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)
Jedidiah means, "loved by the Lord."
When Jesus was born, his parents were given specific instruction as to how to name Him. As Joseph was considering what to do about Mary's unexplainable (or, explanation unacceptable) pregnancy, an angel of the Lord came to him and said, "[Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1: 21)
As a footnote in the NIV translation it reads: Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means "the Lord saves."
Joshua, in Hebrew, is "Yeshua."
The Hebrew Names of God
There are countless numbers of the Hebrew names of God. Entire books have been written about them. Many are common, even to non-Jewish Christians. Most are not, at least not in their Hebrew forms.
Perhaps the most common, thanks in part to a song recorded by Amy Grant, is "El Shaddai," which means "God Almighty," or literally, "God, the all sufficient one." The world heard it (the name, not the song) for the first time as recorded in Genesis 17:1.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said,
"I am God Almighty."
I love that verse. "I AM..." (which we'll talk about shortly) and then "God Almighty." Why was it important that God inform Abram of the exactness of His name here? Because He was about to tell Abram that a true miracle would occur within his wife's barren womb; she would become pregnant by her husband and he would become the father of many nations.
Don't worry about how, Abram...I am God...and I am sufficient to make this happen.
Another common name of God for us is "Adoni," which means "Lord." It is also the pronunciation given by Jews when the name "Jehovah" is issued. "Jehovah," they believe, is too sacred to pronounce.
Let them know that you, whose name is the LORD - that you alone are the Most High over all the earth. Psalm 83:18
Within the context of this one verse we see two of the names of God. "Adoni" and "Elyon," which means "Most High."
And, of course, one of the most precious names of God to us all is simply, "Father."
He will call out to me, 'You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior.' Psalm 89:26
Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." Galatians 4:6
Next time: Who He Was to Moses, Who Jesus Said He Was, and A Call to Action
Award-winning national speaker, Eva Marie Everson's work includes Intimate Moments with God and Intimate Encounters with God (Cook). She is the author of Shadow of Dreams, Summon the Shadows and Shadow of Light. (Barbour Fiction) She can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings at www.EvaMarieEverson.com.
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