If we come at the idea of a name from the 21st century, we just think of what we say to identify people. Your driver’s license and the bills that come into your mail slot all need your name. We don’t think of a name as having more importance than that.
The Bible sees more significance to a name that identification. Even in our time we can approach the difference if we use some other terms. For example, there is a lot being said about Branding. Companies are very concerned with their brand names. They want you to think about Xerox when you think of photo copies, or Apple when you think of computers or phones. The name represents the company. Would you rather own a Cadillac or a Yugo? For most of us that represents a lot about the quality of a car, not just the name.
We also think about reputation. Does a person’s name give you a positive or negative response. Bret Favre represents toughness and exciting football. Some people will never get over #4 in purple and gold, however. George Washington represents courage and integrity.
These are the ideas that the biblical authors had in mind when they used the word “name.” Specifically, the Name of God does three things.
It Represents God. At the end of the 10 Commandments, God says this:
24 “‘Make an altar of earth for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, your sheep and goats and your cattle. Wherever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you.
God chooses to be represented by his Name – Jehovah, or Yahweh, which means I AM. This name is what represents God.
It Reveals God
Exodus 3;13-14 13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
When Moses as being sent to Egypt he asked for God to tell him his name. God gave him the name that is represented by four letters in Hebrew. YHWH. This is pronounced in English as Jehovah – the original form had no vowels, so the vowels from the name “Lord” were put in and the Y changed to and I in Latin and then to a J in English. Scholars prefer to pronounce the name Yahweh. It sounds like the Hebrew verb, “to be.” And so it means “I am”. God is the living God, not an imaginary god like those of the nations. It means that God is self-existing. He was always, and he was not made out of anything else. He is because he is. God is the source of all things, because everything else was made my him and for him.
It Provides Access to God.
Numbers 6:22-27 – 22The Lord said to Moses, 23 “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
24 “‘“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’
27 “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
The Blessing, which we still use today, is an example of how the people received access to God by his name. The priests were to pronounce this blessing over the sons and daughters of Israel. The blessing uses the Name of God three times