What does Jehovah Shammah mean?

Jehovah Shammah

Jehovah Shammah appears in Ezekiel 48:35 as the name of a city the prophet Ezekiel was shown in vision. Jehovah Shammah means “THE LORD IS THERE” (Ezekiel 48:35).

Ezekiel’s vision of Jehovah Shammah

When Ezekiel received this vision from God, the Jews had been in captivity in Babylon for twenty-five years (Ezekiel 40:1). Jerusalem and the temple were in ruins. But God had promised that His people would be restored and that the city and the temple would be rebuilt (Jeremiah 25:11, 13; Daniel 9:20-27).

In the closing chapters of Ezekiel, the prophet describes what God told him in vision about this coming restoration of the land, the city, and the temple. It included detailed plans and measurements for the restored city. The final words of Ezekiel’s book are these: “And the name of the city from that day shall be: THE LORD IS THERE [Jehovah Shammah]” (Ezekiel 48:35).

That name, Jehovah Shammah, would have special meaning for the Jewish exiles. They felt forsaken in Babylon and cut off from God. But in this glorious city of promise—THE LORD IS THERE!

Jehovah Shammah in the New Testament

The name, Jehovah Shammah, doesn’t occur in the New Testament. But the apostle John clearly takes Ezekiel’s description of the restored city and applies it in his vision of the New Jerusalem which will come down to Earth out of heaven when sin is no more (Revelation 21).

Notice the parallels between the two cities:

  • Its name is Jehovah Shammah—God Is There (Ezekiel 48;35). John says of the New Jerusalem, “God is with men, and He will dwell with them. . . . God Himself will be with them” (Revelation 21:3).
  • In vision, God takes Ezekiel to a high mountain to show him the restored city (Ezekiel 40:2). John says that an angel “carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem” (Revelation 21:10).
  • Ezekiel sees a “man” with a measuring rod who begins to measure the different parts of the city and announce its dimensions (Ezekiel 40:3). John says, “He who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall” (Revelation 20:15).
  • Ezekiel’s city has twelve gates (three in each of the four walls), and each gate is assigned to one of the twelve tribes of Israel (Ezekiel 48:30-34). John’s city has the same—three gates in each wall with a gate for each of the twelve tribes of Israel (Revelation 21:12-14).
  • Ezekiel’s city is in the shape of a square, with each side measuring “four thousand five hundred cubits” (Ezekiel 48:30-34). John’s city is also a square, although the dimensions are different (Revelation 21:16).

What does Jehovah Shammah mean for us today?

The city and temple Ezekiel saw never became a literal reality in Ezekiel’s day. God did restore His people, and the city and temple were rebuilt—but never on the grand scale envisioned in the closing chapters of Ezekiel’s book. And the Holy City, New Jerusalem, that John describes is still to come in the future. So what does all this mean for us today?

The name of the city—Jehovah Shammah, GOD IS THERE—was intended as a divine promise to give hope to the Jewish exiles. When this vision of a glorious, restored city came to Ezekiel, the Jews had already spent twenty-five years in exile in Babylon. (Psalm 137 describes their misery and longing for their homeland.) They knew they were in Babylon because of their sins and failure to follow God faithfully. But God had not forsaken them. He had promised to bring them back from exile and restore them in their native land—if they would repent and turn to Him. And the very name of the restored city would stand as a promise they could depend on—GOD IS THERE. Or as John says to us,

“God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them, and be their God” (Revelation 21:3).

Like the Israelites so many centuries ago, we have the promise of a glorious city where we will live with God. He will be there. He will be our God, and we will be His people. He is the God who is always there.

But the promise is not only for the future. God is there for us today as well. Like the Israelites in Babylon, we may have sinned; we may feel forsaken and alone. But God promises never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He is Jehovah Shammah—GOD IS THERE. Before He returned to heaven, Jesus promised His disciples, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). That promise is for each of us as well.

God is there for us

There are many texts in the Bible emphasizing the fact that God is always there for us—it’s as if He wants to make sure we don’t forget! Here are just a few:

  • Psalm 46:1, 2, 7 — “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. . . . The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
  • Hebrews 4:15, 16 — “We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses. . . . Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
  • Isaiah 49:15 — “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you.”
  • Psalm 34:4, 6, 7, 10 — “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. . . . This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them. . . . Those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.”

Wherever we are, whatever our circumstances or our need—GOD IS THERE. He is Jehovah Shammah.