Summary: God favored His people by revealing Himself by several names which offered special insight into His love and righteousness.

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God’s First Name

Exodus 3:7-15

Names are often meant to be descriptive or hopeful. Stanley Yelnats was sentenced to 18 months at a camp for a crime he did nto commit. He and all the other boys are forced to dig 5 foot wide by 4 foot deep holes in the desert every day. They are told this builds character, but in fact they are being used to hunt treasure. Stanley befriends a Zero who is very reclusive. They form a bond and expose their captors’ real plans. What is interesting is the nicknames given to the boys, some pretty interesting nicknames. Armpit, Barfbag, Zero, Caveman are just a few examples. Armpit had a problem with B.O. Barfbag, well; I’ll let you figure him out. Zero was perceived as nothing and caveman found a fossil.

All received their names because of an attribute - real or perceived. I’m sure that each of you could tell a story or two about your nicknames too.

Names in the Bible are important. In the ancient world, knowing another’s name was a special privilege that offered access to that person’s thought and life.

For example, take Jacob, one of two sons of Isaac who was the son of Abraham.

Jacob means "surplanter" or "cheater". He was named that because, he came into this life holding onto his brothers heal, as if to pull him back in and to take his place. Later in life, Jabob did cheat his brother out of his inherited birthright as the first-born.

Later, Jacob changed. Through God’s influence he changed from being a deceptive, sneaky, slimy, oily character into a compassionate, sensitive, caring, and passionate man. So God changed his name too. His name changed from Jacob (meaning cheater) to Israel (meaning prince of God)

So what is God’s name?

God favored His people by revealing Himself by several names which offered special insight into His love and righteousness.

Jehovah/Yahweh. One of the most important names for God in the Old Testament is Yahweh, or Jehovah, from the verb "to be," meaning simply but profoundly, "I am who I am," and "I will be who I will be." The four-letter Hebrew word YHWH was the name by which God revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). This bush was a vivid symbol of the inexhaustible dynamism of God who burns like a fire with love and righteousness, yet remains the same and never diminishes. Some English translations of the Bible translate the word as Jehovah, while others use Yahweh.

God is the author of life and salvation. His "I am" expresses the fact that He is the infinite and original personal God who is behind everything and to whom everything must finally be traced. This name, "I am who I am," signals the truth that nothing else defines who God is but God Himself. What He says and does is who He is. The inspired Scriptures are the infallible guide to understanding who God is by what He says about Himself and what He does. Yahweh is the all-powerful and sovereign God who alone defines Himself and establishes truth for His creatures and works for their salvation.

When Moses was chosen by God to lead the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt God called to him from a burning bush in the foot hills of a mountain called Sinai.

Let me read to you about what happened – directly from the text. This is in the version called “The Message.” Focus on the words and catch what God told Moses.

Exodus 3:7-15 (The Message)

God’s First name describes him well

Moses was called to proclaim deliverance to the people and was told by God, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ’I AM has sent me to you’ " (Exodus 3:14). In the deliverance of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt, God revealed a deeper significance to His name. But He had already disclosed Himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as Yahweh. Each of them had called on the name of the Lord (Yahweh) (Genesis 12:8; 13:4; 26:25; Exodus 3:15) as the God who protects and blesses. Yet Exodus 6:3 shows that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not know the fuller meaning of Yahweh, which was to be revealed to Moses and the Hebrew people in the Exodus experience.

The divine name Yahweh is usually translated Lord in English versions of the Bible, because it became a practice in late Old Testament Judaism not to pronounce the sacred name YHWH, but to say instead "my Lord" (Adonai) - a practice still used today in the synagogue. When the vowels of Adonai were attached to the consonants YHWH in the medieval period, the word Jehovah resulted. Today, many Christians use the word Yahweh, the more original pronunciation, not hesitating to name the divine name since Jesus taught believers to speak in a familiar way to God.

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