Church Health

Adonai

by Rev. Steve Hammer, Assistant to the DS for Church Health

One of the Names for God in the Bible is Adonai. That Name translated into English is “Lord” (capital L and the rest of the letters lower case). It speaks to us of relationships. Ann Spangler has written a book about the Names of God as they relate to prayer. She says that, almost always, Adonai is featured in the plural (Trinity). It is a vigorous Name.

King Uzziah had served the people of Israel for 52 years. His death marked a national crisis. An earthly throne was now empty. The prophet Isaiah quickly learned that when a chair is empty on earth, we tend to see heavenly matters more clearly. “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord (Adonai) seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of His robe filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1).

When there was an empty chair on earth, Isaiah saw an eternal throne. Adonai is seated on that throne and is presented in a position of elevation. From His “high and exalted” place of loving authority, Adonai works His purposes through us. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord (Adonai) saying, ‘Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us (plural)?’  And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” (Isaiah 6:8).

We see seraphim in Isaiah 6 who serve as examples for us in ministry, especially when it comes to lost people around the world and across the street. Seraphim (burning ones) are angelic beings with wings, faces, feet and the capacity to speak. They are given to humility, activity and availability. Their humility is expressed by covering their faces and feet. Their activity and availability for Adonai is ceaseless. They always hover in His presence ready to serve. They give testimony to the holiness of God resulting in Isaiah’s confession: “Woe is me. I am undone” (Isaiah 6:5).

There was a heavenly reaction to Isaiah’s confession of need. A seraph placed on Isaiah’s lips a hot stone from the place of sacrifice. He was cleansed. There was a new freedom to serve and a glad volunteerism. Isaiah eagerly stepped forward. There is a holy God who made a way for a sinful prophet to stand in His presence without guilt or fear. He had a message that would preach.

Hudson Taylor preached the gospel message, too. After beginning to follow the Lord at age 17, he found himself in China four years later. There was some medical and theological training that left him with a compelling message for people groups: God didn’t want to be at war with them anymore.

Taylor was a peacemaker in that he exhorted others about how they might have peace with God. After meeting his wife in China, they had five children before her death at age 33. Taylor lived another 40 years and experienced his share of sickness and grief. His most famous quotation describes his commitment to Adonai and His work: “If He is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.”

During times of societal and ecclesiastical spiritual darkness, let us preach with humility, activity and availability the message of a holy God making peace with sinners through The Blood of Christ. May we rest in Adonai’s presence ready to serve. In high school, we learned from Moby Dick that a sailor who throws a harpoon from a position of rest is most effective.

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