Last Article, we talked about Names and what their significance is as well as the significance of knowing someone's name. In this article we would like to meditate on the Name of God.
In the Old Testament the people didn't know God's name. They addressed Him with various terms such as "Elohim" (Hebrew: אלהים) which means "God", or "El Shaddai" (Hebrew: אל שדי) which means "God Almighty", or "Adonai" (Hebrew: אֲדֹנָי) which means "The Lord", etc...
It is worthy to note that the term "Elohim" (God) was used when God was dealing with the whole creation, and the term "Adonai Elohim" (Lord God) was used when God was dealing with someone on a personal level. For example Genesis Chapter 1 talks about the relationship of God with the world and the creation of the heavens and the earth. Thus in this chapter the term "Elohim" is used to signify that God is the Almighty and All Powerful creator "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1). Genesis Chapter 2 however talks about the relationship of God with man which is why the term "Lord God" was repeatedly used to signify God's love for mankind "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being" (Genesis 2:7)
Since mankind didn't know God's name, they weren't able to form a real relationship with Him. However, man yearned for this relationship. We see then some examples of people in the Old Testament asking God what His name is.
The first person to ask God for His name was Jacob when he wrestled with God (Genesis 32), but God didn't give Him the answer. "Jacob said, 'Please tell me your name.' But he replied, 'Why do you ask my name?' Then he blessed him there" (Genesis 32:29)
It wasn't till later on when Moses asked the Lord God what His name is when God appeared to Moses in the Burning Bush (Exodus 3). God first identified Himself as "the God of your father--the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (Exodus 3:6) But that wasn't enough for Moses, so he asked God what His name is, at which point God answered him saying "Ehyeh asher ehyeh" (Hebrew: אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה) which means "I AM WHO I AM", or "I cause to be who I cause to be" (Exodus 3:14)
It's also worthy to note that Jacob and Moses weren't the only ones who asked God for His name. Samson's parents also asked the same questions, but they also didn't get an answer. Instead the answer was "Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?" (Judges 13:17)
So when Moses asked God for His name, the answer was "YHVH" or "I AM". This answer still seems incomplete, and rightly so. It wasn't completed till the New Testament, when our Lord Jesus Christ completed it by saying "I AM the bread of life" (John 6:48) and "I AM the light of the world" (John 8:12) and "I AM the door of the sheep" (John 10:7), and "I AM the good shepherd" (John 10:14), and "I AM the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25), and "I AM the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6) etc...
The name "YHVH" became so Holy to the people of Israel that they never pronounced it fearing that they would break the commandment in Exodus 20:7 "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain". The Jewish people went to great lengths to protect themselves from breaking this commandment by replacing the pronunciation of "YHVH" with "Adonai". So in Genesis 2 whenever it says "The Lord God", it was replaced with "Adonai Elohim". Jewish people started referring to this name as "The Ineffable Name" or the "Unutterable Name of the God of Israel". Even till this day it's referred to as the "Tetragrammaton" which simply means "the four letters". Moreover, they also replaced "Adonai" with "'haShem" which means "the name" in an effort to build a fence around a fence to protect themselves from uttering the name.
Not only was the name of God so Holy, but it also has some extra powers associated with it. For example in the Book of Joel it says "And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the Lord has said, Among the remnant whom the Lord calls." (Joel 2:32). Also in Malachi it says "But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings..." (Malachi 4:2)
This is perhaps also why so many people in the Old Testament venerated and glorified the name of God. Solomon said "The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe." (Proverbs 18:10). Isaiah also said "O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago" (Isaiah 25:1), and again "... but your name alone do we honor." (Isaiah 26:13). Jeremiah added saying "Inasmuch as there is none like You, O Lord (You are great, and Your name is great in might)" (Jeremiah 10:6). Daniel also proclaimed saying "Blessed by the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His." (Daniel 2:20). But perhaps nobody has ever sang, meditated, chanted, glorified and venerated the name of God as much as David. It would be too long for this article to list out all the references only for such verses, but here are a few from the book of the Psalms: 7:17; 8:1,9; 9:2; 20:1; 22:22; 25:11; 29:2; 30:4; 31:3; 33:21; 34:3; 44:5,8; 45:17; 48:10; 52:9; 54:1,6; 61:5,8; 63:4; 66:2,4; 68:4; 69:30,36; 72:17,19; 74:21; 75:1; 76:1; 79:6,9; 80:18; 83:16,18; 86:9, and much more.
Even in the New Testament, there's a special power associated by just invoking the name of the Lord. Consider the following:
It is truly a grace that we have been given to know His name. Not only that, he has set His name upon us. Yes, we are called by His name! We are Christians, for we are Christ's. His Name is truly above all names. His name alone is a meditation and prayer for us all. Many Christians recite the "Name Prayer" or the "Jesus Prayer" which is "My Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner", or "My Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me". Others just use the name "Jesus" as their whole prayer. Not only does he provide us with all these wonderful things, but he also gives us full credit for all these things. He allows us to serve in His name, and even though without Him we can do nothing, yet He does everything but leaves us in the picture to take all the credit. Meanwhile He humbly stays hidden from all spotlights ascribing all glory to His Children.
God is our all in all. Without Him we can do nothing. For in Him we live and move and have our being, Glory be to His name forever. Amen.
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