The Name of God
The Name of God
As churched as some of us are, and as keen as we may be to consider ourselves in relationship with God, many of us do not know his name. Unless you’re a serious biblical scholar, it’s no wonder: our English Bibles purposely obscure it. An explanation as to why is given in the front of many of them. For example, in the front of mine, a Thompson Chain Reference New American Standard Bible (NASB), the editors have written the following beneath the heading Principles of Translation:
“In the Scriptures, the name of God is most significant, and understandably so. It is inconceivable to think of spiritual matters without a proper designation for the Supreme Deity. Thus, the most common name for the Deity is God, a translation of the original Elohim [god, jdw]. One of the titles for God is Lord [master, jdw], a translation of Adonai. There is yet another name which is particularly assigned to God as His special or proper name, that is, the four letters YHWH. This name has not been pronounced by the Jews because of reverence for the great sacredness of the divine name. Therefore, it has been consistently translated LORD [note all caps, jdw]. The only exception to this translation of YHWH is when it occurs in immediate proximity with the word for Lord, that is, Adonai. In that case it is regularly translated GOD in order to avoid confusion. It is known that for many years YHWH has been transliterated as Yahweh, however no complete certainty attaches to this pronunciation.”
Based on the above, give this a try: whenever you’re reading your Bible and you see LORD (all caps), read it as YHWH (say Yahweh). Suddenly, a whole new perspective will come alive, and you will find yourself in much closer personal connection with the Supreme Diety. For example:
Genesis 20:2, 3
I am YHWH your God, who brought you our of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.
I love thee, O YHWH, my strength.
YHWH is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer.
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
My shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I will call upon YHWH, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.
And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is written, you shall worship YHWH your God and serve him only.”
Not knowing the name of God diminishes our relationship with him, while knowing it brings it roaring to life. We will discuss this in future posts. Stay tuned!