Jehovah Rohi ~ I know My Shepherd’s Voice

“But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” John 10:2-4

In ancient times there were common sheepfold in towns where sheep from many flocks were kept in the same sheepfold. A sheepfold is a pen for the sheep. So there may be flocks from several different shepherds in one pen and there was one way out and one way in. It’s my understanding that one of the shepherd would sleep at the gate of the sheepfold so as not to let anything in to harm the sheep nor to let the sheep wander out of the gate. In the morning the shepherds would come to the pen and call their sheep by name and would lead them out of the pen. Now I have often heard that sheep were dumb animals but yet they knew the voice of their shepherd. They would not follow another shepherd only the voice that they knew would protect them, guide them and lead them. In fact: 

“A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” John 10:5

My friends, I can testify that when you spend a lot of time with Jesus you begin to hear His voice and know His voice more clearly. I can remember early in my christian walk, when I wouldn’t be able to discern His voice, His leading and guidance on my life with much clarity. And I am not saying that I hear it correctly every time now, but I can say that after years of being with Him daily and having a quiet time and walking this life out with Him as my guide, I can recognize His lead much clearer than I could years ago. It is just like with your spouse or children, or close friends. If my children or spouse calls me from another phone they do not have to identify themselves. I know their voice. All they have to do is speak and I will know who they are. They could fool me quicker with a look than they ever will with their voice. Much the same way the more time I spend with Jesus, the more I know His voice in my life. I am not saying He speaks audibly but I can feel His voice. He is My Shepherd and I know His voice. 

So whose voice are you listening to? Is it Our Good Shepherd’s or is it a disguise? Is it someone who is trying to climb over the walls to gain your attention?

“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10: 9-11

The thief will try to disguise his voice to sound like Jesus, so that you will follow, but the thief will never lay down his life for you. He will just steal yours. Our Good Shepherd already has! 

Jehovah Rohi – My Shepherd seeks the lost sheep

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that’s lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:4-7

Think of the shepherd and what he will do for his sheep. The shepherd has one hundred sheep and he realizes one of his sheep have wandered away from the flock. You might think that he would not worry about the one when he still has ninety-nine. But that is not what the shepherd does. He leaves the 99 and searches for the lost sheep. The one who all he had to do was hang out with the flock. I’ve never been around sheep. But I read that they stray easily, they get distracted and then they have a hard time finding their way back. That when the sheep realizes it is lost it will actually bleat for the flock but will end up running in the opposite direction of the sound. The shepherd has to know that if he doesn’t find that sheep that it is in real imminent danger. So the shepherd leaves the 99 and searches for that lost sheep until he finds it. And when he does he rejoices over that lost sheep. 

In the same way our Shepherd will seek us out. How many times in my past have I been running away from the flock right into imminent danger. And my Lord continued to seek me out. He continued to put people in front of me. He continued to use the things surrounding me to draw me back to the flock and back to Him. I have been able to look back over my life at the times that I had wandered away from the flock. Even if only in my own mind and heart. I know there have been times when I was present, yet I was not necessarily present in my heart. But I can see how He searched for me and led me back to where my heart needed to be. This same parable in Matthew ends with this verse. 

“So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:14

One prayer you never ever have to question the will of the Father is the prayer you are praying over a lost sheep. Make no mistake God still gives us freedom to choose but He will continue to seek the lost soul. So if you have that person you have been praying for that is lost. You continue praying that God will continue seeking and He will surely do it. It is not His will to lose even one sheep. 

Jehovah Rohi ~ The Lord is my Shepherd

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1

This is the beginning line of the most famous Psalm written. It has been recited and written and prayed for centuries. But it’s not just meant to be recited and written and prayed. It is meant to be lived. 

David wrote this Psalm. David is one of my favorite people in scripture to study. That may be because when I really began to do Bible Studies and to dig deeper into scripture, he was one of the first I ever studied but I think it is really because David is so real. We have often heard it said that David was a man after God’s own heart. But when you truly study him, you begin to really know him as someone who is just real. David had many successes in his life. For goodness sake, he killed a giant of a man with one stone. He won many military battles. He was a skilled musician. He was a poet. He was a great king. But David was also a fallible man. He had an affair with Bathsheba then had her husband killed. He had a son who rebelled against him so he was not the perfect parent. He had multiple wives. David probably did as much wrong in his life as he did right. But that’s what I love so much about him. He was real. He did not lead the perfect life. But he knew the one who was perfect enough to know where to return to when he did get things wrong. 

He penned this Psalm and he started it with Jehovah Rohi ~ the Lord is my shepherd. David was a shepherd when Samuel found him and anointed him king over Israel. So one thing to note here is that David never forgot his humble beginnings. David knew that when he was a shepherd that his sheep depended on him. He knew the way a shepherd guides and cares for his sheep because he had done it himself. He had to take sheep into green pastures where they could feed and everything was good and sometimes he had to lead his sheep through rocks and hills and dark valleys to get to the green pastures. But he also knew that when he shepherded his sheep through those rocks, hills and dark valleys that he had been with them and was there to protect them. As beautiful the wording of the Psalm 23, it becomes even more beautiful when you know and realize the personal aspect that David would have been feeling when he wrote it. He knew what it was like to shepherd the sheep. He knew the love that he had had for his sheep when he was their shepherd. So he knew the love that his Father had for him because He was his shepherd. 

As I studied I came across this quote that bears repeating. 

“Psalm 23 is a masterpiece. But not a masterpiece simply to be admired. It’s a masterpiece to be lived. Because the same good shepherd who took care of David is the same good shepherd that wants to take care of you and me.” Bruce Carter ~ Valley View Church (online) 

Turn in your Bible and read the 23rd Psalm. Now read it again and personalize it. Think of the green pastures he has lead you to. And know that if your valley is dark that your shepherd is there, right there with you to protect and love you through it. 

My Rock, My Fortress, My Shield

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.” Psalm 18:2

David was considered a man after God’s own heart. Yet David experienced many physical as well as spiritual battles in his lifetime. He enjoyed many blessings from God, and he also failed God on occasions. I love studying the life of David, because he was so real. While yes, he was considered a man after God’s own heart and he was in close fellowship with God, he didn’t always do everything right. But he knew God. He knew him as his fortress, as his rock, as his shield.

The definition of fortress is “a military stronghold, especially a strongly fortified town fit for a large garrison”. In ancient times fortresses were often walled off from the rest of a city and they were supplied with food, water and ammunition. They were there for protection as well as defense. David knew that when he was walking in fellowship with God he did not need to fear because God was his fortress, his place of safety. David knew this because he had experienced it. After David was anointed King it was still fourteen years before he took his place on the throne and for the majority of those years he was on the run from King Saul who wanted to kill him. David had experienced God’s protection, safety, and deliverance from Saul’s hand many times and had even had opportunity to take Saul out a couple of times but instead he acted with integrity and did not touch the Lord’s anointed one, as King Saul had also at one time been anointed to be King. 

I can honestly say that I too have known God as my fortress, my rock, my shield of safety. That is not to say that there is nothing that touches me that hurts my heart. But it is to say that I know where to run to get healing and direction and peace and safety from the things that can truly harm me.  And if and when there is something, some circumstance that seems beyond me, I know the one to retreat to when the battle gets too rough. Where do I go to get fortified, to get my nourishment and to have my wounds tended to. I run to my fortress, I hide behind the rock for a while and I get my shield ready for the battle again before I head back out to the field. 

What do you run to when the circumstances become overwhelming? Many people run to people, to relationships, or to any number of addictions ~ shopping, alcohol, drugs. Some may look at material things to satisfy and take our mind off of things. But running to our fortress is the only sure thing that will never let you down. He will satisfy and He will give comfort and He will give you peace. And then He will also give direction when it comes time to face those circumstances again. 

A mighty fortress is our God! 

Strong Tower

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” Proverbs 18:10

A tower is a structure that is taller than it is wide. It can stand among buildings and gain strength from the buildings but many times it stands alone and it’s strength is built upon itself. It is self-supporting. A tower can be used for many things, to improve visibility of an object because it stands taller than the rest of the objects surrounding it, such as a clock tower. Or it can be used to improve visibility of surrounding areas. A tower built in conjunction with a castle or a fort would be used to watch out for oncoming enemy attack. A fire tower is built in the midst of a forest to watch for fire or smoke. The two characteristics of a tower that mean something to us here are 1. It is strong and can stand alone and withstand strong winds and the elements around it and 2. It stands far above the rest. 

So what does this verse mean when it says “the name of the Lord is a strong tower”? The name of the Lord is strong, it stands alone, it has power, it provides a place of refuge. It should be our first line of defense. We should be finding refuge in the tower. If we are in close fellowship with the Lord, with our strong tower then we are putting on our armor and we are standing strong against enemy attacks before they come. However, the thing also about our strong tower is that it is also a place of refuge we can run to when we get out from under it. How many times have I found myself out of God’s will and left vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks on me? More than I like to recount. The thing about God is that I can run home to Him when I have wandered away. He is like a strong tower and when I turn myself back to righteousness (right living), I can run to Him and I am safe. I may still have consequences to the wandering, more than likely I will. But whatever comes my way will be sifted through His strong and mighty hands and I can be safe in His tower of strength. I like it better when I am staying in His will, in the refuge of his strength, but I am so grateful that even when I wander, all I have to do is look around and I can see Him above all of my circumstances, He is my strong tower and I will run to Him to be safe. 

Jehovah-Jireh ~ The Lord will provide

Years ago when I first realized that there were so many names of God in the Bible, this may have been the first one that I learned. I remember my family was going through a time when money was tight and we had to lean into the Lord more than ever before for his provision. But even then I didn’t study where the origin of this name came from. As I was studying it now, I found out how kind and tender and personal this name of God really is. 

In the book of Genesis, chapter 22 we see Abraham who had already been through so much with God, being told by God to take his son and to sacrifice him on the altar. 

“He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’” Genesis 22:2

Now remember this was the son Isaac, who had been born of the promise from God and Abraham had been told his many descendants would come from him. I truly think I would have questioned God. I am sure I would have been thinking “this can’t be”! I am sure I would have wailed at God how unfair that I had had to wait until my old age to have this son, who was such a blessing to me and I would have shook my fist and not understood. But that is not what Abraham did. 

“So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two fo his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went tot he place of which God had told him.” Genesis 22:3

Abraham acted with immediate faith and obedience. He set out on his journey toward the place that the Lord had told him to go with all of the supplies and with his son. This story says many things but it speaks quietly and steadily of the trust that Abraham had in his God. Abraham had had many times in the past that he had doubted and questioned. But this time, he began carrying out the command of the Lord. Even when questioned by Isaac of where was the lamb, he assured his son that God would provide. Now as I have read this story many times before I always think that Abraham was begging God in his spirit to not make him go through with this. But studying this story and reading in Hebrews it shows Abraham’s quiet faith in this matter. 

“He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.” Hebrews 11:19

Abraham was willing and was about to carry out exactly what God had instructed him to do. He had acted in total faith and obedience that God had a plan even in this that there was no way he could understand. Abraham took his son to the place where God showed him, he built an altar, he laid out the wood but just as he took the knife to slaughter his son. God stopped him. 

“But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said ‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.’ And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.” Genesis 22:11-13

Can you just imagine the waves of emotion that would have come upon Abraham? Gratitude and peace and joy and relief and all of these things would have manifested in worship to God who had provided for him the replacement for his son. 

“So Abraham called the name of that place, ‘The Lord will provide’; as it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.’” Genesis 22:14

God had provided the sacrifice for Abraham that day, in place of his son Isaac. I read in my studies that “provide” in Hebrew also means “see to it”. What is it today that you need the Lord to “see to it” for you? He will surely do it. I read this statement and I can’t say it any better. 

“When Abraham calls God Jehovah-Jireh, he isn’t just saying, ‘God gives the goods!’ He is saying, ‘You see/experience all this need of mine and make provision for it.’ It is deeply personal.” ~

When we truly see God as our provider, we aren’t just looking for Him to provide for our physical needs. God is more interested in providing for our hearts what we need. 

Immanuel – God with us!

The first place in scripture that this name appears is in Isaiah. 

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

Immanuel is a Hebrew compound word. The word Immanu means “with us” and El as we know means God. In Isaiah this was a prophecy given to Ahaz who was King of Judah who was wicked and worshipping other gods to the point of even sacrificing his own son to Molech. From what I read in my study there was immediate meaning given to this prophecy as well as future meaning of the birth of Jesus to this prophecy. And you can see that in the previous verse. 

“And he said, ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also?” Isaiah 7:13 

The prophecy was for Ahaz. There would be a near fulfillment in Ahaz’s lifetime as there would be a child born in his kingdom that would be named Immanuel and during that time there would be an attack from Israel and Syria. The name Immanuel and it’s meaning was a rebuke to Ahaz who did not put his trust in God but feared his enemies. 

But our concern at this time is the far fulfillment of this prophecy. This was a prophecy of the virgin birth of Jesus!! This was the best baby reveal of all time! This prophecy was addressed to the House of David. We know that Jesus was from the lineage of David so with the language “O house of David” we can see that this was not just for Ahaz but for all. It also speaks of the virgin birth and we know that only happened once. It would still take hundreds of years but He was coming. Commentary I read said it best. 

“Immanuel speaks both of the deity of Jesus (God with us) and His identification and nearness to man (God with us).

Before Jesus was born of a virgin, God spoke to His people through prophets and a few chosen people, Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, to name just a few. We know that there was a Holy of Holies in the temple and the Priest could only enter there once a year and had to be completely purified of all sin before He did so. God’s presence was felt by only a chosen few. But with the birth of Jesus, Immanuel was born and became God with us! Jesus dwelt among ALL people when He had His earthly ministry. He dined with sinners and saints alike. No longer did we have to wait for a prophet or for the priest to go into the temple to meet with God. Then after Jesus death and resurrection we were ALL left with the Holy Spirit so that we can all have Immanuel, God with us all the time!  How exciting is that! I can be so guilty at times of wanting a burning bush or a pillar of cloud because I think I just don’t know which direction to turn. But truthfully, I like having Him in my heart and knowing His voice in my head much better. I am so grateful that God is with me always and that I don’t have to wait for someone else to speak to me about what God has to say! 

Jehovah Sabaoth ~ the God of Angel Armies

“Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.’” 1 Samuel 17:45

When David defeated Goliath he did it in the name of the Lord of Hosts, not with the might of men but with the might of God!  David defeated Goliath with nothing more than a staff, a sling and five smooth stones in a pouch. If you know the story, then you know that Saul tried to clothe David in his armor. 

“Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, ‘I cannot go with these for I have not tested them.’ So David put them off.” 1 Samuel 17:38-39

Man’s might and man’s armor has limitations. In some ways it may protect you but it will never protect like God’s armor and it’s bulky and heavy and makes it hard to fight. In Ephesians we see Paul encouraging us to put on the whole armor of God. 

“Finally be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:10-12

Now these verses may not specifically mention Jehovah Sabaoth, but it is talking of battles that take place in the spiritual realm and putting on the armor of God. So in my mind as I studied Jehovah Sabaoth, and kept looking at God as the Lord of Hosts, the commander of the angel armies these verses in Ephesians came to mind over and over. This is the only way for us to join the fight with the Lord of Hosts! Spiritual warfare is taking place all around us as long as we are on earth. In order to be victorious in this warfare we must put on the armor of God. 

Which is the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace, take up the shield of faith, make sure we have on our helmet of our salvation, and have the sword of the Spirit, the word of God. (Eph. 6:13-17) That’s our battle clothes to join with the Lord of Hosts in spiritual battles. 

There is another Old Testament story that gives a picture of spiritual battles. In 2 Kings chapter 6 Elisha was a prophet of Israel and the king of Syria sent his army to seize him because Elisha would speak against him to the king of Israel. So the Syrian Army surrounded the city where Elisha was and Elisha’s servant rose early in the morning and saw them. There were horses and chariots surrounding the city. The servant was frightened and asked Elisha what do we do. 

“He said, ‘Do not be afraid for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.’ So the lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” 2 Kings 6:16-17

Do you find yourself in a spiritual battle today? Or is someone you love in a spiritual battle? Pray to the God of Hosts, Jehovah Sabaoth to open your eyes so that you can see Him as He fights for you. Ask Him to open the eyes of the person you are praying for. We may not see horses and chariots of fire, but if you pray for God to show you where He is working, I believe He will show you. Strap on that armor, take up the sword and fight, but not with man’s armor, fight with God’s armor. Make sure you have your helmet of your salvation, the belt of truth and breastplate of righteousness will protect you and take up the shield of faith and your sword of truth and fight. And walk in peace my friend. The battle is the Lord’s. 

Jehovah Sabaoth ~ The Lord of Hosts

The word “host” in this context means army or organized group. So this term for God is most often used in a military context. It is used 486 times in scripture and most often has to do with warfare, armies or fighting. Jehovah Sabaoth is the Lord of Hosts and has a heavenly army to work on our behalf. 

One of the first times that it is used in scripture though is in 1 Samuel chapter 1. I love the tenderness of this story. There is a woman named Hannah and she is married to a man named Elkanah who had another wife as well, Peninnah. Now Peninnah had children but Hannah did not. So when the three would travel to Shiloh to worship and bring sacrifices, Elkanah would give portions to Peninnah to sacrifice for her and her children, Hannah would get a double portion because Elkanah loved her, even though she had no children. But Peninnah would taunt and make fun of Hannah because she had no children. This happened year after year and Hannah would be heartbroken all over again and reduced to tears. Elkanah could not understand, he would try to comfort her and probably in his own way let her know he loved her with or without children but poor Hannah was desperate. 

So one time while in Shiloh after they had worshipped, after Peninnah had taunted and after they had eaten Hannah went to the temple and she prayed and she wept and she cried out to God. 

“She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, ‘O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.’” 1 Samuel 1:10-11

When Hannah cried to the Lord of Hosts, she was crying for the God of the armies. She had probably prayed a prayer for a child many times before but this time she was crying out in desperation. She needed the God of Angel armies to fight on her behalf this time. 

Have you ever gotten so to the end of your rope that you didn’t know what else to pray? This is when to pray to Jehovah Sabaoth, the God of Hosts. Hannah was desperate, she was at the end of herself on this matter. She was already heartbroken and she was dealing with Elkanah’s other wife who rubbed it in, and her husband didn’t understand. She knew that her only hope was in God alone. This is when the spiritual warfare comes in and when she knew she needed to know our commander in chief – Jehovah Sabaoth, the God of Hosts. 

El Olam ~ The Eternal God

In looking for references to God as El Olam in scripture it led me to one of my favorite Old Testament passages. 

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31

Another meaning for Olam is time. So when you hear this name of God it teaches us that God created time, yet God exists outside of and beyond time. God was here before time began, He always has been, He always is, and He always will be. What an awesome thought that the same God who parted the red sea for the Israelites to walk across, the one who brought fire down from heaven to ignite a very wet sacrifice for Elijah on Mount Carmel and the same God who sent His son to be born of a virgin and to die on a cross for our sins is the same God we worship today. He may not do miraculous signs and wonders the same way that he used to do them, but He could if He wanted to. And don’t you mistake that if you look for Him, he does and He will work on your behalf. 

When this writer wrote this, He was recognizing God as Creator, He is the Everlasting God to the ends of the earth and He is always there. He doesn’t faint or grow weary. Take comfort in that. No matter how much we think He may be tiring of us bringing the same old same old to Him, He isn’t. He knows, He understands. 

And because of His understanding, He gives us the strength even when our stuff is exhausting us, He will give the strength to go on and to face the day, each day. 

The last verse of this passage has always been a favorite. Although to me it may have seemed a little backward. 

“but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

I would think you would walk, then run, then fly. But my favorite commentator put it this way: 

“First, we recognize that we soar up into heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Then we set ourselves on the course to run the race. Then we are in the good place to walk the walk.” ~ David Guzik (Blue Letter Bible)

When the race gets hard and the way is exhausting, we have no other choice but to get with God and soar into heavenly places with Him and let Him set our feet on a path so we can walk this thing out. After all, He is everlasting and eternal and He created time, yet it doesn’t exist in Him. Because He created time and can see into time, He knows when and where the end of your struggle will come so it only makes sense to let Him help you walk it out!