From Praying the Names of God Week Six, Day Two
The name Yahweh (yah-WEH) occurs more than 6,800 times in the Old Testament. It appears in every book but Esther, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. As the sacred, personal name of Israel's God, it was eventually spoken aloud only by priests worshiping in the Jerusalem temple. After the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70, the name was not pronounced. Adonay was substituted for Yahweh whenever it appeared in the biblical text. Because of this, the correct pronunciation of this name was eventually lost. English editions of the Bible usually translate Adonay as "Lord" and Yahweh as "LORD." Yahweh is the name that is most closely linked to God's redeeming acts in the history of his chosen people. We know God because of what he has done. When you pray to Yahweh, remember that he is the same God who draws near to save you from the tyranny of sin just as he saved his people from tyrannical slavery in Egypt.
God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'"
God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD [Yahweh], the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation." (Exodus 3:14-15)
PRAYING THE NAME
And God said,"I will be with you.And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain."
God said to Moses,"I AM WHO I AM.This is what you are to say to the Israelites:‘I AM has sent me to you.'" God also said to Moses,"Say to the Israelites,‘The LORD [Yahweh], the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation." (Exodus 3:12-15)
I am the LORD [Yahweh] your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:2-3)
Reflect On: Exodus 3:12-15; 20:2
Praise God: For revealing himself through powerful acts of deliverance.
Offer Thanks: That God has freed you from every form of bondage.
Confess: Any tendency to forget what God has done for you.
Ask God: To help you remember his saving acts in your life.
I AM WHO I AM
What do these mysterious words mean? Was Moses as bewildered as we are by God's self-disclosure? Or did he realize that God was assuring him he would always be present to his people—listening for their cries, answering their prayers, showing his power on their behalf, responding faithfully even when they acted faithlessly?
Yahweh. The name couldn't have clarified things. It may have sounded odd at first, like a name you warm to over time, much as an infant warms to the word Mama, gradually equating her with safety, food, and help. To the Egyptians the name Yahweh would have been a terror—a name to forget because it conjured plagues, darkness, defeat, and death. But to Moses and the Israelites Yahweh would forever mean deliverance, freedom, promise, and power. God's people could not invoke his name without remembering what it was like to walk through the parted waters of the Red Sea, to gather manna in the wilderness, to receive the commandments on Sinai. The amazing events of Exodus defined who Yahweh was in extraordinary detail. Yahweh—Israel's faithful, wonder-working God, the One who out of pity and love reached into human history to untie the bonds of an enslaved people—that was the name by which this God wanted to be forever known. Today, when you bow before Yahweh, thank him for the deliverance he has wrought in your own life. Acknowledge your need for him. Recommit yourself to living by the ten commandments he gave, the law that enabled his people to live in his presence, confident of his care.
Two of Ann Spangler's most-loved books have been released in paperback: Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus.
These books help us understand the biblical context in which these names and titles were revealed, and help us gain a more intimate knowledge of the Father and of the Son.