These first four occasions of twice-repeated names are in the Old Testament, and the character responds to the Lord’s voice with, “Here I am.” The final three occurrences of twice-repeated names are in the New Testament. In the three New Testament occasions of twice-repeated names, there was no “Here I am” response from a biblical character, which was a phrase we saw in the four contexts of the Old Testament occurrences.
Plenty of Old and New Testament passages have dialogue where a character’s name is mentioned. But there are occasions—and you can hold them in two hands—when the Lord calls someone’s name twice in a row.
Counting the names that are repeated twice in the Old and New Testaments, we find seven.
The first time was in Genesis 22:11. In Genesis 22, Abraham was preparing to offer his son Isaac on the altar, in accordance with the Lord’s instructions. When he reached out his hand with the knife to kill Isaac, the angel of Yahweh called from heaven, “Abraham, Abraham!” (Gen. 22:11). And Abraham replied, “Here I am.”
The second time was in Genesis 46:2. In Genesis 46, Jacob had recently learned that his son Joseph was alive after many years of believing Joseph was dead. Jacob began his journey toward Egypt, where he would reunite with Joseph. When Jacob came to Beersheba and offered sacrifices to the Lord, the Lord spoke to him and said, “Jacob, Jacob” (Gen. 46:2). And Jacob replied, “Here I am.”
The third time was in Exodus 3:4. Moses had been keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, and an angel of Yahweh appeared to Moses in the flame of fire from a bush (Exod. 3:1–2). Moses turned aside to see what was happening, and God called to him, “Moses, Moses!” (3:4). And Moses replied, “Here I am.”
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By Tim Challies — 2 years ago
We see many withering and perishing around us, many diminishing and dying. Those who fall away and are lost can not possibly be said to have died from a lack of food, for there is an unending bounty spread before us. They can only be said to have died from a lack of appetite—from a simple failure to take what is offered, what can feed them, what can strengthen and equip them for a lifetime of serving God and an eternity of enjoying him. It is not a lack of food that threatens any of us, but only a lack of hunger.
I was once told of a woman who lived in a cold-weather climate. She suffered from poor health and this in a part of the world where she could not easily get the nutrition she needed. Doctors suggested she travel to the tropics where the setting might be more conducive to a recovery. A few weeks after her departure she wrote to a friend to say, “This is a wonderful spot where I have access to all the good and nutritious food I could ever need. If only I could find my appetite I’d be well in no time.” But within weeks she was gone. In the end, it wasn’t a lack of food that took her life, but a lack of hunger.
And in much the same way, we have before us all the spiritual food we could ever need—enough to fill and sustain us for a lifetime, enough to carry us through the most difficult trials we can ever face, enough to fit us for life on this earth and an eternity of heaven. The question is whether we will take and eat—whether we will satisfy ourselves with the bounty spread out before us.
Do you attend the worship services of your local church? It is here that you will be fed good food.
By Kim Riddlebarger — 2 years ago
When we look at the message of Jonah through the wider lens of redemptive history, his prophecy takes on a whole new and expanded meaning—God’s mercy extends to the ends of the earth–not just to Israel. Jonah’s actions must be interpreted in light of YHWH’s greater purpose.
Moral Tale or Historical Event?
A Well-Known Story
Most everyone knows the story of Jonah. Jonah was a reluctant Hebrew prophet who, while fleeing from his divine commission, was thrown overboard in the midst of a horrific storm by his terrified shipmates, only to be swallowed by a big fish (usually assumed to be a whale). Jonah then spent three days and nights in the fish’s belly, before being vomited up by the fish on a foreign shore. Once safely on land, Jonah fulfilled his evangelistic mission, went to Nineveh as commanded, and preached to the Ninevites who repented en masse. The story is simple enough it can be understood by a child, but profound enough that theologians and biblical scholars still debate its meaning.
Whenever considering any book of the Bible it is important to ask and answer several questions to make sure we interpret the book and its message correctly. Who was Jonah, when did he live, why did he write this book, and what is in it? How does this particular prophecy compare with the other Minor Prophets who lived and ministered about the same time? These questions are especially important with a book like Jonah, which many think to be an allegory or a moral fable, seeing the story as so implausible that it cannot possibly be speaking of historical events. How can someone be swallowed alive by a whale and live for three days? No, the critics say, this cannot be history, so it must be an allegory, a teaching parable, or a work of fiction, designed to teach us some important spiritual or moral truth.
When we interpret Jonah’s prophecy through this fictional lens, the reader’s focus usually falls upon Jonah himself, the prime example of a reluctant prophet who refuses to obey God’s will. By not obeying God, Jonah finds himself in the belly of a whale, until God relents and the whale then spits Jonah out safe and sound–if a bit shook up. The moral to the story is that should God call you to do something you do not want to do, learn the lesson of the story of Jonah. Obey the Lord and avoid the kind of calamity which comes upon those who, like Jonah, will not do what they know God wants them to do.
No Mere Morality Tale
But when we ask and then answer the “Who?” “When?” “Why?” and “What?” questions, it becomes clear that Jonah’s prophecy is not an allegory, nor does it offer such a trivial and moralistic message. This is not a “once upon a time in a land far away” kind of book. The prophecy opens with Jonah’s personal ancestry–revealing the name of his father enabling us to compare other biblical references to this family, thereby tying Jonah’s ministry directly to the reign of Jeroboam II, one of the last rulers of Israel (the Northern Kingdom).
Jonah’s prophecy comes in the form of a prophetic narrative (much like 1 and 2 Kings) with a song/Psalm included within the narrative (chapter 2). It is clearly set in a particular period of time–the final days of Israel (the Northern Kingdom). Yet unlike the books of the Kings, the Book of Jonah does not emphasize God’s prophet’s obedience to undertake a difficult prophetic call. On the contrary, the Book of Jonah focuses upon the prophet’s determined reluctance to fulfill his mission. But what is that mission? That is the critical question not often properly considered.
By Geoffrey Thomas — 2 months ago
The one thing that really matters is this: to have a religion that will bring us safe at last to the new heavens and the new earth. To have that “little that a righteous man has,” to have faith that is lodged in Jesus Christ even if our trust seems as fine as a spider’s thread. To believe in your heart and to say with your mouth, “I know my Redeemer lives.”
Read the words of the Apostles to the early church: “We will devote ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). This Apostolic commitment gave the church of the new covenant the priorities of a twofold vocation: it was to be characterized by prayer to the Father in the name of His Son and by the preaching of the Bible. Let me seek to open up something fresh about both of these marks.
Recently, I began to read a book that I found interesting in its concept, purpose, and accomplishment. A woman named Berenice Aguilera discovered a copy of John Calvin’s commentaries and realized that the original transcriber of his sermons—more than four hundred years ago in St. Peters, Geneva—also transcribed and printed his closing prayers. These brief living intercessions are printed in most of Calvin’s books of sermons. Berenice was so moved in reading them that she proceeded to gather them together, and she seems to have published them herself in England—because there is no name of a publisher to be found anywhere in a 255-page book that she has titled Praying through the Prophets. Publishing the book herself would have required not only cash but a strong conviction that there was something very valuable in listening to John Calvin speaking to God after he had spoken to the people in his congregation. This one book contains more than three thousand prayers of the Genevan Reformer at the close of each of his sermons on the Major and Minor Prophets from Jeremiah to Malachi.
I initially dipped into these prayers and found them refreshing. In daily readings, I am in the latter chapters of the prophet Jeremiah and Lamentations, so I have begun, at the end of the verses apportioned for each day, to read the prayers of Calvin on that chapter. These latter chapters of Jeremiah contain both a relentless declaration of the forthcoming destruction of mighty Babylon and also words of encouragement to the Lord’s people in captivity there. Let me give an example of a portion of Jeremiah as he seeks to encourage the people of God in their long exile from Jerusalem, and then the prayer of John Calvin when he finished preaching on them:
“You who have escaped from the sword, go, do not stand still! Remember the LORD from far away, and let Jerusalem come into your mind: ‘We are put to shame, for we have heard reproach; dishonor has covered our face, for foreigners have come into the holy places of the LORD’s house.’ Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will execute judgment upon her images, and through all her land the wounded shall groan. Though Babylon should mount up to heaven, and though she should fortify her strong height, yet destroyers would come from me against her, declares the LORD.” (Jer. 51:50–53)
This is the prayer of John Calvin after he has preached on these verses:
Grant, Almighty God, that when you hide at this day your face from us, that the miserable despair that is ours may not overwhelm our faith, nor obscure our view of your goodness and grace, but that in the thickest darkness your power may ever appear to us, which can raise us above the world, so that we may courageously fight to the end and never doubt that you will at length be the defender of the church which now seems to be oppressed, until we shall enjoy our perfect happiness in heaven, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
What simplicity, theocentricity (God-centeredness), humility, and submissive yearning that expresses the oneness of the redeemed. That spirit is what we long to experience when we are hearing public prayer. Christians meet at the mercy seat. When we all bow there in the presence of our Lord in prayer, we are never closer together. There are Christians who will refuse to read anything that was written by John Calvin. They are missing so much. He was a man of prayer. You will never understand or appreciate the Genevan Reformer or realize his impact in the world until you grasp how there was a part of his life lived at the throne of grace. I often heard Ernest Reisinger say, “It is a sin to preach and not to pray.”
When one visits the Martyn Lloyd-Jones Trust website, one discovers that five examples of the congregational praying of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones are recorded there. They are most moving, comprehensive, and deeply reverent as spoken by one addressing the almighty Creator of the cosmos through what His Son Jesus Christ has achieved. The first recorded prayer was prayed on the opening Sunday of a new year, and so it is the longest—fifteen minutes and thirty-eight seconds. The others average between ten and eleven minutes, but all are so gripping and relevant that the last thing one thinks of is their length. Little wonder people looking back sometimes said that when they went to Westminster Chapel for the first time, it was the praying of the Doctor that moved them more than the preaching. Only a man who knows the Scriptures, prays privately, and who walks in the Spirit could pray for that length, gripping and lifting a congregation of 1,400 into the presence of the Holy One. John Owen said, “If the word does not dwell with power in us then it will not pass with power from us.”
There are also four different versions of some of the pulpit prayers of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, prayed on Sunday mornings in the Metropolitan Tabernacle. The most accessible is published by the Banner of Truth. It has been said about Spurgeon’s praying: