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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What is God's name? (Part II)

Of course, the answer to that question is yes. When Moses went to examine the burning bush and found God waiting to speak to him, he asked God about his name. We read: “And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, what is his name? What shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I am that I am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: THIS IS MY NAME FOR EVER, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” Exodus 3:13-15
In answering a rather straightforward question by Moses, God used a number of names to refer to himself in this scripture. First, he tells Moses that he is the “I AM” or the “Hayah” in Hebrew. It is the verb "to be" and implies "THE ONE WHO EXISTS" or "THE ONE WHO IS." God is making a definitive statement to Moses about his identity, while also conveying to the man before him that he was beyond his own concept of what a name means. Then he goes on to identify himself as “The One Whom Your Ancestors Worshiped.” God concludes his answer to Moses by stating that THIS IS THE NAME WHICH HE HAD CHOSEN for the Israelites to use in referencing him for all time.
A little later, God told Moses, “I am the Lord (Yehovah).” Exodus 6:2 He went on to reveal that this was the first time he had chosen to identify Himself by that name to his people. We read: “And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty (El Shaddai), but by my name Jehovah (Yehovah) was I not known to them.” Exodus 6:3
We should interject here that many people have claimed that “Jehovah,” “Yehovah” or “Yahweh” is God’s only personal name. In fact, they assert that this is God’s sacred name, and the only name which is truly proper to use in addressing the Divine.
Nevertheless, this scripture makes it clear that the Hebrew patriarchs never used this name to address their God. They did not even know about it! Yet the same One who is telling Moses about this name accepted their use of “El Shaddai”. In fact, he made his covenant with these individuals and made his promises TO THEM. Hence, it cannot be argued that it is essential to use “Yehovah” or “Yahweh” in dealing with or addressing God.
It should also be noted here that Scripture was not preserved in a single language. Although the Old Testament was preserved in Hebrew, the New Testament was preserved in Greek. This made sense, because Greek was the universal language of the Eastern Roman Empire during the time of Christ and the founding of his church. Greek was the language of the elite and the educated.
Hence, in the INSPIRED LANGUAGE of the New Testament, “God” is “Theos,” and “Lord” is “Kurios.” The Hebrew names for the Divine are not used in the New Testament, because it was written and preserved in Greek. It is not the Hebrew “Yehowshuwa” or the shortened form “Yeshua,” it is the Greek “Iesous.” In English, the same name appears as “Jesus.” This is entirely a product of the differences in these languages, and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with who is being addressed or discussed.
Remember, God made it very clear to his prophets that the time for a truly universal language for the peoples of the earth was in the distant future (when Christ has established the Kingdom of God on this earth). We read: “For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the NAME of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.” Zephaniah 3:9 We also read: “And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his NAME one” (Zechariah 14:9). However, until God intervenes to change the factor of language, it will continue to be a source of differences in the way that people use words and names. We speak in the tongues of MEN. Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Latin and English are not "God’s languages!"
The Hebrew word for “name” is “shem.” According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, the word means “an appellation, as a mark or memorial of individuality; by implication honor, authority, character…” That sounds a lot like the English definition of the word given by Webster's Dictionary. Names have meaning. They point to the uniqueness, honor, authority and character of the people who bear them. A name is meant to clearly identify its owner so that effective communication with others is possible.
In the Old Testament, God bears many different names and titles. Why? It is because he is such a great and limitless personality. He is simply too big for a single name in any language used on this earth. He is too big to be put in a neat little box of our own devising. HE/SHE IS many things, and God has children among all of the different languages that share this planet. Indeed, the Scriptures have been translated into most of them.
When he prophesied about the Messiah, Isaiah wrote: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his NAME shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 In other places, he was referred to as Immanuel, Lamb of God, Word, King of Kings, Lord of Lords and Jesus Christ.
Brethren, our God is great. He is known by many different names, and he recognizes every one of them! When you were a child, you probably called your parents, “Mom” and “Dad.” During his earthly ministry, Jesus Christ referred to Almighty God as "Father." At work, perhaps you have referred to your employer as “Boss.” Those individuals knew who you were talking to (or about) when you used such names in those settings, and Almighty God knows who you are addressing when you call on him/her using any one of a host of names that are appropriate for his/her person!

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