In Psalms103:1 we read, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy NAME."
In Psalm 145:1-2 we read, "… I will bless Thy NAME forever and ever. Every day will I bless thee, and I will praise thy NAME forever and ever."
What is God’s name? Does God even have a proper name? Yes, indeed, some 10,000 times the name of God is used in the Old Testament.
In Psalm 68:4 we read, “Sing unto God, sing praises to His name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name Jehovah, and rejoice before him.”
Isaiah 42:8, tells us, “I am the LORD: that is my name…”
In the very first verse of the Bible we read in Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God…" The name for God here is the Hebrew word, "Elohim." Interestingly whenever you read the word God in the first chapter of Genesis it is always the Hebrew word "Elohim." Throughout the entire Old Testament "Elohim" is used 2,570 times. It is a name that reveals our God as the God of great might and infinite power.
Now in Genesis 2:1-4 we discover a second name of God,
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. (2) And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. (3) And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. (4) These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,”
In verse 4 we come to another name for God, combined with Elohim. It is the English “LORD GOD” which is the translation of the Hebrew Elohim Jehovah. Here is the first mention in the Bible of this name Jehovah. As you go throughout the Old Testament 6,823 times you find this great name of God used. Most scholars would agree that the name of YAHWEH or JEHOVAH would be the proper name of God.
Now in this message, we are going to briefly focus upon three things with respect to this great name which is used more than any other name in the Bible for the ONE TRUE GOD.
First: We want to think of the giving of that name.
Second: We want to think of the meaning of that name.
Third: We want to think of the bearing that name has to us.
You should notice in Genesis 2:4, the word LORD is in all CAPITOL letters. Now every time you see the word LORD spelled in the Bible in all CAPITOL letters, in the Hebrew language it refers to the 4-letter Hebrew word Y-H-W-H. We call that a TETRAGRAMMATON. Perhaps you are saying, “What is that?” That is simply two Greek words – TETRA meaning 4, and GRAMMAR meaning LETTER. “A TETRAGRAMMATON is simply a 4-letter word.”
Listen carefully to this. The combination of the letters Y-H-W-H is deemed by orthodox Jews the most sacred combination of letters to be found anywhere in all the universe. Why? Because these four letters reveal the HEART and CORE of the nature and personality of the God of the entire universe.
Did you notice every letter in that combination of letters is a consonant? This is interesting because words must have not only consonants but also vowels, the vowels being A-E-I-O-U.
I am not an English major, however it is my understanding there is no word in the entire English language that does not have a vowel in it. Now please do not sit there the rest of the service and try to think of one and miss what I am saying. We need the vowels in our words in order to be able to sound out the words.
Here is another interesting thing fact. "The Hebrew language of the Old Testament was written without any vowel sounds." But what is still more interesting is what they did with this so called TETRAGRAMMATON, this very unique and unusual revelation God gave of Himself to His people.
Let me illustrate just how unique this is in the Word of God. In Joshua 7, you will recall Israel has just won the battle at Jericho. Then you have the story, how Achan sinned by taking of the accursed thing at Jericho, then Israel experienced defeat at the battle of Ai. Joshua is now beside himself and in verses 6-10 we read,
“And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. (7) And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! (8) O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies! (9) For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name? (10) And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?”
You say, “What is so important about these verses?” Notice with me how the words for God and Lord are used.
In Verse 6, the word "LORD" is in all capitals.
In Verse 7, in the phrase "O Lord GOD" The word Lord is in upper and lower case letters and GOD is in all upper case letters.
In Verse 7, at the end of the verse "God" is written in upper and lower case letters.
In Verse 8, the phase "O Lord" is again written in upper and lower case letters.
In Verse 10 you have the word LORD in all capital letters.
My friends, this is not accidental, nor did the printer have a field day with letters. This is very significant, because this reveals to us specific Hebrew words that show the character of God through the use of certain names of God.
When you find in the Old Testament the name LORD or the name GOD in all capital letters, it is our English translation of the so called TETRAGRAMMATON, Y-H-W-H.
When you see the word God with a capitol G and lower case od, it is our English translation of Elohim, as in Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God…"
When you see the word Lord with a capital L and lower case ord, it is the English translation for the Hebrew word Adonai. This word is used some 300 times in the Old Testament, mostly as a name for God. The word Adonai makes reference to someone who is a "Master."
You may wonder how the Hebrew people made this word Y-H-W-H pronounceable? If this name for God was used 6,823 times, how were these 4 letters made audible?
Here is the interesting part on the giving of this great name. The Jews DID NOT make this name audible, THEY WOULD NOT EVEN PRONOUNCE THIS NAME. To them this name was so SACRED and so HOLY they would not even speak it. But they had to invent some way to speak of God.
To make this name audible and pronounceable, they took the vowels out of another name for God found 300 times in the Old Testament. It is the name ADONAI. They took the vowels and put them between the consonants of this TETRAGRAMMATON. That’s how they came up with the name Y A H O W A H.
And in so doing, they MANUFACTURED an ARTIFACTUAL and yet PRONOUNCEABLE name, which revealed the HEART AND CORE of Almighty God. It was the name pronounced YAHWEH, which when translated into English, became JEHOVAH.
Before I go on, let me again emphasize this point. So HOLY and so SACRED was this name to the Jews that they feared to pronounce it. Perhaps that fear was based on what we read in Leviticus 24:16, "And he who blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death…" Even to this day the name YAHWEH is never read in the synagogue nor mentioned by the Jews. The word ADONAI is substituted for it.
This name was so sacred that even attempting to utter it, was GROUNDS for exclusion from eternal life. You couldn't even have a relationship with God if you so much as even attempted to pronounce that "Holy, Glorious name of Almighty God.”
When I think of this long-ago restriction, I realize how different it is in the age in which we now live. We so glibly use the name of God as if it is just like any other name.
How often have you heard, God ____ this or God _________ that?
How often have you heard, Golly, Gee whiz, Gosh Darn? Are you surprised by what I just said? You shouldn’t be, since these are slang words for God.
You hear this every day – day after day after day in the common market, in the work place, or on the TV.
There is NO RESPECT for the name of God.
There is NO REVERENCE for the name of God.
In Exodus 20 there is the passage on the MORAL LAW, better known as the Ten Commandments and in verse 7 we read, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” In this verse God is teaching us that blaspheming His name is a SIN.
God is saying to "HONOR HIS NAME."
God is saying to "Watch your language."
God is saying to “REVERENCE the name of God.”
So holy is the name of God that we need to be careful how we speak it. We are to honor God's name as Jesus taught His disciples, "Our Father who are in Heaven HALLOWED be Thy name."
You are trifling with the name of God when you would say "____ Dam you." You are asking God to do something He never does. God does not act because of the words of a profane man. Nobody is dammed to hell because some one asked God to do so. God never dams a man. God's work is the GRACE OF SALVATION. If a man is going to Hell he has decided that based upon his own unbelief and rejection of God's gift of eternal life though faith in the Lord Jesus.
Again, what a contrast to the FAMILIAR, and often times FLIPPANT, way Christians speak His name in public versus private worship. Did not the Psalmist say?
In Psalms 103:1 "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His HOLY NAME."
In Psalm 111:9 "Holy and reverent is His name."
What am I saying? To approach the name of God was an awesome thing. It was a FEARFUL thing because it was God's name, the core of what God is. His name in Biblical times was surrounded by awe and GREAT RESPECT.
Whenever the Jewish people would take the Word of God and come to that TETRAGRAMMATON they would never attempt to pronounce it. They would never read it. Instead they would make a substitution using the name ADONAI. What great respect they had for the Name of God.
Now if you think the understanding of the giving of that name was difficult, the meaning of this name poses a difficulty as well. In comprehending the meaning of the name JEHOVAH you need to understand, it is connected with the verb "TO BE." It is tied to the idea of life itself. “To be” is “to live.”
“To be,” at its very essence, is to have life. Yahweh alone is God; before Him nothing existed, and without Him there is no life. Nothing exists except that it has its life in Him, and we will never understand our purpose as a human being until we know Him, “to whom to know a right is life eternal.”
To understand the meaning of this great name, turn to Exodus 3:6-11, where Moses is faced with a burring bush, out of which God speaks to him.
“Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. (7) And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; (8) And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. (9) Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. (10) Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. (11) And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
Notice in verse 11, Moses asked, “Who am I.” He asked such an irrelevant question because he suffered from a problem that affects many of us today. Until God approached Moses at the burning bush, He was only a God of History to Moses, not a God of the PRESENT.
Tragically, many of us are at the same point in our Christian lives. We have no problem affirming the historical accuracy of the Bible, nor do we question the God of history. But what if we were asked,
Do you believe God can work in your life today?
Do you believe God can work in our church today?
Do you believe God can restore broken relationships?
Do you believe God can work in your life to reach that unsaved friend that you’ve been thinking is beyond His reach?
Is God merely a God of history, or is He the God of the present?
Moses is about to face the Egyptian Pharaoh. But, before he does, he asks God a second, very sobering, question found in verses 12-15,
“And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain. (13) 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? (14) 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. (15) 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.”
God answered Moses’ question, “What shall I tell them your Name is? God said, “I am that I am. I AM hath sent me unto you.”." It is believed this is the origin of the TETRAGRAMMATON for the word YHWH. The correct translation is "He that shall be." Moses, you tell them "THE I AM has sent you."
Now, let us go a little farther back to a promise God made to the Devil in Genesis 3. Adam and Eve have yielded to the temptation of the Devil. God has spoken to them and now God is speaking to the Devil. In verses 14-15 we read,
“And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: (15) And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
Observe closely as I attempt to read verse 15 with interpretation: "And I will put enmity between thee (the Devil) and the woman (Eve) and between thy (the Devil) seed and the woman’s seed (or offspring) he (that is the woman's offspring) shall bruise (inflict a mortal wound) upon your head Satan, and thou shatl bruise the heel of the woman’s offspring."
This woman needed a redeemer to deal with the terrible sin that invaded their lives, and the whole human race. Sin had entered the human race. Eve needed a redeemer. From this verse she saw a ray of hope. Now in Genesis 4:1 we read, “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.” Let me tell you what Eve really said, "…I have gotten a man JEHOVAH." Eve thought this child was the redeemer. In the Hebrew it reads " I have gotten a man HE SHALL BE."
To Moses, Jehovah was a deliverer.
To Eve, Jehovah was a redeemer.
Now maybe you are saying, “What does this have to do with me?” Well, it has a lot to do with you. When you read the Gospel of John, you will discover numerous “I am” statements from the mouth of Jesus, such as, “I AM the bread of life,” “I am the light of the world,” “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Over in John chapter 8, Jesus was having one of His conflicts with the Pharisees in which they said Jesus was possessed by a Demon. In John 8:52-59 we read,
“Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. (53) Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? (54) Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: (55) Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. (56) Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. (57) Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? (58) Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. (59) Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.”
Now, why did they want to stone Jesus? Here Jesus was declaring to His audience that He was God in the flesh. It is no wonder that they accused Him of blasphemy. The Jews had heard that name, that sacred and holy name that was not pronounceable. To even pronounce it meant death. Jesus had said in verse 58 before Abraham was "I am." He is God the eternal "I AM." My friends,
Jesus Christ is God the Son in human flesh.
Jesus Christ is the very God of the very God.
Jesus Christ is the JEHOVAH of the Old Testament.
The book of Leviticus in the Old Testament is powerful and precious because it deals with a system of sacrifice by which man could be made clean before God. In Leviticus 16, which is about the great Day of Atonement, there are twelve references to the name of God, and each time it is Yahweh. In other words, it is in Yahweh that we will find our redemption and our atonement.
The Book of Hebrews in the New Testament tells us Jesus Himself became the fulfillment of the sacrificial system outlined in the Old Testament. In the wonderful account of God’s fulfilled promise of Hebrew 10:8-12 we read,
“Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; (9) Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. (10) By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (11) And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: (12) But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;”
My friends, Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself on the cross was the single sacrifice that accomplished what the daily sacrifice could only point to in the future.
God promised a Redeemer to Eve. Praise God, that Redeemer has come. His name is JESUS, the very God of the very God, the GREAT I AM, JEHOVAH. In Matthew 1:21 the Angel revealed to Joseph the name to be given to God the Son. And what was that name? We read, "Thou shalt call His name Jesus."
The Greek word for Jesus in the Hebrew language is JEHOSHUA, meaning "JEHOVAH IS SALVATION." Jesus is the God of the Old Testament, the promised redeemer. In Acts 4:12 we read, "Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." How are we to have this name in salvation? Simply "to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved."
When we have received Christ as our personal Saviour, we must come to understand the same lesson Moses had to learn, that God is “I AM” in the present tense of our lives. Let me ask again:
Do you know God as your redeemer?
Do you know God as active in your life to overcome doubt and discouragement?
Do you know Him as the present tense answer to the healing of broken relationship?
Do you know Him as the God who can change your life?
He is the “I AM” who is actively transforming and empowering daily living, whatever your present tense need is. AMEN!!
So, what does this name mean to you? It ought to mean an awful lot.
He who created you is ELOHIM.
He who redeemed you is JEHOVAH.
He who lives inside you, if you have by faith taken Christ as Saviour, is the great "I AM."
My friends, we ought to leave here today with the cry of the Psalmist, in 103:1 “Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me bless His Holy name." and in 83:18 where we read "That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth."
Has God spoken to your heart after reading the sermon on the name of God “YAHWEH, Jehovah”? Then right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as you personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be your personal Savior. “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, would you let me know? Please fill out the information below and e-mail me, firstname.lastname@example.org. I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
Date: _________________ Name: __________________, Address: _______________
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