Many times I have heard people express to me, “I just don’t know what God wants! I just don’t know His will!”. Usually this is in regards to some type of situation, especially one concerning divine intervention. And this problem while common, is easily solved by simply knowing more about God and His nature and character.
That statement has offended some in the past, and they’ve gotten angry and said “are you suggesting that I don’t really know God!?” – to which I have responded with an honest: “not as well as you could.” Because God has made Himself known, even through the very names by which He calls Himself.
To God, and to the ancient Israelites, names were very important – they weren’t merely stylistic choices as we make them out to be today; rather names carried great purpose and meaning.
So today in this study I would like to share with you, the names which God has given Himself for us to know, and by these, we would get to know Him more, and understand His character and will, through the names which He has made Himself known to us.
As we begin today, I will admit right from the start that this will be more than one study, because there are so many names which God has made known to us (the most important of which is ישוע, Yeshua, the name of His beloved Son who brought complete salvation and redemption to all). What you will find in this series is that all of these names are wrapped-up in Jesus – and included with Jesus is all of these names.
The benefit of seeing all of these names comes from the detail that each one in-particular reveals to us about a different aspect of God’s character and nature. Because when we exactly stop to think about it, God didn’t need to name Himself for His own benefit; He already knew who He was.
The reason for Him giving Himself each of these names was precisely for our benefit of knowing Him, understanding His character, and being confident in what we can expect to receive from Him!
The very first name of God connected with Covenant that we see in the scriptures, is found in Genesis 2:4, and that name is יהוה. The basic pronunciation of this name Yahveh, although the Hebrew letter Vav can also be pronounced as an “Oh” or “OO” sound. And this is an important point, because this name is what I like to call a “Combination name”. The totality of this name means “God was, God is, and God will be”
And this tells us something fundamental and foundational to our understanding of who God is: that He has always existed, He is present right now, and He will always exist in the future. In short, He doesn’t wear out, He doesn’t grow old, and He will never not be there. He is totally reliable and always available.
Sometimes I think we tend to have this view of God as not really being available or reliable. That He’s someone who we can’t really count on. Yet this very first name which God has revealed to us, debunks that false idea.
God wants us to know that, YES, we can indeed count on Him, and He is always available to help.
This is actually very important and foundational to healthy relationship with Him. Because honestly, if we cannot trust in His availability and His help, then how can we trust Him for anything, especially salvation!
Interestingly enough, יהוה is also the part of a series of what are called compound names which God has also revealed. They all begin with יהוה, which is in itself a testament to their permanence. As we look at these, they should fill your heart with peace, joy and confidence in God, as they were always meant to.
Take for example, one of the compound names of God that is closely related to this one: יהוה שמה, which is found in Ezekiel 48:35. The translation of this name means, The ever-existing God who is with you. And as I said, it is basically a reassurance, a confirmation that God is actually with you, right now. There’s no-guesswork involved. God Himself mentions this repeatedly throughout scripture – yet we still find it hard to believe and trust sometimes. Take for example the words spoken by God in Genesis 28:15:
“And, behold, I am with you, and will keep you in all places where you go, and will bring you again into this land; for I will not leave you, until I have done that which I have spoken to you of.”
Now in the natural, He was speaking to Jacob regarding the promise of deliverance and protection. Ultimately though, that promise was fulfilled for all of us in Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate deliverance and protection. This is why Hebrews chapter 11, ends the way that it does in verses 39 and 40:
“And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”
Today we have “the better thing” that was promised. We have what all of the prophets of old longed for and what even the angels desire to see into (1st Peter 1:12) – we have an eternal relationship and union with Christ, and His Spirit of Holiness permanently indwelling us; which is yet another assurance that He is always present with us.
Let this truth truly sink in… it’s not just a pleasant thought or a good feeling. It is both a fact and a promise from God, who does not lie – indeed He cannot (Titus 1:2).
It is therefore appropriate that we are studying these two particular names of God in this first part of our series, because it is foundational to everything else; that we do indeed know (not just feel or think) that God is present wit us today, right now, where we are.
God did not simply set the earth spinning and leave us to our own devices. He hasn’t just left us to fend for ourselves.
Some people like to say that God helps those who help themselves; but that is arrogance. It’s arrogance to assume that we are capable of helping ourselves to begin with!
You see, God is not merely an augmentation for your own strength, He doesn’t simply fill in the gaps for what you can’t do yourself. No.
Instead, He is the very source of everything. Isaiah 12:2, Exodus 15:2, Psalms 118:14 and other places all make the statement that the LORD is our strength.
He is our strength, not merely part of our strength… not simply a safety net for when our own strength is insufficient – but He is our strength, full stop. Meaning without Him, we have no strength, but with Him, we have all that we need.
And again, He is always present with us.
Are you beginning to see why these first two names of God are so important?
Now, question: Do we actually believe what He has revealed about Himself with these names that we have looked at today?
Do we believe that He is always with us, and will continue to always be with us? Even when our behavior isn’t perfect in our own estimation?
Even when circumstances and feelings try to tell us otherwise?
Even when our own thoughts would betray the truth?
This is why knowing this, and recognizing the truth about the way God has revealed Himself is so vital. Because when emotions and feelings and stray thoughts would try to confuse, and condemn us, and pull us away from our union with Christ and His finished work – we can rightly and justly, put those thoughts and feelings away, in favor of the truth which God has spoken about Himself, and the name which He has revealed to us. And we can and should be thankful that this is not from the mind or mouth of a man, but that God has revealed Himself this way, so it is completely trust worthy.
Be sure to return here next week as we continue looking at the names of God, and see more aspects of His nature and character.