What’s in a name? It’s a good question!
I am sure you will agree that a name is important, vital even. Some names are better known than others. Some are famous, some infamous!
If I mention Henry VIII for instance, what do you immediately think of? How about Hudson Taylor? Martin Luther? Jack the Ripper? Marilyn Munro? David Cameron? Winston Churchill? Gregory Peck? Judy Dench? Maggie Smith? Judas Iscariot?
Some names we know and others we don’t. Most people are remembered by name, only by their nearest and dearest, but we all need a name. I would hate to be known as ‘Hey you!’
My name Linda means ‘beautiful’ in Spanish! My married surname Bennett comes from the French for ‘blessing’ or ‘good’. When my husband and I went to California several years ago I discovered that many places had Linda as part of their name. It was merely attached to a place name to describe it. So I’m just an adjective! Seriously though, our names are how we are known . They are not simply appendages, they are expressions of who we are, our characters. There are lots of Lindas around, even Linda Bennetts, but each Linda Bennett is different from the others. Each one of us is known by the things we do and by the way we are, so our name is associated with the person people see, what they know of him, how he speaks, what kind of person he is.
As we know, in the Bible many of the names of characters very aptly describe the kind of people they were, some good, some bad. There is no doubt that God knows each one of us by name (Ex 33:12 / John 10:3), but do we know His?
Only by knowing His names (for He has many) can we come to that place of truly knowing who He is, for His names reveal His character. These studies which will take a few weeks are by no means exhaustive, God has more names than we can ever hope to cover in these teachings. Hopefully however, they will give you an appetite to discover for yourselves the myriad names of our amazing God.
Only once did God actually declare His name. That of course was to Moses at the place where God revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush, where he was told to take off his sandals because he was standing on holy ground.
“Then Moses said to God, ” Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me,’What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” And God said to Moses , “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:13-14)
I AM WHO I AM! An incredible name. The all becoming One! Eternal, past, present and future! The One who was, who is and who is to be! That name is totally amazing and yet mystifying. It is the ineffable name of God! Ineffable means unutterable, too great for words, and indeed even to this day the Jewish people do not write the whole name of God but leave out a letter. There is power in the name of God!
That one name covers all the characteristics of God which we will learning about over the coming weeks. YHWH, Yahweh or Jehovah, the Tetragrammaton , the sacred name written in four letters.
David Pawson wanted to get his head around the depth of meaning in this name of God and so he prayed that the Lord would give him an English word that would help his understanding. The answer that came to him was, ‘always’! Think about that! The God who is always here, always trustworthy, always true, etc. But if someone was to ask us who God is and what He is like, if all we could answer would be to say that God is the great ‘I AM’ who is ruler of Heaven and Earth, then that wouldn’t satisfy the questioner because it doesn’t speak of His relationship with us and indicates that we don’t really know Him with heart knowledge.
We can only intimately know someone if we live with them and learn all there is to know about them and understand their character. But if we, even within family relationships, choose not to reveal our true selves, then the relationship cannot flourish as it should.
So it is with our amazing God. Our relationship cannot be one-sided, it must be reciprocal. God has generously revealed His character to us in the most intimate way, through His word, through His Son, but if we try to hide our true selves from Him (which is impossible, by the way) then our relationship with Him can never be what it should be. And that’s our fault, not His!
So He has revealed Himself to us as the I AM, Yahweh, Jehovah, our great and wonderful God.