God's Holy Names
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12. God's Holy Names

Consonants and Vowels

Jehovah YahwehStrict Jews never speak God's holy names because they are considered too sacred. In place of saying one of God's names, they write down only the consonants "J H V H," which are equivalent to "Y H W H." Over time, the Jews forgot the vowels that used to be between the consonants! Initially, Jews believed this particular holy name (and there are many different ones in the Bible) was Jehovah. However, a more accurate modern rendition is thought by scholars to be "Yahweh." Modern English translations write the name of God as 'LORD.' In Synagogues, the name of God is considered too sacred to be spoken, so 'Kyrios' or 'Lord.' replaces it. When God gives the people one of his names, they are blessed. This blessing also brings a warning against dishonoring it. Exodus 20.7 reads, "You shall not misuse the LORD your God's name, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name."

Called by Jesus

Amen Jesus NameJesus, as the Good Shepherd, calls his sheep individually and personally by name. John 10.3 states, "He calls his sheep by name and leads them out." Christians in the Mystical Body receive a special blessing in that they receive Christ's name. The Associated Press carried a story from England about a couple who gave their daughter 139 names beginning, "Tracy, Mariclaire, Lisa, Tammy, Samantha, Christine, Alexandra." A local paper had the heading, "What's in a name? Don't ask this girl!" Her father said, "We just wanted to give her something for when she grows up." Her parents were not thinking about the meaning of her names.✞

Jesus Special Names

Ichthus or Jesus Son of GodThe Old and New Testaments contain a scattering of Jesus' special names. The prophet in Isaiah 7.14 writes, "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." Isaiah calls the coming Messiah "Immanuel," meaning "God with us." The angel confirms this in appearing to Joseph and saying, "you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins." Jesus was God with us and the Savior of our sins. "Jesus" is the Greek form of "Joshua," which means, as in Matthew 1.21, "he will save his people" or "the LORD saves." Even before his birth, Jesus' title is "Savior" or "God with us." Another of Jesus' unique names is "Christ" in Greek, or "Messiah" in Hebrew. Both of these names denote Jesus as the "Anointed One."

How Sweet the Name

Before his conversion, The Rev. John Newton (1725-1807), was a drunken sailor and later a slave ship captain. On one occasion, he spots a British warship on the horizon, and to save himself from imprisonment by the British warship hurriedly threw his cargo of chained slaves overboard to a watery death! Later, he came to know Jesus as his Savior and the relevance of Jesus' unique name. He received forgiveness for this and other terrible deeds he had committed during his lifetime. He mourned that he had used Jesus' name as a curse on many occasions and had not respected it more. As a result, he wrote the immortal hymn, "How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer's ear." The name of Jesus is indeed special and sweet to Christians today!

Jesus Knows Your Name

Balding HeadNot many people realize that Jesus knows their name! This fact is personal, fundamental, and foundational to our relationship with Christ. God is aware of everyone's name, and Jesus knows our names. Even the hairs of our head are numbered carefully by him. Jesus tells his disciples in Luke 12.7, "Indeed, your head's very hairs are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." He cares this much for us individually. The Bible tells us that God knows our names. Isaiah 43.1 reads, "But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.'" Jeremiah 1.5 agrees, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." If God knows us, we can know him, too, for God comes to earth to show us what he is like! We know Jesus personally when he dwells in our hearts by faith and works in our lives. As Jesus was God incarnate, so the Christian is to be "Jesus incarnate."✞

Jesus Indwells

Christ's Body continues Jesus' life and works in us today. Jesus indwells the individual with himself and transforms men, women, and children into Christ's body. In John 10.14-15, Jesus says, "I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and my own know me, just as the Father knows me, and I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep." John 10.3 adds, "To him, the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his sheep by name and leads them out." It is vitally important that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, knows each one of our names.✞

"God's Holy Names"
by Ron Meacock © 2019

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