Permit Me to Introduce Myself
God had warned Israel. Before they were allowed to enter into the earthly promised land of Canaan, they were admonished that they should not forget the Lord. “Beware lest thou forget the Lord…” (Deuteronomy 6:12). “Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God…” (Deuteronomy 8:11). Beyond the admonitions, God provided frequent reminders to Israel of His identity. The phrase, “I am the Lord” occurs no fewer than seventy times from the record of God’s words to Moses regarding Israel’s release from Egypt (Exodus 6) until Israel neared Canaan’s happy land (Deuteronomy 29). The Hebrew word used is the one from which we get our English word, “Jehovah.” God wanted Israel to understand beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was He who was the one providing the deliverance. The gods of Egypt were not delivering them. Moses himself was not delivering them. The deliverer was Jehovah.
The history of Israel, as recorded in the books of Judges through Chronicles, shows that God’s warnings and reminders regarding His identity were given little attention. Some 700 years after a multitude of Israelites entered Canaan, their descendants met the mighty prophet, Isaiah. Speaking through Isaiah, God opened the book with this lament: “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.” (Isaiah 1:3). The dumb animals knew the source of their provision and protection, but Israel had forgotten. Later in the book of Isaiah, in an impressive string of succinct statements, Jehovah clearly identified Himself as the one true God. The phrase, “I am the Lord,” so frequently used at the outset of Israel’s release from Egypt, once again finds the light of day some eleven times in Isaiah, chapters 42 through 51. The frequency with which this phrase was repeated in these chapters leads us to believe that God was having to reintroduce Himself to the very ones for whom He had cared and provided. “I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.” (Isaiah 42:8). “I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour.” (Isaiah 43:11). “I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me.” (Isaiah 45:5). Take the time to read these ten chapters and you’ll see other statements that seem unusual when you consider that the Israelites should have known God. He reminded them that He is the Creator (Isaiah 42:5; 43:1,15; 44:2,21,24; 45:11,12; 51:13,15). He reminded them that He is eternal (Isaiah 43:13; 48:12). He reminded them that He is the Savior, the source of forgiveness (Isaiah 43:3,25; 44:22; 47:4). He reminded them that He is the only God (Isaiah 44:6,8; 45:6,21,22; 46:9). Israel had gotten so caught up in idolatry and worldliness that they had forgotten the one true God. Throughout this section of Isaiah the Lord was introducing Himself all over again to a people who should have known Him. Israel’s attitude toward God is best summed up in Isaiah 43:22. “But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel.”
How long does it take for people to forget that there is only one God and that salvation today is found only through obedience to Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12)? How long does it take for congregations of the Lord’s church to forget and forgo the faith once delivered (Jude 3) in favor of man-made traditions and doctrines? Paul rebuked the Hebrew Christians because they had not grown beyond the first principles of the faith (Hebrews 5:12), yet how many Christians today are not even familiar with those first principles?
Paul wrote that, in judgment, the Lord will take vengeance “on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (II Thessalonians 1:8). He wrote regarding Jesus, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth: And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11). Romans 14:11-12 adds, “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” The Lord will someday introduce Himself in person to every one of us. In order to be prepared for that day to end all days, we must know Him and lovingly obey Him now.