The significance of the names of G-D
Sharing the message of Yeshua as the promised Messiah and redeemer of mankind is not only extremely powerful, it is life changing. The enemy of the Kingdom knows that there is nothing that can defeat that message, so his only hope is to keep that message from being shared. One popular method of slowing down or even stopping people from sharing the Good News is to distract believers into arguing about issues that are presented as either new revelations or conspiracies. I am going to jump into one of these topics this week that I know has become a major controversy for some and has caused unnecessary division in the Body of Messiah. I hope that those reading will read this entire article before forming their own conclusions.
Here we go… The Bible is an amazing book written under the inspiration of the Sprit of G-D.
All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for restoration, and for training in righteousness, so that the person belonging to God may be capable, fully equipped for every good deed. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Above all understand this: no prophecy of Scripture comes about from a person’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever brought forth by human will; rather, people spoke from God as they were moved by the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit). – 2 Peter 1: 20-21
The Scriptures teach us many things and are, in fact, instructions given by G-D to man with a purpose of introducing mankind to their Creator, and ultimately leading us to our Messiah, Yeshua. It is the introduction to our Creator’s purpose that I would like to review and share about in this article. First, let’s establish that the brightest mind in the world is still incapable of understanding the fullness of G-D. Over the years, I have heard many debates about the nature of G-D. Each one begins with both sides admitting that G-D is beyond our human understanding. Then the debate continues with both sides expressing that the other side’s inability to understand doesn’t agree with their inability to understand, and because they both don’t agree in their lack of understanding, they reject the other’s theology.
While it is absolutely true that we as humans cannot fully comprehend the nature of G-D, the Scripture does provide ways for us to get glimpses of His nature and expand our understanding of who and what He is. So, while we will never fully understand all of G-D, that is no excuse for our not seeking to know as much as we possibly can.
One way the Bible open the doors for us to comprehend our G-D is through the various names provided in Scriptures. Each name given to us in our sacred texts is included to introduce the readers to an aspect of the character of G-D. It is not my intention to include every name included in the Bible in this article, but rather to provide clarity in the midst of controversy, distraction, and confusion.
Just a few of the names of G-D found in the Bible are: El Shaddai (The Almighty or All Sufficient), El Elyon (The Most High), Tzidekenu (Our Righteousness), Shalom (Peace), Nissi (My Banner), Elohim (G-D), Rapha (Healer), Goel (Redeemer), and Yireh (Provider). One can see that each of these names provides insight into the nature, character, and being of who our G-D is. The list would be incomplete without including the names Yeshua (Salvation) and YHVH (Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey), the four-letter name of G-D (provided and used many times in the Tanakh, or Old Testament, sometimes used alone or in conjunction with other names; an example: YHVH Nissi).
It is this four-letter name that has become a focus and a distraction for some. Let me say that I am not saying that the name YHVH is not important and that the name itself is a distraction. It isn’t the name that distracts. It is the conspiracy theories that those searching for the proper, right, and only pronunciation of this name have birthed that are the distraction.
As we read our Bibles from Genesis to Revelation, page by page we are exposed to more and more about G-D. With each interaction between G-D and His people, we are introduced to the different names. With each name, we expand our understanding of the nature and character of G-D. It has never been and should never become a matter of knowing how to say a certain name. The names of G-D were never intended to be used as if they were magical words, proclaimed in our prayers, as if they were simply pagan incantations. The name of G-D is not to be used like a magician saying “abracadabra” or “presto-chango.”
Not at all. In fact, when we pray in His name, it isn’t about pronunciation of letters and sounds. It is entirely about our knowing His attributes and character. We pray in His name for healing because we know he is our healer. We pray in his name for peace in the midst of our storms because we have been introduced to His name as our peace. And when we call upon His name for salvation, it is because we know He is our salvation. Each name is vital and important for us to know, not because of the letters and sounds that make up the words and syllables, but because with each name, we learn more about our G-D. With each name, the unknowable becomes a little more knowable.
One last passage of Scripture to consider in our quest to understand G-D, His names, and how we are to interact and understand them is found in Exodus 3:13-15:
But Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to Bnei-Yisrael and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His Name?’ What should I say to them?” God answered Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. ” Then He said, “You are to say to Bnei-Yisrael, ‘I AM’ has sent me to you.” God also said to Moses: “You are to say to Bnei-Yisrael, Adonai, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My Name forever, and the Name by which I should be remembered from generation to generation.
Notice that when G-D gives his forever-name to Moses it isn’t YHVH, but rather “I AM.” This name ‘I AM’ was His forever-name, which was given to Israel to be remembered throughout all generations as a memorial. In other words, this name “I AM” or “I AM WHO I AM” expresses fully all of the other names or attributes that encompass who and what G-D is.
So, when people ask us who G-D is, we can answer, “He Is who He is.” He is greater than our understanding is capable of knowing. But, what we do know is that He provided in His Word insight into His nature and character. He is the totality of all of the names He gave us in His Word and so much more. So, knowing His name isn’t about pronunciation of syllables in original languages or conspiracies or mysteries hidden by ancient religious orders. Knowing His name is about knowing who He said He is. After all, He told us that forever “HE IS WHO HE IS” and the assurance that He will always be who He is provides a way for us to have absolute faith in His promises.