Wednesday, August 5, 2020

God's Determination to Bring us Home

I share from my time in the word and prayer for these two aims: first, that what I experienced of God this morning would encourage you in how you could experience him as well. Second, that you would be encouraged to get into God’s word and prayer for your own daily experience of God speaking to you, showing you what he is doing, and leading you to join him in his work. 

I started here: 

“Thus says Yahweh who made the earth, Yahweh who formed it to establish it – Yahweh is his name: Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”[1] 

The primary focus was the wonder that Yahweh keeps urging an idolatrous and adulterous people to call on him so he can show them his goodness. He WANTS these sinful prodigals to come home and can hardly wait for someone to take him up on his invitation. 

To show that this is for us as much as Israel, God includes a parallel expression in the book of James: 

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.[2] 

This is addressing the church as an “adulterous people” who preferred being “a friend of the world” and an “enemy of God” to knowing God as Father, Savior and Friend.[3] 

Again, the fact that this is in God’s Book means it is God initiating restored relationship with people who were committing adultery against their relationship with him by giving their attention to a love-relationship with the world instead of a love-relationship with God. 

Which brings me back to the central text of this last month or so: 

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”[4] 

Without faith, we have no desire to draw near to God, so we can’t please him because we don’t want to be with him. And, while he looks on us in our idolatry (we have so many other things we turn to), he gives us the whole chapter 11 of Hebrews to show us how much better it is to walk with him by faith. 

Which reminded me of one more verse God ministered to my heart this week: 

I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am Yahweh your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. (Exodus 6:7) 

God constantly showed his people his supremacy over the gods of the nations. In this case, he announced to Moses and the people that he would “take” Israel out of Egypt. None of the Egyptian gods would be able to stop him, and Pharaoh himself would not be able to stand in his way. 

The aim in this was that God’s people would “know that I am Yahweh your God”. They didn’t know him that way because the whole generation had grown up in Egyptian slavery with no evidence of the activity of God among them. But when they finally cried out to Yahweh for help, God acted on the covenant he had made with Abraham their father, just as he promised. 

Together, all these things urge me to trust the Only True God, Yahweh, through faith in his Only True Son, Jesus, no matter how many powers or names or governments seek to stand against them. I only have to call out to God our Father in heaven through faith in Jesus and the Triune God will lead me into the wonders of their will and their work. 

And that is exactly why I feel I have something to share today.


© 2020 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)  

[1] Jeremiah 33:2-3 (I use “Yahweh” instead of “the LORD” since God is very deliberately giving us his personal name, not a title).

[2] James 4:7-8

[3] James 4:1-6

[4] Hebrews 11:6

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Calling God by Name

For a few days I have focused on this verse from Psalm 31: Be gracious to me, O Yahweh, for I am in distress…”[1]

I began the morning relating to Father about how strongly he tells us to use his divine name, “Yahweh”.[2] The replacement of this name with a title, “the LORD”, just doesn’t communicate the same thing.[3]

In something that felt like divine humor (and love), I noticed that the verse of the day was: 

“Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD who formed it to establish it – the LORD is his name: Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”[4]

When we replace the repetition of, “the LORD”, with the best English pronunciation of the divine name, “Yahweh”, it would read: 

“Thus says Yahweh who made the earth, Yahweh who formed it to establish it – Yahweh is his name: Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”

Israel and Judah kept falling into the deception that any god/idol was better than following their God. All the gods had names (Baal, Asherah, Chemosh, Dagon, etc). So did the only true God. The name he kept telling his people to use was, Yahweh (as it would have sounded in Hebrew, that is).  

When we read these words given through the prophets, and we use the divine name as it was expressed by God himself, what we then “hear” is the God named Yahweh calling to the people HE created, the people living on the planet HE made, the people HE told Abraham he was making for himself, the people HE delivered out of Egypt, the people HE led into the Promised Land, the people HE blessed as promised when they kept the covenant and HE cursed as promised when they turned away from it, and urging them to return to HIM from their ignorant idolatry and adultery with false gods with manmade names.

I was deeply touched when I read through Jeremiah 33 with this focus on God repeating his personal name to emphasize what HE was doing in contrast to the empty and meaningless relationship with the gods his people had turned to.

I do not believe the issue is whether we can pronounce the name of the one true God perfectly. When God dispersed people at Babel with many different languages that have morphed and mutated since then, he also made the way for his name to be pronounced in every language. He has never put the emphasis on whether we have the exactly right pronunciation in English of the name originally given to God’s people in Hebrew. His point has always been that he has a name, and that name is the name of the only true God who created the heavens and the earth.

This is only an illustration, but over the years of helping my wife with her daycare, it has been a delight to me when little toddlers first begin using my name. They never say it perfectly the first time they use it. In fact, often it includes letters that aren’t even in my name. However the say it, as soon as we recognize that they are attempting to say my name, it is a definite sense of attachment that they know who I am. 

I simply suggest that God giving us his name allows for the same delight on God’s part when people from every nation of the world use his personal name however it sounds in their language or dialect.

Which brings us to this wonderful gift of the New Testament: 

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.[5]

The HIM here is Jesus. God the Father, after Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, “highly exalted” his Son. And, at the same time, he gave his Son, Jesus, “the name that is above every name”.

What is that name that was given to Jesus? What is the name at which “every knee should bow”? What is the name people will hear in the coming of Christ that will cause every tongue that has ever worshipped any of the gods of Satan to now “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”?

John gives us the answer in Revelation: “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”[6] This is the name that is above every other name.

This is why Jesus alone, “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”[7]

This is why the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders sing a new song to Jesus, 

“Worthy are you to take the scroll

    and to open its seals,

for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God

    from every tribe and language and people and nation,

and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,

    and they shall reign on the earth.”[8]

This is why, “myriads and myriads and thousands of thousands” of angels join in with a loud voice, 

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,

to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might

and honor and glory and blessing!”[9]

And it is why, “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them,” testified, 

“’To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb

be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’ 

And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.” 

And, finally, it is at this great and glorious name that, 

Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”[10] 

The emphasis to Israel two-plus millennia ago is the same as to us today: Yahweh is calling to our hearts to call to HIM instead of to any other gods by any other names. 

Our God has the only name of the only true God who is the only one who created the heavens and the earth and the only one who gave us his only Son to save us from our sin so we would follow HIM, the only name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.[11] 

The only true God, Yahweh, wants us to know him by his NAME, in the NAME of his Son, and to KNOW him by his name! 

And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.[12]


© 2020 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)



[1] Psalm 31:9.

[2] The English transliteration, “Yahweh”, is an attempt to pronounce the divine name given in Hebrew as, “יהוה” (read right to left). This is parallel to the English consonants, YHWH (read left to right). Pronounced with vowels this gives us “Yahweh”. The English name, “Jehovah”, is another attempt to sound the four Hebrew consonants with suggested vowel sounds. The point is that this is the name God gave his people to use, and the habit of translating, “the LORD”, instead of, “Yahweh,” or even, “Jehovah”, waters down the intensity of God’s focus on his real name.

[3] Any time we see “the LORD” (all CAPS) in our English translations of the Old Testament, it is where God spoke his name, Yahweh, to his people.

[4] Jeremiah 33:2-3

[5] Philippians 2:9-11

[6] Revelation 19:16 (see also Revelation 17:14 and I Timothy 6:11-16 where vs 15 introduces this title).

[7] Revelation 5:5

[8] Revelation 5:6-10

[9] Revelation 5:11-12

[10] Revelation 6:15-17

[11] Acts 4:12

[12] John 17:3

Friday, July 24, 2020

The Faith of the Contrite

My present focus is still on, “without faith it is impossible to please God”.[1] It has me very aware that this is far more about maturing in the reality of faith than making me smarter about what faith means.

The thing Father is addressing with my faith is that he wants me to know him like this:

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.[2]

This is Yahweh speaking to his sinful people who prefer Satan’s gods to Yahweh’s presence. No one can escape the reality that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.[3] However, there is something that God wants sinners to understand about him when we are the ones James speaks about,

“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”[4]

God wants us to know that he alone is “the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy”, which means that all our adulterous relationships with Satan’s gods is both stupid and sinful as sinful can be.

However, what the One True God wants us to know about ourselves in our sinful adultery and rebellion is this: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and ALSO with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit…”

The key thing here is that Yahweh, the high and exalted God, is talking to SINNERS. The only kind of people in Israel were SINNERS. The only kind of people in the world today is SINNERS.

What is Yahweh’s message to sinners?

First, it is NOT that Yahweh dwells with sinners as much as he dwells in eternity. In fact, Isaiah’s prophecies are full of this message, that Yahweh cannot dwell with sinners, will not dwell with sinners, and will bring divine judgment on his people who are sinners loving sinning. It is the same message today; God cannot condone or dwell with people who love their sin.

Second, there is a condition that any sinner can enter in which Yahweh will dwell with us. That condition is called the “contrite and lowly spirit”. A contrite person is one who feels grief and sorrow over their sin. A lowly spirit is one who knows their low or inferior status because of their sin. Jesus introduced his Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”,[5] because God blesses the contrite and lowly spirit with a return to the divine presence.  

The people Yahweh was addressing through Isaiah were people who felt comfortable in their sinful idolatry. They were puffed up with pride about what they were doing. Yahweh was not going to dwell with such people, and he would not let them continue dwelling in the land he had given to Abraham.

On the other hand, among that proud, idolatrous nation of sinners would be some who would hear Isaiah’s prophecy and come to feel grief about what they were doing. At the very least, this is what Isaiah himself had gone through when he entered the throne room of heaven and saw “the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.”[6] As he heard the seraphim calling out to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is Yahweh of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”,[7] and the way the “foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke”,[8] he cried out, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, Yahweh of hosts!”[9] He immediately discovered that the high and holy one was with him to both forgive his sin and commission him for ministry, all in one fell swoop.[10]

How are we to understand what it will be like for Yahweh to dwell with a contrite and lowly-spirited person? That he comes, “to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

To revive means to restore life where it has been lost. Sinners indulging in every kind of sin, delighting in every kind of idolatry, are, “dead in trespasses and sins, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience, living in the passions of their flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and are by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”[11]

Left to ourselves, we would continue in such spiritual deadness in this earthly life and receive the just condemnation of our sin in the next.

However, when the person of contrite and lowly spirit confesses their sins to Yahweh through faith in Jesus Christ, “he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”[12]

One of the most well-known examples of a sinful man returning to God with a contrite and lowly spirit is the account of King David after his sin of adultery.[13] When Nathan the prophet confronted him with his sin, he went on to write a song of repentance that we now know as Psalm 51. In that song he makes this declaration, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”[14]

David was not downplaying his sin in the least. He simply knew that God was, “good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.”[15] And so his faith led him like a lamb back to his shepherd in the full confidence that his shepherd wanted to see him as much as if he had never sinned at all.

One more thing about this dual-dwelling of God in both the high and holy place and with those who come to him with a contrite and lowly spirit. Jesus fulfilled this reality in the most real and personal of ways. While Yahweh the Father was dwelling in the high and holy place of eternity, Yahweh the Son came to dwell among us, becoming the “friend of sinners” to the broken and contrite of heart.[16]

In fact, Jesus’ name, Immanuel, is, “God with us,” to fulfill what he told us through Isaiah.[17]

I believe the faith God is working into my heart is that he wants me to feel the joy of a heavenly Father who wants to be with his sinful child and only needs me to let myself feel the poverty-of-spirit that mourns my sin, meekly admit I cannot fix my sin problem, and so hunger and thirst for the righteousness that is by faith.[18]

It is the hunger and thirst of the contrite sinner for the righteousness he does not have that will be satisfied with the righteousness of faith in Jesus Christ. It is this faith that comes to God fresh out of our sin that pleases our Father because we trust him to be so good and forgiving that we know he will receive us just as the parable of the prodigal son reveals.[19]

Growing up as a good kid who was never good enough taught me that faith meant trying my best for God. A successful relationship with God was dependent on my good behavior, while any focus on my sins and transgressions left me feeling an utter failure.

God has been ministering to me tirelessly to show me that he delights in a faith that wants to be with him, period. It wants to be with him in what he is doing. It wants to be with him in wonderful expressions of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in the church. But it also wants to be with him when we feel like naughty little children who just admitted to ourselves that we have once again failed to be like Jesus in the way we thought or acted.

God has been telling his people for millennia that Jesus is God with us because God wants to dwell with his people who are of contrite and lowly spirit. Jesus coming into the world as God in the flesh proves that point clearly enough that we can draw near to God in the full confidence that we will find him drawing near to us.[20]

You know, just like the prodigal son.

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Hebrews 11:6
[2] Isaiah 57:15
[3] Romans 3:23
[4] James 4:4
[5] Matthew 5:3
[6] Isaiah 6:1 (context is Isaiah 6:1-13)
[7] Isaiah 6:3 (replacing “the LORD” with the divine name as per the original Hebrew)
[8] Isaiah 6:4
[9] Isaiah 6:5 (replacing “the LORD” with the more accurate rendering of God’s name, Yahweh)
[10] Isaiah 6:6-7 shows Isaiah’s cleansing and forgiveness, and Isaiah 6:8-13 his calling to ministry.
[11] Paraphrase of Ephesians 2:1-3 to fit the application.
[12] I John 1:9
[13] II Samuel 11:1-12:25
[14] Psalm 51:17
[15] Psalm 86:5
[16] Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34; Psalm 51:17
[17] Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23
[18] Based on the Beatitudes of Matthew 5:1-12
[19] Luke 15:1-32 contains three parables Jesus told to help them appreciate whey Jesus “receives sinners and eats with them” (vss 1-2). The parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son, all show the way “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (vs 7). The reason for the joy is that the Triune God is so delighted when we come home.
[20] James 4:7-8 in context of James 4:1-10

Sunday, July 12, 2020

The Treasure of Faith That Delights our Souls

“And without faith it is impossible to please him...”
One of the treasures of a daily time with God in his word and prayer is the experience of finding gems of wisdom and knowledge that are exposed simply because of digging where we left off the previous day. When a new jewel is found, and placed in the mosaic of treasures already collected, each gem seems to increase in the depths of its beauty.

And so it is that this treasure, that without faith it is impossible to please our Creator, has become a gift of grace that is bursting my heart with wonder that something could be so gloriously beautiful as that.

What this reveals to me, in the treasure chest of all the surrounding gems, is that our Father in heaven is most pleased in his relationship with us when we want to be with him. That is what faith is, the settled desire to be with God.

That being with God our Creator is even possible is reason enough for joy unspeakable and full of glory. However, that there is the distinctive color of the spectrum in these treasures that he WANTS to be with us is the gift that leads us into his presence where there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.

Today, my digging in the quarry unearthed a jewel that became brilliant in its beauty as it shone in the light of the whole gallery of gems. It was the simple realization that the truth of God WANTING to have children began before time was created. Somewhere and somehow in eternity, the Triune God shared their desire to have children. However the eternal God interacted together, they designed and determined the only way it would work.

When I look at the whole beautiful description of creation, and the unfolding plan of redemption, and the victorious work of Jesus our Savior, and the good news of great joy that calls sinners to repentance and faith, and the Spirit of the Triune dwelling in the people of God, all to bring us into a faith that wants to be with them, I cannot deny the evidence that our Father who is in heaven wants to be with his children on earth.

It is amazing how this realization washes away the attachment-pain of people not wanting to be with me (a work in progress). It is amazing how considering this brings such a peaceful desire to be with God as our Father in heaven. He is not an angry God I need to appease by my good behavior, but a desiring God who WANTS me to be with him. It pleases him when I delight myself in him so he can satisfy me with the very thing my heart most desires, to be attached to my Creator.

I share this because I want everyone to know what it is like to spend time in God’s word and prayer like a quarry full of treasures just waiting for those who will ask until they receive, seek until they find, and knock until these doors of delight open to them. The God who created us wants to be with his children. And he wants us to find our greatest joy in wanting to be with him.

God’s promise to us is that, “he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.”[1] If you see in your heart any longing for your Creator at all, open the quarry of his word, the life-giving Book we call the Bible, and let him satisfy your soul as never before.

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Psalm 107:9

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Jesus: The Christ, The Messiah, The Anointed One

During my morning time with God in his word and prayer I am often delighted to look up the meaning of words from the original languages of God’s Book. Sometimes this includes looking up parallel words from the Old Testament and the New Testament to see how certain themes are woven through the Scriptures to show us the constancy of God’s nature and his work.

This morning it struck me that, when we speak of Jesus using the Hebrew word “Messiah”, or the Greek word “Christ”, both words have the same meaning but sound quite different. That is because the Greek word “Christ” is a translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah”.

In English, we are more familiar with a transliteration of these words rather than a translation. This simply means that we are using in English what sounds like a reasonable facsimile of pronouncing the Hebrew and Greek words. Nothing wrong with that at all.

However, when we transliterate instead of translate, we are not as easily drawn to the meaning that would be in a Jewish person’s mind when they hear “Messiah”, or a Greek person’s mind when they hear “Christ”. That is because the meaning of both words is “Anointed One”, something that is not only an unfamiliar translation to most North American church folk, but also an unfamiliar concept.

What’s the point?

That when we see Jesus as “anointed” by God the Father, we see one who was deliberately set apart for a task in relation to a sinful human race. As a king was anointed to set him apart for his leadership, the Savior was someone anointed to do a particular work. Jesus is the set-apart-one, the one-and-only, the Savior commissioned by God to bring about his will in a sinful world.

As we watch our world deteriorating from bad to worse (just as God describes in his Book), whenever we refer to Jesus the Christ, we are speaking of the one person commissioned by God to seek and to save the lost.[1] He is set apart to this work, and no one else can do it.

This is why the early preachers of the good news declared about Jesus,

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”[2]

It is also why the apostles taught the church,

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.[3]

Jesus was sent into the world as the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, to lay down his life for sinners.[4] Through his death and resurrection, Jesus has accomplished our salvation forever. Sins are now forgiven, debts are now cancelled, wrongs are now erased, and adoption as the sons of God absolutely secured.[5]

I love the mind-exercise of considering what Peter was like as shown in the gospel records, and what he was like when he wrote his two letters to the churches. We see some of Peter’s struggles, mistakes and failures in the gospels; we see him filled with the Spirit and commissioned to preach the gospel in Acts, and we discover the depths of his love-relationship with God and the church in his letters.

This is what Peter would have us know today as we consider who Jesus is to us now:

He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.[6]

Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One of God, was “foreknown” by the Father as the Savior of his people before God even began the work of creation. The triune God went into creation knowing what Satan and sin would try to do to destroy their plans, and how the sacrifice of the Son of God was not only necessary, but also fully satisfactory, to bring about what God had in mind.

Whether you refer to the Son of God as Jesus the Messiah, Jesus the Christ, or Jesus the Anointed One, or even any or all the above in the original words, or in whatever words correspond to these in other languages, let your heart fully attach to the person of Jesus, Immanuel, the name above every name, King of kings and Lord of lords, by whom we are saved into the household of God forever.

And live by faith in him no matter how your language would honor him as Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God.[7]

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Luke 19:10
[2] Acts 4:12
[3] Philippians 2:9-11
[4] John 10:11, 15, 17; 15:13; I John 3:16
[5] Ephesians 1:1-14 shows the beauty and glory of the redemptive plan of God.
[6] I Peter 1:20-21
[7] Matthew 16:16 is where Peter gives his declaration, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” See also Luke 4:41; John 11:27, and John 20:30-31.