What Kind of a Name is That?
Although faithful Bible readers will often name their children after a Bible character, many (including Christians) will not always do so. Often, new parents will consult a birth book to find a name that is meaningful. It’s amazing how attached we all become to our names!
In the Hebrew Scriptures, the names of God and His people were considered both special – and even prophetic in nature, in the sense that a child’s name given in faith would ensure destiny and legacy for the child and family. This is why God’s names were often woven into a child’s name. For instance, “Samuel” literally meant “Name of God,” and the sound in Hebrew sounded much like “heard by God” – both thoughts very meaningful to a praying, barren woman.
Although the God of the Bible had been known by several generic names, the real revelation (of the essence of God) occurred in Exodus chapter 2. The children of Israel, a nation of slaves serving the Pharaoh of Egypt, were crying out to God for a deliverer. God found the right person for the job – Moses (“drawn from the water”), an 80-yr. old man that had been raised in Egypt for 40 years, and was now completing 40 years in exile as a sheepherder.
While Moses was shepherding the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, he came to the far side of the wilderness where stood the awesome mountain of God – “Horeb” (“Desolation,” another name for Sinai). His attention was arrested by a remarkable sight, a bush burned fiercely but was not consumed! God spoke to the frightened Moses, commissioning Him to return to Egypt and free Israel!
Desperately searching for an excuse, Moses replied, “They will want to know your Name!” Actually this was a logical thought. The Egyptians had a god for everything: the river Nile, the Pharaoh, sun, animals, etc. Moses must have a name for His God!
God revealed His unique and distinctively personal name. God replied, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” A significant name indeed, meaning God was self-existent, eternal. This is the true and only living God! Derived from the verb HAYAH (“to be”), the name had relevancy for the worn out Israelites. It was a name followed by a blank they could fill in, such as “I AM your food supply.” The Hebrew name was composed of four consonants, usually transliterated YHWH or JHVH in English; hence, called the “Tetragrammaton”. This God was a present-tense, always present, totally knowing God!
The Hebrew people very early felt the sacred name must not be carelessly spoken (feeling their lips were not worthy to speak The Name), so out of reverence and caution (lest they blaspheme by saying God’s name “in vain”), they substituted “LORD” for “I AM.” This is the personal name of God in the Hebrew Scriptures, appearing some 6,823 times in the Old Testament. Most Christian translators use the capitalized “LORD” in the Old Testament wherever it is found. Peter boldly claimed the name and applied it to Jesus: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!” (Acts 2:36).
Do not use “LORD,” “God,” “Jesus” carelessly, but DO USE them boldly when coming to God in prayer. God eternally exists, ruling all things – and He has personal time for YOU! Address Him directly, especially coming to “Our Father” in “Jesus Name.” What a blessed privilege!
Next time: “When Is the Kingdom Coming?”