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MUST WE CALL GOD BY THE HEBREW NAME YAHWEH?

There is a growing movement within Christian circles that says we must call God by his Hebrew name, with some going as far as saying we cannot be saved without calling God by His Hebrew name. Let me begin by saying that I agree the Bible tells us God the Father has a name (we will deal with Jesus later). Take a look at the following verse:

Exodus 6:3 ...'And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by THE name of God Almighty [El-Shaddai], but by MY name JEHOVAH [YHWH] was I not known to them.'

Do you see what God is saying above? He said He appeared unto Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by 'THE' name El-Shaddai, but by 'HIS NAME' Jehovah [YHWH] they did not know. Now this tells us two things. The first is that God does have a name in JEHOVAH [the transliteration from YHWH]. The second is that God does NOT command that this name be used in ALL instances. How do we know this? Because Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did not know God by this name, but by the name El-Shaddai. The reason is because the main focus of God's 'name' is to do with His attributes, which is why God used many different names throughout the Bible. Take the following as an example:

Exodus 3:13-14 ...'And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.'

Did God here tell Moses to make sure he gives His name JEHOVAH or YAHWEH to the children of Israel? No, God tells Moses to say 'I AM' has sent you. The transliteration from the Hebrew being 'Hayah.' So what is God focusing on here? A mere name? No, He is focusing on His character and attributes - I AM - I exist - the self existent God. So while the scriptures do confirm that God has a name - JEHOVAH or YHWH, they also confirm that God is not hung up on this name being proclaimed in all instances and circumstances. God is more concerned about WHO HE IS and what He stands for being proclaimed, rather than a mere name.

Now if someone wants to call God by His Hebrew name, then I have no problem with that. We use the name JEHOVAH at certain times in this website. But there is a big problem with forcing the name 'Yahweh' upon people. That problem is to do with the confusion surrounding the proper pronunciation of the name, due to the fact that the Jews refused to say God's name, regarding it too holy to say. Thus the proper pronunciation was lost. Take a look at the following quote from a Hebrew based website concerning this issue:

"The bottom line is that there are many possibilities for the original pronunciation of the name and all we can do is make educated guesses. I am often asked what I believe the original pronunciation was, and my educated guess is YiH-WeH." www.ancient-hebrew.org/god-yhwh/what-is-gods-name-in-hebrew.htm

Really? We have to call God by His Hebrew name, but we can only guess at the pronunciation? My name is Mark, but if you get the pronunciation wrong, you could be calling me 'Muck' or 'Mick.' Is that my name? No! So does salvation really hinge at all upon saying God's Hebrew name? Well, if saying God's one specific Hebrew name was so vital, wouldn't you think He would make sure it was clear to all how to correctly spell and pronounce it? Not only that, God is called by many different names in the Bible which relate to His characteristics - something we will deal with later. So let us see what the Bible teaches:

Matthew 7:21 ...'Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.'

First of all, the apostle saw fit to write the above word 'Lord' in Greek, using the Greek word 'kyrios', meaning authority. Matthew did not write the name Yahweh or Yahshua. Also, if pronouncing the Hebrew name of God was such an important part of being saved, then why would Jesus say the above words? Do you see what He is saying? Jesus is confirming that salvation is not about saying God's Hebrew name, but doing the will of our heavenly Father. When the Jews disputed with the apostle Paul, Gallio, the deputy of Achaia said ... 'If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters' (Acts 18:15). This I believe to be inspired and shows that mere words and names are not the important issue, but rather sin vs righteousness. In other words, how we live. This is what is important - character, and this is the central issue regarding proclaiming the 'name' of God.

The New Testement in fact offers a great problem to the Hebrew name of God movement, in that the apostles wrote all the New Testament scriptures in Greek, not Hebrew. Now some in the Hebrew roots movement will try and suggest that you cannot rely upon the Greek translation. But the manuscripts we have are in Greek and if we go down the road of not trusting in these manuscripts, then we cannot trust anything in the New Testament. Do we want to go down that road? Never! God inspired the apostles to write the New Testament in Greek and in most instances, they did not call God by His Hebrew name, but 'Theos' [GOD] or God the Father. So why would God allow the apostles to call Him 'Theos' or 'The Father' if He commands all to call Him by His Hebrew name? It makes no sense. Look at the following few examples:

2 John 1:3 ...'Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God [theos] the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.'

Ephesians 6:23 ...'Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God [theos] the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.'

Galatians 1:3 ...'Grace be to you and peace from God [theos] the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ.'

God the Father is called the Father of mercies in 2 Corinthians 1:3, the Father of glory in Ephesians 1:17, the Father of spirits in Hebrews 12:9, the Father of lights in James 1:17, and he is referred by the Aramaic word Abba in Romans 8:15. Do you see what the focus is? The focus is not one specific Hebrew name, but the attributes and character of God the Father.

Now sacred namers say that you cannot translate God's name into English and yet the apostles translated not just the Father's name, but also His Son Jesus' name into Greek - 'Iesous.' Therefore it stands to reason that God is happy for Jesus' name to be translated into English - 'Jesus.' Sacred namers say you have to use the name 'Yahshua' for Christ and yet God allowed the apostles to translate His name into Greek. In the same way, God allowed the King James translators to translate the name of Christ into English. Do you not believe God inspired the King James Version of the Bible for the common man to receive the TRUTH from God? I certainly do, and God had no problem with the translators translating His Son's name into English. But getting back to the Father, look at the following statement even from Christ Himself:

Mark 15:34 ...'And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'

Jesus spoke these words in Aramaic, with 'Eloi, Eloi' [Greek] being 'elahh, elahh' [Aramaic]. And who is Jesus crying out to and speaking to? God the Father, and yet Jesus does not use the specific Hebrew name of the Father 'Yahweh.' So again we even have an example from the very Son of God Himself not using the name Yahweh for the Father. The New Testament is full of examples like this, proving that God does not require us to say His Hebrew name. Afterall, He knows we are addressing Him as the Creator of this world. Look at what Jesus said in Matthew 11:25 concerning the Father:

Matthew 11:25 ...'At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, LORD of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.'

The word 'Lord' in this verse was translated by the apostles into Greek, using the word 'kyrios.' And the meaning of this word is 'supreme authority', which belongs to God the Father. They did not use the name Yahweh. Instead, God saw fit to inspire them to translate it into Greek, which was the common language then. So to translate this into English, the common language of today, with the phrase 'Lord of heaven and earth' [supreme authority] is appropriate. God uses various names to point out His characteristics. In Genesis 1 God is called ELOHIM, which means 'Creator.' The name EL-SHADDAI by which God appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob means 'God Almighty - the Mighty one.' And this takes us onto the main aspect regarding the 'name' of God - character. Look at what God said when He revealed Himself to Moses:

Exodus 34:6-7 ...'And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.'

Yes, the words 'the LORD, the LORD' in verse 6 is the name JEHOVAH or YHWH, because that is His name as seen at the beginning of this study. But is this the focus of what God was revealing to Moses? No. As you can see, the main focus is regarding the character of God - gracious, longsuffering, abundant in goodness and truth, merciful, etc. This is what the 'name' of God proclaims, His character. And what did Jesus Christ say regarding this?

John 17:4-6 ...'I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.'

So Jesus 'manifested' the 'name' of God. But did Jesus go around proclaiming ... "YHWH, YHWH is the name of God, you must say the name YHWH!"?? Is that what Jesus did? No, we have no record of this in the New Testament, which God inspired the apostles to write in GREEK, not Hebrew. And look at what Jesus calls God in the above verses and other verses like John 4:22-24. He simply uses the term 'FATHER' which the apostles used also.

John 4:22-24 ...'Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God [THEOS] is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.'

What interests me about the above words of Jesus to the woman at the well, is that He said the TRUE worshippers would worship THE FATHER is spirit and truth. Sacred name people say that the true worshippers are those who say the name YHWH. And yet Jesus Himself simply used the term 'FATHER' for God. This is because Jesus did not go around proclaiming the Hebrew name of the Father. The 'name' that Jesus glorified and revealed to the world was the character of the Father, just as He revealed to Moses in Exodus 34 above.

2 Samuel 7:23 ...'And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods?'

Jeremiah 32:20 ...'Which hast set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, even unto this day, and in Israel, and among other men; and hast made thee a name, as at this day.'

Can you read these verses and say that the 'name' which God made for Himself is simply YHWH? No. If you read these verses in context, the 'name' which God made for Himself among His people is His reputation and character. Did the enemies of Israel give respect to God because He was called YHWH? No. They had respect and fear for Him because of His reputation and character. And it is this character that God's Son revealed to the world. This is the 'name' which Jesus revealed and the 'name' which we are to reveal in our daily lives - the Father's character.

So to conclude. While it is good to use the name Jehovah or Yahweh (we often use the name Jehovah in this ministry), to say that God's people HAVE to only use the name Yahweh for the Father or Yahshua for Jesus is unbiblical. God confirmed Himself in Exodus 6:3 that He didn't reveal Himself to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by the name Yahweh, but El-Shaddai, and when God revealed His 'name' to Moses (Jehovah or Yahweh), the main focus was upon the character of God, not his literal name. The New Testament was written by the apostles in GREEK not Hebrew and they translated the name of the Father and Jesus into GREEK, meaning it was fine for the King James translators to translate the name of the Father and Jesus into English. Also in the New Testament, we find many instances of the apostles and Jesus Himself calling God by the term 'Father' or 'God [theos] the Father.' This is more than enough evidence to show that we do NOT have to call God by His Hebrew name. Yes we CAN call God by His Hebrew name, but it is not Biblical to say we HAVE to use that name.

Remember! The important point regarding God the Father is concerning WHO HE IS - the 'only true God', Creator and source of all life (John 17:3, 1 Cor.8:6, Matt.11:25). And the important point regarding Christ is not His name Yahshua, but WHO HE IS - the SON OF the living God (Matthew 16:15-18, John 3:16, 1 John 5:5).