Now these are the names of the tribes. From the north end to the coast of the way of Hethlon, as one goes to Hamath, Hazarenan…
These words may be used as a test as well as a text. They may serve for examination as well as consolation, and at the beginning of a year they may fulfil this useful double purpose. Do we reckon the presence of the Lord to be the greatest of blessings? If in any gathering, even of the humblest people, the Lord God is known to be present in a peculiarly gracious manner, should we make a point of being there? Very much depends upon our answer to these queries.
I. THE PRESENCE OF GOD IS THE GLORY OF THE MOST GLORIOUS PLACE. What a glorious state this world was in at the very first, in the age of Paradise, for the Lord was there! "The Lord God walked in the garden in the cool of the day," and communed with man; and man, being innocent, held high converse with his condescending Maker. The topstone of the bliss of Paradise was this all-comprehending privilege — "The Lord is there." Alas! that has vanished. Withered are the bowers of Eden: the trail of the serpent is over all landscapes, however fair. Yet days of mercy came, and God's saints in divers places found choice spots where they could converse with heaven. Amid a torrent of sin and sorrow, you may cross the stream of time upon the stepping stones of the places marked "Jehovah-Shammah." The Lord's delights were with the sons of men, and to them nothing brought such bliss as to find that still the Lord would be mindful of man, and visit him. In the days when God had called out unto Himself a chosen nation, He revealed Himself at Sinai, when the mountain was altogether on a smoke, and even Moses said, "I do exceedingly fear and quake." Well might he feel a holy awe, for the Lord was there. In Canaan itself, the days of sorrow came when the nation went after other gods, and the Lord became a stranger in the land. When He returned, and delivered His people by the judges, then the nations knew that Israel could not be trampled on, for the Lord was there. I almost tremble when I remind you of the truest temple of God — the body of our Lord. The nearest approach of Godhead to our manhood was when there was found, wrapped in swaddling bands and lying in a manger, that Child who was horn, that Son who was given, whose name was called "Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." Speak of Gethsemane, and we tell you God was there. Before Herod, and Pilate, and Caiaphas, and on the Cross — the Lord was there. Though in a sense there was the hiding of God, and Jesus cried, "Why hast Thou forsaken Me?" yet in the deepest sense Jehovah was there, bruising the great sacrifice. God was in Christ Jesus on the Cross, and we, beholding Him, feel that we have seen the Father. O Calvary, we say of thee, "The Lord is there." Here I might fitly close, for we can mount no higher; but yet we could not afford to leave out those other dwellings of the Invisible Spirit, who still by His presence makes holy places even in this unholy world. We have to remind you that God is the glory of the most glorious living thing that has been on the face of the earth since our Lord was there. And what is that? I answer, Jesus is gone; the prophets are gone; and we have no temple, no human priest, no material holy of holies. And yet there is a special place where God dwells among men, and that is in His Church. He has but one — one Church, chosen by eternal election, redeemed by precious blood, called out by the Holy Ghost, and quickened into newness of life — this as a whole is the dwelling place of the covenant God. Because God is in this Church, therefore the gates of hell shall not prevail against her. "The Lord is there" might be said of the Church in all ages. Flying forward, as with a dove's wing, to the future that is drawing near, we bethink us of the truth that there is to be a millennial age — a time of glory, and peace, and joy, and truth, and righteousness. But what is to be the glory of it? Why, this, "Jehovah-Shammah, The Lord is there!" Up yonder, whither ninny of our beloved ones have already gone: up yonder, within that gate of pearl where eye cannot as yet see. What is it that makes heaven, with all its supreme delights? Not harps of angels, nor blaze of seraphim; but this one fact, "the Lord is there." What must it be to be with God?
II. THE PRESENCE OF GOD IS THE BEST PRIVILEGE OF HIS CHURCH. It is her glory that "the Lord is there." Note this, and mark it well.
1. If the Lord be among us, the consequences will be, first, the conservation of true doctrine. God is with those who speak the truth faithfully, hold it devoutly, believe it firmly, and live upon it as their daily bread.
2. Where God is present, the preservation of purity will be found. The Church is nothing if it is not holy. It is worse — it is a den of thieves.
3. Where God is, there is the constant renewal of vitality. A Church all alive is a little heaven, the resort of angels, the temple of the Holy Ghost.
4. When the Lord is there, next, there is continuing power. With God there is power in the ministry, power in prayer, power in all holy work.
5. Furthermore, whenever it can be said of an assembly, "The Lord is there," unity will be created and fostered. Saints who dwell with God love each other "with a pure heart, fervently."
6. Where the Lord is, there is sure to be happiness. What meetings we have when the Lord is here! At the Master's Table I have often been so blest that I would not have exchanged places with Gabriel. The Lord was there: what more could I desire? Joy, delight, rapture, ecstasy — what word shall I use? — all these have waited around the Table of fellowship, as musicians at a king's banquet. If God be there, our heaven is there.
III. THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD IS OUR DELIGHT IN EVERY PLACE. We will think of our own dear homes. What a delightful family we belong to if it can be said of our house, "Jehovah-Shammah, The Lord is there"! Has it a thatched roof and a stone floor? What matters? I charge you if your homes are not such that God could come to them, set your houses in order, and say, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Will you dare to dwell where God could not lodge with you? May all men say of your home, "The Lord is there"! Here is a Christian who lives alone, apart altogether from family life. All his dear ones are dead, or far away. In his lone chamber, when he bows his knee in secret prayer, or whenever he takes his walk abroad to meditate, if he be indeed a true lover of the Lord Jesus, "the Lord is there." Some of us can bear witness that we have had the nearest approaches of God to our souls in times of intolerable pain, and even in seasons of intense depression of spirit as to earthly things. One might almost say, "Send me back to my prison again," as one did say who lost God's presence after he had gained his liberty. One might well cry, "Ah! let me have back my pain if I may again overflow with the joy of the Lord's presence." I thank God that you and I know what it is to enjoy the presence of God in a great many different ways. When two or three of the people of God meet together, and talk to one another about the things of God, the Lord is never away. Yes, but when Christian people go forth to work, when you come to your Sunday school, or go out with your bundle of tracts, to change them on your district, or when you join a little band and stand in the street corner yonder, and lift up your voice in the name of Jesus, you may expect, if you go with prayer and faith, that it shall be written, "Jehovah-Shammah, The Lord is there." And now, from this time forth, beloved, ye that fear God and think upon His name, wherever you go, let it be said, "Jehovah-Shammah, The Lord is there." Do not be found anywhere where you could not say that The Lord was there; but if you are called into the world in the pursuit of your daily vocation, cry unto the Lord, "If Thy Spirit go not with me, carry me not up hence."
( C. H. Spurgeon.).
Parallel VersesKJV: Now these are the names of the tribes. From the north end to the coast of the way of Hethlon, as one goeth to Hamath, Hazarenan, the border of Damascus northward, to the coast of Hamath; for these are his sides east and west; a portion for Dan.
WEB: Now these are the names of the tribes: From the north end, beside the way of Hethlon to the entrance of Hamath, Hazar Enan at the border of Damascus, northward beside Hamath, (and they shall have their sides east [and] west), Dan, one [portion].