The Name of the True God
If you were to take a survey of people who believed in the existence of God, and asked them what His Name was, the vast majority of Christians would likely shake their head and tell you they didn't know. If you asked the Jehovah's Witnesses they would instantly reply "Jehovah". The Mormons would probably tell you that His Name is "Elohim", the United Pentecostalists would reply, "Jesus" and others would probably say "Father" or "Heavenly Father". Jews call Him "Adonai". Ask a Muslim and he will tell you that God's Name is "Allah", a Hindu and he would say give you one of many of the names from their pantheon such as "Brahma", "Vishnu" or "Kali", or a Free Mason and he would (if you were a fellow suitably ranked free mason) tell you that God was called "Jabulon" or (if you were not so ranked), "the Great Architect". Many occultic groups would say it was "Lucifer", "Maitrea", "Gaia", "Satan", or many others. Take a survey of every religious group in the world and you would end up with hundreds of totally different names.
Most people would probably regard the Name of God as something irrelevent and tell you that it sufficient to simply call Him "God" or "Lord". A typical retort might be: "We all worship the same God but call Him (or Her) by different names." Others would reply: "Knowing the Name is not important but knowing who He is, is." The first statement is utterly false. And the second is only a half-truth.
Your Name is Important
Now I am sure if your name was John Smith that you would object strongly is someone called you "Fat-head" or "Adolf Hitler". You would object to the first because clearly it was derogatorty of your personality, and the second because people immediately associate it with violence, murder, war and much else besides. Equally, if your name was Mary Jones, you would not wish to be called Florence Nightingale however nice a lady she was because the two names represent completely different personalities. Even if you were a nurse and were adored by your patients such that you had much in common with Florence Nightingale you would still not be Florence Nightingale. As individuals Mary and Florence are unique. There is no way that Mary and Florence can be equated.
Like myself you probably had (or may still have) various nicknames by which you are called. When I was at university I was often found whistling Mozart so my contemporaries called me "Wolfgang" after that composer's Christian name. I have also been known by many other names too, some short-lived, others not. But only "Christopher" (or its abbreviation "Chris") is my true earthly name and it is the only one by which I can be positively identified on official documents. Were I to sign myself as "Wolfgang" on a cheque/check it would immediately bounce.
Sometimes people have difficulties pronouncing a name. In eastern Norway where they have difficulty articulating an "s" at the end of the word, and where short vowels can also be a problem, I am often called "Kreesh". Though it is certainly similar to "Chris" most Anglo-Saxons would have great problems trying to work out who "Kreesh" was. And in Malaysia, where the Chinese have great problems with their "r's" and "l's", not to menthon dipthongs, I was often called "Klissofer" instead of "Christopher".
In olden days names were given to a new-born child to indicate something special about his personality. A name, even of a mortal, was considered sacred and should be respected, because it was, in a way, a summary of his personality. Thus to say that "Chris Warren is a meat-head" would be to insult my whole person. Nowadays babies are named either because it was a relative's name, because it sounds nice, or because (for example) it is the name of a favourite football star.
In Biblical times babies were either named after illustrious heroes of the faith or given by direct revelation. We read in the Gospels how John the Baptist received his name directly through revelation from an angel (Lk.1:11ff) -- John (or more properly in the Hebrew, Yochanan) was not a name used by their relatives (v.61) and thus Elizabeth was breaking with tradition when she named him so. When the father, Zechariah, who had been struck dumb earlier, confirmed that his son's name was John, his power of speech was instantly restored to him and he praised God (vv.62ff). Thus in the eyes of God the name was IMPORTANT. Any other name would have been contrary to the will of God.
There are numerous accounts in the Scriptures of God giving His servants new names -- Abram was renamed Abraham, Sarai was renamed Sarah, Jacob was renamed Israel, and so on. Within each divinely appointed name was a revelation and commission from God. It was therefore sacred. Had Zechariah refused to name his son John and given him another name like Eli, for example, not only would he have remained dumb but I suspect a far worse fate would have befallen him. WE ARE NOT TO TAMPER WITH DIVINELY-ORDAINED NAMES.
The Name of Jesus
There is no more prophetically important Name than the Name of the Son of God whom the world has come to know as "Jesus". In the Bible we are told its meaning: "..God sent the angel Gabriel...and said (to Mary)..You will..give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the Name JESUS...because He will save His people from their sins" (Lk.1:26-31; Mt.1:21, NIV).
Unfortunately millions of Christians have been brought up to believe that the Name of the Son of God is "Jesus". It isn't. "Jesus" isn't a real name at all but it a corrupt Latin-Greek name that does not carry the meaning ascribed by the angel Gabriel. The Greek for "saviour" is soter whilst the Latin is salvare. The Son of God was never called "Jesus" at any time whilst He lived.
Every son anciently bore his father's name. My father's name was Keith and had I been a Hebrew I would have been known as Christopher Son of Keith, or in the Hebrew, "Christopher ben Keith". There were no surnames or "family names" anciently, though there were certainly tribal associations. The ancient practice still obtains in many countries around the world as, for example, in India.
Whilst a mortal, Jesus carried the name of his step-father, Joseph, and would have been known as "Jesus ben Joseph" (or "Jesus bar Joseph"). However, Jesus was not an ordinary mortal as we are -- Joseph was a step-father. His Heavenly Father was His true Father and whose Name we would therefore expect Him to bear. And indeed He does, and claimed to do the same, when he said: "I have come in My Father's Name" (Jn.5:43, NIV) which means more than simply bearing the authority of God -- it means that the Father's Name was in His own.
The true Name of the Person we have come to know as "Jesus" is, in fact, YAH'SHUA. His Name is even mentioned in the Old Testament when Moses said: "YAH ("the Lord")...has become my salvation" (Ex.15:2, NIV). David echoed him: "YAH ("the Lord")...has become my salvation" (Ps.118:14, NIV). This became a common cry of victory: "..YAH ("God")...is my salvation" (Isa.12:2a, NIV). The Hebrew for "salvation" is shua; thus YAH-SHUA means "Yah (God, the Lord) is my salvation".
Yah'shua, the True Name of 'Jesus'
This was the same name given to the deliverer, Joshua, who led the Israelite people to victory in the conquest of the Holy Land. His name was ororiginally Hoshea or Hoshua, but Moses prefixed this with the Name of God, YAH, giving him the name, Yahoshua, which means, "the Salvation of Yah". In time the vowel "o" was softened making for Yahushua or Yah'shua, much as my own name is commonly abbreviated from "Christopher" to "Chris".
YAH and YAHWEH
"Yah" (written in German as "Jah" in which form it has come to us), the divine name which appears in many biblical names (e.g. Ps.68:4, KJV), is itself, in fact, an abbreviation of God's full Name, YAHWEH.
YHWH, Yahweh, the Name of God the Father
Owing to a Jewish superstition not to repeat this word, the true Name of God became concealed and subsequently lost. Unlike modern languages like English, French, or German, the original written form of the Hebrew language did not contain vowels and the words, consisting of only consonants, were joined together into one long string. Thus the English sentence, "My name is John Smith" would have appeared as: M NM S JHN SMTH or MNMSJHNSMTH. Because the ancient Hebrew language had only a small vocabulary it was not usually difficult, whilst reading, to mentally insert the missing vowels in the written form which everyone used in everyday speech; and where there were other possibilities, the context usually revealed the correct vocalisation.
Later, Hebrew scholars added the vowels into the Hebrew text (called "pointing") so that it would be more readable. However, the missing vowels of the Divine Name YAHWEH were not re-inserted -- instead, the vowels from the Hebrew ADONAI (meaning "Lord") were inserted in their place which led to the false transliteration, JEHOVAH.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that most scholarship recognises the erroneous propagation of the Divine Name, few Bibles acknowledge or use it. To my knowledge, only the Catholic New Jerusalem Bible is faithful to the Name YAHWEH. Most others either substitute it for "LORD" or insert "JEHOVAH" -- the former is not a proper name at all (and may be used of humans) and the latter is not only erroneous but blasphemous, for literally translated, it means "Y-H is mischievous", "ruin", "disaster", or "perverse" (Heb. hovah = "mischievous", "ruin", "disaster", "perverse"). We are not surprised, therefore, that one of the worst pseudo-Christian cults uses this false name as an appellation to God!
Does is Matter?
Does it matter whether we get the Name of the Holy One wrong? If we use a wrong name in ignorance then we are not guilty. But once we come to knowledge, we become accountable.
It matters because God says it matters. Read carefully through the Bible and you will discover hundreds of references which not only say that God as a person should be reverenced but also His NAME. Why? Because "Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is NO OTHER NAME under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Ac.4:12, NIV, quoting Joel 3:5 where which reads: "And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of YAHWEH shall be saved"). What Name is this? YAH'SHUA. What Name does Yah'shua bear? Yah'shua bears the Name of YAHWEH, our Heavenly Father.
The Bible does not teach that there is "no other person by which men must be saved" but no other NAME. Does that mean that God's personhood is unimportant? Of course not. God is a Person. He is personal, a Divine Being withom we may converse and get to know personally. But how are we to distinguish the True God from all the other gods masquerading as Him?
If your little daughter who, for the sake of argument, is blind, got lost and was picked up by the police, how would she identify her parents orally? She could not describe their appearance because she can't see. She could describe their characteristics -- "my Dad is kind and my Mum loves me", but that wouldn't be too helpful to the police. So what would she do? She would give their NAMES -- Joe and Shirley Smith.
Let us say that that there has been an emergency at home and the hospital has telephoned my place of work. What use would it be if on the intercom the name "Philip Morrison" was called out? My name is Christopher Warren, not Philip Morrison!
We are commanded in Scripture not to call upon the personality of God but upon His NAME. Can anyone describe God in His fullness? Of course not! We know a lot about Him (or should do if we are true Christians) but we can never know Him fully in this life. So how do we identify Him? By His NAME.
Unlike men, God is all-powerful and all-knowing. He is merciful when, in our ignorance, we address Him by the wrong Name. I don't much like being called "Kreesh" but I accept that it is difficult for some Norwegians to say anything else. But if someone deliberately and knowingly calls me "Benito Mussolini" when he knows my true name, do I not have a right to be displeased with him? What can his motive be but to ridicule? Thus if we know God's Name is YAHWEH yet we persistently call Him "Jehovah" (a name never used before 1518), are we not, in fact, mocking Him?
The third commandment says that we are not to misuse the Name of God, Yahweh. His Name is not "Jehovah" or "Allah" or any of the other man-made names, some of which are undoubtedly of demonic origin. Though "Lord" (Adonai) and "God" (Elohim, El) are by no means disrespectful (though there is strong evidence that Adonai is a borrow word from Greek denoting the pagan god Adonis), being generic names, they are not God's true names. If, in addressing Yahweh, we call Him "God" or "Lord", we do not, of course sin, though some argue that since the word 'God' is derived from the pagan deity Gad/Gawd (another name for Jupiter or Zeus) and the word 'lord' a Roman house god, they should not therefore be used (substituting, instead, Elohim and Master) -- indeed, Yah'shua (Jesus) teaches we should address Him as "Father" in our prayers. Let each therefore be satisfied in his own conscience as to how he addresses the Almighty.
What of "Jesus"?
In the light of what we know about "Jehovah" and Yahweh, what then should be our position be regarding "Jesus" and Yah'shua? Unlike the word "Jehovah", which we consider blasphemous, we can find no evidence that "Jesus" falls under a similar category.
"Jesus" is not, as we have said, a proper name, and tells us little about the person of the Messiah. Clearly Yah'shua or Yahushua is a better Name and one we should begin to get into the habit of using. "Jesus" is derived from the Greek which has no "sh" sound. When originally Yah'shua was translated into the Greek, it probably sounded something like "Eesu-uh" with the suffix "-s" for the correct grammatical ending, making IESOUS. This was also the name used in English up to about two-and-a-half-centuries ago when it was written "Iesus" (and is still the pronunciation used here in Scandinavia, even though it is spelled "Jesus").
There are some who maintain that "Iesous" is a blasphemous syncretism with the Greek deity Zeus (Ye-Zeus) but we find little evidence for that. Iesous is simply the Hellenic (Greek) version of Yah'shua which became corrupted by the French influence on the English language making it "Jesus". To say "Jesus" instead of Yah'shua is, in our opinion, no more insulting than someone calling me "Kreesh" instead of "Chris". However, clearly "Yah'shua" is better, and since there is no obstacle to Anglo-Saxon tongues articulating it, we should start to learn using it. At the same time, the vast bulk of Christendom continue to call the Messiah "Jesus" and for communication's sake New Covenant Christians have no objections to its use generally.
It is important, however, that we get the Name of our Heavenly Father right. Salvation, according to Scripture, is in the Name of Yahweh (or Yahuweh with a soft 'u') only (Ac.4:12; Joel 2:32; Prov.18:10). We are commanded to address Him as "Father" (Mt.6:9) and "Yahweh" (Ps.113:3). Knowing the Name of the true God is considered important (Ps.91:14; Mal.3:16-17) and gathering in His Name will bring about special blessings (Zec.10:12; 13:9). God's people do not deny His true Name (by insisting on "Jehovah", for example -- Rev.3:8; 2:13) and indeed will, as a sign that they are on the true Path, know that Name (Is.52:6; 43:7; Dan.9:19; 2 Chr.7:14; Amos 9:12; Jer.15:16) and will be sealed in that Name (Rev.22:4). And once we know that true Name, our use of it will be evidence of our obedience to His commandments (Jer.10:25; Rev.13:17 & 14:1), and the Name will be the focus of those who rebell against God (Mal.1:6; Rev.13:6; Rev.16:9). Indeed, those who refuse to acknowledge His Name will be punished (Mal.1:14; Ps.79:6; Jer.10:25; Jn.3:18; Rev.11:18).
In short, the Name YAHWEH is the foundation for all truth. What shall we say, then, of those who reject Yahweh but accept Jesus? They have rejected Jesus also, because Jesus is YAH-SHUA -- the Salvation of Yahweh! Indeed, Jesus is so closely identified with Yahweh in the Scriptures as to be seemingly indistinguishable from Him, being the "mighty God (Elohim), the everlasting Father (Abba)" (Is.9:6, AV). Thus we are justified in saying that YAHWEH and YAH'SHUA (Jesus) are, to all intents and purposes, indistinguishable as far as their common Name is concerned. Yahweh is the Father -- and Yahweh is the Son.
Endnote on "Elohim" and Mormonism
It is a point of interest that Mormons refer to the Father as "Elohim" and Jesus as "Jehovah", the latter blasphemous name even appearing at the end of the Book of Mormon (Moroni 10:34) and in a misquotation of Is.12:2 where "Lord Jehovah" erroneously translates "Yah, Yahweh" (2 Nephi 22:2). "Elohim" is not a proper name and translates simply as "God" and is invariably connected to Yahweh in appellations to Deity, such as "Yahweh-Elohim" (translated in most English Bibles as "LORD God"). Interestingly, the apostle Thomas addressed Jesus (without being corrected) as "my LORD and my God" (which in the Hebrew would have been "my Yahweh and my Elohim")! Thus not only are the Father and Son both called "Elohim" but they are also both called "Yahweh" (Jehovah's Witnesses note too!).
The Mistaken J: True Names of the Father & Son, YNCA, Kingdom City, Mo., USA, 1996
This page was created on 15 August 1997
Last updated on 4 November 2007
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