There are some today that insist that people only use God’s Hebrew name when addressing him, regardless if their native tongue is English, German, French, Spanish, or the many other languages and dialects around the world. They insist that God’s Hebrew name is “Yahweh,” or “Jehovah,” and claim that only by pronouncing God’s name this way can we truly communicate with God. But is this true?

What is God’s true name?
“Then Moses said to God, “Behold I am going to the sons of Israel, and I shall say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you” Now they may 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 sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:13-14)

No person today knows the actual pronunciation of God’s name. Many use only the four consonants “YHWH” and claim that because God’s name has no vowels, which are necessary for speech, when reading scriptures aloud, they said “ADONAI” or “LORD”, and many Bibles today put in “LORD” in all capitals to signify the translation of “YHWH”. These same people claim that there is no evidence that any attempt to pronounce “YHWH” was ever made by the Israelites, the early church, or by Jesus.

With the Temple destroyed and the prohibition on pronouncing God’s name outside of the Temple, pronunciation of the name fell into disuse. Scholars passed down knowledge of the correct pronunciation of “YHWH” for many generations, but eventually the correct pronunciation was lost, and we no longer know it with any certainty. We do not know what vowels were used, or even whether the letters in the name were vowels or consonants. Some religious scholars suggest that the name was pronounced “Yahweh,” but others do not find this pronunciation particularly persuasive.

God, who reveals his name as “I AM”, reveals himself as the God who is always present with his people in order to save them. Remember, Jesus said we should begin our prayers by addressing the One whom Jesus came to reveal as “Our Father, who art in heaven.” If, in our prayers, we sometimes speak of God in one of the many Bible-revealed names or titles which are appropriate to the occasion seems proper. It appears ludicrous to me that out of all of his many divine names and titles, God would want us to contact him by only using our own feeble attempts at pronouncing ancient Hebrew, (which we cannot do with any degree of accuracy) and unless we do, God will not hear us.

The same people that insist that we use “Yahweh,” or “Jehovah,” for God, also say that Jesus Christ’s real name is “Yehoshua,” or “Yeshua” and that’s the name we should use when we pray.

According to the dictionary, a name merely means, “A word or a phrase that constitutes the distinctive designation of a person or a thing, or, a word that conveys meaning, designation, character, nature, identity, and understanding about that person or thing.” But the names we use to address God and Jesus do precisely that! They convey to our mind as we meditate on the many names and titles of God, his creative power, his covenant relationship with mankind, his boundless goodness, his limitless grace, mercy, majesty, and his awesome power. So is it wrong to use some of the divine names and titles for God and Jesus when we pray? Not at all!

Names of Jesus
In the Bible Jesus is also referred to by many names:
The Son of Adam and Son of Man—Means he is a man within the lineage of humanity.
Son of David—Means Jesus is a descendent of King David (a human being) and an heir to his throne.
Son of Abraham—Means Jesus is of Jewish descent.
Son of God—Means exactly that—he is the son of God, having the same nature and character as his Father. He was called the Son of God, being unique; one of a kind. Just like his Father.

In John 8:56-59 we read, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.”

Before Abraham was, I am
Notice that Jesus said, “I am” and not “I was”. The two are quite different. His statement, “Before Abraham was…” therefore, is not that he (Jesus) came into existence before Abraham did, (as some believe is the meaning) but he was affirming that God saw him exist before Abraham even had been born. In other words, God knew everything even before creation. Just as the Psalmist wrote of himself in Psalm 139:16—“Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”

God saw Jesus as the appointed Messiah, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, (Rev. 13:8) long before Abraham even existed. The Lord Jesus was born out of God’s Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption—to benefit all that lived and died in faith in God.

The Jewish Pharisees plainly understood the concept of God knowing us even before creation. So why did they take up stones kill him? Could it be that when Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” He was actually saying was, “Before Abraham was, “אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה.” (ehyeh ašer ehyeh)

This was the common Hebrew translation of the response God used when Moses asked for his name. (Exodus 3:14) Although there is no biblical prohibition against pronouncing God’s name, by the time of the Talmud, it was the custom to use substitute names for God. Some rabbis even asserted that a person who pronounces “ehyeh ašer ehyeh” according to the letters “YHWH” (instead of using a substitute) has no place in the World to Come, and should be put to death. Instead of pronouncing the four-letter name, they would substitute the name “Adonai,” or simply say “Ha-Shem”, which is translated, “The Name”.

Is it possible that the reason the priests wanted to kill Jesus was not because he claimed to be God, (as some believe and teach) but because he pronounced God’s personal name out loud, which was forbidden by the pharisaical priests?

I don’t believe that God is so concerned about what name we use to address him as he is about how he is perceived by other people through us. Can the world trace our lives to Jesus because they can see his name engraved on our hearts? Do your family, your neighbors and friends and even your enemies see the results of God’s name in your life? Are we glorifying God by being changed into his very image?

Whether we use Yahweh, Elohim, Jehovah, God or Lord, the pronunciation is not as critical as properly honoring the One behind the name, THE LORD YOUR GOD!

“Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.”
(2 Corinthians 3:2-3)

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