3. What’s the name of God?




God’s personal name is YHWH (the TETRAGRAMMATON, meaning ‘The four letters’), which is a Hebrew name, which is pronounced YAHWEH and which means ‘The Self-Existent-One’ or ‘He who is’ or ‘I am’. God revealed His Name to Moses when He appeared to Moses and commanded him to go to Egypt to set His people free, for on that occasion Moses asked God to tell him His name and God answered him. Here is what we read in the book of Exodus: “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” (Exodus 3:13-14). God was not known by that name to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, for God said to Moses: “I am the LORD: And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name YAHWEH was I not known to them” (Exodus 6:2-3). In the writings of the Old Testament, Yahweh is the name of God which occurs most frequently (about 6830 times). In the English translations of the Bible it is generally translated as ‘LORD’ (in the IBRV it is translated as ‘L’Eterno’, that is, ‘The Eternal’; while in the IBDV it is translated as ‘Signore’, that is, ‘Lord’). Here are some examples of the name YHWH used in the Scripture. God is YHWH-Rapha, that is, “Yahweh who heals,’ as it is written: “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee [Yahweh-Rapha]” (Exodus 15:26). He is YHWH-Nissi, that is, ‘Yahweh my banner,’ as it is written: “And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Yahweh-nissi” (Exodus 17:15). He is YHWH-Shalom, that is ‘Yahweh our peace,’ as it is written: “Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Yahweh-shalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abi-ezrites” (Judges 6:24). He is YHWH-Jireh, that is, ‘Yahweh will see/provide,’ as it is written: “And Abraham called the name of that place Yahweh-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen” (Genesis 22:14). He is YHWH-Sabaoth, that is, ‘Yahweh of Hosts’ (1 Samuel 1:3). He is YHWH-Roi, that is, ‘Yahweh my Shepherd’ (Psalm 23:1). He is YHWH-Hoseenu, that is, ‘Yahweh our maker’ (Psalm 95:6). He is YHWH-Elyon, that is, ‘Yahweh most high’ (Psalm 7:17). He is YHWH-M’kaddesh, that is, ‘Yahweh who sanctifies you’ (Exodus 31:13). He is YHWH-Shammah, that is, ‘Yahweh is there’ (Ezekiel 48:35). The Jews stopped pronouncing the name YHWH by the third century A.D. for fear of breaking this commandment: “You shall not take the name of YHWH your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7 - NKJV). Some Jewish rabbis asserted that a person who pronounces YHWH according to its letters (instead of using a substitute) has no place in the world to come, and should be put to death. Instead of pronouncing the name YHWH, the Jews usually substitute it with ‘Adonai,’ or simply say ‘Ha-Shem’ (which means ‘The Name’).

Therefore, when we talk with God, we can call Him ‘Yahweh’ or ‘He who is’ or ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’.

I have said ‘we can call Him’ and not ‘we must call Him’ because since we are now children of God (having been adopted as His sons) we can call Him simply ‘Father,’ knowing that He will surely hear us. In other words, just as we call our earthly father ‘father’ (and though we don’t call him by name – the name which was registered at the General Registry Office – he does not get angry with us at all), so we can call the God who gave us birth through the Gospel ‘Father’. And since His throne is in heaven, from where He sees everybody and everything, we call Him ‘Our Father in heaven’ or ‘Our heavenly Father’. We avoid calling Him ‘My Father’ because only Jesus Christ called Him ‘My Father’. The apostle Paul never called God ‘My Father’; he called God ‘My God’ but never ‘My Father’. We also call God “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Colossians 1:3), ‘Lord’, ‘Lord of heaven and earth’, ‘Creator of all things’, and ‘Almighty God’.

However, what matters is not how we call God, but how we come to Him, that is to say, what counts is coming to God in faith, with a pure heart, and with holy hands, for God promised He will answer the prayers of those who call on Him in faith and in truth.