a valley in Gibeon he will be wroth to do his deed, his deed is strange, and to work his work, his alien work."
Isaiah 29:13-14 indicates why Jehovah will punish his people.
"And the Lord (‘adonay:H136) said, Because this people draw near with their mouth, and with their lips honor me, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me a commandment of men learned by rote. Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous things with this people, wonderful and marvelous, and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hid."
Several accusations stand out here. People pay only lip service when worshiping Jehovah; their hearts are not in it. They do not truly fear Jehovah, but only practice religious ritual by rote. What’s even worse, it is the wise men, or religious leaders, who have taught them to do this.
Isaiah 29:23 describes the outcome of all this.
"For when he [Jacob] sees his children, the work of my hands, in his midst, they will sanctify my name, (and) they will sanctify the holy one of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the god (‘elohiym:H430) of Israel."
The punishment of Jehovah is always for the purpose of restoration, not simply to punish, which is pointed out by the next passage.
Isaiah 30:20 says,
"And though the lord (‘adonay:H136) give you the bread of (which is) adversity, and the water (which is) of affliction, yet your teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your teacher."
This is another attribute of Jehovah: he is called a teacher. His actions are always designed to teach his people a better way of living their lives.
Isaiah 30:29 says,
"You shall have the song, as in the night when a feast is kept holy, and gladness of heart, as when one sets out to (the sound of) the flute to go to the mountain of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), to the rock of Israel."
Later scriptures will explain exactly what this "rock of Israel" is.
Israel is looking forward to the time when Jehovah will reveal his glory. Isaiah 40:3-5 says,
"A voice cries in the wilderness, Prepare the way of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), make straight a highway in the desert for our god (‘elohiym:H430). Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see together, for the mouth of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) has spoken."
This passage notes that all flesh together, or at one time, will see the glory of Jehovah. Remember, Israel knows Jehovah as a spirit who dwells in heaven, but who has a presence with them, indicated by the glory cloud in the holy of holies.
Isaiah 40:10-15 describes the greatness of Jehovah.
"Behold, the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069) comes with might, and his arm rules for him. Behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, gently lead those that are with young. Who has measured the water in the hollow of his hand, marked off the heavens with a span, and enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Who has directed the spirit of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), or (who, one) as his counselor has instructed him? Whom did he consult for his enlightenment, and who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding. Behold, the nations [are] like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales. Behold, he takes up the isles like fine dust."
Here, the strength and knowledge of Jehovah is tempered with his tenderness. Isaiah was shown a great god, not a small god!
An interesting sidelight on the above scripture concerns the phrase "the spirit of Jehovah," where spirit is in the feminine gender. In the Old Testament setting, when the spirit of their god, Jehovah, was spoken of, it was usually in the sense of being for good. Perhaps this refers to the feminine attributes of Jehovah.
Gesenius (p. 222) points out that,
"The Hebrew, like all Semitic languages, recognizes only two genders in the noun, a masculine and a feminine. Inanimate objects, and abstract ideas, which other languages sometimes indicate by the neuter, are regarded in Hebrew either as masculine or feminine, more often the latter."
Two other attributes of Jehovah are shown in Isaiah 40:28.
"Have you not known? Have you not heard? Yahweh, the everlasting god, the creator of the ends of the earth, he does not faint or grow weary, his understanding is unsearchable."
The phrase "does not faint" means there is no limit to his strength. Also, there is nothing about the understanding of Jehovah that any man can search out. Parts of his understanding may be known, but not all.
The Israelites were fearful of their foes, and always thinking of possible ways to counteract them. Isaiah 41:14 says,
"Fear not, you worm (of) Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068). Your redeemer is the holy one of Israel."
Jehovah told them again that he was the one who fought for them. Calling them "the worm of Jacob" was a way of saying just how puny their own efforts would be: the enemy would step on them like a worm.
Isaiah 41:21 speaks of Jehovah as the king of Israel.
"Set forth your case, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068); bring your proofs, says the king of Jacob."
Israel was looking for someone to be their king and deliver them from their enemies. They apparently ignored the fact that this was exactly what Jehovah had promised to do. Furthermore, a king would also expect obedience, and their record of obedience to Jehovah was severely lacking.
Isaiah 42:5 describes two different aspects of life.
"Thus says god (‘el:H410) Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread forth the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it."
Breath is the first aspect of what we commonly call life. The word breath comes from neshamah, which represents the natural life men have in common with animals. All must have breath, or die. When God breathed into man the breath of life (Genesis 2:7), the Hebrew word for life was plural. Both animals and man received life and became living souls.
Spirit is the other aspect of life, given only to people. The word spirit comes from ruach, which can also be translated as wind. Girdlestone (p. 60) says,
"It is clear that the wind is regarded in scripture as a fitting emblem of the mighty penetrating power of the Invisible God, and that the breath is supposed to symbolize, not only the deep feelings which are generated within man, such as sorrow and anger, but also kindred feelings in the Divine nature. God is not set forth in Scripture as a soul; i.e. the centre of physical appetite and the animating principle of a body—but as a spirit, that is, an unseen living being, capable of deep emotions. Moreover, it is revealed that god, and he alone, has the faculty of communicating His Spirit or life to His creatures, who are thus enabled to feel, think, speak, and act in accordance with the Divine will."
Breath represents the soulish needs for sustaining natural life. Both men and animals have these in common. However, only people have spirit. At death, it is the spirit that returns to the god who gave it, while the soul of both animals and men return to the earth at death. Contrary to much common teaching, the scriptures simply do not say that people’s "souls" go to heaven when they die.
Isaiah 42:21 points out,
"Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) was pleased for his righteousness’ sake to magnify his law and make it glorious."
The reason for this was because the law was part of his covenant with Israel. Jehovah always kept his side of the covenant, and his word which he had given Israel was always faithful. The Israelites regarded this as the righteousness of Jehovah.
Isaiah 43:1 says,
"But now, thus says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, I have redeemed you, I have called you by my name; you are mine."
Genesis said that Adam was granted the privilege of naming all the animals, which showed his domination, and their subjection to him. Although it may sound chauvinistic to feminists, this same formula applied when Jehovah allowed Adam to name Eve (see Genesis 2:23, 3:20). Therefore, all Israel belongs to Jehovah and is subject to him, not only because he created them, but more importantly because he named them.
Isaiah 43:10 indicates that,
"You are my witnesses, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me, and understand that I [am] he; before me no god (‘el:H410) was formed, nor shall there be after me."
The word "formed" is the key word in this verse. Essentially, Jehovah was saying that at no time was any god but he "formed."
The word formed comes from yatsar. Strong says,
"Yatsar, yaw-tsar’; prob. identical with 3334 (through the squeesing into shape); ([comp. 333l]): to mould into a form; espec. as a potter; earthen, fashion, form, frame, make, (-r), potter, purpose."
This would indicate that someone, or some thing, formed, or molded into a form, the god, Jehovah. Interesting! This will certainly cause concern among those who claim that Jehovah has always existed in, and of, himself.
Isaiah 45:5-6 can be somewhat misleading if read out of context. According to the context, Jehovah was telling Cyrus that the gods of the other nations around were idols, or literally, no-gods.
"I am Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and there is no other, besides me there is no god (‘elohiym:H430). I gird you though you do not know me, that men may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none besides me. I am Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and there is no other."
Jehovah was speaking strictly to Cyrus, whom he had called to deliver Israel from the bondage of the Babylonians. When he said there was no other god besides him, he was speaking of the gods of the nations around them.
Isaiah 45:18 says,
"For thus says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), who created the heavens. He is god (‘elohiym:H430) who formed the earth and made it; he established it not a chaos; he did create it to be inhabited; he formed it. I am Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and there is no other."
Some people claim that after the earth was created it again became a chaos. Here, however, scripture says that Jehovah did not make the earth a chaos, but created it to be inhabited. He gave order to the things of the earth and the heavens.
Isaiah 45:19 says in part,
"I Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) speak the truth; I declare what is right."
Jehovah is a truthful god, and he may be believed. He also declares what is right, and nothing he says may be disputed.
Isaiah 49:5 says,
"And now Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) says, who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered (to him). For I am honored in the eyes of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and my god (‘elohiym:H430) has become my strength."
Although this may have been written by Isaiah, it certainly has a much wider importance later in the scriptures.
The prophetic nature of Isaiah 49:5 becomes much clearer when considering Isaiah 50:5-7.
"The lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069) has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, turned not backward. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to those who pull the beard; my face I hid not from shame and spitting. For the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069) helps me; therefore, I have not been confounded. Therefore, I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame."
The phrase "opened my ear" means that Jehovah taught him. Whoever this person may have been, he was not a popular person. In fact, Old Testament prophets were never popular. Many died because they brought the word of Jehovah to the people. Any "prophet" who is popular should be regarded with skepticism!
Isaiah 53:1-12 declares,
"Who has believed what we have heard? To whom has the arm of Yahweh been revealed? He grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry(ness) ground. He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. Despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief (sickness), and as one despised from whom their faces hide, and we esteemed him not. Surely, our griefs he has borne, and our sorrows (pains) carried, yet we esteemed stricken, smitten by god (‘elohiym:H430), and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement that upon him made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray, we have every one turned to his own way. And Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth. Like a lamb to the slaughter is led, and like a sheep before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away, and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken (a stroke) (to him) for the transgressions of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked, and in his death with a rich man, although he had done no violence and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet, it was the will of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) to bruise him; he has put him to grief (made him sick). When he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring (seed), he shall prolong his days, the will of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, be satisfied by his knowledge. [He] shall make many to be accounted righteous, righteous one, my servant, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will divide him with the great and with the strong, and he shall divide the spoil because (that) he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors, yet he bore the sin of many [and] made intercession for the transgressors."
This scripture is clearly prophetic, and was included because Isaiah spoke of Jehovah as the one who put all of this upon the person referred to. Why does it say that Jehovah was the one to inflict all of this?
Isaiah 55:8-9 points out,
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068). For the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Jehovah sets his own agenda, apart from that of mankind. His thoughts and his ways are not that of men, but are completely different thoughts and different methods. We can only know as much about them as the scriptures reveal.
Israel had become rich, but also ungodly. They had an empty religion which went through all the prescribed motions, but had no real heart-felt emotions toward their god, Jehovah. A great cleavage developed between the priesthood and the kings. The priesthood had become much stronger, but it had also become corrupt. With a corrupt priesthood, the nation was on a downward spiral spiritually.
The kingdom of Judah lasted 487 years before Israel seceded and another 387 years after Israel seceded, a total of 874 years. After the northern kingdom, Israel, was taken captive by Babylon, Judah remained independent for another 133 years before it, too, was taken captive. In reading biblical history, many of the statistics often seem to run together although many years may be involved.
Jeremiah was a prophet to the nation of Judah, in the latter days of the kingdom of Judah. He warned them of the disaster awaiting them unless they changed their attitude toward Jehovah.
Jeremiah 1:1 says that Jeremiah was from a priestly family, which was unusual. Another characteristic of Jehovah is shown in Jeremiah’s calling.
"Now came the word of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) to me, saying, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations. Then I said, Ah, lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069), behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am a youth. But Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said to me, Do not say I am a youth, for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you." (Jeremiah 1:4-7).
Jehovah consecrated Jeremiah even before he was born, thereby acknowledging that, at least in some instances, he appoints people to a calling even before they are formed in the womb.
By determining our own pathway, some of us may wind up opposing the will of Jehovah. It seems that Jeremiah could have refused had he desired to do so. Jeremiah was not an automaton! Therefore, his future was controlled by Jehovah only to the extent that Jeremiah yielded himself to the will of his god, Jehovah.
Jehovah touched the mouth of Jeremiah so he could speak Jehovah’s message. Then, Jehovah began to show Jeremiah the future of Judah. If they continued in their present condition, they would be taken captive by people from the north.
Jeremiah 1:18-19 indicates who will be against Jeremiah and his message.
"And, I behold, I make you this day a fortified city, and an iron pillar, and walls of bronze against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its princes, its priests, and the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), to deliver you."
Jeremiah was compared to a fortified city because Jehovah’s protection will be so strong. He would certainly not be popular in a nation which was rich and corrupt, and had only a superficial religion toward their god, Jehovah.
It is Jehovah who furnishes the teachers and the preachers. Jeremiah 3:14-15 says,
"Return, faithless children, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), for I am master over you, and I will take you one from a city, and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding."
Jehovah acknowledged that it is he who calls those who will oversee Judah and feed them with knowledge and understanding.
The lack of knowledge and understanding in Judah seemed to be at least part of the reason why Jehovah’s people strayed. Where there is no knowledge and no understanding, the people will go astray because they will have only human nature to guide them.
However, the ways of Jehovah are completely opposite to the natural thoughts of men. Spiritual knowledge and understanding must be taught! If it is not, religion will become an empty shell. As Jeremiah found, people in this condition are so convinced that their way is the correct way that they will try to kill the messenger instead of listening to Jehovah’s message.
Jeremiah 5:22 asks,
"Do you not fear me, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068)? Do you not tremble before me? I placed sand bound for the sea, a perpetual barrier which it cannot pass; though (the waves) toss, they cannot prevail; though they (its waves) roar, they cannot pass over it.
Jehovah stated that the reason the seas have boundaries is because he set those boundaries. His question inferred that this should be enough to cause people to stand in awe, or fear, of him.
Jeremiah 6:8 warns,
"Be Warned, O Jerusalem, lest I be alienated from you, lest I make you a desolation, a land uninhabited."
Another attribute of Jehovah is that he gives a long period of warning to people before punishing them. This warning may span years, or even hundreds of years, before his patience ends. When it does end, however, the consequences can be horrible, as the people of Judah found to their sorrow.
Jeremiah 7:3-4 declares,
"Thus says yahweh (yehovah:H3068) of hosts, the god (‘elohiym:H430) of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will let you to dwell in this place. Do not trust (yourselves) in these deceptive words (saying), These are the temple of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), the temple of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), the temple of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068)."
The priests were deceiving the people into believing they were safe in Jerusalem because of the temple and the glory cloud which dwelt in the holy of holies. However, Jehovah constantly warned that his presence would be removed unless the people repented, changed their minds, and began to worship him with their hearts, or inmost being.
The Israelites had only an outward show of religion that neither affected them spiritually nor in their everyday activities. They were corrupt, concerned with accumulating riches and power, and having constant pleasure for themselves without any regard for godly behavior. Jehovah warned them over and over again.
Jeremiah 7:9-10 provides a description of their religious activities, as well as their worldly ones.
"Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and go after other gods (‘elohiym:H430) that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered, only to go on doing all these abominations?"
This was a dangerous religion they practiced.
Listen to Jeremiah 7:22-23:
"For I did not speak to your fathers, or commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this command I gave them (saying), Obey my voice, and I will be your god (‘elohiym:H430), and you shall be to me people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you."
I Samuel 15:22 puts this in proper perspective.
"And Samuel said, Has Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068)? Behold, to obey [is] better than sacrifice, to hearken than the fat of rams."
This reveals Jehovah’s attitude toward the sacrifices in a rote religion versus heartfelt obedience to his word. The sacrifices were a means for the people to come before Jehovah, but obedience was what pleased Jehovah.
Jeremiah 9:21-23 says,
"Speak, Thus says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), The dead bodies of man shall fall like dung upon the open field, and like sheaves after the reaper, and none shall gather. Thus says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, and let not the mighty man glory in his might; let not the rich man glory in his riches, but in this let him who glories glory that he understands and knows me, that I am Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) who practice kindness, justice, and righteousness, in the earth, for in these things I delight, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068)."
Although the three attributes described here may have been noted before, this is the first time all three have been listed together. Jehovah practices kindness. He also practices justice, which includes punishment for consistent wrong doing. And, he practices righteousness, or truthfulness to his given word. Not only does Jehovah practice these, he also insists that these be practiced by any who want to be greatly blessed by him.
Jeremiah 10:10 notes,
"But Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) is god (‘elohiym:H430) in truth, he is the living god (‘elohiym:H430), and the everlasting king; at his wrath the earth quakes, and nations cannot endure his indignation."
Jeremiah stated three facts about his god, Jehovah: He is truthfully a god, he is the living god, and he is the everlasting king who rules over the nations of the earth. Jeremiah said that Jehovah is not a god made by men’s hands, such as the gods of the other nations. Jehovah is truly a god, a living god, and an everlasting god. Those other man-made gods have no life, and will not endure over a long period of time. However, Jehovah will endure forever! The god of Israel will always be alive, available for their guidance and welfare.
Many people see Jehovah, the god of the Old Testament, primarily in terms of the terrible punishment that he brought upon Israel. However, looking at this realistically, and even trying to look at it from Jehovah’s perspective, is it better for people to be punished in order to live spiritually, or to let them continue on their own way and die spiritually?
When it comes to earthly riches or spiritual blessings, men will usually choose the former, while Jehovah chooses the latter. Since men will not easily desert their greed for the things of this world, Jehovah removed them from the source of their greed. When they had nothing, they again looked to their god, Jehovah.
Jehovah’s punishment did not come as a surprise since it had been foretold for many years. Through his prophets, Jehovah begged them to return to him with all their hearts, but to no avail. Jehovah certainly did not enjoy seeing his people killed and maimed! However, looking at the terrible things which happened to Israel and Judah from a spiritual viewpoint provides a better understanding of how Jehovah could call himself a god of kindness.
This is illustrated by Jeremiah 11:20-22.
"But, O Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) of hosts, who judgest righteously, who triest the heart and mind, let me see thy vengeance upon them, for to thee have I commited my cause. Therefore, thus says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), Concerning the men of Anathoth who seek your life, and say, Do not prophesy in the name of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), or you will die by our hand. Therefore, thus says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) of hosts, Behold, I will punish them: the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine."
These people no longer desired to hear Jehovah’s word, or even to permit the preaching of his word. When punishment finally came to them, was it Jehovah who brought it, or was it the result of their own sin? Jehovah had warned the people about the consequences of their disobedience, but they believed not.
Jeremiah 14:14-15 says,
"And Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said to me, The prophets are prophesying lies in my name; I did not send them, nor did I command them, or speak to them. They are prophesying a lying vision and divination and worthless and deceit of their own minds to you. Therefore, thus says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), Concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and they who say sword and famine shall not come on this land, by sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed, and the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem from the famine and sword, with none to bury them, their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, for I will pour out their wickedness upon them.
The prophets and priests of Jeremiah’s day were only saying the things people wanted to hear. They no longer declared the word of Jehovah to the people. As a result, people felt good about themselves and their ungodliness, and the prophets and priests retained their wealth and prestige.
Jeremiah pleaded with Jehovah to give Judah more time, but to no avail.
"Then Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said to me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send [them] out of my sight and let them go. And when they ask you, Where shall we go? You shall say to them, thus says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), Those who are for pestilence (death), to pestilence; and those who are for the sword, to the sword; and those who are for the famine, to the famine; and those who are for the captivity, to the captivity." (Jeremiah 15:1-2).
Finally, after more than 400 years, Jehovah decided to bring to Judah the punishment they had earned for themselves. For all that time, Jehovah had guarded, protected, and supplied all the needs of the people. The people, however, thought that all their blessings had been wrought by their own efforts, and they did not thank the god who had blessed them.
Jeremiah 17:5 notes,
"Thus says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), Cursed is the man who trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm, and from Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) his heart turns away."
When Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, attacked, the people then asked Jeremiah to seek Jehovah’s help. Jeremiah 21:4-5 provides Jehovah’s answer.
"Thus says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) the god (‘elohiym:H430) of Israel, Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war which are in your hands, and with which you are fighting (with them) against the king of Babylon, and against the Chaldeans, who are besieging you outside the walls, and I will bring them together into the midst of this city. I myself will fight against you with outstretched hand and strong arm, in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath."
Jehovah made it very clear that those who paid no heed to him could not expect his help in times of calamity.
Jeremiah 22:8-9 declares,
"And many nations shall pass by this city, and will say every man to his neighbor, Why has Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) dealt thus with this great city? And they will answer, Because they forsook the covenant of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), their god (‘elohiym:H430), and worshiped other gods, and served them."
Jehovah had told them what to expect from him. They had agreed to obey, abide by his laws, and not worship other gods; but, they had ignored what they had pledged.
Jeremiah 22:28-30 asks,
"A pot despised, broken, this man Coniah, a vessel no one cares for. Why are he and his children hurled and cast into a land which they do not know? O land, land, land, hear the word of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068). Thus says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), Write down this man as childless, a man who shall not succeed in his days: for not (a man) from his offspring shall succeed in sitting on the throne of David, and ruling again in Judah."
Coniah was the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. Jehovah had said that Jehoiakim,
"shall be buried with the burial of an ass, dragged and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem." (Jeremiah 22:19).
The message of these scriptures will have some repercussions in the New Testament, as we will see later.
Jeremiah 23:1-2 identifies another attribute of Jehovah.
"Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068). Therefore, thus says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), the god (‘elohiym:H430) of Israel, Concerning the shepherds who care for my people, you have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil (of) your doings, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068)."
Jehovah is the one who will judge the shepherds (pastors) of his people. Those who did not lead their flock in the words and ways of Jehovah, thus scattering and destroying the sheep, will be judged harshly. Regardless of their motivation, Jehovah will judge them for their shortcomings.
Jeremiah 23:9-15 describes Jehovah’s judgment of the prophets and priests.
"Concerning the prophets, my heart is broken, within me all my bones shake (grow soft). I am as a drunken man, like a man overcome by wine, because of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and because of his holy words. For the land is full of adulterers; because of the curse the land mourns; the pastures of the wilderness are dried up (and) their course is evil, and their might is not right. (For) both prophet and priest are ungodly; even in my house I have found their wickedness, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068). Therefore, their way to them shall be to them like slippery paths; in the darkness they shall be driven, and fall into evil which I will bring upon them, in the year of their punishment, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068). And in the prophets of Samaria I saw an unsavory thing. They prophesied by Baal and led astray my people, Israel. But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing.. They commit adultery and walk in lies, and they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his wickedness. They have become to me, all of them, like Sodom, and its inhabitants, like Gomorrah. Therefore, thus says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) of hosts, Concerning the prophets, behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and give them to drink poisoned water, for from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has gone forth into all the land."
The prophets and priests were the spiritual leaders of Jehovah’s people. Therefore, they would be held responsible for the spiritual death of the people.
Jeremiah 23:23-24 asks,
"Am I a god (‘elohiym:H430) at hand, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and not a god (‘elohiym:H430) afar off? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068)? Do not I fill heavens and earth, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068)?"
Jehovah revealed two more of his attributes: his omniscience and his omnipresence. Webster’s Dictionary says that omniscience means to have infinite awareness, understanding, and insight; while omnipresence means to be present in all places at all times. Jehovah, the god of Israel, declared these attributes for himself, and in doing so, enlightened us further about who and what, he was.
Jeremiah 25:12 says,
"Then, after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), for their iniquity, making them an everlasting waste, the land of the Chaldeans."
Before Judah was ever taken captive, Jehovah showed his omniscience by declaring how long their captivity would last. He also said that he would punish the king and the people of Babylon for what they did to Judah. Although Jehovah may allow others to chastise his people, the ones who do, do not do so with impunity.
These were rough times for any who prophesied the true word of Jehovah. Not only were the kings of Judah against them, but so were the so-called prophets and the priests. Those who spoke the true word of Jehovah were not popular. Usually, they came to grief at the hands of those they sought to help. This is a lesson that is still true today.
Jeremiah 30:8-9 says,
"And it shall come to pass in that day, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) of hosts, I will break his yoke from off their (your) neck, and their bonds I will burst, and strangers shall not make servants of them any more; but they shall serve Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), their god (‘elohiym:H430), and David, their king, whom I will raise up for them."
Again, Jehovah looked down the aisle of time, and told Judah that they would eventually be released from the bondage of Babylon. Another attribute listed here is that Jehovah is able to raise David from the dead. Should this to be taken literally, or figuratively?
Jeremiah, like Isaiah before him, gave many prophesies that are difficult to simply pass over without comment. However, for the most part, only those which reveal some attribute of Jehovah have been chosen for comment.
Jeremiah contains a prophesy about Jehovah’s promised deliverance. These prophesies, which seem to be only about deliverance from Babylon, may have additional meaning as well. In particular, Jeremiah 31:33-34 stands out as having a much greater application.
"But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068): I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts. And I will be their god (‘elohiym:H430), and they shall be my people. And each man shall no longer teach his neighbor, and each his brother, saying, Know Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), for they all shall know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember no more their sin."
This declares that Jehovah is capable, in his own way, of putting his law within people by writing it on their hearts. This would apply not only to Israel, but to all peoples.
The next several chapters contain more warnings from Jehovah, through Jeremiah, that Jerusalem will be burned, and the people taken captive unless they repent and turn again in obedience to Jehovah. However, in their unbelief, they refused to do so. Then, Jehovah proclaimed the future condition of the land after the Chaldeans have captured it.
Nevertheless, Jehovah’s warnings were not heeded because of the people’s disbelief. They had served other gods for so long that they no longer believed in the god of Israel. Unfortunately, everything prophesied about Jerusalem was fulfilled. The city was totally destroyed, and the people who were not slain were taken captive and enslaved by the Chaldeans for the next 70 years.
In spite of Jeremiah’s warnings, Judah and Jerusalem completely ignored them. Time, after time, they were warned that if they continued to worship false gods and offered only token worship to their god, Jehovah, that he would bring disaster upon them by removing them from the land.
Taking careful note of all the warnings makes it manifestly clear that the downfall of Jerusalem and Judah would be by natural means. However, both Jeremiah and the people understood this as the work of Jehovah.
Did Jehovah bring this about directly, or was it the natural consequence of their own sin? They had become a wealthy nation, thereby making themselves a prime target for conquest by a stronger nation. As a first cause, it was Jehovah who brought this about since he raises up nations and puts down nations. It was a judgment brought upon their sin.
But, when someone, or some nation, persists in living opposite to the laws of Jehovah, the judgment is often the natural result of that sin. It is usually described in the Old Testament as a direct intervention. However, it is not necessarily a direct intervention of Jehovah that brings it about, but the manner in which he has set in motion the laws controlling righteousness and sin.
Or, it may be that we misunderstand the Old Testament writings which only appear to show Jehovah’s direct intervention of judgment. And, it may be that this misunderstanding is partially to blame for considering Jehovah an angry, unloving, vengeful god, although he continually refers to himself as a loving, longsuffering, and everlastingly caring god.
Lamentations is the cry of a wounded man (Jeremiah), a prophet who had suffered many wrongs at the hands of the people he had been sent to help. His life was threatened many times, he was cast into prison, and he suffered constant persecution and ridicule from the very ones he sought to help. Nevertheless, his heart was broken by what happened to Judah and Jerusalem.
Lamentations 1:12 says,
"Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) inflicted on me on the day of his fierce anger."
Jeremiah not only stated his sorrow, but also indicated that it was inflicted by Jehovah. In fact, Jeremiah’s lamentations seem to be laying all of the ills associated with Judah and Jerusalem at the door of Jehovah.
In keeping with our earlier question, did Jehovah directly inflict sorrow upon Jeremiah, and, if so, why should Jeremiah, the faithful prophet, have sorrow inflicted upon him by Jehovah? Or, was this a "built-in" part of Jeremiah’s present condition, a matter of circumstance being attributed to Jehovah?
The Old Testament people saw Jehovah as the god who upheld and guided all things by his power. Did Jeremiah make such statements in recognition of Jehovah’s oversight, rather than indicating an immediate action upon the part of Jehovah? If so, then this was only another version of Jehovah’s control over his creation.
Lamentations 2:20 says,
"Look, O Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and see with whom thou hast dealt thus. Should women eat their offspring, the children of their tender care? Should the priest and prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord (‘adonay:H136)?"
If Jehovah were directly responsible for such ills, then it would be difficult to understand him as a merciful god as he is so often depicted in the Old Testament. So we raise the questions again: is this a direct action of Jehovah as apparently depicted? Or, is it a consequence of the sin people committed by failing to obey Jehovah.
Sin always has consequences. In the case of Judah and Jerusalem, we believe these judgments were the results of disobeying Jehovah’s word over hundreds of years.
Lamentations 3:25, points out that Jehovah is good.
"Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him."
After apparently laying all of Judah’s hardships at the feet of Jehovah, Jeremiah still said that Jehovah is good.
Like Jeremiah, Ezekiel was a priest called to be a prophet to the people of Judah and Jerusalem. He was to warn them of the coming debacle that would destroy them unless they returned in truth to their god, Jehovah. The people had not listened to Jeremiah, and neither did they pay any attention to Ezekiel.
During the 400 years or so after Israel entered the promised land, Jehovah had sent many warnings through many prophets. Ezekiel’s message was similar to Jeremiah’s in that he prophesied the downfall of Judah and the punishment that Jehovah would deal out to their captors. Thus, he was unpopular both with the citizens of Judah, and their conquerors. Legend has it that Ezekiel was killed by his own people because they disliked his diatribes against their ungodliness.
Ezekiel 1:24 is another case where the word "almighty" was used as a proper name.
"And I heard the sound of their wings, like the sound of many waters, like the thunder of the almighty (shadday:H7706). When they went, like the sound of a host; when they stood still, they let down their wings."
Earlier in the study, the phrase god almighty, or almighty god, was identified with Jehovah, who was the mightiest god these people knew. Since the word was used as another reference to Jehovah, it was a proper name in this specific instance.
However, in most of the places where it was used it was not a proper name, especially if used in combination with the word "god." This is nothing new, but it is somewhat unusual to the scriptures and therefore worthy of note.
Ezekiel 2:4-5 says,
"The people also [are] impudent (severe of face) and stubborn. I send you to them, and you shall say to them, Thus says the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069). And they, whether they hear or refuse to hear (cease), for they are a rebellious house, they will know that a prophet was among them."
Jehovah revealed a new purpose for sending a prophet to his people. He sent Ezekiel in order that the people would know there had been a prophet among them, warning them of the coming troubles. They could not accuse Jehovah of not sending someone to warn them.
Ezekiel gave this description of how he was called to be a prophet:
"So I arose, and went forth into the plain; and, lo, the glory of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) stood there, like the glory which I had seen by the river Chebar, and I fell on my face. But a spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet, and he spoke with me, and said to me, Go, shut yourself within your house." (Ezekiel 3:23-24).
The spirit which entered him enabled Ezekiel to do what he was called to do.
It is interesting to note that in the first part of this passage "spirit" is feminine, because it is an abstract, while later it says "he" spoke. Who was the "he?" Was it the spirit, which was feminine, or was it Jehovah who was speaking to him? The spirit empowers and leads, and if the spirit does speak, it always speaks for Jehovah.
Ezekiel 5:10 describes how horrible it will be when the Chaldeans take Jerusalem by siege.
"Therefore, fathers shall eat sons in the midst of you, and sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments against you, and I will scatter any of you who survives to all the winds."
You would think that people would listen, but they did not! They no longer believed Jehovah, and may not have even believed there was a Jehovah. Their gods were the same as the gods of the people around them, which allowed all kinds of sexual perversion in their worship. The pursuit of wealth and material possessions were their top priorities. Thus, Jerusalem became wealthy and ungodly.
Ezekiel 7:27 says,
"The king mourns, and a prince is wrapped in despair (devastation), and the hands of the people of the land are palsied by terror. I will do to them according to their way, and according to their own judgments I will judge them; and they shall know that I am Yahweh (yehovah:H3068)."
This clearly answers our earlier questions. Jehovah’s judgment is the result of their own sin.
Ezekiel 8:16 says,
"And he brought me into the inner court of the house of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068); and, behold, at the door of the temple of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), between the porch and the altar, about twenty and five men, with their backs to the temple of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and their faces toward the east, worshiping the sun toward the east."
This is an interesting sight! When the temple was designed, it was erected so that men had to turn toward the door of the temple with their backs to the sun, thus signifying that they were no longer worshiping the sun, the moon, the stars, and the queen of heaven, or the earth goddess.
The altar of one of the greatest fraternal organizations today is set so that the people who go to it must face east, or toward the sun, or star. Essentially, they are turning their backs on the worship of the true god, whether they realize it or not. This organization has so infiltrated many churches today that they have essentially become merely a subsidiary of that organization.
Furthermore, one of the greatest "christian" churches today has kept the worship of the queen of heaven to a great extent in the way they worship Mary. Millions of prayers are said to her daily by those who have been led astray in this matter. Scripture instructs us that prayer is to be made to God, through his son, not through Mary. We will comment more fully on this when we get into the New Testament.
Ezekiel 9:3 says,
"Now the glory of the god (‘elohiym:H430) of Israel had gone up from the cherubim, on which it rested on it, to the threshold of the house."
The very presence of Jehovah in the holy or holies, which had dwelt above the cherubim of the ark, had now left its place and come to the threshold of the temple. Jehovah’s presence was being removed from Jerusalem and the temple. The people had moved all the idols of the heathen into Jehovah’s temple, and he would no longer keep his presence among them.
This reveals a new attribute of Jehovah, indicating that there is a limit to his patience. How long would he leave Judah and Jerusalem? Would he ever return there? We already know the answers to these questions.
Ezra returned from captivity under the auspices of Cyrus and built another temple. And, since Judah repented, and again pledged their allegiance to Jehovah, he returned again to the holy of holies (see Ezra 6:14-18).
Ezekiel 11:5 says,
"And the Spirit of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) fell upon me, and he said to me, Say thus says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), So you think, O house of Israel, the things that come into your mind. I know."
Here is a case of Jehovah’s spirit "falling upon" someone. Is this something new, or has it happened in the past to other prophets but never mentioned? Jehovah’s spirit moved upon Ezekiel in such a manner as to completely take him under its control.
Ezekiel 11:17 declares,
"Therefore, say, Thus says the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069), I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give to you the land of Israel."
This does not reveal a new attribute of Jehovah, but it does give the people hope. Even though they had forgotten their part of the covenant, Jehovah had not forgotten his part. The giving of the land to Israel was a one party covenant. It was the given word of Jehovah, and, in his own time, he would bring the people of Israel to the place where they would be fit to enter and stay in the land forever.
Ezekiel 12:15 states,
"And they shall know that I am Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries."
The people no longer believed that there really was a god of Israel, one named Jehovah, and they did not fear him. They expected that things would continue as they had in the past. However, when the prophesied disasters came upon them, then they would know that Jehovah was their god.
What a burden Ezekiel must have felt when he told about the terrible things that were to come upon Judah and Jerusalem. How frustrating it must have been to never be believed, and to be continually persecuted by those he sought to help.
Ezekiel 13:3-6 declares,
"Thus says the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069), Woe to the foolish prophets who follow after their own spirit and have seen nothing. O Israel, your prophets have been like foxes among ruins. You have not gone up into the breeches, or built up a wall for the house of Israel, that it might stand in battle in the day of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068). They spoke falsehood and divined a lie; they say, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) when Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) has not sent them, and yet expect him to fulfill their word."
What an indictment of a group who was supposed to be declaring the word of Israel’s god, Jehovah. He stated that they only follow their own spirit, not his.
Ezekiel 13:8 continues,
"Therefore, thus says the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069), Because you have uttered delusions, and have seen lies; therefore, behold, I [am] against you, says the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069)."
Jehovah recognized that the prophets did not hear him, and he turned against them. What a sorry condition for a country to be in when there is no one to declare the truth of God to them. In later verses, Jehovah declared that the people were a prey being hunted by their pastors, or priests (see Ezra 22:23-28).
In Ezekiel 16, Jehovah compared Israel to a whore who was not even wise enough to charge a fee for the use of her body (Ezekiel 16:31). He also compared Israel to an unfaithful wife who allowed strangers to uncover her shame (Ezekiel 16:32).
Then, Ezekiel 16:48 makes a startling comparison between Israel and Sodom.
"As I live, says the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069), Sodom your sister, she and her daughters, have not done, as you have done, you and your daughters."
If this verse displays an attribute of Jehovah, it must be that he views unfaithfulness to him as the worst kind of adultery, and worthy of a greater punishment than that brought upon Sodom and Gomorrah.
Jehovah again declared his faithfulness to his covenant in Ezekiel 16:59-60.
"Yea, thus says the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069), I will deal with you as you have done, who have despised the oath in breaking the covenant. Yet, I will remember, I myself, my covenant with you in the days of thy youth, and I will establish with you an everlasting covenant."
Jehovah promised not only to remember the covenant he gave to Israel in its youthful times, but also promised that sometime in the future it will be extended into everlasting time. The grace of Jehovah is evident to the careful reader.
Ezekiel 18:23 says,
"Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069), and not rather that he should turn from his way, and live?"
Jehovah revealed the anguish he feels when his people fall away from worshiping him to worshiping false idols. He takes no pleasure in their death.
This statement argues against those who would claim that the Old Testament god, Jehovah, was a vengeful god who took pleasure in punishing people who displeased him. Ezekiel 18:32 states unequivocally that Jehovah has no pleasure in anyone’s death.
"For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069); so turn, and live."
Ezekiel 23:35 says,
"Therefore, thus says the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069), Because you have forgotten me and cast me behind your back, therefore (you) bear the consequences of your lewdness and harlotry."
This is another scripture which indicates that the awful things which come upon Jerusalem and Judah, were a consequence of their own actions, even though stated as though they came directly from Jehovah.
From the beginning, Jehovah set the laws by which Israel might continually live a blessed life, and they agreed to live in that manner. But, Jehovah also warned them that if they strayed there would be dire consequences for their sin.
Therefore, Jehovah originally set the boundaries of both good and evil that would come to the people as a consequence of their own actions. Jehovah was not being an arbitrary god when their deeds brought evil, although the scriptures seem to infer that Jehovah was the immediate instigator of those actions.
Ezekiel 24:14 supports this thesis.
"I, Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), have spoken; it shall come to pass; I will do it. I will not go back, I will not spare, I will not repent. According to your ways and your doings, they will judge you, says the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069)."
This verse presents an apparent contradiction in terms. First, Jehovah said that he was the one who would bring about these things. Yet, he went on to say that it was the Chaldeans who would judge them according to their ways and doings.
In the larger context, remember that it is Jehovah who raises up nations and puts down nations. Therefore, it is Jehovah, as a first cause, who brings all these things about. But, it is the Chaldeans who are the second cause, the ones who execute the punishment brought on by the very actions of the Israelites themselves.
Ezekiel 25-28 describes many more of the sins that Jehovah has been listing against the people of Judah and Jerusalem. All of them seem to fall under the heading of ignoring the laws and the warnings given to them. Jehovah also told what the future holds for the Philistines and for Tyre, as well as other groups whom he will punish, for the purpose that they might know that he is Jehovah.
Ezekiel 28 is the chapter often used to prove the existence of satan as a person. Ezekiel 28:2-10 records Jehovah’s words to the king of Tyre:
"Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, Thus says the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069), Because your heart is proud, and you have said, I am a god (‘el:H410) in the seat of the gods (‘elohiym:H430), I sit in the heart of the seas. Yet, you are but a man, and no god (‘el:H410), though you consider yourself as wise as a god (as the heart of god) (‘elohiym:H430). Behold, you are wiser than Daniel, every secret is not hidden from you. By your wisdom you have gotten wealth for yourself, and have gathered gold and silver into your treasuries. By the abundance of your wisdom in trade you have increased your wealth, and your heart has become proud in your wealth. Therefore, thus says the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069), Because you consider yourself as the heart of god (‘elohiym:H430), therefore, behold, I will bring strangers upon you, the most terrible of nations, and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom, and defile your splendor. They shall thrust you into the pit, and you shall die the death of the slain in the heart of the seas. Will you still say, I am a god (‘elohiym:H430), in the presence of those who slay you, though you are but a man, and no god (‘el:H410), in the hands of those who wound you? You shall die the death of the uncircumcised by the hand of foreigners, for I have spoken, says the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069)."
Ezekiel 28:11-13 continues:
"Moreover came the word of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) to me (saying), Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069), You were the signet of perfection (proportion), full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. In Eden, the garden of god (‘elohiym:H430), you were every precious stone, your covering carnelian, topaz, and jasper, chrysolite, beryl, and onyx, sapphire, carbuncle, and emerald, and gold. The work of your timbrels (settings) and your sockets, they were prepared in you in the day that you were created.."
This lamentation was over the king of Tyre. Ezekiel went on to call the king of Tyre an anointed cherub, using flowery statements describing the greatness of the king of Tyre, not of satan. All the blessings that Jehovah had poured out on this man did not keep him from sin. His sin was pride, claiming that the blessings of Jehovah were his own accomplishments.
Ezekiel 28:17-19 says,
"Your heart was proud because of your beauty. You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I will cast you to the ground. I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade, you profaned your sanctuaries. So, I brought forth fire from the midst of you. It consumed you, and I turned you to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all who saw you. All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you. You have come to a dreadful end, and you shall be no more for ever."
All of this was spoken to the king of Tyre, whom Jehovah had blessed. When he then became proud, Jehovah cast him down and overthrew Tyre. Regardless of claims to the contrary, this passage has nothing to say about satan.
Ezekiel 33:17 is an example for those who presume to judge their god.
"Yet your people say the way of the lord (‘adonay:H136) is not just, when it is they, their way, that is not just."
People often accuse God of being unjust when they receive the recompense of their own deeds. Sin always produces consequences, even though forgiveness may have been granted.
Ezekiel 34 reveals how Jehovah views the shepherds of Israel (the pastors) who take advantage of people only for their own benefit. They provide no guidance. They do not seek for those who have strayed from the way. They do not feed the people by teaching them the word of Jehovah.
Ezekiel 34:10 declares,
"Thus says the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069), Behold, I [am] against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand, and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. The shepherds shall not longer feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them."
Then, as though to clarify the allegory of the sheep, Ezekiel 34:31 says,
"And you are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture; you are men, and I am your god (‘elohiym:H430), says the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069)."
Another attribute of Jehovah is revealed in Ezekiel 36:32.
"It is not for your sake that I will act, says the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069). Let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel."
Why is Jehovah not doing this for the peoples’ sake? Probably because he is doing it for his name’s sake.
As an aside, searching the scriptures for information about "his name’s sake" would be an excellent study.
Ezekiel 37:12 says,
"Therefore, prophesy and say to them, Thus says the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069): Behold, I will open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people, and I will bring you into the land of Israel."
This attribute of Jehovah shows that he has the ability to raise people from the dead. He declares that the people will dwell in the land of Israel sometime in the future. He goes on to say that he will put his spirit within the people (Ezekiel 37:14). When will this happen? We can only wait and see.
Ezekiel 39:29 says,
"And I will not hide my face any more from them when I pour out my spirit upon the house of Israel, says the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069)."
Here, Jehovah stated that sometime in the future he would pour out his spirit "upon" the "house of Israel." [A thorough commentary on the spirit and the composition of the house of Israel can be found in our book, What Scripture Says About Salvation.]
For the most part, the rest of Ezekiel contains instructions given to Ezekiel to pass on to the people about the service of the temple when they return from their captivity.
Many wonderful passages of scriptures have necessarily been by-passed in this study in order to retain our focus on the attributes of Jehovah. The only scriptures extraneous to that topic used were those necessary to give continuity to the study.
# No one is strong enough to resist the will of Jehovah!
# People pay only lip service when worshiping Jehovah; their hearts are
not in it. They do not truly fear Jehovah, but only practice religious
ritual by rote. What’s even worse, it is the wise men, or religious
leaders, who have taught them to do this.
# The punishment of Jehovah is always for the purpose of restoration, not
simply to punish
# Both animals and men received life and became living souls. However,
only men have spirit. At death, it is the spirit that returns to the god
who gave it, while the soul of both animals and men return to the earth
at death. Contrary to much common teaching, the scriptures simply do
not say that people’s souls go to heaven when they die.
# All Israel belongs to Jehovah and is subject to him, not only because he
created them, but more importantly because he named them.
# Essentially, Jehovah was saying that at no time was any god but he
"formed." This would indicate that someone, or some thing, formed, or
molded into a form, the god, Jehovah. Interesting! This will certainly
cause concern among those who claim that Jehovah has always existed
in, and of, himself.
# When he said that there is no other god besides him, he was speaking
of the gods of the nations around them.
# Jehovah did not make the earth a chaos, but created it to be inhabited.
He gave order to the things of the earth and the heavens.
# Old Testament prophets were never popular. Many died because they
brought the word of Jehovah to the people. Any "prophet" who is
popular should be regarded with skepticism!
# By determining our own pathway, some of us may wind up opposing
the will of Jehovah.
# Where there is no knowledge and no understanding, the people will go
astray because they will have only human nature to guide them.
# Spiritual knowledge and understanding must be taught! If it is not,
religion will become an empty shell.
# Jehovah constantly warned that his presence would be removed unless
the people repented, changed their minds, and began to worship him
with their hearts, or innermost being.
# The sacrifices were a means for the people to come before Jehovah, but
obedience was what pleased Jehovah.
# Jehovah practices kindness. He also practices justice, which includes
punishment for consistent wrong doing. And, he practices
righteousness, or truthfulness to his given word. Not only does Jehovah
practice these, he also insists that these be practiced by any who want
to be greatly blessed by him.
# Trying to look at it from Jehovah’s perspective, is it better for people to
be punished in order to live spiritually, or to let them continue on their
own way and die spiritually?
# When it comes to earthly riches or spiritual blessings, men will usually
choose the former, while Jehovah chooses the latter.
# The prophets and priests of Jeremiah’s day were only saying the things
people wanted to hear. They no longer declared the word of Jehovah to
the people. As a result, people felt good about themselves and their
ungodliness, and the prophets and priests retained their wealth and
# Jehovah had guarded, protected, and supplied all the needs of the
people. The people, however, thought that all their blessings had been
wrought by their own efforts,
# Jehovah made it very clear that those who paid no heed to him could
not expect his help in times of calamity.
# The prophets and priests were the spiritual leaders of Jehovah’s people.
Therefore, they would be held responsible for the spiritual death of the
# Those who spoke the true word of Jehovah were not popular. Usually,
they came to grief at the hands of those they sought to help. This is a
lesson that is still true today.
# Sin always has consequences.
# The spirit empowers and leads, and if the spirit does speak, it always
speaks for Jehovah.
# This clearly answers our earlier question: Jehovah’s judgment was the
result of their own sin.
# When the temple was designed, it was erected so that men had to turn
toward the door of the temple, with their backs to the sun, thus
signifying that they were no longer worshiping the sun, moon, stars,
and the queen of heaven, or the earth goddess. The altar of one of the
greatest fraternal organizations today is set so that the people who go
to it must face east, or toward the sun, or star. Essentially, they are
turning their backs on the worship of the true god, whether they
realize it or not. This organization has so infiltrated many churches
today that they have become merely a subsidiary of that organization.
# Scripture instructs us that prayer is to be made to God, through his
son, not through Mary.
# Jehovah’s spirit moved upon Ezekiel in such a manner as to completely
take him under its control.
# Even though they had forgotten their part of the covenant, Jehovah
had not forgotten his part.
# The people expected that things would continue as they had in the past.
# Jehovah promised not only to remember the covenant he gave to Israel
in its youthful times, but also promised that sometime in the future it
will be extended into everlasting time. Thus, the grace of Jehovah is
evident to the careful reader.
# This is another scripture which indicates that the awful things which
come upon Jerusalem and Judah were a consequence of their own
actions, even though stated as though they came directly from
# In the larger context, remember that it is Jehovah who raises up nations
and puts down nations. Therefore, it is Jehovah, as a first cause, who
brings all these things about. But, it is the Chaldeans who are the
second cause, the ones who execute the punishment brought on by the
very actions of the Israelites themselves.
# Jehovah had blessed the king of Tyre, and when he then became
proud, Jehovah cast him down and overthrew Tyre. Regardless of
claims to the contrary, this passage (about the king of Tyre) has
nothing to say about satan.
# Sin always produces consequences, even though forgiveness may have
# Jehovah was not pleased when Israel only went through the motions of
religion without any real heart-felt feelings toward him.
# Jehovah can be a terror, and the glory of his majesty a frightful
experience, to those who are disobedient to his concepts and who
worship other gods.
# Jehovah does not appreciate seeing women flaunting their sex.
# Jehovah is just and holy because of his righteousness, or faithfulness to
# Jehovah controls the nations.
# Jehovah will come out of his place to punish. Jehovah’s usual "place" is
that of mercy. When Jehovah leaves his place of mercy, it will be to
bring judgment, or punishment, for people’s iniquity.
# Jehovah is called a teacher; his actions are always designed to teach his
people a better way of living their lives.
# There is no limit to Jehovah's strength.
# Jehovah is a truthful god, and he may be believed.
# Jehovah sets his own agenda, apart from that of mankind.
# Jehovah's thoughts and his ways are not that of men, but are
completely different thoughts and different methods. We can only
know as much about them as the scriptures reveal.
# Jehovah appoints people to a calling even before they are formed in the
# Jehovah acknowledged that it is he who calls those who will oversee
Judah and feed them with knowledge and understanding.
# Jehovah stated that the reason the seas have boundaries is because he
set those boundaries.
# Jehovah gives a long period of warning to people before punishing
# Jehovah practices kindness. He also practices justice, which includes
punishment for consistent wrong doing. And, he practices
righteousness, or truthfulness to his given word. Not only does Jehovah
practice these, he also insists that these be practiced by any who want
to be greatly blessed by him.
# Jehovah is truthfully a god, he is the living god, and he is the
everlasting king who rules over the nations of the earth.
# Jehovah is the one who will judge the shepherds (pastors) of his people.
# Jehovah is omniscient and omnipresent.
# Although Jehovah may allow others to chastise his people, the ones
who do so will not escape with impunity.
# Jehovah is capable, in his own way, of putting his law within people by
writing it on their hearts.
# There is a limit to Jehovah's patience.
# Jehovah must view unfaithfulness to him as the worst kind of adultery,
and worthy of a greater punishment.
# Jehovah does not act for the peoples’ sake, but for his name’s sake.
# Jehovah has the ability to raise people from the dead.
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