HOW I CAME TO LEARN AND ACCEPT THE NAMES OF OUR GOD AND HIS SON


After discovering that I didn't know everything about the Bible, I decided to take some wise advice concerning new doctrines and ones that differ from my current limited understanding: when presented with something new, don't be afraid to look into it for yourself, and if it proves true accept it, if it proves false reject it, and if you aren't satisfied either way, put it on a shelf in your mind for further study. This is the approach I took with the 'Sacred Name'.

This article will be more from a personal point of view, rather than technical. I have tried to limit Scripture quotes to those which I believe to be the 'trunk of the tree', and leave it to the reader to find and study supporting Scriptures (of which there are many).

I was first made aware of the 'Sacred Name' through a sermon in a Baptist church back in the 1950's. The preacher pointed out that our Saviour was the one referred to as 'YHWH' in the Old Testament. Being a teen-ager with other interests, it didn't really register. Around 1964, I began listening to The World Tomorrow radio program, and by 1966 had become a member of the Radio Church of God, which became WCG. They had the unusual practice of calling the LORD of the Old Testament by the descriptive title 'The Eternal', explaining that 'YHWH', when translated, meant self-existing, or eternal. So 'Eternal' seemed like an acceptable rendering to me, and besides the term 'LORD' sounded too Protestant. But still, the concept of God having a personal name wasn't taught. (At least they were translating the right Hebrew word.)

Then in the mid-'90s, after leaving WCG and joining a small unaffiliated group, I was presented with the 'Sacred Name' as a serious matter to be looked into and studied. Proverbs 30:4 asks the following question about God, '... what is His Name, and what is his Son's Name, if you can tell?'. Does our Father have a name, or is it just 'God'? And what about the Son's name? Is it really 'Jesus'? Since the Bible poses the question, I deemed it worth looking into. Another question is: if the Father and Son do have personal names, how important is it for us to know them and use them?

First, What are Father's and Son's names.


In Ex. 3:13, Moses asks God 'When they (the Israelites) shall say to me, "What is his name?", what shall I say to them?'. In v.14, God says 'I AM THAT I AM ... say unto the Children of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you"'. Note that God didn't specifically say this was His name (it is a title with a closely related meaning). V.15 gives the name: 'YHWH, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you: THIS IS MY NAME FOR EVER, and this is my memorial to all generations.'

Then in Ex. 6:2-3, 'And God spoke to Moses and said to him, I am YHWH: and I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, by (the name of) God Almighty, but by my Name YHWH was I not known to them.' Note that the words (the name of) are in italics, showing that 'God Almighty' is not the name, but 'YHWH' is. (This verse raises a minor question, because Gen. 15:2 and 16:2 indicate that both Abraham and Sarah knew the name YHWH, and Gen. 4:1, 26 show that it was known from creation.) The question may be answered by an alternate rendering: '... I appeared ... as God Almighty, and by my Name YHWH was I not known to them?' Reading it as a question, makes it agree with the other passages.

Psalm 83:18 says 'That men may know that you, whose Name alone is YHWH, are the Most High over all the earth.'

These three scriptures, along with several others convinced me that YHWH is indeed God's literal personal name, not just a title. But is it the name of the Father, or the Son? As I mentioned before, most of the references to LORD (KJV) or YHWH, refer to the Son: I Cor. 10:4, '... for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.'; John 5:37, 'And the Father himself, which has sent me, has borne witness of me. You have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.'; I John 4:12, 'No man has seen God (the Father) at any time.'

But paradoxically, the name YHWH, also refers to the Father! Proof of this is found in Psalm 110:1, 'YHWH said to my Lord, "sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool"'. See also verse 4, 'YHWH has sworn, and will not repent, "You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek"'. This is YHWH the Father speaking to the Son. It shouldn't be too surprising that a Son should have his father's name. For instance, I have the same name as my father and grandfather. Consider the expression, 'The word of YHWH came to (some prophet)'. Who is the Word? John 1:1 and Rev. 19:13 show that it is the Son. Therefore the YHWH in these scriptures could refer to the Father, where the Son is sent with a message from the Father to the prophet.

When it was pointed out to me (and finally sunk in) that 'YHWH' had been mistranslated 'LORD' almost 7000 times in the Old Testament, I was overwhelmed with the thought that someone had conspired to eliminate God's name from the Scriptures. Evidently sometime before the Septuagint was translated, it became the practice to change the name 'YHWH' to 'Adonay', which means 'Lord'. Hence, the Septuagint translators used the Greek 'Kurios', which the English translators rendered 'LORD', and nearly all modern English translations have propagated this error. In fact, there are 134 instances where, according to the Companion Bible, the 'sopherim' or 'wise ones' (ancient scribes) admit to having changed 'YHWH' to 'Adonay' in the Hebrew text. An exception to this is in about 300 cases, where the text reads 'Adonay YHWH'. In these cases, to avoid having to read 'Adonay' twice, they changed 'YHWH' to 'Elohim', which the translators then erroneously rendered 'Lord GOD'.

Having established that 'YHWH' is a literal name, I came to the question of how it should read in an English Bible. There are several ways of getting from one language to another: translation, transliteration, and Anglicizing, among others. Translation is the supplying of an English word that means the same as the Hebrew name (e.g. Isaac would be translated Laughter). Anglicizing is the substitution of an English name which sounds similar to the Hebrew name, but is easier(?) for English-speaking people to pronounce (e.g. Yonah becomes Jonah when Anglicized.) Transliteration is the attempt to form a name using the English alphabet, that has the identical pronunciation as the Hebrew name. With a little study, I discovered that translation is not normally used in the Bible when dealing with names. Names are usually Anglicized. The notable exception is God's name, which is translated, and from the wrong Hebrew word at that. But even Anglicizing is 'politically incorrect'. English children are usually given English names, Spanish children Spanish names, etc. But once a person is given a name, that is his name, no matter where he goes. If you are a German named 'Heinrich', your name doesn't change to 'Henry', just because you happen to be visiting the United States. Therefore I concluded that transliteration (to the best of our ability) is the only correct way to render God's name.

Immigrants may have their names legally changed, in order to feel more like true citizens of their new country. But remember, our Father is not becoming a citizen of our kingdom, we are becoming citizens of His. It is not we who will write our substitute names for deity on Him, but He who will write His Name on us. It is we who must change, and not the other way around.

After doing what research I could, I have accepted the Name as being 'Yahweh'. There are several variations, and I have no problem with anyone who pronounces it differently, and I'm always open to more convincing information. I tend to discount the pronunciation of 'Jehovah', mainly because I don't think the ancient Hebrew used the 'J' sound and I'm not sure about the 'V' (in German 'J' is pronounced 'Y' and 'W' is pronounced 'V', but in Latin 'V' is pronounced 'W', and Greek has neither 'J' nor 'V', so there is a degree of uncertainty). Anyway, our Father gives us credit for living up to the light we have. Also, it is perfectly correct to simply address Him as Father, since that is how the Savior constantly referred to Him.

That brings me to the Son's New Testament name. The English name 'Jesus' is an Anglicized form of the Greek name 'Iesous', which is a Hellenized form of the Hebrew name 'Yahoshua', which if Anglicized directly from the Hebrew, would be 'Joshua'. Several verses in the Apocrypha bear out the fact that 'Jesus' and 'Joshua' came from the same Hebrew name, as well as Acts 7:45 and Heb. 4:8, where the KJV translators mistakenly wrote 'Jesus' when it should have been 'Joshua'. By going to Strong's Concordance, to see how the Hebrew word for 'Joshua' was pronounced, I found it to be 'Yahoshua', as mentioned above, which means 'Yahweh is salvation'. Again, I am convinced that transliteration is the only correct way to deal with names. When the Saviour appeared to Paul (then Saul) on the Damascus road, He spoke to him in Hebrew - Acts 26:14. It is therefore very unlikely that He referred to Himself as 'Jesus', but instead spoke His name as 'Yahoshua'. Two other variations in use are 'Yeshua', the Hebrew word for salvation, and 'Yahshua', a variant of 'Yeshua', combining the Father's shortened name 'Yah', and 'Shua'. I personally feel that 'Yahoshua' is more correct, but again I'm open to correction. Some say that the name 'Jesus' is related to the Greek god Zeus, but I can neither prove nor disprove that. I'll just say you can prove just about anything when you start playing around with words that sound similar.

What will be the Son's name in the millenium? 'Yahweh our Righteousness' - Jer. 23:6. This new name will also be stamped on the New Jerusalem, and on our foreheads - Jer. 33:16, Rev. 3:12, 22:4.

Secondly, is it really important to know and use the correct names?

'What's in a name?', the old question goes. Is it really necessary to learn some foreign-sounding name to be a good Christian? Well, how many of you have a best friend and don't even know his name, or call him by it? If you will look up the word 'name' in Strong's, and read some of the references, especially in the Psalms, you will quickly come to see how important Yahweh's name is to Him. (e.g. Psalm 103:1 - 'Bless Yahweh, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy Name', showing that we should exalt His name as well as His person.) Some will say that the name only refers to His character and His various attributes, but in many scriptures, only a literal interpretation makes sense (e.g. Jer. 46:18, '... the King, whose NAME is Yahweh of hosts').

Consider the fact that newscasters and ambassadors take special care to pronounce and spell names of foreign dignitaries correctly, so as not to offend them. Can you imagine addressing the king of Spain as 'John Charles' instead of 'Juan Carlos'? or addressing our president as 'Wilhelm'? Does our Father's name deserve less respect than a human head of state?

I'm reminded of an episode of 'Star Trek, Next Generation', where this lady doctor kept mispronouncing the name of the android, Data (pronunced 'Day-tuh'). She kept calling him 'Dah-tuh', and he kept correcting her. Finally, in exasperation, she blurted out, 'What difference does it make, anyway?'. To which Data replied matter-of- factly, 'One is my name, the other is not'.

I also remember an incident when I was about 14 years old. There was this elderly lady on my newspaper route. The first time I told her my name, she misunderstood, and thereafter called me 'Check' instead of 'Chuck'. Not feeling brave enough to correct her, I let it go for a few weeks, but each time she called me 'Check', it aggravated me more. Finally, I left her a note saying, 'My name is "Chuck", not "Check". She apologized, and after that was quite happy to call me by my right name. Would that we all could be corrected so easily.

These examples illustrate how important peoples names are to them. Is our Father's name any less important to Him? I feel that in light of these things, it behooves us to learn our Father's name and His Son's name, meditate on them, exalt them as David does in the Psalms, and use them in an appropriate and respectful manner. Consider whether the 3rd Commandment might apply to ignoring God's true Name, as well as using it or any of His titles in a wrong manner? In Strong's Concordance, one of the meanings of 'take' is to 'regard'. Try this paraphrase: 'You shall not regard the Name of Yahweh your God to be unimportant (useless, in vain)'. I don't think that does injustice to the Scripture, do you?

Finally, here are some questions I had at the outset, which needed answers before I could feel right about accepting the names of Yahweh and Yahoshua.

Q: Is it appropriate to call the Almighty by His personal name? Wouldn't that be like addressing the Queen of England by her first name? or calling our earthly parents by their first names?
A: This may be true, but if you happen to be one of the queen's family or close friends, this would be acceptable. Abraham was called the 'friend of God', and Yahoshua said 'you are my friends if you do whatever I command you'. As for addressing parents, the writers of the Scriptures recognized God as 'father' in several places, but still addressed Him as 'Yahweh'. In fact, Psalm 68:4 commands us to do just that (using the short form in this case).

Q: Some say nobody can know the correct pronunciation, so why bother?
A: It has also been said, 'nobody can understand Revelation, so why study it?'. The Bible says to 'study to show yourself approved...'. As I mentioned above we are expected only to do the best we can. I don't claim to know the exact pronunciation, but I'm sure there is someone with the knowledge of languages, and resources to do the research, that will eventually come up with it.

Q: Do we have to become Hebrew & Greek scholars to be good Christians?
A: This question doesn't really affect belief in the Sacred Names, since learning someone's name doesn't mean you have to learn their language. However, it does enhance our concept of the Father and Son to know what their names mean.

Q: Do we have to abandon the English language just because some words may have had pagan origins? (Many Sacred Name believers feel that titles like 'Christ', 'God', 'Lord', and the name 'Jesus' should all be thrown out, because they have pagan origins.)
A: Yahweh said He would restore to us a pure language, and some think that language will be ancient Hebrew. But they really don't have absolute proof, and even if they are right, it would be premature and presumptuous to try to force it on everyone now. I'll wait and let Yahoshua teach it to us in the kingdom. There are however, some changes I think should be made. Take for instance, the phrase 'Lord Jesus Christ'. The Sacred-Namers would have us change it to 'Master Yahoshua Meshiach'. I would change it to 'Lord Yahoshua the Anointed'. 'Lord' is a perfectly good English word. The only objection I've heard against it is that 'Baal' means 'Lord'. But 'Adonay' also means 'Lord', and is used to refer to Yahweh. I feel that 'Jesus' should be changed to 'Yahoshua', not because 'Jesus' might be pagan, but simply because names should be transliterated. 'Christ' should read 'the Anointed' becaused it is not a name, and so should be translated to what it means in English. (It's odd that the translators treated 'YHWH', which is a name, as if it weren't, but they treated 'Christos', which is not a name, as if it were.) All Old Testament renderings of 'LORD' or 'GOD' (all capitals) should be read as 'Yahweh', as well as any New Testament quotes from those scriptures. The word 'Elohim' and its variations are used, not only to refer to the true God, but also to false gods, angels, and sometimes even people. Therefore, I feel that it is not a name, but a title, and may be acceptably translated 'God(s)', or the Mighty One(s). To mix languages doesn't make for intelligible communication. For example to say, 'The Elohim of Jacob is my Adonay' is awkward, and if spoken to most people, they won't understand what you are saying. 'The God of Jacob is my Lord' makes much more sense to an English-speaking person.

What about titles associated with 'Yahweh', such as 'Yahweh-Jireh', and 'Yahweh-Ropheka'? Do they need to be spoken completely in Hebrew? Again, I think it's good to know what they mean, but it's OK to speak them in your own language (i.e. 'Yahweh our Provider' and 'Yahweh our Healer', etc.). I don't believe that speaking them in Hebrew has any mystical power.

I'm sure that each reader will have questions and/or objections of his own, but we are all (hopefully) growing, and we each learn different things at different times. I hope that many reading this will come to embrace and respect our Father's name, and His Son's name. For those who are tempted to dismiss it without some study, go back and read the first paragraph of this article. And may we all be as the Philadelphians, who 'have kept My word, and have not denied MY NAME' - Rev. 3:8.

 

by Chuck Baldwin

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