Creed: What is God's name...other than 'God?'
- Friday, August 13, 2004
We are commanded both in the Old Testament and the New to "seek God."
Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. (Isaiah 55:6)
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7)
What is God's name...other than "God?" He has one, you know, and I believe with all my heart that hearing it and comprehending it is the first step to intimacy with Him.
I have a friend whose name is Donald. When he introduces himself, he calls himself "Don." Once a relationship is established, however, he tells those who have come to know him best to call him "Donald." Why?
"Donald is personal," he said. "It has a level of intimacy because it's the name I was given at birth...a name by which I am known by family and dear friends. When someone calls me 'Don,' I know they are most likely a business associate or someone who knows me from afar. But when someone calls me 'Donald,' it goes down into my heart. It says, 'this person knows me...and knows me well.'"
How well do you know God? Intimately enough to call Him by name?
When I was in Israel on a press tour, we visited the ancient ruins of Bethsaida, the boyhood home of Peter, Andrew and Philip. As we were exiting the city's one-time entrance, I caught a glance of the Sea of Galilee as it sparkled in the nearby distance. The earth crunched beneath my feet and the seven others who were with me spoke in hushed tones to one another or walked silently before front me.
I heard the name being called from behind me. I turned, but no one was there. I took a quick glance around; it appeared I'd been the only one to hear the name being called out and, quite frankly, no one was behind me that could have shouted the name. I paused for a moment on the sandy slope, looked back over to the glimmering water, and then gasped.
Running up along side our tour guide I exclaimed, "Miriam! His name was not Jesus! His name was Yeshua!"
Miriam looked at me and smiled. "Of course His name was not Jesus. Jesus is the Greek translation of His name. He was born a Jew, into a Jewish home. He would have been called by a Hebrew name, not a Greek one."
It was a big moment for me, as if Israel's wind had literally carried His name to my ear by some divine command of God. I allowed my mind to run free as we continued in our trek down the hillside and toward the parked van where our driver waited.
Children, I thought. The boyhood friends of our Lord, calling out to Him. "Yeshua!" Children, those who adored Him as the traveling rabbi, shouting His name. "Yeshua!" The Disciples, coming to Him in quiet moments... "Yeshua..."
Those who spoke His name as commonly and frequently as I say the name of my family and friends, those who knew Him best...what a joy and a privilege to have known Him so intimately...to call Him by his given name. "Yeshua."
What Does It Mean?
For the early Hebrews, the naming of a child was important. Names meant something. In Genesis 17, God changed the name of Abram, whose name means "exalted father" or "high father," to Abraham, which means "father of many" in order that his name would correlate with his new covenant with the Lord.
"As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations."
When Bathsheba gave birth to her second son with David, David named him Solomon. But God had other ideas.
Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and lay with her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The LORD loved him; and because the LORD loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah. 2 Samuel 12:24, 25 (emphasis mine)
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