Our God is YHWH
John D. Telgren

What is in a name? What do we mean when we, :make a "name" for ourselves? What about not dishonoring the family "name" or carrying on the family "name?" Is a name merely a designation to distinguish one person or persons from someone else, or is there more? Why did God change Abram's (great father) name changed to Abraham (father of a multitude)? From the way "names" are used, it becomes clear that it can do with fame, honor, and character. For instance, names like Jezebel, or Mother Teresa denote a particular type of character, and can even be used metaphorically for someone or something.

So, does God have a name? In the studies about "names" of God, I quickly came to the realization that God really only has one name. Many of the words such as Elohim (God), El-Shaddai (Almighty God), El-Elyon (Most High God), etc. are designations, not names.

When we have a close relationship with someone, we usually call them by their name or a term of endearment, not by their designation. I call my wife, "dear" or "Stacey," not "woman," or "female human." In the same way, when God initiated a personal relationship with his people in Exodus, God gave them his personal name, Yahweh. Like other names, it has a meaning. It means something like, "He who will be," or "He who will cause to be." God "will be" with his people. God will "cause" salvation for his people. True to his name, God accomplished that very thing for his people.

Why did God give and demonstrate his name? Daniel 9:19 says that God's people, Israel are called by his name. Acts 15:17 says that we, the gentiles are also called by his name. So not only are we not to take the name of the Lord in vain, we are also "called" by his name. One of the condemnations of Israel was that they had dishonored or defiled the name of the Lord by their actions, especially in the book of Ezekiel. They had forgotten his name as was evident by their deeds. Greed, exploitation, idolatry, fornication, and even child-sacrifice were all deeds that Israel practiced. What would the nations think about Yahweh from the way his people conducted themselves?

The application is clear. We are called by a new name, the name of Christ. Do we honor his name in our words and deeds. Do the nations see us reflect his grace, righteousness, mercy and love in our lives. Or do they see us spreading hate and discontent? Do they see us as a stone-throwing, judgmental people? Do we honor the name of the Lord in our life?