Summary: This is an introductory sermon on the names of God. It was given on an "Open House" Sunday where we recieved many visitors and guests.
God’s First Name
Names are often meant to be descriptive or hopeful
I really enjoyed the movie “Holes”. All the boys who were required to dig holes – 5 feet deep and 4 feet in diameter every day – were given 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 recieved their names because of an attribute - real or perceived. When I was a kid I got called Sticky Ricky. I’m sure that each of you could tell a story or two about your nicknames too.
Names in the Bible are important. They often give you critical clues to the character and nature of a person.
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, the second born twin he was came into this life clutching onto 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?
Jehovah God. yod heh vav heh. These are the Hebrew consonants with vowel points that were added later on by Masoretic monks in the 800’s.
The odd thing is that the vowel points are not for God’s name but for the title LORD – Adoni. You see the people of God were so afraid to misuse or blaspheme God’s name they wouldn’t even say it. Today we don’t really know how to pronounce God’s First name!
When Moses was chosen by God to lead the people of Israel (These were all the descendents of Jacob who became Israel) out of slavery in Egypt God called to him from a burning bush in the foot hills of a mountain called Sinai. (That’s where Moses would receive the 10 commandments from God later on).
Let me read to you about what happened – directly from the text. This is in the version called “The Message.” I don’t have it for you on the screen so just focus on the words and catch what God told Moses.
Exodus 3:7-15 (The Message)
GOD said, “I’ve taken a good, long look at the affliction of my people in Egypt. I’ve heard their cries for deliverance from their slave masters; I know all about their pain. And now I have come down to help them, pry them loose from the grip of Egypt, get them out of that country and bring them to a good land with wide-open spaces, a land lush with milk and honey, the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite.
“The Israelite cry for help has come to me, and I’ve seen for myself how cruelly they’re being treated by the Egyptians. It’s time for you to go back: I’m sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the People of Israel, out of Egypt.”
Moses answered God, “But why me? What makes you think that I could ever go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
“I’ll be with you,” God said. “And this will be the proof that I am the one who sent you: When you have brought my people out of Egypt, you will worship God right here at this very mountain.”
Then Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the People of Israel and I tell them, ‘The God of your fathers sent me to you’; and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ What do I tell them?”
God said to Moses, “I-AM-WHO-I-AM. Tell the People of Israel, ‘I-AM sent me to you.’ ”
God continued with Moses: “This is what you’re to say to the Israelites: ‘GOD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob sent me to you.’ This has always been my name, and this is how I always will be known.
God’s First name describes him well
I AM WHO I AM. In the Hebrew language these words sound like the Hebrew consonants for God’s name – yod heh vav heh. I AM WHO I AM.
God is the one who IS. He sees all and has seen all. He understands all has understood all. He is before the beginning and he is after the end. God is “I AM”.