God Is NOT His Name
On March 3, 2018, my sister, Lisa, sent me a link to a blog post entitled, “What does the Bible say about OMG?” It was a brief post, opining on the dangers of taking God’s name in vain and pointing out that our common usage of OMG is doing just that. The article got my sister and I thinking. I had often been grieved when hearing fellow Christians use terms like that casually and often when angry or frustrated. “Good Lord!” is another one I heard often from a young woman in ministry at a church I once attended. I, too, always thought that it was bordering on taking God’s name in vain if not outright doing so. However, I knew then that God is not his name; neither is Lord, or Christ. Those are titles, not names. BIG DIFFERENCE, right?
Reading through the comments of social media posts can be “fun” and informative. You can get a real sense of where people’s attitudes and beliefs are from these. This article was no different, except that it was a civil discussion that did not devolve into viciousness and name calling that is so rampant on many sites. I noticed that most people were agreeing with the writer of the post, but there were several that pointed out that God is not the Creator’s name. (Neither is Creator, BTW!) It is a title and there are a number of titles for Him in the Bible. Some took extra pains to really lay out their argument for this. At one point, the blog writer made a comment which was designed to shut down all further arguments. She said, “Can we agree that God is the name that English-speaking people know and use? Can we agree on that? You can get technical on me, but the bottom line is that when we say ‘God’ we are referring to the Creator of the Universe.” This statement was one of the main reasons why I set out to study more about God’s real name, and why many, if not most, Christians believe, as Leslie A. does, that God is His name.
Does consistently referring to someone in the same way for a long period of time with a specific term cause that term to become his proper name? For instance, I have always called my father “Daddy” (I’m a Southern girl). Does that make his name Daddy? Obviously not. But sadly, this is not at all obvious when it comes to the name of the God of the universe. Another example could be a nickname. Sometimes, a nickname is just a shortened form or a slight variation of the given name: Michael becomes Mike, David becomes Dave, etc. Or, it could be something totally different. My husband was a tall skinny boy who was all arms and legs and he earned the nickname Spider! Some people still call him that to this day. But do his friends think that is his real name? Of course not! Unfortunately, many of us (me included) have been tricked into believing that Lord or God is our heavenly Father’s name, because we read it so often in His Word. But His REAL name has been hidden in plain sight behind the most common title in the English translations of the Bible. It was also silenced in another way in the Hebrew Bible.
We will seek to discover the who, what, where, when, why and how behind this as we uncover God’s true name. Why is knowing His personal name important? How can it affect our relationship to our Father, the one true God of the universe? If you want to find the answers to these questions, come join me on this journey of discovery!
Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?
God’s Name in Scripture: Where is it?
Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon His name.
I will praise the LORD according to His righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.
The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runs into it, and is safe.
Praise ye the LORD. Praise, O ye servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD. Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD’s name is to be praised.
Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the name of the LORD; praise Him, O ye servants of the LORD.
Thy name, O LORD, endures for ever; and thy memorial, O LORD, throughout all generations.
Let them praise the name of the LORD: for His name alone is excellent; His glory is above the earth and heaven.
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them,
The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
The LORD make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The LORD lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
And they shall put My name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.
Titles vs. the Name in English Translations
Below is a list of the titles most often used for the Creator in the English translations of the Old Testament, followed by the Hebrew words they are translated from (with Strongs numbers) and the other ways these words are translated in the Scriptures:
God – Elohim (H430) appears in KJV 2606x; God 2346x, GOD 1x, god 244x, goddess 2x, great 2x, mighty 2x, angels 1x, misc 3x; El (H410) appears in KJV 245x; God 213x, god 16x, misc 16x
GOD – (H3069) appears in KJV 305x; GOD 304x, LORD 1x
LORD – (H3068) appears in KJV 6519x; LORD 6510x, GOD 4x, JEHOVAH 4x, variant 1x
Lord – Adon (H113) appears in KJV 335x; lord 197x, master(s) 105x, Lord 31x, owner 1x, sir 1x; Adonay (H136) appears in KJV 434x; Lord 431x, lord 2x, God 1x
We can easily see that without a doubt the MOST COMMON appellation for God in the Bible (English translations) is LORD since it occurs well over 6500 times in the OT! The phrase “the name of the LORD” occurs 108 times in the KJV of the Old Testament.
So…Does it then follow that His NAME is LORD?
What Is His True Name?
Remember that I have titled this study “The HIDDEN Name of God.” Where is it hidden? God’s (Elohim’s) true name has been hidden in virtually every English translation of the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible behind the title LORD! Sometimes it is hidden behind GOD. Four times in the KJV it is in a transliterated form.
In order to discover the true name of the Almighty, let’s take a look at the account of Moses at the burning bush, when God revealed His personal name to Moses.
And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is His name: What shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and He said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses,
Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is My name forever, and this is My memorial unto all generations.
Did you see the name of our heavenly Father in the verses above? Of course not! It is hidden. So how can we know His name? We must dive deep to solve this mystery!
Familiar Titles and Compound Names of the Creator
The following list contains several of the common titles for God as well as several instances of His name in connection with one of His attributes. You will most likely be familiar with many of these.
El Elyon – God Most High
El Shaddai – Almighty God
El Roi – God Who Sees (me)
El Qanna – Jealous God
Jehovah Jireh – (H3070) The LORD will see (to it)
Jehovah Nisse – (H3071) The LORD is my Banner
Jehovah Tsidqenuw – (H3072) The LORD our Righteousness
Jehovah Shalom – (H3073) The LORD is Peace
Jehovah Shammah – (H3074) The LORD is There
Jehovah Rapha – The LORD that healeth thee
Jehovah Mekaddishkhem – The LORD that Sanctifies you
Jehovah Ra’ah – The LORD my Shepherd
Yah – (H3050) 49x shortened form of 3068 Hallelu Yah!
We need to wade into the Hebrew language and scriptures to fully see and understand God’s name. Please keep in mind when you encounter the Hebrew letters or words in this study or elsewhere, that Hebrew is read from right to left.
Are you ready and willing to get your feet wet? Let’s go!
The TETRAGRAMMATON, as the above symbol is called, is the UNIQUE NAME of the Elohim (God) of all Creation, the one and only true God. It is sometimes called in Hebrew the Shem HaMeforash. This is usually translated into English as the ineffable (unspeakable) name, but it actually means the “explicit” or “unequivocal” name. This is the name of God which occurs nearly 7,000 times in the Hebrew Scriptures – the Old Testament. It is almost exclusively translated as LORD in English Bibles.
When God, Himself, inscribed the Ten Commandments on the stone tablets with His finger, He inscribed His own, unique name – the one He revealed to Moses at the burning bush, on those very tablets! In fact, the very first time God’s unique, personal name was ever written, it was written by יהוה Himself!!! When Moses wrote the original Pentateuch (first five books of the Old Testament), the Torah, he wrote the Tetragrammaton whenever the name of God was recorded. The early Israelites heard this sacred name spoken by Moses, Aaron, the priests. Later the prophets spoke it as well. In fact, it was spoken often by the people. AND the Israelites heard יהוה speak His Own unique name HIMSELF at Mt. Sinai when He spoke the Ten Commandments to them from the mountain!!!
At some point, sometime after the Babylonian captivity, the Israelites began the practice of not speaking the sacred name of God, instead saying Adonai (Hebrew for Lord). The English translation of the Hebrew Tanakh (Stone Edition) uses the Hebrew term HaShem, which simply means The Name, in place of the Tetragrammaton. There are many theories as to why the tradition of not speaking the name occurred. We will look at some of these in later sessions of this study.
The practice of not speaking the sacred name of God was taken a step further when men began translating the Hebrew Scriptures into English. It was decided to use the term LORD, written in all capital letters, in place of the Tetragrammaton. This decision further hid God’s sacred name from the hearts and minds of the people reading or speaking the Scriptures.
There are a number of English translations that do include a transliteration of the Tetragrammaton. This is usually rendered as Jehovah, which I consider a rather unfortunate transliteration, because the letter ‘J’ did not get added to the English alphabet until the early 1600’s. However, other than the initial ‘J’ the pronunciation is very close to the Hebrew pronunciation. It is rendered Jehovah 4 times in the KJV, 14 times in the World English Bible, and over 5700 times in the Darby Translation, the Young’s Literal Translation and the American Standard Version.
Please keep in mind when you encounter the Tetragrammaton in this study or elsewhere, that Hebrew is read from right to left.
(Yehovah – Jehovah)
Yehovah Yireh – (H3070) Yehovah will see (to it)
Yehovah Nisse – (H3071) Yehovah is my Banner
Yehovah Tsidqenuw – (H3072) Yehovah our Righteousness
Yehovah Shalom – (H3073) Yehovah is Peace
Yehovah Shammah – (H3074) Yehovah is There
Yehovah Rapha – Yehovah that Healeth thee
Yehovah Mekaddishkhem – Yehovah that Sanctifies you
Yehovah Ra’ah – Yehovah my Shepherd
Yah – (H3050) 49x shortened form of 3068 Hallelu Yah
The list above uses the proper transliteration of God’s personal name based on the pronunciation of the first letter of the tetragrammaton — י (yod) which in this case is pronounced like the English letter ‘y’ when it appears at the beginning of a word (as in yellow).
Here’s a little homework for you! The next time you pick up your Bible to read from the Old Testament, notice how often you see the words LORD or GOD (all caps). When you see that, try reading it as Yehovah or Jehovah. I encourage you to say it out loud. I believe it will give you a different perspective of the verses you are reading. It will show you a personal God with a personal name who speaks directly to us from the pages of His Word! Let me know if reading the Word comes alive in a new way for you. It certainly did for me! Don’t worry about proper pronunciation at this point. We will cover that later. Some translations may not use the all caps format and simply use Lord. This will make it more difficult to distinguish The Name from other uses of the word lord. If your translation does not use the all caps version of LORD, try to find one that does. KJV, NKJV, NASB, ESV are a few versions that use this format. Online versions can be found at http://www.blueletterbible.org, http://www.bible.com, the YouVersion app and many other online resources.
Next, since you now know where the name is hidden, count the number of times you encounter it in your daily reading. Sometimes it occurs multiple times in the same verse!
We have only gotten our toes wet at this point! Are you ready to go deeper? If you are, please join me for Session 2 and beyond!