Most Bible believers live a lifetime without ever seeing the glaring inconsistency in their approach to the Creator of the universe. Unlike other major world religions, whose adherents use a specific name for their deity, the name employed exclusively for the Heavenly Father worshiped in Christianity is a common and generic title, or titles. While the heathen faithful understand exactly whom they worship, millions of churchgoers call on and worship their Creator by the everyday terms lord and god, and then proceed to ask, “Do you know Him?”
The obvious fact is, churchianity has neglected the Heavenly Father’s revealed, personal Name. Many don’t even realize that He has a name, believing that the title God is a name because it is captialized. All the while they accept the fact that thousands of different denominations are worshiping under these same titles but with a plethora of contradictory beliefs and practices. Which leads one to ask, do they themselves really know Him?
Identify and Know Your Heavenly Father!
Aside from these contradictions, is the sacred Name of the Heavenly Father really that important? Does it matter what you call Him? Does He even need to have a name for proper worship, as the deities of all other religions do? Some believe that He knows who you mean no matter what you call Him. But have they considered that refusing to revere His personal Name demonstrates dishonor for the One they worship, as well as blatant defiance of His Word? He tells us precisely that in Malachi 2:2.
How many Bible believers would fall on their knees in times of desperation and call out to Baal? Or Vishnu? Or Molech? Obviously it DOES matter what name you use in worship. Names DO mean something. Names identify a particular entity who has particular traits and is worshiped in a specific manner and who (supposedly) responds in specific ways to well-defined and proper worship.
By calling on names like Vishnu and Buddha, you have conjured up a certain deity who must not be confused with the Almighty of the Bible. How can one expect the true Heavenly Father to respond to names of pagan worship? More importantly, how close is He to those who refuse His personal Name, deciding that a mere title is sufficient – a title suited for an identity lost in a sea of conflicting doctrines and beliefs? Is a title good enough for the true Mighty One when that same title can just as easily refer to other pagan deities? Notice the following.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol [is] nothing in the world, and that [there is] none other Elohim but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many, and lords many), But to us [there is but] one Elohim, the Father, of whom [are] all things, and we in him; and one Master Yahshua, by whom [are] all things, and we by him” (1Cor. 8:4-6).
If there are many gods and lords, how can you distinguish the one worshiped with one of those titles? Regardless of the arguments and excuses people will use, Yahweh the true Father says He is jealous for His Name, and He will not allow praises to graven images that proceed from common titles, Isaiah 42:8.
Intimacy of Names
We in our Western civilization have nearly lost the significance of names. For us, Johnny is just as good as Tommy. But even then we may be influenced to choose a name for our child based on someone we know who had a particular name. In that case the name is connected to a person – maybe a father or grandfather or uncle – whose very personality and attributes come to mind when the name is spoken or referred to.
Nowhere is this more true than in Scripture. In fact, names have much greater significance when it comes to the Bible. This is particularly so with the One we worship as the Creator and Sustainer of this universe. Philippians 2:9 says His Name Yahweh is above EVERY name. No matter what we may think or want to believe, calling on His true Name is critically important to Him.
His Name reveals His special identity. He alone is the one known by His special people as the true Mighty One called Yahweh. You don’t mind when a stranger calls you “friend,” or “sir,” or “lady.” In fact, you expect those you don’t know to use such titles. But once you are introduced and you give the other person your name, you feel put off if he or she continues to call you sir or lady. In doing so your acquaintance is rejecting the closeness that using your personal name would otherwise induce.
Yahweh feels the same way. If once we know His Name but insist on calling Him by titles of generic deities, we fall out of favor. His Name is a mark of intimate closeness. How can some claim a “personal relationship” when they don’t even call on Him by Name? In making a covenant with Israel, one of the very first things Yahweh did was to introduce them to His personal Name. He wanted and expected the intimacy that using His personal Name would engender.
Getting Down to Specifics
When Yahweh proclaimed through the prophet Isaiah in 42:8, “I am Yahweh, that is my Name,” He didn’t say, “That’s one of my names” or “You can just call me whatever you wish, I’ll know who you mean.” On the contrary. He said, “That is my Name.” Period. End of discussion. The psalmist wrote of Him in 83:18, “… Whose Name alone is Yahweh…”
In the Bible, when a person gave his name to another individual, it signified the joining of the two in closest unity. When Yahweh gave His Name to Israel, He was joining with them – it was a marriage – the closest union two can enjoy. We as spiritual Israel and bride of the Messiah are to take on His Name as well.
Is it just coincidence that a woman takes on a man’s surname in marriage? Why is that? It is because now they are in union – they have become one in aspiration, goal, and commitment to a single cause in a family headed by the husband. (In this era of feminism it’s hard to say how long that will continue to be the practice.) Acts 15:14 tells us that Yahweh takes out from the gentiles a special people “for His Name.” He is creating a family under His Name: “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Master Yahshua the Messiah, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,” Ephesians 3: 14-15.
Esteemed by Name
Biblically, the person and his name are virtually equivalent and inseparable. The word “name” in Hebrew is shem. Shem means a mark or a memorial – expressing a person’s individuality. A name is a mark of a person’s honor (or dishonor), his authority, and his character. In fact, a name describes and defines everything about the person. The Name Yahweh has great significance because of what it defines. Intrinsic to Yahweh’s Name is the very verb of existence.
In Exodus 3:14 He tells Moses: “I am that I am,” or “ha Yah asher ha Yah” in the Hebrew. It means I am existence itself. I cause everything to come into being. His Name Yahweh describes Him, defines Him, and displays His attributes as the one who causes us to exist now and the one who can give us everlasting existence as well. Joel 2:32 prophesies that the day will come when whoever shall call on His Name will be delivered. That meaning is also intrinsic in the definition of His Name: “I am” or “I will be.” “Yahweh” connotes, “I will be there (for you),” especially when you need deliverance.
His Name is also a family Name. His people, His very Chosen, are called by His Name: “O Yahweh, hear; O Yahweh, forgive; O Yahweh, hearken and do; defer not, for your own sake, O my Elohim: for your city and your people are called by your name” (Dan. 9:19). His people take on this wonderful Name because they are in covenant union with Him – obeying Him and pleasing Him in all that they do. Astoundingly, His Name Yahweh is found no fewer than 6,823 times in ancient Hebrew manuscripts of the Bible. It simply cannot be ignored.
The Error in ‘But I speak English’
Then there is the common argument, “I don’t call on Him by His Hebrew Name because I speak English.” Does a person change his name when traveling to foreign lands in which different languages are spoken? Or is his name the same everywhere he goes? Does he get a new passport at each new port of entry? Or is John Doe still “John Doe” in each country he visits? Obviously his name remains unchanged, being spelled the same no matter where he goes.
What is the English equivalent of Franzois Mitterrand? It’s Francois Mitterrand, is it not? What is the English form of Boris Yeltsin? Why, it’s Boris Yeltsin. If the argument is, I speak English therefore I use English names, then what is “Satan” in English? Satan is a name transliterated in Scripture, as are many others. As with Yahweh, the name Satan is Hebrew. The English form of Abraham is also Abraham, a Hebrew name right out of the Hebrew Scriptures and carried over almost unaltered into our English translation. What about Daniel, also a Hebrew name? What’s the English equivalent for Daniel? The name is Daniel, of course. How about Sarah and Martha?
These are all Hebrew names unaltered in the English translation because names simply are not translated. Names are transliterated, meaning that the sounds are brought across unchanged from one language to another. We have no problem with using these Hebrew names without an English equivalent because THERE IS NO ENGLISH EQUIVALENT! Why should Yahweh’s Name be any different? Why should the most important Name in the universe not just be altered, but completely replaced? (The term “god” is not an English word anyway. It derives from the Germanic Gott.)
Common Words and Names with ‘Yah’
One of the most popular words of praise is halleluyah. One can hear it in churches all around the globe. It’s one of the most ancient words of exultation in existence, and is a purely Hebrew term. “Hallel” means “praise” in Hebrew, and “Yah” is the first part of the sacred Name Yahweh (i.e. Yah-weh). Therefore halleluYah means “Praise Yah.” Most do not realize that the most common word of praise contains our Heavenly Father’s very Name—”Hallelu-Yah.” We see this word especially in the form hallelu-jah, but the “j” is derived from the Hebrew yod, which is a consonant-vowel equivalent to the Y. Another fact many overlook is that there was no letter J in any Hebrew, Greek or Anglo-Saxon alphabet. Therefore the original letter could not have been a J but an I or Y. The J is the newest letter in our alphabet and came into existence about the time of Christopher Columbus.
The “J” is merely an “I” with a tail on it, with a “juh” sound that evolved only recently. The “J” and “I” were used interchangeably until the 17th century. Scripture records many well-known names that contain the name of the Heavenly Father. “Elijah” was not pronounced that way in the Scriptures. It was “Eliyah,” a name that means, “my El is Yah.” Isaiah (YeshaYah) is a Hebrew name that means “salvation of Yah.” Jeremiah (YirmeYah) means “whom Yah raises up,” and Zephaniah (ZephanYah) is “hidden of Yah.” Many other writers and prophets were named after Yahweh, showing the close bond they had with Him.
Inconsistencies in Argument for English
If one sticks to the position that because we speak English we should not use Hebrew forms, then we shouldn’t use the forementioned names, either, because they are Hebrew names and “we don’t speak Hebrew.” It would not be right to apply that argument just to Yahweh’s Name and not to all the other Hebrew names and words in the Bible – like “Sabbath,” a Hebrew name, and “Messiah,” another Hebrew word.
What about all the cities in the Scriptures, like Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem, and the names of hundreds of other people, places, rivers, seas, deserts, and mountains? These would all need to be changed to English equivalents to be consistent with the argument calling for the exclusive use of English. The problem is, there are no equivalent English forms for these Hebrew names! Neither is there an adequate equivalent or substitute name or title for Yahweh’s great Name.
Let’s pursue this argument a bit further.
‘Dear (Nameless) President’
What is the English name for Yahweh? Can it be G-d, with a capital G?
First, we must realize that “god” is not a name but a title. Paul said there are gods many and lords many. Titles do not define specific individuals. There are many presidents in our country – presidents of corporations, colleges, board presidents, bank presidents…but there is only one president of General Motors, only one president of Harvard, only one president of Citibank – and each has a specific, identifiable name that he answers to.
If I wrote a letter addressed, “Dear President,” it could apply to any one of these presidents. Only when I include the name with that title do I reveal whom I am specifically addressing. If I pray to the god of this world, Paul in 2Corinthians 4:4 says that I could be praying to Satan because Satan is called a “god of this world,” as are thousands of other god deities man has worshiped throughout history. Even then, those deities had specific NAMES attached to their titles.
Our Foreign, English Language
Is “God” simply an equivalent for “Yahweh,” used by English-speaking, Bible believers?
Does He expect His people to change His Name to some other form according to the language they speak? And is that even possible? The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) says “god” derives from the Dutch god, stemming from the Old High German, gott.It sprang from the Gothic guth, going back to the Teutonic gudo, which stems from two Aryan roots – one meaning to invoke, the other to pour in the sense of a molten image.
The point is, can we say that God is an English word? Far from it! Its common English usage belies ancient foreign origins. Relatively few of the words we use in English are in fact pure English. The word “English” itself isn’t even English! England is from “Englaland,” land of the Angles. Who were the Angles? Germans from the lowlands of Germany who settled in eastern England in the 5th century (see “English,” OED)
Our Impure ‘English’ Language
Our Impure ‘English’ Language
Our Impure ‘English’ Language
English is a melting pot language that borrows extensively from many languages. The statement, “I speak English so I don’t use the Hebrew name,” is reasoning that lacks a historical basis in fact. Let’s analyze that statement and see just how “nonEnglish” the roots of our language really are. Discovering the origin of each of the words in that simple sentence proves enlightening indeed:
I = the letter I is the ninth letter of the alphabet, coming through the Latin from the Greek and ultimately from the Semitic or Hebrewyod – the first letter in Yahweh’s Name.
speak = from the German sprechen
English = a proper noun based in German, as already shown
so = akin to the Gothic swa
do = traces to sanskrit which was spoken in India
not = Old English nought, cognate to several Old Saxon and French formations
use = from Latin asus
the = from Teutonic and Indo-European forms
Hebrew = Hebrew Eber, one who “crosses over.”
Name = Greek onoma .
In the statement, “I speak English, so I do not use the Hebrew Name,” the word “not” is the only one of those 10 words that is English in origin. English is not by any stretch a pure language. Much of it is from the Romance languages, and vast numbers of its words derive from Greek and Latin (and ultimately Hebrew). Most of the words we use in English come from some other language.
The point in all of this is that language has very little to do with the Name of the Mighty One of the Scriptures. He was Yahweh before He put man on earth. Before there were all these languages from Babel, He was Yahweh. His Name transcends language. “Yahweh” is existence personified. Psalm 135:13 says, “Thy Name endures forever, your memorial throughout all generations.” His Name is His memorial that endures for all time.
First Commandment Is Foundational
The Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:2 begin, “I am Yahweh your Elohim which brought you out of the Land of Egypt. You shall have no other mighty ones before me.” All false worship can ultimately be traced to a violation of this first of the Ten Commandments. Every sin we commit results from not putting Yahweh and His will, manifested by His laws, first.
Before He says anything, Yahweh establishes in the very first commandment that HE is Yahweh our Mighty One.Ecclesiastes 12:13 bears out this important truth: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear Yahweh and keep His commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man.” We continue in Exodus20:4: “You shall not make into you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” Heathens did not worship a stone image as a stone, but as a representation of some deity. He says don’t manufacture these things because they will remind you of some other deity, and I am the only one you are to worship.
Moving on, verse 6 tells us that if we love Him to keep the commandments and He in turn will show mercy to us. Now notice verse 7: “Thou shalt not take the name of Yahweh your Elohim in vain.” What does it mean to take His Name in vain? Curse when you miss the nail with a hammer and smash your thumb? Or something far more significant?
Not in the Hebrew
“Take” is the Hebrew nasa, meaning to lift or bring to. Vain comes from shoaw, to rush over, bring to devastation, uselessness, waste – basically “take in vain” means to treat with neglect. When we trade His name exclusively for some title, we are breaking the Third Commandment.
“You shall not bring His Name to desolation or ignore it through neglect,” the com- mandment says. When we use a common title in worship, we are missing the most important aspect of who Yahweh is and what He stands for; what He is all about and what He can do for us. His Name describes the very essence of who He is – Yahweh: He is existence itself. No title can mean all that His name stands for. A title defeats the purpose of a name. It just sits there like a pasted-on label, with no depth of meaning and tied to no particular identity.
“I am Yahweh, that is My Name, and My glory will I not give to another,” He says in Isaiah 42:8. He and His Name are inseparable. Our hope is that you will grasp the awesome importance of this truth and will come to know your Creator through His personal, revealed Name Yahweh. Realize all that He can and will do for you if you will put Him first and honor His wonderful and powerful Name!