Shammah means Jehovah is there (Ezekiel 48:35). On the surface that might seem to refer to his omnipotence; however, a much more personal relationship is revealed if one looks at it in light of issues discussed in this chapter. Historically, how has God made his presence known? In what habitation has God dwelt?
God has always wanted fellowship with his people. In the beginning God directly communed with certain people as is recorded in the following scriptures. Genesis 3:8, “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” Also, Genesis 5:22, “And Enoch walked with God…”, and Genesis 6:9, “And Noah walked with God.” Moses and Abraham are spoken of as having a special relationship with God. “And the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaketh to his friend” (Ex. 33:11). Abraham is referred to as a friend of God in 2 Chron.. 20:7; Isa. 41:8 and James 2:23.
God commanded Moses to make a place for him to dwell, from which He would communicate through a spokesman. “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them:” (Ex 25:8). This sanctuary would be portable, making it possible for Him to be a wanderer along with his people. He would lead them; they were to go where He went.
After Israel reached the promised land, they became more settled and God took His residence in temples. There was a temple in the time of the judges; Eli and Samuel lived in one. But David strongly wanted to build God a temple that would be more fitting for Him. God did not allow David to build the temple but He did let Solomon do so. He manifested Himself in a glorious cloud in that place. “So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord” (1 Ki. 8:11). That temple was destroyed during the captivity period. At the end of the captivity, another temple was erected; it was called Zerubbabel’s temple (Ezra 6:15, 16). God’s presence occupied that temple until His departure during Ezekiel’s day (Ezek. 10:18).
Ezekiel had another vision in which he saw a magnificent city. That is the city to which the name Jehovah-shammah is given. This city represents the capital of the earth, the place from which Messiah will reign. The book of Ezekiel ends with the promise “The Lord is There.”
See the words which show our bodies as being the temple of the Lord: I Cor. 3:16, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” and 2 Cor. 6:16 “Ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
Since God indwells His people, is there any reason to think He no longer desires to communicate with them on the basis of friendship? Does He no longer desire fellowship as He had with Adam? Look at Jesus to gain some insight into those answers.
Jesus gave the title of friend to the disciples.
John 15:12-15 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants: for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you.
Jesus was speaking to all twelve of his disciples – even the one who was going to betray him. They were all His friends; however, some were closer friends than others. There were levels of friendship in Jesus’ companions. Matt. 11:19 says he was called a friend of sinners and winebibbers. The story of the wedding in John 2 indicates a circle of friends and relatives. John 11 gives a picture of more intimate friends – Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. The twelve disciples were closer to him than even Lazarus and his sisters. Even within that group, three disciples were closer than the others; they were Peter, James, and John. And John 19:26 speaks of the disciple whom Jesus loved (John himself). Seemingly, the level of intimacy with Jesus was related to the amount of time the “friend” spent with him.
In earthly friendships there may be a lot of give and take, compromises, and negotiations; however, that is not possible in one’s relationship with Jehovah-shammah. Jesus says his friends must do as He commands them. If one considers that requirement, it is easy to understand why not many were called friends of God during the Old Testament times. But, what about now? The Spirit is within us; we are His temple! He is with us always! His nature is to love and to desire love! Every Christian can be a friend of God! Many do not know that because they have not learned to recognize Him as Jehovah-shammah. Many have never learned to know the voice of God. Perhaps one cause is disobedience; perhaps another cause is that one does not spend enough quality time with Him – that is, one does not focus on the marvel of His presence within. Some may not recognize Him because they have some preconceived notion of His voice. God’s voice is most often “in a gentle whisper” as Elijah heard in I Kings 19:12, but it might be in other forms. Jesus said, “my sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27, NKJV). God has placed within our hearts the ability to recognize his voice. The knowledge of Jehovah-shammah must be received with awesome respect and a holy fear of ever being presumptuous toward that marvelous relationship.
Ps. 25:14 states, “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant.” This scripture is paraphrased in The Living Bible in this way, “Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him. With them alone he shares the secrets of his promises.”
One might die for a good man, Paul said in Rom. 5:7; one might die for a friend, Jesus said in John 15:13. But how amazing that one would die for the ungodly in order to make a friend of him. That was Jesus.
Think of his promise “I will be with you always.” Jehovah-shammah will share the secret of His presence! The author relates the following incident: I had developed the delightful habit of talking to the Lord while driving. Small, rather insignificant comments, such as saying, “Lord, that pond in the pasture is so pretty.” At those times I would have a feeling of interaction with my Lord. One day as I was listening to a soul song, I said something like this, “Lord, I’m so glad you made black people. They add so much to my life.” His response was “Thank you. I don’t hear that very often.” I guess one might say, “I couldn’t believe my ears.” But it was not my ears that heard! It was words, however. You notice I don’t remember exactly what my words were, but I do remember His. Unbelievable? Yes. But it happened! What joy! Jehovah-shammah! “…Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20)