Last week, in part one, we began taking a closer look at the names of God. As mentioned, names carry more of a meaning than what we have come to generally think. That’s why we see God changing the name of people whenever He made a covenant with them, or blessed them; such as Abram to Abraham, or Jacob to Isaac for example.
Given the importance of names, it would therefore benefit us to examine the names which God has given Himself. If He places importance on names, then all-the-more would God then want us to understand the names which He has revealed to s about Himself. After all, He didn’t name Himself for His own benefit, He did it for our benefit, because He wants us to know Him and His character.
So we continue today to look at the names of God and what they show us about Himself, that we would have a deeper understanding and relationship with Him.
Last week we saw the first compound name of God, which is יהוה שמה, meaning the ever-existing God who is always present, and we saw how this can inform is about His nature, and give us confidence regarding His reliability. The world (and sadly modern Christianity), tends to hold a view of God that is less-than reliable in many circumstances. They often express an idea of a God that is more of a gamble, rather than a reliable source of help. However what we saw last week, is that in-fact God is ever-present, always with us, and always reliable in every single circumstance or situation.
Now let’s take a look at another name which God has shown Himself as to us, which is found in Genesis 22:14: יהוה יראה (yahveh yireh); which translates to the ever-existing God sees to it (in the sense of supplying).
This is probably the most commonly known of all the compound names of God, but it is often misunderstood to mean “God will provide” in the future tense… and this leads many people into thinking that they need to play some kind of waiting game with God; however that is not actually the case. However the name יהוה יראה does not actually mean that God will provide in the future – instead, it means that God is supplying, presently, right now!
Much like the name that we studied last week, the focus here is still on God’s present reality and help. He’s not merely the God of the past only; nor is He only a distant God of the future, but He is present, and able and willing to help right now – and He is doing so! That is the focus of this name which God has revealed.
Examining the verse which the name is found in, we see that Abraham named the place where God provided the sacrificial Ram – a direct picture of Jesus. And that Abraham was certain of God’s provision. It wasn’t a guessing game or a fleeting hope, it was a reliable certainty.
The same holds true for us today. God is just as real, just as present and just as providing for us today as He was in the scriptures… the question is, do we believe the way He has revealed Himself, or do we instead believe what common man-made opinion says about Him? I suggest we start taking God at His word – especially His word regarding who He says that He is, and allow His descriptions of Himself to inform our relationship with Him.
When we begin to simply accept the truth about God, and about how good and trustworthy He really is, that is when our relationship with Him will begin to flourish and grow and ways that we could only dream about before.
Take for example, the next name of God for us to look at: יהוה רעי (Yahveh R’oi) found most notably in Psalm 23:1, which means the ever-existing God who is my shepherd. However, it goes deeper than this, because when is the last time that you have stopped to meditate on what a shepherd (specially a Hebrew shepherd in ancient times) actually does for His sheep? As it turns out, we can learn a bit from the language here, that will give us some insight…
רעי, which means my shepherd, comes from the root verb רָעָה, which means to tend for, care for, feed, protect and cause to rest. In other words, everything that a shepherd would do!
Now, where this gets really interesting is in the way this relates to our interaction and relationship with God. How many people do you know that actually think of God as actually doing all of these things for them? Do you even see God as tending for you? Caring for you? Feeding you? Protecting you/ Causing you to rest? It’s okay to admit it if you don’t, because honestly, many people don’t see God as being that involved, or even caring at all about them. And that’s part of what this study is addressing – the fact that we need to let go of human ideas and our own opinions and pet theologies about God, and simply receiving Him the way that He describes Himself. If He says that He is that god, that loving and that merciful, and that concerned and involved in our well-being, then we should simply take Him at His word about it!
As I mentioned before, and I will continue to mention it, God didn’t name Himself for His own benefit… He named Himself for our benefit, so that we would know Him, and His character. All of these names for God are recorded in the scripture to increase our perspective of God and our comprehension of who He is. So that we wouldn’t be left guessing about His will, His provision, His goodness, His reliability or His love and care for us.
So many people whom I have spoken with, always tell me that they just aren’t sure of God’s will. Yet He revealed Himself with these names precisely so that we would know Him and His will.
If God describes Himself as ever-present, always with us, why do we sometimes think that He is not? Where do you think that thought actually comes from? Where is the source of that thought? And what do you think that thought will lead to?. Same question about provision, protection, love and care, and all of His other names which we have yet to study… if God says that He is A, and a thought, feeling, idea or doctrine comes along which says that He is B, we should throw out that thought, feeling, idea or doctrine. Quite honestly (and I’m going to be blunt here) anything that challenges the nature and the character of God that He Himself has revealed, isn’t even worth one single second of consideration!
Does that seem harsh or extreme? No more than Paul and Titus, as is recorded in Galatians chapter 2. They gave no attention to any falsehood being spread around, because they knew that such falsehoods would bring them back into bondage. Christ and His truth was making people free, and the lies were trying to enslave people all over again.
And this is the point of it all. As you see the truth of God, the love of the Father, the freedom of the Son, the power of the Spirit. And the way in which God truly cares for you – that truth will free you! So then, anything which would set itself up against that truth, or distract you, or try to sway you from that truth, is by definition an enemy to the truth of the Gospel… and that’s exactly what Paul and Titus were saying in Galatians 2.
As we continue looking at the names of God, the names which He has revealed to us, we should be open to the plain and simple truth of His amazing love, care and Grace; and we should be willing to let His truth about Himself, over-ride any other ideas (even long-held ideas).
So in closing today, I want to encourage you today, to take some time, and truly meditate on the names of God which we have studied thus-far, and ask yourself how these names will enhance your relationship and union with Christ. How will they enlarge your perspective of who God is, and your relationship with Him – because that’s what all of this is really about.