Thinking on God’s Name

God has a Name. His Name occurs about 7,000 times in the Holy Bible. Do you know it? Do you use it? You might ask, ‘Why is that important?’ Let Malachi 3:16 answer your question: “At that time those who revere Yehowah talked with each other, each with his friend, and Yehowah continued watching and listening. And a log of remembrance was written in His presence for all those in fear of Yehowah and for those who thought on His Name.” [21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures - NCMM] God has created a Book of Remembrance “for those who thought on His Name.” Have you ever thought about His Name?

What Is God’s Name?

Well, first, what is God’s Name? If you are using a modern translation of the Bible, where would you go to find the Name of God? Most Christians would not know. They might take a concordance and search for God’s Name and not find it. Why? Because by far the majority of Bible versions have removed God’s Name from His own book! It is as if Jeremiah’s prophecy has been fulfilled: “They are thinking of making my people forget my name by means of their dreams that they keep relating each one to the other, just as their fathers forgot my name by means of Ba'al.” [Jeremiah 23:27 NWT]

God’s Name is composed of four Hebrew letters called the Tetragrammaton - YHWH [Yod, He, Wod, He]. The Name is explained in Exodus 3:13-16 when Moses met God at the burning bush. Most understand this divine Name to be Jehovah, Yehowah, or Yahweh. In the King James Version this name occurs only four times [along with a few place names]. The first is at Exodus 6:3, and another is Psalm 83:18. Most versions have replaced this Name with the designation “Lord” which is not a name at all. In the King James Version and some others where ever YHWH occurs LORD is capitalized. [Compare Psalm 110:1]

A few versions have restored Jehovah [YHWH] to most of its original locations. Compare, for example, American Standard Version, New Jerusalem Bible, Rotherhams, New World Translation. Unhappily, and possibly with eternal ramifications, most modern versions replace YHWH with the generic title “Lord.” For example, even the Jewish Publication Society’s Tanakh virtually eliminates God’s Name altogether. Even when discussing Exodus 3:14, 15 this work chose to use LORD and not Yehowah. Their footnote admits YHWH did occur in the original.

Other modern and well known versions that omit God’s Name include The New English Bible, the New Revised Standard Version, the New American Standard, the New International Version, and many others.

It is interesting that Jeremiah’s prophecy suggests God’s Name would be forgotten in place of “Baal.” “Baal” means owner, master, or lord. Thus, as Jeremiah warned, certain false prophets would replace God’s Name Jehovah with just the designation “Lord.” Such an action is surely a violation of one of the Ten Commandments: "You must not take up the name of Jehovah your God in a worthless way, for Jehovah will not leave the one unpunished who takes up his name in a worthless way.” [Exodus 20:7 NWT] Surely one way to do this is remove the divine Name from His Word!

The New International Version illustrates the serious problem with this. When translating the Ten Commandments reads: “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” [Exodus 20:7] Even the Jewish version does the same. Is it fair to ask how a Bible translator can render this commandment where it is clear YHWH appeared twice - and omit it! Does any reader of that commandment come under divine guiltiness by removing YHWH and replacing it with LORD?

The result is that literally millions of Christians do not know what God’s Name is. They have, in affect, “forgotten His Name.” This becomes apparent when listening to some Christians talk. They will seldom, if ever, use the Divine Name Jehovah. They will most often speak of a “lord” but it is not always clear which “lord” is being mentioned.

To illustrate this note Psalm 110:1 where two “lords” are mention in the opening phrase, “The Lord said to my lord … “ Now the King James Version puts the first “lord” in caps - “LORD” - indicating that originally YHWH occurred here. Often some Christians may be speaking of a “lord” and though meaning Jesus, they actually use language borrowed from the Hebrew Bible where the context is speaking of Jehovah, and not Jesus.

The Importance of God’s Name in the Psalms

The importance of God’s name is readily seen by just examining a few verses on the subject. By reading these verses we can actually “think about His Name.”

Many scores of times the Psalms mention God’s name and its importance.

Psalm 5:11 - “And those loving your name will exult in you.”

Psalm 8:1 - “O Jehovah our Lord, how majestic your name is in all the earth.”

Psalm 20:7 - “But, as for us, concerning the name of Jehovah our God we shall make mention.”

It was foretold in the Psalms that Jesus would use God’s Name within his Church: “I will declare your name to my brothers; In the middle of the congregation I shall praise you.” [Psalm 22:22; compare Hebrews 2:10-12]

One of the most famous psalms of all, the Twenty-third Psalm, does not being, “The Lord is my shepherd.” Rather David was inspired to write: “Jehovah is my Shepherd. …He leads me in the tracks of righteousness for his name's sake.” [Psalm 23:1, 3]

God is paying attention to the use or disuse of His Name: “If we have forgotten the name of our God, or we spread out our palms to a strange god, will not God himself search this out? For he is aware of the secrets of the heart.” [Psalm 44:20, 21]

Psalm 69:30, 31 - “I will praise the name of God with song, and I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will also be more pleasing to Jehovah.”

Psalm 74:10 - “How long, O God, will the adversary keep reproaching? Will the enemy keep treating your name with disrespect forever?”

Psalm 83:18 - “That people may know that you, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.”

Psalm 91:14 - “That people may know that you, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.”

Psalm 96:8 - “Ascribe to Jehovah the glory belonging to his name.”

Psalm 113:2, 3 - “May Jehovah's name become blessed from now on and to time indefinite. From the rising of the sun until its setting Jehovah's name is to be praised.”

Psalm 118:26 - “Blessed be the One coming in the name of Jehovah; we have blessed YOU people out of the house of Jehovah.”

The Proverbs of Solomon also highlight the importance of God’s name: “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower.” [Proverbs 18:10]

Proverbs 30:4 asks all a challenging question. How would you answer it? “Who has ascended to heaven that he may descend? Who has gathered the wind in the hollow of both hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in a mantle? Who has made all the ends of the earth to rise? What is his name and what the name of his son, in case you know?” 

The Importance of God’s Name in the Prophets

The Prophets thought much about God’s Name and proclaimed its importance often.

Isaiah 12:4 - “And in that day YOU will certainly say: "Give thanks to Jehovah, YOU people! Call upon his name. Make known among the peoples his dealings. Make mention that his name is put on high.”

Isaiah 42:8 - "I am Jehovah. That is my name.”

Isaiah 56:6 - "And the foreigners that have joined themselves to Jehovah to minister to him and to love the name of Jehovah, in order to become servants to him.”

Sixty times the phrase “the nations will have to know that I am Jehovah. “And my holy name I shall make known in the midst of my people Israel, and I shall no more let my holy name be profaned; and the nations will have to know that I am Jehovah, the Holy One in Israel.” [Ezekiel 39:7]

Joel 2:32 - “Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will get away safe.”

Micah 4:5 - “For all the peoples, for their part, will walk each one in the name of its god; but we, for our part, shall walk in the name of Jehovah our God to time indefinite, even forever.”

Micah 5:4 - “And [Messiah] will certainly stand and do shepherding in the strength of Jehovah, in the superiority of the name of Jehovah his God. And they will certainly keep dwelling, for now he will be great as far as the ends of the earth.”

Zephaniah 3:9 - “For then I shall give to peoples the change to a pure language, in order for them all to call upon the name of Jehovah, in order to serve him shoulder to shoulder.”

Zephaniah 3:12 - “They will actually take refuge in the name of Jehovah.”

Zechariah 6:12 - “They will actually take refuge in the name of Jehovah.”

Zephaniah 14:9 - “In that day Jehovah will prove to be one, and his name one.”

Malachi 1:6 - “’Where is the fear of me?' Jehovah of armies has said to YOU, O priests who are despising my name.”

Malachi 1:11 - “’My name will be great among the nations,’ Jehovah of armies has said.”

Malachi 2:2 - “’If YOU will not listen, and if YOU will not lay [it] to heart to give glory to my name,’ Jehovah of armies has said, ‘I shall also certainly send upon YOU the curse, and I will curse YOUR blessings’.”

Malachi 4:2 - “And to YOU who are in fear of my name the sun of righteousness will certainly shine forth, with healing in its wings.” 

The Importance of God’s Name to Jesus

Was God’s Name important to Jesus the Nazarene? Did he “think upon His Name”?

Most are familiar with what is called the “Lord’s Prayer” which contains the phrase, “Hallowed by your Name.” [Matthew 6:9 KJV]

In one of the three times God’s voice was heard from heaven John 12:28 records: “’Father, ‘glorify Your Name’!’ [Psalm 86:12] Then, a voice came out of the Sky: ‘I have glorified [my Name], and shall glorify it again!’” [NCMM]

Four times in the Nazarene’s final prayer with his apostles Jesus mentioned God’s Name and its importance: “I manifested Your Name to the men whom You gave me from out of the world of humankind. … Holy Father, watch over them because of Your Name which You have given to me. As long as I was with them I watched over them because of Your Name which You have given me. … And I have made Your Name to them, and I shall make it known further, so the love which You loved me may be in them, and I in them.” [John 17:6, 11, 12, 26 NCMM]

In the Bible’s last book Revelation the Scriptures conclude with even more emphasis on the Divine Name.

Jesus promises that those Saints who come out victorious will have his Father’s Name inscribed on them. Revelation 3:12 declares: “The person who conquers I will make a pillar in the Divine Habitat of my God and he will never leave it to go outside. And I will write upon him the Name of my God.” [NCMM] Will such blessed persons be among those who refused to use God’s Name while alive on earth?

At the Return of Christ and during his parousia-judgment, those who are rewarded are those who “fear God’s name.” Revelation 11:18 foretells: “And the nations were wrathful, and Your wrath came. The appointed time to ‘judge the dead’. [2 Timothy 4:1] To give the reward to Your Slaves the Prophets, ‘to the Saints’, [Daniel 7:22] to those fearing your Name’, [Malachi 3:16] the small and the great.” [NCMM] Can we imagine any persons among these who did not know God’s name?

In the prophetic future a political power with global control will “blaspheme the Name of God.” Revelation 13:6 warns: “The Sea Beast opened its mouth in ‘blasphemies’ [Daniel 7:8] against The God, to blaspheme the Name of The God, and the Tent of The God, and those tenting in heaven.” [NCMM] How will end-time Saints feel about this abuse of the very Name to be written in their foreheads?

The end-time Saints are described as having two names written on their foreheads - that of the Lamb and His Father, Jehovah. Revelation 14:1 describes these: “And I saw and look! the ‘Lamb’ standing upon the ‘mountain of Zion’. And with him 144,000, having the name of the ‘Lamb’ and the name of his Father written upon their foreheads.” [NCMM] Could any of these end-time Saints be those who did not use God’s Name or were responsible for removing that Name from the Bible?

Even in heaven the Saints are identified with the Divine Name. Revelation 15:4 asks the question once the end-time Saints are in heaven: “Who will not fear you, [Jeremiah 10:7] and not glorify your Name, Jehovah.” [NCMM]

In the very last chapter of the Bible it is made clear that the heavenly Saints as citizens of the New Jerusalem are identified by God’s Name. Revelation 22:4 promises: “They will see His face and His Name will be on their foreheads.” [NCMM] How will all these Saints be identified? By the Divine Name on their foreheads! Could such persons be those who did not use God’s Name in their earthly preaching, teaching, and worship?

Think about God’s Name

Did Jesus and the Christian Bible originally use YHWH in places where it quotes from Hebrew Bible verses? There is good evidence it did, though others disagree. For details on the use of YHWH in the New Testament see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000. The 21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures and the 21st Century Paraphrase of the Hebrew Scriptures use YHWH in every case where it seems reasonable the Divine Name should appear.

This overview of God’s Name Jehovah [or, Yahweh] in the Bible surely causes us to “think upon His Name.” There are serious reasons for us to prayerfully consider whether the Divine Name ought to take a more important part in our speech and worship. Or will many Christians continue to just refer to both Jesus and his God in the generic designation “Lord”? Will they continue to use Bible’s that omit God’s Name as though it were a satanic plot to “make my people forget my name”? [Jeremiah 23:27] Will they continue to read from Bibles that are guilty of profaning God’s Name by removing it from its 7000 occurrences in the Scriptures? Surely this is something to think about.

“At that time those who revere Yehowah talked with each other, each with his friend, and Yehowah continued watching and listening. And a log of remembrance was written in His presence for all those in fear of Yehowah and for those who thought on His Name. … So all of you will return and see the difference between the law-abiding and the lawless - between a person who serves God and one that does not serve Him.” [Malachi 3:16, 18 NCMM]

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Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller

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