Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hello, My Name Is...

It has been very interesting naming all of our children.

And we've actually had all sorts of approaches to the process.

With Ethan we read all the baby name books and consulted our family and took a vote and wrestled with which name was right.

With Shiloh we felt long before we had her that God suggested her name.

Hannah was easy to choose and I can't tell you why (especially since we had a different name in mind for a girl's name until we got pregnant with her).

Isaac was another one that just seemed like God let us know that was who he was supposed to be.

And Ruth...well, we let the kids be a large deciding factor for her (as well as some prayer).

But the amazing thing is that all of them seem to fit their names.

Or their names fit them.

Or something.

Ethan is intense and singular focused. His name means "strong, firm, impetuous".
Shiloh is such a blessing and very laid back. Her name means both "God's gift" and "Peaceful".
Just this week several people noted that Hannah is graceful, which her name means "grace".
Isaac laughed at everything from the time he was a small infant. His name means "laughter".
And Ruth, we'll have to see if she fulfills her role as "companion".

It is very obvious to me that names mean something. They are important.

So, as I've been doing my comparison study, this truth came very much to the forefront in Exodus 3.

I did my first read through of the chapter in the New Living Translation (NLT). And as I read the account of Moses' burning bush experience, something very interesting jumped out at me.

In verse 13, Moses asks God what His Name is so he can tell the Israelites who sent him. God answers in verse 14:

God replied to Moses, “I Am Who I Am. Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you.”

What a cool name! I AM! The footnote on that phrase says "I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE". It's this holy word or phrase that indicates the essence of life.

And then in the next couple verses I really got intrigued.

God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh,t the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.This is my eternal name,my name to remember for all generations.Now go and call together all the elders of Israel. Tell them, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—has appeared to me." (Ex 3:15-16a NLT)

Here's what's so interesting. In verse 15 it uses the word "Yahweh" as God's name and in verse 16 it uses "LORD". But it's the same Hebrew word.

In Hebrew whenever God is being referenced as His personal Name it is YHWH, also known as the tetragrammaton. It is this wonderful and mysterious term that is closely related to the Hebrew term for "I AM" found in verse 14. There is lots of discussion about how it should be pronounced, what exactly it means, and how it should be translated.

Yahweh. Jehovah. LORD. Adonai
. These are all different translations of this word for different reasons. (See this article for some more clarifications on these different options.)

For lots of years, English Bible translators chose to use "LORD", but recently some translators have chosen to start reintroducing the transliteration of the Hebrew, "Yahweh".

Some of the translations doing this are The New Jerusalem Bible, New Living Translation and The Holman Christian Standard Bible. (See this article for some more info on the Holman Christian Standard Bible).

As I've read some passages from these versions, it has really struck me what a different feel it is to have an actual name there to identify with God. It somehow makes some of the statements feel more personal.

While I don't quite know why the NLT chose to use "Yahweh" in one verse and "LORD" in the next, it definitely furthered my attention to this all important name - the name of our God!

So tell me your thoughts. Does the use of "Yahweh" help, hinder or confuse you?


Anonymous said...

I believe that many people have lost the feel of authority that used to come with the title "Lord". But the name Yahweh, I AM, still seems, to me, to hold great commanding power and authority. So for me, yes it helps.

I was recently enlightened to the significance of the name of Jesus. I'm sure many already know this, but it struck me greatly.

Yahweh, Jehovah = I AM
Shua(sp?)SHewuh = salvation
Jesus (Greek)= Jeshua (Hebrew)= Jehovah-shua =

Nobody said...

I had a conversation with someone recently about how (or whether) God transcends time. I think the name "I AM" reflects this. He was, and is, and is to come. He never changes. We may choose to focus on one facet of His character (provision, faithfulness, healing power, etc.), but His fullness still evades us. We will ALWAYS be learning more about Him. Throughout eternity, none will be able to say they've reached the end of Him.

Whatever changes in our lives, it is nice to know that I AM still is.