Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Calling God by Name

For a few days I have focused on this verse from Psalm 31: Be gracious to me, O Yahweh, for I am in distress…”[1]

I began the morning relating to Father about how strongly he tells us to use his divine name, “Yahweh”.[2] The replacement of this name with a title, “the LORD”, just doesn’t communicate the same thing.[3]

In something that felt like divine humor (and love), I noticed that the verse of the day was: 

“Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD who formed it to establish it – the LORD is his name: Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”[4]

When we replace the repetition of, “the LORD”, with the best English pronunciation of the divine name, “Yahweh”, it would read: 

“Thus says Yahweh who made the earth, Yahweh who formed it to establish it – Yahweh is his name: Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”

Israel and Judah kept falling into the deception that any god/idol was better than following their God. All the gods had names (Baal, Asherah, Chemosh, Dagon, etc). So did the only true God. The name he kept telling his people to use was, Yahweh (as it would have sounded in Hebrew, that is).  

When we read these words given through the prophets, and we use the divine name as it was expressed by God himself, what we then “hear” is the God named Yahweh calling to the people HE created, the people living on the planet HE made, the people HE told Abraham he was making for himself, the people HE delivered out of Egypt, the people HE led into the Promised Land, the people HE blessed as promised when they kept the covenant and HE cursed as promised when they turned away from it, and urging them to return to HIM from their ignorant idolatry and adultery with false gods with manmade names.

I was deeply touched when I read through Jeremiah 33 with this focus on God repeating his personal name to emphasize what HE was doing in contrast to the empty and meaningless relationship with the gods his people had turned to.

I do not believe the issue is whether we can pronounce the name of the one true God perfectly. When God dispersed people at Babel with many different languages that have morphed and mutated since then, he also made the way for his name to be pronounced in every language. He has never put the emphasis on whether we have the exactly right pronunciation in English of the name originally given to God’s people in Hebrew. His point has always been that he has a name, and that name is the name of the only true God who created the heavens and the earth.

This is only an illustration, but over the years of helping my wife with her daycare, it has been a delight to me when little toddlers first begin using my name. They never say it perfectly the first time they use it. In fact, often it includes letters that aren’t even in my name. However the say it, as soon as we recognize that they are attempting to say my name, it is a definite sense of attachment that they know who I am. 

I simply suggest that God giving us his name allows for the same delight on God’s part when people from every nation of the world use his personal name however it sounds in their language or dialect.

Which brings us to this wonderful gift of the New Testament: 

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.[5]

The HIM here is Jesus. God the Father, after Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, “highly exalted” his Son. And, at the same time, he gave his Son, Jesus, “the name that is above every name”.

What is that name that was given to Jesus? What is the name at which “every knee should bow”? What is the name people will hear in the coming of Christ that will cause every tongue that has ever worshipped any of the gods of Satan to now “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”?

John gives us the answer in Revelation: “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”[6] This is the name that is above every other name.

This is why Jesus alone, “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”[7]

This is why the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders sing a new song to Jesus, 

“Worthy are you to take the scroll

    and to open its seals,

for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God

    from every tribe and language and people and nation,

and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,

    and they shall reign on the earth.”[8]

This is why, “myriads and myriads and thousands of thousands” of angels join in with a loud voice, 

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,

to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might

and honor and glory and blessing!”[9]

And it is why, “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them,” testified, 

“’To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb

be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’ 

And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.” 

And, finally, it is at this great and glorious name that, 

Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”[10] 

The emphasis to Israel two-plus millennia ago is the same as to us today: Yahweh is calling to our hearts to call to HIM instead of to any other gods by any other names. 

Our God has the only name of the only true God who is the only one who created the heavens and the earth and the only one who gave us his only Son to save us from our sin so we would follow HIM, the only name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.[11] 

The only true God, Yahweh, wants us to know him by his NAME, in the NAME of his Son, and to KNOW him by his name! 

And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.[12]


© 2020 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)



[1] Psalm 31:9.

[2] The English transliteration, “Yahweh”, is an attempt to pronounce the divine name given in Hebrew as, “יהוה” (read right to left). This is parallel to the English consonants, YHWH (read left to right). Pronounced with vowels this gives us “Yahweh”. The English name, “Jehovah”, is another attempt to sound the four Hebrew consonants with suggested vowel sounds. The point is that this is the name God gave his people to use, and the habit of translating, “the LORD”, instead of, “Yahweh,” or even, “Jehovah”, waters down the intensity of God’s focus on his real name.

[3] Any time we see “the LORD” (all CAPS) in our English translations of the Old Testament, it is where God spoke his name, Yahweh, to his people.

[4] Jeremiah 33:2-3

[5] Philippians 2:9-11

[6] Revelation 19:16 (see also Revelation 17:14 and I Timothy 6:11-16 where vs 15 introduces this title).

[7] Revelation 5:5

[8] Revelation 5:6-10

[9] Revelation 5:11-12

[10] Revelation 6:15-17

[11] Acts 4:12

[12] John 17:3

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