The Name Yahweh

“And Moses said to God, Behold, I [shall] come to the sons of Israel and say to them, the God of your fathers has sent me to you; and they will say to me, What [is] His name? What shall I say to them? And God said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM; and He said, You shall say this to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you. And God said to Moses again, You shall say this to the sons of Israel, Jehovah, the 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 from generation to generation” (Exodus 3:13-15).

I am NOT promoting or endorsing John Piper as a true Christian when I quote from him, but I think he provides some insight that may benefit true Christians.  Piper writes:

“God gave himself the name Yahweh. No man gave him this name. It is God’s chosen personal name. He loves to be known by this name. It is used over 5,000 times in the Old Testament. It is almost always translated by Lᴏʀᴅ (small caps). But it is not a title. It is a personal name, like James or Elizabeth.

You know the name Yahweh best from its shortened form Yah at the end of ‘Hallelujah,’ which means ‘praise Yahweh.’ I love to think about this when I sing. When I sing, ‘Hallelujah,’ I love to really mean, ‘No! I don’t praise you Bel, or Nebo, or Molech, or Rimmon, or Dagon, or Chemosh. I turn from you with disdain to Yah! I praise Yah. Hallelu Yah!'” (John Piper).

AND YET the tolerant Calvinist principle of pitch black progress in essential gospel matters (i.e., doctrines) would state something along these blasphemous lines:

As an immediate and inevitable fruit of regenerating grace a Christian usually — if not always — begins his Christian life by praising his muddled and idolatrous idea of Yah who looks (for some odd reason) a lot more like bewildered Bel, than like Biblical Yah.

In other words, many who identify as “Reformed” or “Calvinist” state — in effect — that they began their “Christian” lives by worshiping a beleaguered Bel (or Nullified Nebo) who stoops and is prostrated before his sovereign and dignified creatures, being constantly harassed and thwarted by their libertarian freedom.  Such Calvinists have begun what they falsely think was their newly regenerate life by praising a damnable idol of their own imaginations.  The fact that they have the audacity to place the name “Jesus” or “Yahweh” on this idol is immaterial.

Imagine the foolishness of an idolatrous Israelite defending his ignorant and traditional Bel worship to Moses, Caleb, and Joshua with the more than threadbare accusation that Moses, Caleb, and Joshua were imperiously teaching a cold, heartless, impatient, and doctrinally perfectionistic idea that Yahweh births no children of Bel, but only mature adults of Yahweh.  This wildly popular tolerant Calvinist notion is that Bel brings a person over time to come to understand fully what it means to truly believe in Yahweh (and that they were not really worshiping Bel, but a muddled and confused version of Yahweh).

To apply this fashionable wickedness to the true gospel, the tolerant Calvinists believe that the Galatians 1:8-9 gospel is the essential power of God to salvation, while the Romans 1:16-17 gospel is just a clearer-yet-optional version of that.

“And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness more than the Light, for their works were evil. For everyone practicing wickedness hates the Light, and does not come to the Light, that his works may not be exposed. But the [one] doing the truth comes to the Light, that his works may be revealed, that they exist, having been worked in God” (John 3:19-21).

Piper continues:

“God announced his name to Moses in Exodus 3:15. God said to Moses, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, ‘Yahweh, the God of your fathers, . . . has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever.’

He preceded this announcement with two other statements so the meaning would be clear. He said, ‘I am who I am’ (Exodus 3:14a). And he said, ‘Say to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you’ (Exodus 3:14b).

The Hebrew name Yahweh is connected to the Hebrew verb ‘I am.’ So Yahweh is most fundamentally the One-Who-Is. ‘I am who I am’ is the most foundational meaning of Yahweh. It means: My am-ness comes from my am-ness. My being from my being. My existence from my existence.

There are vast personal and covenantal implications of this. But this is foundational. No beginning. No ending. No dependence. He simply is, always was, and always will be. He communicates all of this with a personal name. To be sure, he has titles, and he has attributes. But this is a personal name. He packs the weightiest truth about himself into a personal name. Infinite greatness and personal knowability are in the name Yahweh.

Then in the fullness of time, Yahweh came into the world to seek and save the lost. The angel said to Joseph, ‘You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins’ (Matthew 1:21). Jesus is an English transliteration of the Greek Iesoun. And this in turn is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew Joshua. And Joshua is a combination of Yah and ‘salvation’ or ‘save.’ It means ‘Yahweh saves.’

So Jesus means ‘Yahweh saves.’ Jesus is Yahweh with a human nature coming to save his people from sin.

Paul confirms this in Philippians 2:11. He says of the risen Jesus, ‘Every tongue [will] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’ That is a quote from Isaiah 45:23 where Yahweh is the one to whom every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. Paul is saying that, in the end, the whole world will acknowledge that Jesus is in fact Yahweh incarnate” (John Piper).