As we near the end of the year and I reflect back on what a year it has been, I am reminded that God has been with us in this journey every step of the way. Even when it didn’t seem like He was present. Those thoughts led me to think about all the different names of God. God has been given many names simply because His name was too holy to pronounce. So, people gave Him names based on what He had done for them or who He was to them. Let me give you a few examples.
His personal name is Yahweh. This name is most frequently used in scripture but is often not spoken, just written using four letters…YHWH. This is called the Tetragrammaton which simply mean… 4 letters. This is the Ineffable or Unutterable name of the God of Israel. In fact, Jewish tradition is not to pronounce this name at all but to substitute Adonai, My Lord, in its place. So, when you read the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament, you would substitute Adonai for YHWH.
We find others using the name Elohim. This is the traditional name for God as creator and judge. We see this name first used in the creation story. But it is modified and used to describe God in different ways. In Exodus 3:15 we see it used for the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And in 2 Samuel 22:33, Psalm 31:5 and 43:2 we see Elohim used in conjunction with God of my strength. Elohim is changed to Eloheynu and used as “Our God”. This is common in many prayers and blessings Many times on the Old Testament we see Elohim combined with the word “Chayim” the Hebrew word for life. This is the living God. And Elohim is shortened to El and combined with the word Shaddai we have God Almighty.
There are a number of instances in scripture where no name of God is used at all. Instead, scripture simply says “The Name”. Abraham called on the name of the Lord. Genesis 12:8, 13:4. Israel was warned against profaning the name of the Lord. Leviticus 13:21. In the ten commandments we are told not to take the name of the Lord in vain. Exodus 21:7. Priests ministered in the name of the Lord. Deuteronomy 18:5. But this doesn’t just occur in the Old Testament. We read in John 1:12 that salvation is through His name. Matthew 18:21 tells us believers are to gather in His name. And in Philippians 2:10-11 we find that it is at the name of Jesus that every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess That Jesus is Christ is Lord.
In Revelation 22:13 we are told that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega. Those are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. First here means the beginning or origin. It means that He has always been. And Omega is the last letter, and it means the goal. It is like we read in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. That is our goal…to live and serve the Lord until we take our last breath.
Another name that you may have heard is Jehovah. This name of God is the Latinization of the name YHWH, the proper name of the God of Israel. It is often used in conjunction with descriptions of what God has done for people. When added to Adonai we see The Lord our Sovereign. This is a reminder that our God is over all other rulers. In fact, He is over everything. When combined with Elohim we have the eternal creator. God continues to knit people together in their Mother’s wombs. Jehovah Jireh is the Lord our God who provides. And Jehovah Rohi is the Lord our Shepherd.
We see God as the Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, Almighty God, Prince of Peace, Lamb of God, and Savior. Jesus gave us seven names for Himself. The Good Shepherd, The Bread of the Life, The Resurrection and the Life, The Gate, The Light of the World, The true Vine, and The Way, Truth, and the Life. And both Jesus and God the Father use the name I AM. We see it first when Moses stands in front of the burning bush and God speaks to him. When Moses asks God His name God says I AM. Which can be translated I AM who I AM, or I AM what I AM becoming. Each of the seven descriptions Jesus gives us about Himself begins with I AM. If there were doubts about whether or not Jesus was the Messiah, using His formal name should have left no doubts.
We call Him father, precious Lord, Holy, gracious God, and any number of other names. It depends on who God is for us at that point in time. But regardless what we call God, it is important to keep calling on Him. Because it is in Hm that we find peace in these tumultuous times. In Him we will find mercy and forgiveness. And we find grace. None of us is even close to perfect but God wants us to come to Him and seek Him out. He wants to give us good things. He wants us to come to Him so that He can lavish His love on us. And then there is Hope. We cannot hope in things of the world, things that we hold up to be something akin to God. Every one of those things will fail. God is all we have that will always be true and just.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W