You can tell a lot about a person by their name. Many times you can immediately tell where a person is from, their background and even what their family values are, simply by hearing their name. Much of who we are is wrapped up in our name. In fact, the Jewish people believe that the very essence of a person resides in their name. This is why they were so passionate about having a “good” name. This is a person’s most precious possession, because when someone dies – the Jewish people believe – your “name” is the only thing you leave. It is true that when you die, the only thing on your tombstone is your name. Who you are and how you live is contained in your name.
God’s Name has always been important to Him. When God gave His people the 10 Commandments, on the same level with “You shall not murder,” and “You shall not steal,” is the commandment, “You shall not take the Name of the Lord, your God, in vain.” (Exodus 20) It seems odd to put the Lord’s Name on the same level with murder and stealing? Yet, God’s Name represents the very essence of who He is. His Name reveals His identity and is precious to Him.
In the Bible, God reveals Himself through His different Names. By studying the various names of God given in Scripture, we can know God more deeply and intimately. Here are some names of God that He gives to us, His people:
- Yahweh – This is the personal name of God. This Name is so precious to the Jewish people that they will not even write the vowels for fear they would take the Lord’s Name in vain – so they simply write God’s Name as YHWH. This Name of God appears over 6,800 times in the Bible, and means – the Self-Existent One. This comes from Exodus 3:14 as God reveals Himself as, “I AM Who I Am.” The Jews wanted to avoid not only spelling His Name incorrectly but also saying His Name incorrectly, so they substituted the name “Adonai” (which means “Lord”) when they read the Scripture. Eventually, the Latinization of the Hebrew of “Yahweh” and “Adonai” became “Jehovah.” Understand that our God is a personal God.
- Elohim – This is the most used name for God after Yahweh. Elohim means “Creator.” Genesis 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning, God (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth.” Think about when we pray and worship – we are coming before the God of all creation. He is the Giver and Sustainer of Life. He is “Elohim.”
- El Shaddai – This name of God means, “God Almighty.” We first see this name of God in Genesis 17:1-2 as God tells Abraham that He is making a covenant with him and that He (El Shaddai) will multiply Abraham exceedingly. Wow! What a promise and what a God. Especially when you consider that Abraham was old, as was his wife. Yet, God is Almighty, and His promises will come to fruition.
- El Chuwl – This name means “the God who gave you birth.” We see this in Isaiah 43. God is saying to His people – I brought you into being and I will bring you through whatever you face. Such an awesome God!
There are so many other names for God, like:
- Jehovah – Nissi – the Lord is my Banner
- Jehovah – Raah – the Lord is my Shepherd
- Jehovah – Hapha – the Lord that Heals
- Jehovah – Jireh – the Lord will Provide.
But, two of my favorite names are:
1. Jesus – Jesus’ Name literally means “Salvation.” His Name says it all. He was not simply a man born 2,000 years ago who lived and died. He has been and will always be the Salvation of the world. Jesus is the beginning of history, his earthly birth split history in two and He is forever alive. He is the only One who conquered the unconquerable – death. And, He made a way for us – Jesus Christ. Christ is not Jesus’ last name but refers to Him being the Messiah. He came to take away the sins of the world. Jesus!
Acts 4:12 says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” No other name! Jesus is the Name Above All Names.
As C.S. Lewis wrote about in Mere Christianity, “Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic or Lord.” No middle ground. He could not have simply been a good man, a prophet or a great moral teacher and say what He did. He called Himself, “The Son of God.” And, He died and rose again to prove it. Through Jesus we have Salvation.
And, it is through Jesus that we have the opportunity to know God as (my second favorite name of God):
2. “Abba” – This name of God, as revealed in Galatians 4:6, means “Father.” But, even more intimate than “Father,” this really means “Daddy.” Jesus called God, “Father” in Matthew 6:9 and by His death and resurrection, we may call God, “Abba” as well. How awesome to think that the God of the Universe, the God of all Creation, the Sovereign God over all there is invites us through His Son to call Him, “Daddy.” The role of a “Daddy” is to protect and provide for his children. And, that is what God does for us. deeper and stronger. God loves you. He is pursuing you and drawing you closer to Him. He is your Hope, Redeemer, and Savior. His Name says it all!
Praise God for the love and grace that is revealed in His Names! As we know Him more, our love and appreciation for Him grows deeper and stronger. God loves you. He is pursuing you and drawing you closer to Him. He is your Hope, Redeemer, Provider, and Savior. His Name says it all!