El Shaddai. YHWH. Jehovah. YHWH Shalom. YHWH Tzidkenu. Jehovah Nissi. GOD. YHWH Rapha. Wow! So many names. So many titles. What does it all mean? The purpose of this article is to explore the Names, and Nature those names represent, of Our Father, which art in Heaven.
El Shaddai, YHWH, Jehovah
What's In A Name?
What is in a name? Indeed, maybe the question ought to be asked, "What is not in a name"?
We have come to an opportunity in our expression of Christianity that many refer to as Sonship,or Kingdom Living. I also embrace many of these ideas and thoughts that are said to be expressions of Holy Spirit living. There are many thoughts and insights and concepts that are being shared among the Body of CHRIST as intelligent and rational expressions of Truth. And as more of HIS TRUTH is unveiled in HIS Word and in HIS Body, we say Hallelujah!
One facet of these unveilings that is poorly communicated, and even more poorly understood,is the "name"(s) of GOD, Our FATHER. The name(s) of GOD, and the face(s) of GOD, is still very much cloaked in religious mysticism, in my humble opinion, and I have being trying for some time to find the words and the courage to address this subject; here goes....
I have two sons. The elder is 28 years of age, the younger is 26 years of age. The elder has not yet married. The younger has recently entered into the covenant relationship we refer to as 'marriage'. I tell this only to illustrate an analogy. My sons love me very much, and refer to me as 'Dad', 'Pops', 'Old Dude' and 'Cave Man'; affectionately, I might add. With no irreverence do my sons address me by any of these 'names'. And yet they do, at different times and circumstances, see me differently. When my sons were 5 and 3 years respectively, they knew me only as 'Daddy'. I was their hero, their provider, their protector, their mother's lover and friend, their teacher and their disciplinarian. I was a man of many responsibilities when my sons were very small, and yet they knew me only as 'Daddy'. When my sons were very small, I was not only a dad, but I was also a husband, an employee, a son to my parents, and on and on and on. You get the picture. And yet while I was, at any given time, wearing a number of different hats, indicating a number of differing roles, my own two sons knew me only as 'Daddy'.
My sons have now grown, and gone through many character building experiences that have been instrumental in making of them the men they are today. And as their understanding of the world around them has expanded, the intimate relationship they experience with their 'Dad' has also grown and expanded. They are now men who are having some of the same experiences that I had when I was in my twenties. And they can now 'see' me differently; when they endure an unpleasant experience, or 'teacher' as I refer to them, I can say to them "...been there, done that", and it matters to them. Their vision of me, as their 'Dad', has expanded. They realize that they have more in common with me now than when they were 5 and 3. And yet for all of these differing perspectives, I am still their 'Dad'.
Let me now try to apply some of this concept to the relationship we have with “Our FATHER, which art in heaven…”.
Twenty-some odd years ago, I got 'saved'. I was a new-born to religion, and knew nothing about my Spiritual parentage. I was now of interest to a certain group of people at 'my church'. I began to be of interest to certain ones that wanted to get involved in my 'training', and also to enlist me into their religious regimen. They were interested in me as a source of supply to whatever they perceived their need to be. I don't say this with any malice, or hurt, or unpleasantness. That is just the way it was. And I am sure your own experience was not much different. Before long, I began to see that I wasn’t attending that fellowship for the same reasons that many of them were attending. I had been called by a voice, a LIFE, that I have since come to know as My Heavenly Father. And my need to fill a void in someone else's religious inadequacy was no longer strong enough to continue the trek to the 'church' whenever the doors would be opened. I expect you have a similar story. We knew then, and hopefully we know even more securely today, that we had been called to be Sons of GOD, and religion could not answer that calling in us. But for all of that, and for all the growing experiences we have been exposed to, most of us who call ourselves 'Son of GOD' seem to still have a limited vision and understanding of this "ONE" that has birthed us. Our Spiritual Parentage is still a great mystery to many of us, and we seem to willingly accept the 'religious taboos' that have been associated with OUR FATHER, and HIS many 'names'. I timidly continue...
In Exodus, 6:3, we read the following: "I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but My name LORD(HWHY) was not known to them." In this passage Moses has just had the blessed experience of telling the Israelites that "HAYAH"(I AM) has revealed Himself. Moses was then sent to tell Pharaoh to release God's people. Pharaoh, however, responded by tightening the noose around his slaves, and made their lives even more difficult. And now Moses is not real popular with the Israelites, and he is the laughing stock of the Egyptians. And when Moses complains to God that 'the trick' didn't work, God explains to Moses that "...My Name "YHWH" is not known to them." Wait a minute, God. Are you trying to tell me that if I don't know your currently popular name, that I won't have any success invoking Your Name? Hmmmm! Remember the seven sons of Sceva? [Acts 19]
And so, what is in a name? The word that we have translated into English as 'name' is the Hebrew word 'shem'. And the word 'shem', or 'name', also indicates or ascribes 'nature, or character'. And I wish that taking the Hebrew 'shem', and simply translating it as 'name' was that simple. But as with all words that FATHER sheds HIS Light on, when you begin to see the impact and importance of a new word or thought or concept in Holy Spirit Light and Understanding, the revealed truth that you can now benefit from also impacts the understanding you had, or thought you had, on every other word or concept. And so, your Spiritual Growth is not just a lineal Growth; it now becomes an exponential Growth: whatever that means! I don't want to expend much time on my own personal interpretation and understanding of the word 'shem' other than to say that the word is used in many ways that must be discerned to grasp the impact it has when translated 'name'. In Strong's Concordance, the word is given as #8034, and has required, at least for me, more hours of study and seeking than I care to count.
Let us now refer back to Ex. 6:3. Our English translations read as follows: "And I appeared to Abraham and to Isaac and to Jacob by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them". I believe FATHER was allowing Moses to see that the Patriarchs, or ancestors, of Moses and the Israelites only saw GOD, or understood GOD in a limited capacity. Abram, as I have pointed out in other articles, was told to "...walk before ME and be perfect.” [Gen.17:1] Hmmmph! Now that doesn’t sound too difficult a task. Just be perfect. And the Hebrew word here translated as ‘perfect’ means to “…be empty.”
Now from this side of the Cross, we have come to understand that there is "...none righteous, no not one". So we should be able to discern that the Covenant, as it was unveiled in Abram, was a Covenant established on a particular understanding, or level of understanding, that was built upon how GOD had unveiled HIMSELF in and to Abram. Can I say the same thing this way? Abram's relationship to GOD, in Covenant, was based on Abram's understanding of GOD, and his understanding of GOD in 'name'. In Gen. 12:1: "Now the LORD (YHWH) had said to Abram: 'Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you'. And in verse 4, "So Abram departed as the LORD (YHWH) had spoken to him,...". In both of these sentences, we are told "the LORD" had spoken to Abram, and Abram had heeded the conversation with "the LORD". And yet in Ex. 6:3, YHWH tells Moses that "... My Name Jehovah (YHWH) was not known to them". What is going on here? Let me remind us that Abram had spent many years living in the presence of Shem, the son of Noah, and had received considerable influence and instruction from Shem. And for all that, GOD tells Moses that previously GOD has not been known in name as YHWH.
Whenever you see in scripture LORD, and in all capital letters, it is to remind us that the word being translated is the Hebrew YHWH, or as we have become accustomed to saying, JEHOVAH.
I am convinced the Name, YHWH, can only be discerned by Holy Spirit, and if you think you can pronounce the name, you probably don't understand what the word YHWH represents. If the religion known as 'Jehovah's Witnesses' had a proper understanding of YHWH, they would change the name of their denomination; and their conduct. But enough of that.
Back to Ex. 6:3. "I appeared to Abraham, ..., as GOD ALMIGHTY,...". If you notice that I italicized 'as' in the above, it is because 'as' is not included in the Hebrew text. However, a more accurate translation of Ex. 6:3 would be: "And being seen to Abraham and to Isaac and to Jacob in GOD ALMIGHTY (El Shaddai), and My Name YHWH being not known to them...” Think I'm splitting hairs? EL SHADDAI is the name or nature or character of the God that had revealed HIMSELF in Abram. Abraham and Isaac and Jacob had a Covenant relationship with a God that revealed HIS character and nature, to them and in them, as EL SHADDAI, or God Almighty. But by HIS Name or Nature or Character of YHWH HE had not yet made HIMSELF known in man. Does that mean that the Name or Nature or Character YHWH did not exist until Moses? Not at all. When my young sons knew me only as their Daddy, does that mean that I was not yet their mother's husband? Or their grandfather's son? Or my employer's employee? I had many roles to play long before my young sons were aware of those roles. My sons only knew me in my role as 'Daddy'. Abraham knew GOD in HIS role as 'EL SHADDAI'. OUR FATHER has many 'roles', or 'names' that HE may choose to reveal HIMSELF; not only to us, but also in us. And yet we are only able to relate to HIM as God in the Names(s) HE chooses to reveal HIS Character in us. In Hebrew, the word we translate 'know' or 'known' indictates that we have had experience in handling or using the particular subject that is 'known' to us. Adam knew his wife, Eve, and she conceived. Everyone, even folk that have never opened a Bible, see that in this 'natural' example, Adam had sexual intercourse with his wife. But very few consider that this Hebrew word, translated 'to know', actually means very, very much more. To 'know' the Name of GOD indicates that I have experienced the use of the Name, experienced the results of using or invoking the Name, and had my understanding and vision of GOD changed by way of using, or 'knowing', the particular Name involved. Abram 'knew' GOD as El Shaddai, or God Almighty.
I have come to believe that El Shaddai was the only 'name' Abram needed to 'know'. I believe that Abram had such a trust and confidence in the GOD that blessed him, that Abram obeyed the Voice of God within himself. Why else would he be called "The Father of Our Faith"? He believed GOD in ways that cause most of us to tremble. I believe that Abram's trust and confidence in GOD insured an uncomplicated covenant relationship with OUR FATHER. And the relationship Isaac experienced was almost parallel to Abaham's relationship with GOD. Jacob/Israel required more understanding of who this GOD is. And I believe Joseph had to 'see' GOD in ways that his father Jacob/Israel could not or did not need to see. And if I can follow that line of thinking for a few more generations, on into Egypt, the Israelites, and their deliverer Moses, were going to need to see GOD in ways that previous generations had not needed. I am persuaded at this point that Moses was going to have to reveal the 'name/nature/character' of YHWH to bring about GOD's purposes in delivering these Egyptianized Israelites from their 'comfort zone' of being slaves and pack mules. If you consider the ancestry of these Israelites, that had forgotten what if felt like to be Israelites, they should only need to remember the Covenant GOD of their Father Abraham and they would call on their covenant and walk out of bondage. And yet we must remember that this is GOD's pageant we are watching unfold. It was YHWH who said that Abraham's seed would go down (descend) to Egypt for a time.[Gen. 15:13-16]
I hope you are beginning to see that we must be able to Spiritually and maturely manifest the quality of Life Our FATHER is unveiling ‘in us’! GOD is an inside job. HE has declared to us that HE would “…cause to arise My Covenant in you.” We translated this way: “I will establish My Covenant; or, “I will make My Covenant”. But a more accurate translation is “I will cause My Covenant to arise in you!” Our FATHER is elevating HIS Covenant “in” us. If HE is only made known “to us”, then our relationaship to HIM is relegated to a God who is somewhere outside of us. And then we will be continuously awaiting a time when HE will return, and then do whatever our theology has restricted HIM to. Our FATHER unveils HIS Name in us. And HIS Name, unveiled in you, equips you to act out, as His representation, the role that HIS Name calls for. When HE unveils HIS Name in you, HE is declaring that you are the place HE has decided for HIS Name to dwell. HIS Name, in you, enables you to manifest that quality of HIS Life that special Name declares. “And YHWH said to Moses: “See, I have made you God to Pharaoh…” [Ex. 7:1]
And so I say again, “What is in a name?” Does a name not reveal all of the hopes and desires and vision and potential and possibility and opportunities and response abilities that equip us for the work of ministry? If Our FATHER, GOD, has chosen the Body of Christ as the place for HIS Name to dwell, is HE not declaring us, HIS Christed Body, as the manifestation of HIS Name? I think so. Why else would HE tell us to “…go in My Name”? In Exodus, chapters 33 and 34, we have the unveiling in Moses a glimpse of what YHWH includes. This is still to me a favorite passage of scripture. The more I read it, the more FATHER reveals to me of HIS Nature. In chapter 32 we have recorded for us the ‘golden calf’ incident. Moses breaks the covenant engraved in stone, and now pleads for GOD to forgive the people. In Ex.33:1 we read: And YHWH said to Moses, “Depart, go up (ascend?) from this place, you and the people you have brought out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying ‘To your seed I will give it’” Verse 3 continues, “…to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not ascend in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people”. I believe GOD was allowing the people to see their true condition, and that HIS Name could not be elevated in a people with this distorted vision of themselves. How they envisioned themselves is how they displayed themselves. Ever wonder why a certain individual does not just ‘do better’? You have to help them change their vision of themselves. And before you can help them have a better vision of themselves, you must have your own vision of yourself changed and enlightened and elevated. Remember what Yashua said about removing the timber from your own eye before you can assist another with the speck in his eye! Wow! Moses was having his vision of himself changed. His name Moses, or ‘Mo-Shay’ in Hebrew, means, “…to be drawn out.” Moses was being ‘drawn out’ through this intercourse with GOD. And now to verse 17: So YHWH said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.” And he (Moses) said, “Please show me Your Glory.”
I hope you can see GOD ‘drawing’ Moses out of the limited thinking and vision he has; not only of himself, but also of the people that he is instructed to lead to a higher land and a higher understanding of who they are. When Moses blurts out “…show me Your Glory”, I see it almost as something that he spouted, without having thought first. Have you ever made a bold or stupid statement, and immediately thought to yourself, “Oh expletive, what did I say that for”? I sometimes view this verse in the same way. I can almost hear Moses saying to himself, “shouldn’t have said that. You don’t know what you are asking for”. And then I think I can hear GOD chuckling, and saying “That’s My boy. That is just what I wanted to hear from you”. In chapter 34 GOD gives Moses some instructions on preparing himself to receive what he has asked for. Before this time, I envision Moses as being a little arrogant and cocky, and feeling a little superior to this rabble that he is leading about in the desert. Sometimes his communication with GOD seems a little self assured, and almost presumtuous with how he tells GOD to do this; and go here; and, don’t do this or that; and reminding GOD that these people are GOD’s project. And besides, Moses says, "I didn’t ask for this job in the first place". And now, let me try to tell you why this passage is so important to me. Remember, Moses is being ‘drawn out’. Let’s start at Ex. 34:5; “Now YHWH descended in the cloud and stood with him (Moses) there, and proclaimed the name YHWH. And YHWH passed before him and proclaimed “YHWH… YHWH… GOD….! Merciful…Gracious…Longsuffering…Abounding in Good and Truth”. Moses is having his vision changed. He is being allowed to ‘see’ GOD in ways no other man has seen. And his heart is changing into GOD’s heart. Look now in verse 8. “So Moses made haste, and fell on his face, and worshipped”! There is no arrogance or presumtion here. Moses is now a changed man. Talk about a Damascus Road experience! And now even his speach shows a change of vision.
When we start to see the true Character and Nature of Our FATHER, we change also. Our FATHER has chosen His Christed (anointed) Body, you and I and countless others of this corporate Body of Christed Ones, as the ‘place’ HE will make HIS Name known. You and I are of an age and timing that is being allowed to see ourselves, In HIM, in ways I don’t believe any other generation has ever been privileged to. And, this is HIS doing. We didn't choose HIM. HE chose us, and is doing with us, HIS Corporate Body of Christed Ones, as is HIS Good Pleasure. No arrogance. No cocky self assuredness. No presumption. Just the Pure and Holy flow of HIS Spirit, in us and through us, reconciling all of creation to a FATHER creation has never known before. HE is elevating HIS Covenant, in us, to levels we have not known before, or could know before. Hallelujah!!! I believe FATHER is quickening HIS Name in HIS Body in ways not previously possible. Remember, HE had to change the people’s vision of themselves. HE could not ascend in them, to where HE desired to ascend in them, until they were properly prepared. And you and I are being prepared to hear HIS Voice, in our hearts, in ways not allowed in ages before us. You may be hearing Holy Spirit thoughts in you that you feel are almost blasphemous to think; much less to utter. Fear not!
I wish to propose to you at this point that YHWH, that which we call ‘the Name of GOD’, is a many faceted and many functional quality of HIS LIFE that HE reveals, or unveils, in HIS Body,in HIS Own Time. We have numerous references in scripture where YHWH is linked to a quality of understanding to reveal to us, and in us, that YHWH will be the supplier to us, and in us, to fulfill whatever we have need of. In Gen. 22:14, Abraham has the impossible assignment of offering his “…only son Isaac”. And when YHWH God intervenes to provide the acceptable sacrifice, rather than accepting Isaac, Abraham’s response is to declare that place (and he is not talking about geography) where GOD meets your need as YHWH YIREH, or Jehovah Jireh. And YHWH YIREH means, literally, “YHWH ‘sees’ and provides”. May I say it this way: YHWH is your provision!? Is HIS Presence in you not HIS Word in you? Is HIS Word in you not HIS anointing in you? Is “…Christ in you, the hope of Glory” not HIS Provision that HE has placed in HIS Body? Is that not the ‘place’ HE has declared to make HIS Name known? I believe this to be Truth.
In Ex. 15:22-26, Moses responds to a divine Word from YHWH that allows him to ‘heal’ the bitter waters of Marah. And YHWH said, “Be obedient to MY Word in you, and I will be YHWH RAPHAH, OR YHWH your Healer. YHWH in us is our healer. Is it not Our FATHER’s Word in us that heals us, and makes us whole? I believe this to be Truth.
In Ex. 17:15, after a victory over Amalek, Moses “…built an altar and called HIS Name YHWH NISSI, or YHWH my Banner. Moses was declaring that when YHWH in you is exalted, or lifted up as a banner, the enemies of YHWH are defeated. When HIS Name, in you, is all that can be seen, the enemies of HIS Name are scattered, and defeated. I believe this to be Truth.
In Judges 6:11-24, is recorded the interaction of YHWH with Gideon. After several ‘fleece’ requests from Gideon are answered, Gideon finally realizes he has been challenging YHWH,and he was not ‘cut off’, or hewn down as he would have expected. ‘Gideon’ means to ‘cut down’, or to ‘cut off’, and this is what Gideon would have expected to happen to himself if he thought he truly was doubting and challending “the LORD”. It is only ‘human’ to believe that YHWH will deal with you just as you would deal with others. Right? And after he perceived that he had been wrangling with YHWH, and still lives, his response was to build an altar to YHWH and declare YHWH SHALOM, or YHWH Peace. Shalom means to have all the pieces in their proper place and order, functioning as FATHER designed. Shalom is wholeness and completeness. Gideon learned that YHWH in us is our Shalom; our Wholeness. I believe this to be Truth.
And these examples of HIS Name, in HIS Body, go on and on and on. There are many other examples that we could discuss of HIS Name, YHWH, being joined to our need, that brings to pass in our own experience what HIS Name declares. YHWH TZIDKENU= YHWH Our Righteousness; YHWH ROH-EE= YHWH Our Shepherd; YHWH MIKADISHKEM= YHWH Our Holiness. YHWH, in you, is the fulfiller of every need you perceive. Even YHWH YASHA, YHWH Our Salvation, which we now know as YASHUA, or Jesus. YHWH in you is your Salvation. I know this to be Truth!
Our FATHER cannot be limited to the definition of a ‘name’. And as HE continues to unveil facets of HIS Name in us, we must be receptive to His Word. Our FATHER is the same yesterday, today and forever! HE never changes Who HE is. HE is, however, changing HIS Body to completely and accurately image HIM. HE is changing us. As my brother, Nick, has observed; “GOD is still making man into HIS image; to image HIM.” We must be willing to have HIM change our name into HIS Name. And to continue to be growing into HIS Likeness and Expression of HIMSELF. And I don’t believe that ever stops. “For of the increase of Government and Peace, there is no end,…!” [Isaiah 9:7] Amen!
Shalom and Shalom! Alan