Scripture: – “Matthew 6:9–13”
In our previous thoughts on this study of some of the phrases and statements of the Lord’s Prayer, we concentrated our thoughts on the background and introduction of it to us, by the Lord Jesus. We focused especially on the two words “Our Father”, and it’s right that we rejoiced over the way in which these two words manifest for us our – Relationship, Responsibility and Riches in Christ. In our thoughts today we are also going to look at two words again, the words, “Which Art.”
I trust that we have in the time between this and our last study taken the opportunity to consider and to meditate, upon this “blue-print” of prayer that has been entrusted to us by Jesus. I wonder what thoughts it has promoted in our hearts and minds. One of the foremost thoughts I hope has been that the words “Which Art” brings the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the past right into the here and now as a God, that we have learned already, who is absolutely relevant and up-to-date.
One of the many criticisms the world at large has of the present Church of Jesus Christ is that it lives in the past, and that it has not modernised it’s approach and it’s operational method’s, and that it continually glories in and reflects on past glories and times; and that the Victorian attitudes regarding God and His Fatherhood i.e. as an austere and un-approachable, creator clings like manacles around all its thinking and approach to the worlds needs’ and in many respects they are right. However, the words “Which Art”, cuts right across this way of thinking, and makes God the God of the present.
The Dictionary defines the word “Present” as “Here at Hand” and thus when we pray this prayer and we use the following words “Our Father and Hallowed be thy name”, and we see them in light of the words “Which Art” the prayer is no longer being made to a far off and distant being. No! as far as time and space are concerned, we see one who is beside us in every circumstance and situation. We see one who is attentive to our needs and feelings, with an understanding of them that passes all our abilities of comprehension.
In the same manner however in which we rejoice over the ever-present God, we should also be aware of the awesomeness of God’s Holiness. The same ever-present God is continually with us even in the most sinful of our situations and circumstances. We have a Holy and Pure God and Father, and we do well to truly fear Him in a reverential way. Moses took off his shoes in the presence of God because he was aware of His Holiness and many Old Testament Saints have had the experience of becoming profoundly aware that God was with them and in the experience their lifestyle changed, as should ours.
- To Abraham God was Jehovah Jireh, the God who was there to provide.
- To Moses and the Children of Israel when they stood before the Red Sea God was Jehovah Elohim or the Eternal Creator who could move Heaven and Earth, which was demonstrated by the parting of the Red Sea.
- To Elijah on Mt.Carmal with the Prophets of Baal God was Jehovah Elyon or the Most High, who showed Himself to be high and above all other god’ s by consuming the sacrifice with Fire.
Let me take the opportunity to remind us of how God has revealed Himself in the life and experiences of people throughout the ages by listing for further study some of the most prominent “Names of God.”
|1||Yahweh||The self-existent One. He has always existed and will always exist. You can always rely on Him because He is your eternal source of strength.||“Genesis 2:4, Isaiah 40:3; 10; 1 Samuel 1:20; Exodus 6:1-4, 3:1-22”|
|2||Adonai||God is the Lord over all. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, He reigns forever. Therefor you find safety in Him and Him alone.||“Genesis 15:2, Judges 6:15, Malachi 1:6, Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 2:4, 8:1, 97:5, 136:3; Isaiah 1:24, 6:1; Romans 10:9”|
|3||Yahweh-Maccaddeshem||The Lord your sanctifier. He forgives your sins, and His Holy Spirit works in your life to become like He is: pure, loving, and true.||“Exodus 31:13, Leviticus 20:8; Ezekiel 37:28”|
|4||Yahweh-Rohi||The Lord my shepherd. He cares for you, the way a shepherd tends his sheep. He cares for you and leads you to still waters and green pastures.||“Psalm 23, 80:1, 95:7, Isaiah 40:11, Jeremiah 31:10, Ezekiel 34:12, 23”|
|5||Yahweh-Shammah||The Lord who is present. He never leaves you, nor forsakes you. He is with you forever. Your best friend, who never betrays you.||“Ezekiel 48:35, Genesis 28:15, Ezekiel 48:35, Psalm 23:4, 46:1, 139:7-12, Jeremiah 23:23-24, Amos 5:14”|
|6||Yahweh-Rapha||The Lord our healer. “By His stripes you are healed” declares the Bible. Jesus Christ died to give you life. Not only was God the healer in the Old Testament, but Jesus Christ revealed the healing heart of God for all of us, more than ever.||“Exodus 15:26, Exodus 15:26, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 6:2, 41:4, 103:3, 147:3, Isaiah 19:22, 30:36, 57:18-19, Jeremiah 3:22; 17:14, 30:17”|
|7||Yahweh-Tsidkenu||The Lord our righteousness. When we believe in Jesus Christ, He becomes our righteousness. He forgives our sins and washes us with His blood.||“Jeremiah 23:6, Genesis 15:6, Jeremiah 23:6, Psalm 4:1, 5:8, 24:5, 31:1, 36:10, 71:15, 89:16”|
|8||Yahweh-Jireh||The Lord will provide. Jesus Christ said that Father cares for us and we never need to worry about provision. He is our source of life, in every way.||“Genesis 22:13-14”|
|9||Yahweh-Nissi||The Lord our banner. The Lord gives us the victory in spiritual warfare. When the enemy comes in, like a flood the Lord raises a banner of His love over us and covers us. He wages war on our behalf and makes us more than conquerors in Christ Jesus.||“Exodus 17:15”|
|10||Yahweh-Shalom||The Lord is peace. Whenever there are storms in your life, hide in Him. He is your shelter in the storm. He gives peace beyond understanding, even when circumstances are chaotic. He is our shelter and our shield.||“Judges 6:24”|
|11||Yahweh-Sabbaoth||The Lord of Hosts. The Bible mentions myriads of angels, who wage war against the armies of hell, who try to destroy mankind. Jesus Christ is the Lord of hosts, the Captain of the armies of heaven.||“Isaiah 6:1-3, 1 Samuel 1:3, 17:45; 2 Samuel 6:2, 7:26-27; 1 Chronicles 11:9; Haggai 1:5”|
|12||Yahweh-Ghmolah||The God of Recompense.||“Jeremiah 51:6”|
|13||Elohim||God is creator, powerful and mighty, Lord of lords. He is the Lord Most High, stronger, and mightier than anyone or anything. When you face impossible circumstances or adversaries now that your God is stronger.||“Genesis. 1:1, 17:7, Psalm 19:1 Jeremiah 31:33”|
|14||El-Elyon||The most high God. Do not fear the enemy who tries to intimidate you. Know that your God is the Most High God. There is none above Him. Jesus Christ is exalted high above every name.||“Genesis 14:17-20, Deuteronomy 26:19, Isaiah 14:13-14”|
|15||El-Roi||The strong one who sees. When you feel lonely and abandoned by people, know that God is with you. He sees you and He knows you. He hears the cry of your heart and He loves you more than you can imagine. He will lead you through and fill your hear with His praise.||“Genesis 16:13”|
|16||El-Gibhor||Mighty God. The Lord is mighty to save. His arm is not too short. Whatever problem you are facing, know that your God is El-Gibhor, MIGHTY!||“Isaiah 9:6”|
|17||El-Olam||The everlasting God. God is eternal, while your problems are temporary. His love will never change. His promises are true. Build on Him, who is eternal and do not focus on your temporary situations. He will show you His great and eternal goodness.||“Isaiah 40:28-31”|
|18||El-Shaddai-Rohi||God Almighty, the mighty One of Jacob. God is not just another ‘god’ like the countless idols. He truly is the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth.||“Genesis 17:1, 49:24, Psalms 91:1, 132:2, 5”|
|19||El-Chuwl||The God who gave birth. God is our Creator and our Father. He saw us and He loved us, even before we were born. He has a plan for your life and if you walk with Him, He will fulfil His dreams over your life and amaze you.||“Psalm 139:13-18”|
|20||El-Deah||God of knowledge. Wisdom comes from the Lord. Man tries to become wise apart from God but ends up in foolishness. When we fear God and keep His commandments, to love one another, we will know Him as He is, and His wisdom will guide us.||“1 Samuel 2:3; Romans 11:33-36; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31”|
|21||Attiyq Youm||The Ancient of Days. God is eternal. He was before the beginning of time. Therefor He has all authority. Every knee bows before Him.||“Daniel 7:9, 13, 14”|
It’s wonderful to read all the inspiring names of God in the Bible… but the purpose of our lives is not only to know about God. He longs for us to experience Him to the full. The very reason God revealed so many of His wonderful names, is so we could encounter Him in all these ways.
Thus, the words “Which Art” are able to say tremendous things to us. However, what in particular, well let’s take a look at three things that the words very definitely indicate for us.
The Words “Which Art” Manifests God’s Existence
The words did not say “Which Was, or Which Is to Come” which is what we discover in other areas of the Scriptures. No! they speak in the present tense to us and every time we speak these words, we are declaring God’s existence. We are declaring that He is alive and how marvellous it is to be able to sing and know the inner reality of the words: –
“Oh! He’s not dead, but He’s alive for He rose again and triumphed over death and hell, and still He reigns, because He rose again”
It’s not only we who proclaim His existence, even the very creation around us does so also. The Prophet Isaiah in “Isaiah 40” on no less than forty occasions speaks clearly about the God’s of Wood and Stone and the idols made with hands. Then like a doxology of praise the Word of God trumpets forth and says: – “Lift up your eyes on high and behold who has created all things” indeed our God is Jehovah Elyon, the Lord Most High. Again in “Romans 1:19-20” His existence is manifested for we read in “Verse 20” – “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
However, it is not the fact that He created all things solely that is marvellous but that all things are maintained and kept together also by His power – “Hebrews 1:3” – “Who, being the effulgence of His glory and the impress of His substance and upholding and bearing all things by the word of His power, having made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high…”
Sir Isaac Newton (who was a great physicist and a good Christian, who “discovered” the law of gravity among other things) once made a model of the planets and how they orbit and rotate on their track around one another. An atheist friend came to visit him and was amazed at the model. He asked, “Wow, who made this? Newton replied ‘No one; it came into being by itself’…. His friend said, Well, that is stupid! Newton said ‘that’s right, it is stupid to believe this model came into being by itself, and it is even more stupid to believe that the universe came into being and is held into being by itself’
The fact is Christ is the Creator of all things in the universe, and He is also the means and the active instrument through which the whole creation came into being. As “Colossians 1:16-17” clearly tells us in the words “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
All things subsist in Him – Christ is the centre, the hub, holding all things in the universe together. The scientists have yet to discover what is the force that holds the universe together, the thing that makes it all work perfectly together. They may call it “gravitation” on earth, but in 100 years from now they will most likely call it something else.
But as believers in Christ we know from the Bible that the whole universe was created by Christ and now through Himself as the instrument, Christ upholds all things by the word of His power. All things cohere in Him, and He gives being to all things. Without Christ, nothing has being and nothing can exist. He is intimately related to His creation, both the old creation (created by Him) and the new creation (created in Himself). All creation is for Christ and unto Christ, to glorify Christ! Hallelujah!
He upholds His Church and Bride in the same way that He upholds the entire universe. Without Christ, everything falls apart.
The Words “Which Art” Speak to us of the Expecting Heart
The common statement of those in the World when speaking and making excuses is “If there is a God, let’s see Him show Himself” and continually there is the “If and But” of unbelief and doubt. This is not the case in our words, for above many other things that Jesus our great teacher of prayer desires us to do is to come to the Father in faith, read with me what it says in “Hebrews 11:6” – “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” NKJV – the Living Bible puts it this way – “You can never please God without faith, without depending on him. Anyone who wants to come to God must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely look for him.” Isn’t that just what the words “Which Art” are actually declaring for us? Undoubtedly, it is.
Now what then does all this mean for you and me? Well! one thing that it does is it opposes the idea that sometimes we are in God’s Presence and that sometimes we are not. Let me read to you something from Watchman Nee’s book “Release of the Spirit” – “Two years after a certain Brother trusted in the Lord, he read “The Practise of Presence of God” by brother Lawrence, after reading it, he felt grieved at his failure to abide unceasingly in the presence of God like brother Lawrence. At that time, he had hourly appointments to pray with someone.
Why? The reason was the Bible says “pray without ceasing” – “1 Thessalonians 5:17” so they changed it to every hour, every time they heard the clock strike, they would pray. They exerted their utmost effort to retreat into God, because they felt they could not maintain themselves in the continuous presence of God. It was as if they slipped away whilst working and thus they needed to quickly retreat back into God, or they had projected themselves out whilst studying and now must swiftly get back otherwise they would find themselves away for the entire day. They prayed often, spending whole days in prayer on the Lord’s Day and half-days on Saturdays. Thus, they continued for 2/3yrs. Nevertheless, the trouble remained, in withdrawing they enjoyed God’s presence but in going forth they lost it.” Of course, this is not there problem alone; such is the experience of many a Christian. What does it indicate? It indicates that we are trying to maintain God’s presence by our memories.
When we remember, there is the consciousness of His Presence otherwise there is none. This is sheer foolishness for God’s presence is in the spirit, not in the memory.
I’m sure that what Watchman Nee has expressed there is a problem that we all face but the words “Which Art” show how that it is by faith that we enjoy “He that is always there, and not by the memory, works, emotionally whipped up meetings or trips down memory lane.”
The Words “Which Art” Give Great Encouragement
We all have our failures before us, and the failures contain many a mystery and trial, and one of the foremost reasons for the anxiety and tension in the World today is that people are worried about the future and people are continually planning for it. However, for you and me there is a future that is irrevocably secure. The Worlds Commerce or Catastrophes are not able to change or destroy ours, for our futures are secure in the hands of God.
Now one might say “Oh, well that’s very easy for you to say when you’re not going through the mill” but is that really so? There are many instances in God’s Word those who were going through such great difficulties and facing circumstances that cause what we are facing to fade away into insignificance in comparison.
- Think of Job, all his family had died, his health and wealth were all taken way and yet and yet with assurance he was able to say: – “But he knows the way that I take. When he has tried me, I shall come forth like gold.” – “Job 23:10”
- Likewise, we see Daniel in “Daniel 2:28” He was in a dreadful plight having been cast into a den filled with ravenous Lions and yet he declares “But there is a God in Heaven.”
- Similarly, we see Paul the Apostle declaring “Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God…” – “Acts 27:25” as he and his ship mates are facing death by drowning in the midst of a sea storm.
So when our difficulties and problems come, when the future seems to be all a mystery, then it is time to take encouragement and comfort from those two words “Which Art”, for it is for this purpose amongst others that the words were coined by the Holy Spirit.
The two words “Which Art” are here to remind us of God’s Existence, they are there to initiate Expectancy and to bring Encouragement and together they are there to Inspire us to Faith.