From Praying the Names of God Week Six, Day Four
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
An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,"Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She 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 1:20-21)
Jesus replied [to Jews who accused him of being demon-possessed],"If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing.My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word.Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad."
"You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him,"and you have seen Abraham!"
"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. ( John 8:54-59)
Praise God: For foreseeing your need for a Savior.
Offer Thanks: For his delivering power.
Confess: Your continuing need for God's forgiveness.
Ask God: For a living understanding of what Jesus has done for you.
Christmas means lighted trees, presents, parties, and pageants full of pint-size shepherds and pudgy-faced angels proclaiming the birth of the Lord. We crane our necks, hoping our children won't botch their lines, smiling as they charmingly reenact the old story. We're full of Christmas cheer, happy to celebrate again with friends and family. It's a wonderful season. But in all our Christmas frenzy, we often forget to wonder—
- about what it was like for a poor man to find shelter for his pregnant wife
- about the sound of the woman's cries as she gave birth in a dirty stable
- about the audacity of God entrusting his own Son to two people who seemed hardly able to care for themselves
Most of us also fail to wonder about the infant's name, given by an angel, a name linked to the holiest name in all of Scripture. For "Jesus," a form of "Joshua," means only this: Yahweh Saves. This time Yahweh would be present with his people not in the form of a burning bush but in the shape of a small child who later would provoke people to violence precisely because he echoed God's self revelation to Moses in the wilderness: "I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!"
Though today may not be Christmas Day, it's a perfect day to bow down before our faithful, covenant-keeping God, praising him for the gift of his only Son, Jesus, the One who reminds us still that Yahweh Saves.
Meet your spiritual ancestors as they really were: Less Than Perfect: Broken Men and Women of the Bible and What We Can Learn from Them.