Re: Our Father's name

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Posted by John Hunt ( on August 03, 2004 at 20:54:19:

In Reply to: Our Father's name posted by sandy on July 20, 2004 at 21:50:29:

I’m glad you asked this question. Hebrew names stood for all that a person was. To know the “name” of God was to know His nature. When Moses asked God what His name was, he wasn’t asking what label he could call Him by, but was inquiring of His nature. God identified Himself with the following statement, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: `I AM has sent me to you.' " (Exodus 3:14) God went on to say that He was YHWH, as written in Hebrew. As stated in the Zondervan Pictoral Bible Dictionary, “The sacred name is derived from the verb “to be,” and so implies that God is eternal and that He is the Absolute, i.e. the Uncaused One.”

In English this was sometimes rendered as “Jehovah” (e.g., King James Version and American Standard Version of the Holy Bible). However, scholars are in general agreement that this was probably actually pronounced “Yahweh” (e.g., World English Bible) as ancient Hebrew had no “J” in Hebrew. But the fact is no one knows for sure what the original pronunciation was. There is no doubt in my mind that this is as God intended.

Actually, there’s not one name of God. There are many names of God, because one name is not going to be able to compile all the covenant relationships of this God. The multiple names are the ones that really spread out the picture for us. Each name gives another element or aspect of God you can trust, because each name unfolds a little bit more of His character, His nature, His trustworthiness, His faithfulness, His love, His endurance, His power and His ability to sustain.
One of the other descriptive names of God the Bible also provides us with is El-Shaddai (God Almighty) and another is Jehovah Jireh (The One Who Provides). By God giving us His names or revealing other names about Him, He is saying He wants us to get to know Him so we can have relationship with Him. For example:

“…we trust in the name of the YHWH our God” (Psa. 20:7)
“…trust in the name of the YHWH and rely on his God” (Isa. 50:10), and
“This is what the YHWH says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me, that I am the YHWH, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the YHWH.” (Jer. 9:23-24)

As I already stated, the pronunciation of the “name” given to Moses is no longer known and that is why for the Old Testament (O.T.) most Bible translators chose to label YHWH with words “the LORD”. When you see “lord” in all caps as “LORD” they are substituting it for the divine name YHWH. At least LORD is a word that we can all pronounce and it says something about Him in relation to us.

The original manuscripts of the New Testament (N.T.) were all written in Greek, or at least all of the earliest manuscripts that are still available were in written in Greek. The divine name as it was written in Hebrew (YHWH) is not found in these N.T. manuscripts. Instead, wherever YHWH was found in the O.T. and quoted in the N.T., it is written as “the Lord”. For example, in Deut. 6:5 where it is written, “Love YHWH your God with all your heart…”, it is written in these early transcripts as, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…” where Jesus quotes this in Matt. 22:37. Even before Jesus’ birth, writing “the Lord” in Greek for YHWH is the same way that it was done in the Greek translation of the O.T., known as the Septuagint, as well. We have every reason to believe that this is the way God intended. To say otherwise is to say that He was not able to preserve something significant, the correct pronunciation and translation of His name label. To say the Greek word for “the Lord” should be some other word is to say that we do not have reliable manuscripts. I firmly believe He did this to drive home the point that we mustn’t get hung up on His name label, but we must take great care to honor the meaning of His name, who He really is. Even as it is, some fringe groups teach that it is sinful to fail to address Him by a particular name label. At least one cultic group teaches that the label “Jehovah” must be used to address the God the Father. Some others say the same about the name label “Yahweh” or similar spelling. Having said this, when I come across YHWH in the O.T. (usually the LORD) or when I call on God in His fullness, I have a preference for using the name label of “Jehovah”, as that was what I have always been familiar with from my youth.

However, the name Jehovah embodies not just God the Father, but the Son of God and the Holy Spirit. For instance, the confession that “Jesus is Lord”, as referenced in Romans 10:9 is actually a confession that “Jesus is Jehovah”. Therefore, Jesus, himself is included in the “name” that is hallowed. Just as he told his disciples in John 16:26, “In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf.” This does not mean that Jesus is God the Father or mean that God the Father is Jesus, but they are the one God who created all things and who has no beginning or end (John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:15-18, Rev. 1:8, 22:12-16).

This is indeed a lengthy explanation but it could be even much longer. However, let us realize that our service and worship should reflect our awareness of the nature of God, which is a way for to hallow His name. Peter commands us to set apart God in our hearts as part of our preparation of giving a reason for our hope (1 Peter 3:15). Glorifying God should be the goal of all our service and worship.

A better question than “What is His name?” might be “What can we do to hallow His name in our daily lives?”

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