For so long I have focused more on Jesus and the Holy Spirit in my faith than in the character and being of God the Father — neglecting the importance of our triune God. In my journey of realizing that the Gospel is not about me, but about Jesus and that God is not just a wish granting genie when I “live” the right way, I have come to terms with the fact that I do not really know who God is.
Thankfully, I have a great resource — the Bible. When you start to look at the original Hebrew in the Old Testament, you realize the ways that God identifies himself AND the ways that the people of Israel specifically honored God by name because of His character.
Over the next few weeks, I will be writing about the character and being of God and I invite you to join with me as I learn more about who He is and why He deserves our utmost praise and adoration.
God first gives himself a name of identification when he is speaking to Moses through a burning bush in Exodus 3.
Moses had fled Egypt after murdering an Egyptian land, met his future father-in-law, Jethro, married Jethro’s daughter Zipporah, and started looking after Jethro’s flock. One day, while Moses was tending to the sheep, he was on Mount Sinai and God appeared to him in a burning bush, told him to not come any closer, and to take off his shoes for he was standing on holy ground. The LORD God proceeded to tell him that he wanted Moses to go deliver the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Moses protested for a while, but once he agreed, he asked God what he should say if the Israelites asked who had sent him.
God answered, “I AM WHO I AM.” However, knowing that this would be hard to explain to the people of Israel, God told Moses to tell the people, “Yahweh, 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 (3:15).” And so, Moses, accompanied by his brother, traveled to Egypt to deliver God’s people.
Yahweh is the personal name of the God of Israel. The word “Yahweh” became so sacred among the Hebrew people that they never dared to speak it out loud. To emphasize this, the people removed or changed what we commonly know as vowels from the word, creating YHWH and added the first three vowels from the word Adonai, which also means God, to create the word YAHUWAH. Somewhere along the lines, scholars did not realize that you were never supposed to say YHWH or YAHUWAH out loud and began adopting it to their common spoken language. From there, we got the word Jehovah. If you’re a little confused or want to learn more, you can check out the Bible Project on youtube.
Along with being the personal name that God gave himself, it also means, “the One who is and will be.” God identified himself in such a way to be completely set apart from the rest of his creation. This name means that he is above all, before all, and constant. There is immense power in the word YHWH.
So why does all of this matter? What does YHWH have to do with you and me? What do we take away from an understanding of who YHWH is?
In my studies, I have determined four main truths about God that we can draw from his name:
(1) God was, is, and forever will be. He has no beginning or end. He is constant.
In a world of chaos and change, it is a beautiful thing to remember that there is no end to God. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
(2) We are completely dependent upon God.
God is completely independent of us. He created us for His good and His glory. Apart from Him, we cannot survive this life on our own.
(3) God is our standard and resource for absolute truth.
When God tells Moses, “I Am who I Am,” he is basically saying that he is the guide to which everything in life is measured against. He came first and he will always be and nothing happens outside of His will. If we want to know what is true, we have to turn to the one who sets the standard.
(4) God is the most important.
When God gives the Israelites a personal name for him, there is nothing nonchalant about it. It is not like someone saying “I can’t help it! I am who I am!” because there is no ownership there of personal sin. God is perfect and our measure of absolute truth, as mentioned above. Calling himself Yahweh, sets God apart as the most important.
Part of the motivation behind this series for me was wanting to have a more awe-inspired view of God. When we are in awe of something, we worship it. We devote our lives to it. It becomes a part of our daily life. At the end of each post, I am going to leave a prayer and worship song that I feel best correlate with the name of God that was focused on. A book that Ana and Molly love and that I just got my hands on (thanks Mol!) is “The Valley of Vision” which is a book of prayers written by a number of different Puritans and compiled into a book by Arthur Bennet. In just a few short readings, it has been overwhelmingly powerful to me and I want it to be a resource for all of you as well!
Prayer: The Personal Touch
Song: Great I AM
The Great I AM