Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What's in a name?

This question may seem simplistic in nature, but while discussing our God (divinity), it takes on a whole new meaning.  The name of God is more than a distinguishing title; it represents the concept of the divine nature, and of the relationship between God and His people.

There are numerous names used to refer to an ultimate deity, such as God, Lord, First Cause, Divine Nature, etc.  When studying Judaism and Hebrew Scripture, one comes across the often used, yet misunderstood name:  YHWH (Yahweh).

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The story of the conversation between Moses and the Divine in the "burning bush" told in the Book of Exodus is filled with deep theological meaning.  Its a story of the relationship between the One True God and his people, Israel, whom Moses was to lead out of captivity and slavery in Egypt into the Promised Land:

"And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, the LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations" (Exodus 3:13-15).

The concept of YHWH, which means "existence or being" is unique to the One True God.  His "name" is not pronounced but read as Adonai, "my Lord." This is done out of hesitation to pronounce the name due to its holiness.

This use of the name of God is awe-inspiring, while constrasting that with how sadly we "take the Lord's name in vain." Guilty as we all are in this injustice to our One True God, cursing has become second nature to some. Its a sad reality we must all face, and do our part (preach by example).

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- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director

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