We all know that the name of the Father is YHWH (יהוה). LORD in English is translated from YHWH. But is it really the name of the Father? What is the name of the Father?
Exod 3:13-15 Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM [H1961 הָיָה hayah (haw-yaw)] has sent me to you.’ ” Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The LORD [H3068 יְהוָה Yhvah (yeh-vaw’)] God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’
The LORD (all caps) as translated into English actually means Master, not YHWH. Due to the practice of keeping His name holy, it was translated into “LORD” inheriting the practice of how Jews used His name. What does YHWH actually mean? The word “He is” comes from the Hebrew root word haya, which means, “to be.” It is the third person form of this word, “He is,” that becomes the name Yahweh. In other words, “I AM” (Hayah) and “He is” (Yhvah) are same except when God refers to Himself, He used Hayah and when God wants others to refer Him, He used Yhvah.
If you look closely, God is not actually giving any “name”. God is teaching an important lesson that He exists for all eternity and expects Pharaoh to know that the one true God who exists for all eternity had sent Moses. Unfortunately, people started to create their own gods and God is simply mentioning “He is (who He is)” which is a common phrase into His personal name, YHWH.
His Name is Holy
God is also teaching something else which got lost in the modern western cultural degrade of this century having no respect for elders.
Gen 43:20 and said, “O sir, we indeed came down the first time to buy food;
Matt 27:63 saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’
Luke 13:8 “But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it.
Dan 2:37 “You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory;
In many cultures even today, no one calls a honourable person by name out of respect. They always call by their honourable title. Whether it was in ancient Egypt or how Pharisees addressed Pilate or a servant in Jesus parable, they all referred to the honourable person as “Sir” out of respect. You only call someone lower than or equal to you by their name. Imagine you are having an opportunity for a conversation with a powerful king of a huge empire. Will you ever address him by calling on his name or with respect, ‘Your Majesty”? The point is, we simply can’t call on God with His name for His name is holy.
His Name is beyond names for calling
1Kgs 11:36 I will give one tribe to his son so that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I chose to put my Name.
Jer 25:29 “For behold, I begin to bring calamity on the city which is called by My name, and should you be utterly unpunished? You shall not be unpunished, for I will call for a sword on all the inhabitants of the earth,” says the LORD of hosts.’
The city of Jerusalem is called by His name. This does not mean Jerusalem is God’s name. It means, when we refer to Jerusalem, we know it is God’s city or it belongs to Him.
Num 6:27 “So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”
Amos 9:12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom, And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,” Says the LORD who does this thing.
Israelites are called by His name since God had put His name on the children of Israel. In other words, the world will know that the children of Israel belong to Him and they serve Him. The same is true even for gentiles who are called by His name.
As we can see, a city which has it’s own name a a group of people who have their own names are called by God’s name. Yet, neither the name of the city, nor the name of the people have the name of the LORD in their name.
Jer 34:16 ‘Then you turned around and profaned My name, and every one of you brought back his male and female slaves, whom he had set at liberty, at their pleasure, and brought them back into subjection, to be your male and female slaves.’
God’s people who are called by His name disobey Him, they profane His name. Hence, profaning doesn’t just mean blaspheming His name but it has a far-reaching meaning that even disobedience to Him will profane His name among the pagans.
Ezek 20:8-9 “But they rebelled against Me and would not obey Me. They did not all cast away the abominations which were before their eyes, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. Then I said, ‘I will pour out My fury on them and fulfill My anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt. But I acted for My name’s sake, that it should not be profaned before the Gentiles among whom they were, in whose sight I had made Myself known to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
God also act on many occasions inspite of the children of Israel being rebellious for His name sake, to avoid His name being profaned among the Gentiles. Because the children of Israel are called by His name, if they disobey and do not follow His commandments, they profane His name. Hence, God’s name is beyond names. If we are to be called by His name, He expects us to represent who He is.
His Name is hidden or beyond understanding
Judg 13:18 And the Angel of the LORD said to him, “Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?” (NKJV)
Judg 13:18 And the angel of the LORD said unto him: ‘Wherefore askest thou after my name, seeing it is hidden?’ (Tanakh)
Judg 13:18 He replied, “Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding. (NIV)
When Manoah asked the Angel of the LORD regarding His name, the Angel replied something strange. He said, His name is hidden (or) beyond understanding or incomprehensible – which is often translated into English as wonderful.
Gen 32:29 Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there.
When Jacob asked God His name, God simply questioned him, why is he asking His name. Based on the conversation God is expecting Jacob to know Him, yet does not reveal His name.
Hence, His name is hidden, beyond understanding or incomprehensible.
His Name is not about pronunciation and spelling
Isa 52:6 Therefore My people shall know My name; Therefore they shall know in that day That I am He who speaks: ‘Behold, it is I.’ ”
Knowing God’s name is not about how to pronounce his name or spell his name but rather, it is knowing who He is.
Ps 91:14 … I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
Obviously, all the children of Israel knew the name of their God as YHWH. David isn’t saying he is going to set all those who know how to pronounce and spell His name on high, but rather, knowing who He is.
Gen 17:1 Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God [H410 אֵל ‘El] Almighty [H7706 שַׁדַּי Shadday]; Walk before Me, and be blameless.
Rev 3:12 “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.
What is the name of the LORD? YHWH is not the personal name of our God. For Abraham, He revealed as El Shaday. For Israelites, He revealed as YHWH. Christ will have a new name in future. His name is Holy and is beyond just calling Him. If we are called by His name, yet disobey, it profanes His name. His name is hidden and beyond understanding. His name is not about pronunciation and spelling but rather it is who He is.