I can remember as a little child, one of the first of the ten commandments I learned to break, aside from bearing false witness (lying) of course, was the third commandment.
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”
I was taught from a very young age not to use God’s name outside of prayer or a faith-related situation (Sunday school, witnessing, teaching, etc.). And as a very young child, I was advised, “just don’t use it period,” because I didn’t have the discernment to use it properly at that age. So what does a child do when they are told not to do something? Yep, just the opposite. I had several playmates who didn’t grow up in a Christian home, let alone as the son of a preacher. For them, the word g-o-d had no more meaning than any other expletive found in converstion. As a child, I heard that and picked up on the word’s use in no time. When with my friends, it could roll off my tongue as easily as any other word I shouldn’t say. That is, until I let it slip in front of my parents. Afterwords, I was treated to a tongue massage with a very soapy washcloth, not pleasant. The soap didn’t necessarily solve the problem, but it did make me think twice. Ultimately what solved this issue was a realization that using His name in any kind of casual use, let alone in the context of a derogatory comment, showed true disrespect to God and who He is. Today, this is one of my pet peeves.
On and off, over the last several years, I have made it a point to spend some time focusing on the names the Word uses to name or reference God. I encourge any who read this to spend time doing the same. While His names don’t even scratch the surface of who He is, they provide more meaning collectively than we can truly comprehend.
For today, I want to focus on just one name. God’s proper name. The name He used to tell Abram and Moses who He is. (Yes, for you English buffs, verb tense disageement in the last sentence is intentional. :)). This is the name we typically pronounce “Jehovah,” or “Yahweh.” In Hebrew, it is spelled יהוה. From right to left, the letters are “yod”, “he” (pronounced “hay”)’, “vav” (or “waw”), “he”. This name is called the tetragrammaton – a word with four letters. One of the resons for the different pronunciations of “Jehovah”, and “Yahweh” is we really don’t know the proper pronunciation and vowels were not indicated in the original texts. Out of fear of breaking the third commandment, Israel would not pronounce the teragrammaton, but would instead say the word “Adonai”, translated “the LORD” (all capital letters in many modern texts). The meaning of the tetragrammaton is typically translated as “I Am”, or more closely translated, “the existing One.”
But enough of the mini Hebrew lesson. The point I really wanted to bring up today is what the letters themselves point to. I have mentioined several times in this blog how cool I think it is that God always makes sure the Bible points to Christ — His Word points to The Word. Now, here’s the part that just blows me completely away. The proper name of God, יהוה, the name He commands us not to take in vain, points to His Christ. Just as there are letters in our alphabet that are also words, letters in the Hebrew alphabet have meaning as words. Here they are:
Now, put them together:
“Behold the hand, behold the nail.”
Coincidence! I thnk not! Is anything with God a coincidence? Never! Out of all the names He is called by, He chose the one that points to His sacrifice to be his proper name, the name that is to be honored among all the others. It is so like God to point to his Son and His sacrifice and to bring glory and honor to Him even in establishing His name on earth. HalleluJah!
Lord God, thank You for your Word and the light it provides to our path. Thank You that there is no disagreement in Your Word. Thank You that the deeper we go into Your Word, it reveals truth upon truth and precept upon precept. And, it all points to Your Son, our Savior! Lord, help us keep Your Name as a sacred, holy name giving it due honor and respect. You are the LORD God Almighty, King of kings, Lord of lords. You are my Righteousness, Adonai Tsidkenu.
In Jesus Name.