Names of God 3

The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
Deuteronomy 6:4 (ESV)

In the strict sense the only proper name for God is YAHWEH. However in most Bibles we don’t find it. Instead we see the word LORD written with capital letters. For the Jews the name of God was so holy that they did not dare to pronounce it. Instead they said Adonai (my Lord). Many Bibles follow this Jewish practice. When God revealed His name to Moses, He explained it as: I am who I am … The LORD … this is my name forever. (Ex 3:14,15).

The name YAHWEH expresses a number of things, first of all, self-existence. God does not depend on anything or anyone for His existence. His name also shows that God never changes. He is always the same in His character and being (Heb. 13:8). The mere fact that God reveals His name demonstrates that He wants to be called on. Our God is accessible.

The name YAHWEH expresses especially His exclusivity. We see this in our verse from Deut. 6:4. It’s the famous so called Shema, which is the Hebrew word for “hear”. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. This is not a statement on the internal unity of God and not at all a guard against the doctrine of the trinity. This is first and foremost a statement of exclusivity. We could also translate it: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.

In the Scriptures the name YAHWEH is exclusively used for the God of the Bible. We cannot say that the gods of the other people are just different names for the same God. No, there is only one God to whom this name rightfully belongs and this is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Father of Jesus Christ! He alone has revealed Himself as YAHWEH. He alone is the one true and absolute God. All the other gods are just worthless idols (Ps 96:5).

The name YAHWEH precludes polytheism and syncretism. You shall have no other gods before me (Deuteronomy 5:7). We cannot accept any other god in addition to YAHWEH. That would be polytheism. We can also not say that, for example Allah, the god of Islam, is the same as YAHWEH. That would be syncretism. Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1 Cor. 8:6).

God revealed His name YAHWEH in order that you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might (Deut. 6:5). God uses this name to lead you to surrender, dedication and worship of Him exclusively!

Gerd Walter