This week we are memorizing:
Do not use Yahweh your God’s name as if it were of no significance.
10 Yahweh’s name is a strong tower;
the righteous run to it and find refuge.
1 Jeremiah received Yahweh’s word: 2 Stand near the gate of Yahweh’s temple and proclaim there this message: Listen to Yahweh’s word, all you of Judah who enter these gates to worship Yahweh. 3 This is what Yahweh of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, says: Improve your conduct and your actions, and I will dwell with you in this place. 4 Don’t trust in lies: “This is Yahweh’s temple! Yahweh’s temple! Yahweh’s temple!” 5 No, if you truly reform your ways and your actions; if you treat each other justly; 6 if you stop taking advantage of the immigrant, orphan, or widow; if you don’t shed the blood of the innocent in this place, or go after other gods to your own ruin, 7 only then will I dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave long ago to your ancestors for all time.
Proverbs 18:10 pointed to one reason that YHWH (God’s personal name) occurred around 6500 times in the Hebrew Scriptures. “‘Name’ is an important concept in the Bible…. a person’s name says something about the essence of their very being to others.”* Yet by the time of the prophet Jeremiah, too many Israelites had turned that idea into a deceptive reliance on simply saying the right word, without any connection between the worshipper and the God whose name they used so liberally.
- “Yahweh, the name of God in the OT, reveals a timeless being who is stable and also able to adapt—a powerful message to our ancestors-in-the-faith and to the faithful today. The Lord God has been for all time and will continue to be for all time, and the Lord God meets and provides for humanity in the moment.”** In what ways does trusting that your God has those qualities give you confidence to “find refuge” in God, particularly at life’s difficult times?
- Jeremiah spoke to people using God’s name, associated with the Temple, as a reason to ignore his prophetic call to change their way of life. “The triple repetition of this phrase [“Yahweh’s temple”] seems to point to some kind of magical incantation that invokes protection…. During the time of Jeremiah the people have apparently developed a kind of blind superstition regarding the temple.”*** What kinds of changes was God calling them to (Jeremiah 7:6)? What might it look like for you to live out those principles today?
Eternal God, you offer to be the strong tower to whom I can entrust my life. But you’re not a magic charm. Give me a serious desire to live with you as Lord of my life. Amen.
* Nancy L. deClaissé-Walford, sidebar note “Name as Identity” in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 1032 OT.
*** Zondervan, NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook (Kindle Locations 173907-173910). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
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Dr. Amy Oden is Visiting Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality at Saint Paul School of Theology at OCU. Teaching is her calling, and she looks forward to every day with students. Her latest book (Right Here, Right Now: The Practice of Christian Mindfulness, Abingdon Press, 2017) traces ancient mindfulness practice for Christians today.