Jehovah Is Near

"Jehovah is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth" (Psalm 145:18).

Deism is defined as the "belief in the existence of a supreme being, specifically of a creator who does not intervene in the universe." According to this definition, God has created the universe, wound it up like a clock, and left it to run down. Such thinking about God views Him as disinterested with and disassociated from man on earth. But that’s not the God we read about in the Bible. Scripture affirms that Jehovah is near, and that’s the most wonderful news that we can hear. However, such a thought shouldn’t be considered without understanding how it is qualified in scripture. Our text in this study does just that. Consider these thoughts from Psalm 145:18.

GOD IS NEAR. God is near regardless of race, for all are created in His image and likeness (Gen. 1:26). From the first man, Adam, God made all nations of mankind who dwell upon the earth (Acts 17:26-29). This generation has not "cornered the market" on racial prejudice; we read about it in Bible times: "For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans" (John 4:9). When God draws near, He makes no distinction between individuals based upon their race.

God is near regardless of sex. While history has seen great partiality shown between the sexes, God created both male and female in His image (Gen. 1:27). And while there are obvious physical differences between the sexes (the woman is the "weaker vessel", 1 Pet. 3:7), and differing God-given responsibilities for the woman (1 Tim. 2:12-15), God does not distinguish between them regarding their salvation in Christ and the hope of heaven: "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ ... there can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus. And if ye are Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise" (Gal. 3:27-29).

God is near to those regardless of their social and economic standing. God’s ability to draw near to man is not conditioned upon whether he is materially rich or poor, neither does it depend on how much formal education one possesses. The apostle Paul, concerning his divine charge to preach the gospel, said, "I am debtor both to Greeks and to Barbarians ..."(Rom. 1:14). The distinction between a Greek and a Barbarian concerned how "cultured" they were. But there was no distinction regarding who would hear the gospel. God desires to draw near to all, regardless of their social circumstance in life. Furthermore, God’s people are warned against making such distinctions, which would cause us to show partiality (James 2:1ff.).

TO ALL WHO CALL UPON HIM. Notwithstanding the points made above, God will not draw near to us without a response on our part. Such a response suggests: 1) Man’s acknowledgment of One greater than himself - "Know ye that Jehovah, he is God; It is he that hath made us, and we are his" (Psa. 100:3). 2) Man’s recognition of his sins - "For I know my transgressions; and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in thy sight; that thou mayest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest" (Psa. 51:3-4). Sin separates us from fellowship with our Creator (Isa. 59:1-2). No accountable person is excluded, "for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). 3) The exercise of man’s will to make a choice - "...choose you this day whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah" (Josh. 24:15). Immediately preceding his death, Moses gave this charge to the Israelite nation - "I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed" (Deut. 30:19). God will draw near to those who sincerely call upon Him.

TO ALL WHO CALL UPON HIM IN TRUTH. While a sincere approach to God is essential, more is required. Man can be sincere, but sincerely wrong (cf. Matt. 7:21-23). Therefore, we must call upon God on His terms instead of ours, for man cannot direct his own steps (Jere. 10:23). We are subject to the law of Christ, and obligated to obey Him (Rom. 8:1-2; 1 Cor. 9:21).

Examples abound in scripture to impress good hearts with the necessity of man calling upon God in truth: 1) Cain, who sought to approach God with an unauthorized sacrifice, received his condemnation (Gen. 4:3-5). 2) Nadab & Abihu, who offered "strange fire" before God (that which was not commanded), were consumed with fire from heaven (Lev. 10:1-2). 3) King Uzziah arrogantly entered the temple to burn incense to Jehovah (that which only the priests were authorized to do), and was stricken with leprosy for the rest of his life (2 Chron. 26:16-20). 4) The Jews had a zeal for God, but rejected God’s truth and sought "a righteousness of their own" (Rom. 10:2-3).

The example of Saul of Tarsus (later Paul the apostle), teaches that calling on the name of Lord means gospel obedience: "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16; cf. Acts 2:20; Rom. 10:13-15).

By Dan Richardson

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