Thursday, March 11, 2010

His name is Yahweh

You may have noticed that in some of our prayers we say Yahweh instead of LORD, all caps. Why is this? The name Yahweh is somewhat foreign to us. We are much more familiar with saying God or Lord. There is nothing wrong with those terms but they are generic terms of a deity, not proper names. In a situation where we know that everyone is tracking with us, believing in the Triune God, worshipping the Father, His Son Jesus, the Spirit sent by the Father and the Son, we can use the shorthand name God, or speak of the Lord.

But we must be clear about whom we are speaking. In America, Lord is fine. God is fine. Jesus is a problem. The next time you are somewhere where they say the pledge of allegiance, try substituting the name Jesus for One Nation Under Jesus, and see how it feels and what sort of response you get. The name of the true God is much more powerful than speaking of a higher power.

So, how does Yahweh fit into all of this? It is God’s name. It is the salvation name He gave Moses to tell the Egyptians and the enslaved Israelites. We do not know exactly how to pronounce the name because the Jews, out of so-called reverence to God, refused to pronounce the name. But God had told them to pronounce it, to declare it to unbelievers and believers alike. It is my contention that the failure to pronounce God’s name is a gross and harmful disobedience.

So, why Yahweh and not Jehovah? Well, we do have the Hebrew scriptures and the best we can do with the pronunciation now is Yahweh, or perhaps Yahveh. It takes away the generic commitment to some God and places our commitment exactly where it ought to be, in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In the God of Moses and Joshua. In the Father of the Lord Jesus. His name is Yahweh.

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