What's In a Name? (The Third Commandment)
Sermon shared by Timothy Peck
Summary: As followers of Jesus Christ, we carry Godís name with us wherever we go, whatever we do.
Series: Landmarks for a New Millennium
Audience: General adults
Now letís look a little deeper at the meaning and background to Godís Old Testament name Yahweh. †Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, íThe God of your fathers has sent me to you,í and they ask me, íWhat is his name?í Then what shall I tell them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: íI AM has sent me to you.í" God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, íThe LORD [Hebrew: Yahweh], the God of your fathers-- the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob-- has sent me to you.í This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation (Exodus 3:13-15 NIV).
This is Godís calling to Moses from the burning bush, where God summons Moses from out of the desert to confront the Egyptian Pharaoh and to lead Israel out of their slavery. Here God identifies himself as the same God Israelís ancestors worshipped, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When Moses asks for Godís name, God says, "I am that I am." In the Bible a personís name embodied his personality, so the name was the sum total of a personís character, authority, power and reputation (Kaiser 321). "I am" is Godís way of saying that heís eternally existent, self reliant, the living God, who exists in the past, the present and the future. In the context, this is Godís way of saying, "I am he who exists and who will be dynamically present then and there in the situation to which I am sending you" (Kaiser 321).
Now the name Yahweh comes from the Hebrew verb "I am" (Kaiser 324). So whenever a person called God by his name Yahweh, he was identifying God as the eternal one, the one who was, who is and who is to come.
God says that this is his name forever, that itís not going to change.
Now that causes lots of people to wonder if Godís name did change when Jesus came into the world. After all, the New Testament never uses the personal name Yahweh, not once. And the New Testament seems to put the emphasis on the name Jesus, not the name Yahweh. Christians are told to pray in the name of Jesus, to baptize in the name of Jesus, and so forth. The name of Jesus is identified in the New Testament as the name above all other names, and that a time is coming when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess the Lordship of Jesus. So some have wondered if itís really true that Yahweh is Godís name forever, since the New Testament puts such an emphasis on the name of Jesus.
Look at Matthew 1:21-- "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
God is the one who gave Jesus his name. The name "Jesus" or its Aramaic form "Joshua" is a combination of two words: Yahweh and salvation. So the etymological meaning of the name Jesus is "Yahweh saves." Thatís why the angel told Joseph to name the child Jesus, because he would bring salvation. So whenever you say Jesus, you also say Yahweh.
The Bible starts by revealing God by the title "God."
Genesis 1:1 says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
This isnít a name, but itís a
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