Greenlane Christian Centre
13 December 2020
WEEK ONE: My name is YAHWEH
Kia ora e te whanau. Ko Jonathan toku ingoa. [label out] // “Hello, my name is Jonathan”
For those that are more familiar with me, they might say “JD” (another label). It’s an abbreviation of my name, often indicating an informal relationship.
Our name says something about us.
‘What’s your name?’ it’s the first question we ask when we meet someone new.
Dale Carnegie – the author of the classic book – ‘How to win friends and influence people’ writes that a person’s name is “the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” / Dale Carnegie
Names mean something. It’s more than words on a label. Your name is something personal to you. It tells your story.
經典著作“如何贏得朋友并影響人們”的作者戴爾·卡內基（Dale Carnegie寫道，一個人的名字是“任何一種語言中最甜美，最重要的聲音”。/ 戴爾卡耐基
In ancient times a name was especially sacred. It conveyed your identity. One Old Testament scholar writes, “In the world of the Hebrew Scriptures a personal name was often thought to indicate something essential about the bearer’s identity, origin, birth circumstances, or the divine purpose that the bearer was intended to fulfill.”/ Michael Knowles
They saw names as revealing something of the nature of a person.
So, think of some of the Bible stories....在遠古時代，名字是特別神圣的。
它傳達了您的身份。一位舊約學者寫道：“在希伯來語圣經的世界中，通常以個人名字來表示人的身份，出身，出生環境或此人意圖實現的神圣目的的某些重要內容?！?/ Michael Knowles
... Like Abraham. Originally he was just called “Abram”.
[Jolene – place these on one developing slide to make a contrast]
Abram = ‘exalted father.’
But the the creator promises that many nations will come from him. So, He renames him “Abraham”.
Abraham = ‘father of many nations.’
The name conveys an identity, a promise. It’s more more than a label.
The significance of name is also seen in Abrham’s son, Isaac. Isaac means “laughter.” When his mum, Sarah, heard that she would have a son in her old age, it was so preposterous that she started to laugh. So when Sarah finally gave birth to the miracle child, Abraham named him “Laughter”.
Or think of Isaac’s son Jacob. Jacob means “heel grabber,” a euphemism for a liar and a cheat. And his biography is exactly that—one con after another. Until an odd story where he wrestles with God and says, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Then God renames him, from Jacob to Israel, which means “he struggles with God.” From then on, he’s a changed man.
Names were your autobiography in one word.
Do you know that God has a name?
His name is not God!
I realise we refer to Him as God. We might pray ‘Dear God, …’
But, “God” is more of a category of being.
In many ways it’s like placing a label ‘human’ on me. It’s correct. It’s just not my name. It’s a category of what I am. And it’s impersonal.
In the same way, “God” is not the name of our creator.
Before we look at His name, let’s get our head around this radical truth that God has a name.
This might sound unimportant, like it’s just semantics.
Actually, it has the potential to ...
● radically affect the way we live as we come to the end of this tough year of 2020 and step into the unknowns of 2021.
● radically engage with the Christmas story as we consider what lays at the heart of it.
● radically alter the way we relate to our creator.
What we think about God has the greatest impact on us than anything else.
The twentieth-century writer A W Tozer said as much: “what comes to mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” / A W Tozer
Did you notice that he doesn’t say ‘this is AN important thing.’ He says “THE” most important thing. Even more than our family of origins, our country of birth, our language, our sexuality, or education.
二十世紀作家阿·托澤爾（A W Tozer）這么說：“我們想到上帝時想到的是對我們來說最重要的事情?！?/ A W Tozer
Why is that?
We become what we worship. We become what we focus on.
Tozer when on to write “We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. … Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, ‘what comes to mind when you think about God?’ we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man.”
In other words, what you think about God will shape your destiny in life. It will shape the way you see yourself. It will affect what you do and why you do it.
So, as I was praying about how we finish off 2020 and how we step into a new year, it is a deeper understanding of our Creator and the way He relates with us. So, between now and February I want us to reflect on the various labels God places on himself. By the way, if you’re travelling – you have access to church online for all services during summer - even our Christmas services. Plus our messages are available on-demand through youtube. This series has the potential to change your life and your relationship with our Creator.
Throughout His Word, God says, “Hello, my name is ________”
He has a name. He wants to be known.
So, what is His name?
This question takes us to one of the best-known stories in the Bible, found in Exodus 3.
The Creator calls to Moses out of a bush on fire at the edge of Mt Sinai.
Moses was a Hebrew, a descendent of Abraham. And by this point in the story, the Hebrews were in a very bad spot. They were slaves in Egypt, the superpower of the day.
Moses sees a bush on fire. He notices that the bush isn’t being consumed by the fire. He goes over to take a closer look. And the creator speaks to Moses from the bush:
I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob/ Exodus 3:6
At the beginning, God was often known by the relationship he had with someone:
‘The God of Abraham.’ Q: Which god? A: The God Abraham worshipped. The God of Isaac. The God of Jacob.
又說：“我是你父親的 神，是亞伯拉罕的 神，以撒的 神，雅各的 神?！?出埃及記3：6
Having begun a conversation with Moses, the creator tells Moses that he sees the injustice, the oppression of Israel. He’s ready to do something about it. He wants Moses to lead them out of slavery.
To which Moses says, ‘wait a tick! What? Me? No, you’ve got the wrong man!”
The Creator talks Moses into it – after all, he can be pretty convincing.
In the process of this, Moses wants to know what he should tell the Israelites when they ask about this God. So, Moses asks:
“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?”/ Exodus 3:13 (NIV)
In the ancient world, there was god competition. If you Google "ancient gods of Egypt," you will find over 28 major gods, and that"s just the beginning. Each god had a different responsibility, and they all had to work together to make the world function. For example, Nut was the goddess of the heavens. Her husband was Geb, god of the earth. And Shu, Nut"s father, was the god of the air. Shu had to hold up the sky to keep it from crashing into Earth. They each had authority over different things, and somehow they"re all related.
摩西對 神說：“看哪，我到以色列人那里，對他們說：‘你們祖宗的 神差派我到你們這里來?！麄內魧ξ艺f：‘他叫什么名字？’我要對他們說什么呢？” /出埃及記3:13 （NIV）
Moses is asking, who are you? The literal wording of his question has the idea of: ‘What is the significance of your name? What makes you …you? What makes you so different to the others?” ‘Tell me about yourself.’
The creator responds by giving Moses his name.
God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.” / Exodus 3:14
“I AM WHO I AM.” What an odd name! To our ears - it’s elusive. It’s mysterious.
To further complicate it, the creator continues:
God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you. This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations./ Exodus 3:15 (NLT)
Why does He use the name “Yahweh” in this verse when the verse right before it has the name ‘I am who I am.’ Which is God’s name? Is it “I am who I am” or “Yahweh”?
Actually, “Yahweh” and “I am” mean the same thing. They are built on the same Hebrew root word.
神又對摩西說：“你要對以色列人這樣說：‘耶和華—你們祖宗的 神，就是亞伯拉罕的 神，以撒的 神，雅各的 神差派我到你們這里來?！@是我的名，直到永遠；這也是我的稱號[a]，直到萬代。/出埃及記3:15
That’s why the passage here is in parallel with each other:
[Jolene - one lower third slide]
God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.
Say this to the people of Israel:
I AM has sent me to you.” / Exodus 3:14
God also said to Moses,
“Say this to the people of Israel:
Yahweh …has sent me to you.” / Exodus 3:15
I AM is in parallel to Yahweh.
What’s going on?
In most languages of the world – we speak in three persons: First person (= “I/we”) second you (“you”), or third person (“him, her/they”).
“I am” is the creator speaking in the first person. How the creator talks about himself
“Yahweh” is same word of the word but is in third person – “He is”. It’s a play on words of ‘I am.’
When the creator talks about himself he says “I am’
When we talk about the creator, we speak in third person and say ‘He is.’ Or – “Yahweh.”
It’s our agreement with God that he is the I am.
So, what is the creator saying about himself in his name? Remember, this is in a culture where your name is your autobiography in one word.
He is saying something that mind-blowing about himself:
● “I am eternal. I am unchanging.”
● “I can’t get any better because I am completely perfect.”
● “I am self-existent. There was never a time when I was not.” No wonder the bush was not being consumed.
● “I am self-sufficient. I don’t need anything or anybody outside of himself.”
● “I am unshifting, stable, trustworthy.”
● “I am fully present in the now. I am never not engaged/ I don"t grow tired or weary. I don"t need a nap.”
This means that whatever this God is like, he’s that way consistently. So, for example, if God is compassionate, then he’s compassionate all the time. If God is gracious, then he’s gracious all the time. If he’s slow to anger, then he’s slow to anger … all the time.
By using His name, the creator is saying to us “you can trust me.”
?Have you ever thought you knew somebody really well? And you trusted them deeply? You thought they were a stand-out person, and then you get the email, the phone call, the knock at the door, and you discover a shocking double life hidden in the shadows? You find out the story she fed you is a lie. Actually, your husband is a cheater. Your friend has a double life. They kept it under wraps. You thought they were trustworthy and honest – but it was all a facade.
Well, God’s not like that. There’s no facade. There is no “once you actually get to know him… you’ll find out what they’re really like!” No, He’s 100% true to his character. This is the God you can rely on.
God’s name comes as part of a story where Moses is facing major doubts about his ability.
I mentioned that the creator wants Moses to lead the people out of their bondage.
To which Moses says, ‘you’ve got the wrong man!”
The Creator and Moses have this dialogue. That idea is quite remarkable. The creator and Moses conversing back and forth. In a genuine discussion.
Over the chapter and a half, Moses gives 5 reasons why he is not the one to do this. One scholar summed them up in this way:
[Jolene – one evolving slide where possible]
“I am not good enough” (Exodus 3:11)
“I am not knowledgeable enough” (Exodus 3:13)
“I am not persuasive enough.” (Exodus 4:1) (40 years earlier he tried to lead a revolt and no one followed him! )
“I am not gifted enough.” (Exodus 4:10) (He has lived with his failure for 40 years and feels the weight of it.)
“I am not confident enough” (Exodus 4:13)
Aren’t these the things we often say deep in our heart?
“I can never do that. I don’t have what it takes. Not me.”
We look at our parenting, our work, it feels beyond us.
We look at what God calls us to do – “not me.”
We look at why we can’t talk to people about Jesus: “I don’t have enough knowledge for that. Enough persuasion or confidence? Besides, I’m not good enough.”
You might add other things to the list:
I am not __________ enough
I am not – mature enough, old enough, young enough, wealthier enough, hip enough, …
Effectively, you are declaring loud and clear, like Moses, “I am NOT enough.”
What’s the connection between God’s name and our adequacy? How does the creator respond to Moses objections?
He doesn’t stroke Moses self-esteem. He doesn"t say ‘you can do it. You’re the man…”
Instead, he gives His name: “I am Yahweh. I am who I am.” “I am present. I am sufficient. I have unlimited resources from within myself… I AM enough.”
“Moses, If you’re in relationship with me – you’ve got everything you need.”
With that, Moses – even with all his insecurities – is able to lead the Hebrews out of their oppression and bring them newfound freedom.
All because of God’s name and what that name embodies.
It’s something Moses needs reminding of.
A similar story happens 40 years later. It happens at the same location – Mt Sinai.
At this point, Moses has successfully led the people out of slavery in bondage. He is leading the people across the wilderness towards the promised land. But, the people are hard work.
Moses has had enough of the dysfunction in the community. Their complaints. Their dragging their heels. Their constant issues. Their lack of faith. He cries out to the creator. “I can’t do this anymore. It’s all too hard.”40年后發生了類似的故事。它發生在同一地點–西奈山。
One day Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Take these people up to the Promised Land.’ But you haven’t told me whom you will send with me. You have told me, ‘I know you by name, and I look favourably on you.’ If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favour. And remember that this nation is your very own people.”/ Exodus 33:12-13
Do you hear his heart? / “you"re the one who called me to lead these people. But, it’s hard. I can’t take another step on this journey unless you send someone with me.” “I can’t take another step unless you reveal more about yourself.”
Many of us listening today feel the same way: We’re exhausted. Fatigued. Unable to take another step forward. I’ve chatted to many of you: You’re hanging by a small thread as you get to the end of the year, hoping desperately that 2021 will be different.
You face a hurdle in your business. It can’t go on like this.
You look at the challenge in your home. It feels too hard.
You see the tensions growing around you – you can’t keep fighting this anymore.
You try to do good in the community and it’s misunderstood, you face those same hurdles each time.
In many ways, you’re crying out like Moses: ‘I can’t do this anymore. Something needs to change.’
How does God respond?
Pretty much, he does something similar to what He did when He recruited Moses.
This time, the creator hides Moses in the crevice of a rock and passes by and let’s Moses see his goodness. He calls out His name. His NAME.上帝如何回應？
Then Yahweh came down in a cloud and stood there with him; and he called out his own name, Yahweh. Yahweh passed in front of Moses, calling out, “Yahweh! Yahweh! / Exodus 34:5-6
As He walks by, Yahweh calls out a range of descriptions about himself that all flow from His name. The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin…/ Exodus 34:6-7
We will look at these descriptions during January. They all flow from God’s name. They are who Yahweh is all the time. But, I don"t want you to miss the big picture here:
How the creator helps Moses take another step on the journey is by reminding Moses of God’s name: Yahweh.
Moses, call me Yahweh.
Moses, I AM is here with you.
Moses, I am fully present with you on this journey.
Moses, I am enough.
Isn’t this what you and I need as we crawl and stumble to the end of 2020 and look out desperately for 2021?
He responded to Moses inadequacies at his call by letting Moses know God’s name.
He encouraged Moses when he was ready to give up by letting Moses know God’s name.
He does the same for you and for me.
God has a name. His name is Yahweh.
He is all that you need on your journey.
Now, many of your Bibles don"t have the name ‘Yahweh.’ They have either “LORD” or “Jehovah.”
Why is that?
Over time, the Hebrews stopped saying the name of God out loud. One of the ten commandments is ‘You shall not misuse the name of Yahweh your God.’ They grew scared of accidentally breaking this command. So, they just stopped saying the name altogether.
Instead they would refer to “Yahweh” as ‘the name.’ or ‘adonai’ meaning “The LORD.”
This is a problem. Quite a big problem. “The LORD” isn’t a name. “The LORD” is a title. It’s what a servant would call his master.
It would be like me calling Robyn ‘the wife.’ It’s true but it’s impersonal.
Some of you call me Pastor. But “pastor” is a title. It’s not my name. It highlights a role or a function. A way you see me. That can be good- but it’s different to a friend to friend relationship where we call each other by first name.
The doctors receptionist might say to me: “hello, Mr Dove.” “Doctor McClaren is available to see you.” These titles are true but it keeps the relationship functional to Doctor-patient.
這是個問題。很大的問題。 “主”不是名字。 “主”是頭銜。那是仆人用來稱呼他的主人的。
This is appropriate in many contexts. But, it’s not the way our Creator wants to relate with us.
When we keep God’s name to “the LORD” – there is a tendency to keep our Creator at arm’s length.
Again, the reason the Hebrews translated the name Yahweh to ‘The LORD” was they didn"t want to misuse it. They wanted to honour God.
But, this is a problem. Remember what God says:
]Yahweh] is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations./ Exodus 3:15
神又對摩西說：“你要對以色列人這樣說：‘耶和華—你們祖宗的 神，就是亞伯拉罕的 神，以撒的 神，雅各的 神差派我到你們這里來?！@是我的名，直到永遠；這也是我的稱號[a]，直到萬代。/出埃及記3:15
What does God want to be called? God wants to be known as ‘Yahweh.’ Not “LORD.” He does not want us to use a title for Him that might keep him distant. Our creator wants a dynamic and warm relationship. He wants us to call him ‘Yahweh.’ This is His name.
Some of your translations – like KJV - might have the name ‘Jehovah.’ Where does that come from?
Jehovah is a blend of the Hebrew word ‘LORD” and “Yahweh.” Effectively, scholars took the vowels from the Hebrew word Adonai (LORD) and the consonants of Yahweh and they fused them together to get the hybrid Jehovah.
Once again, it"s done because we feel like we can’t say God’s name.
But, - again - God said he wants to be known by his name: Yahweh.
[Yahweh] is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations./ Exodus 3:15
It’s like the fear from these Jewish scholars still lives on.
What’s the title we often use when we pray? “Lord.”
What’s the word that translates the name Yahweh almost 6000 times in most of our Bibles? “LORD”
But, this is a title. It’s not a name. It’s not wrong. It’s just it has the potential to keep Him distant. Keep our relationship formal. All this time, the creator is up-front. “Hello, my name is YAHWEH”
Yahweh is what I want to be called:
“I am Yahweh; that is my name!”/ Isaiah 42:8
Yahweh is a warrior ; Yahweh is his name/ Exodus 15:3
我們祈禱時經常使用的稱謂是什么？ “主?！?p>在我們的大多數圣經中，什么名字將耶和華翻譯為將近6000次？ “主”
但是，這是一個稱謂。不是名字，這沒錯，但是它有使神與世俗世界隔絕的暗示。保持我們與神的關系正式。在所有這些里，造物主處于優先地位。 “你好，我叫 YAHWEH耶和華”
Every time we use His name, we are saying ‘HE is.’
We are affirming he is sufficient. He is eternal. He is knowable. He is fully present.
We are affirming He is enough for me.
Jonathan, what does this have to do with Christmas? Surely, there is something about Christmas today!
All this comes to a dramatic climax in the coming of Jesus.
In his biography of Jesus, the NT writer John makes a profound statement:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. / John 1:14 (NIV)
Do these words sound familiar? The words are straight out of the story where Moses and God converse in Exodus 34.
● The phrase “made his dwelling among us” is literally “pitched his tabernacle among us.” That’s a reference to the tabernacle that Moses had the people put up at the base of Mt Sinai.
● “Glory”? That’s a reference to the cloud at the top of Mt Sinai.
● “Grace and Truth” is actually the reading of the Hebrew phrase “love and faithfulness” – one of the descriptions God calls out about his name.
John is making the point that in Jesus, we see God. Yahweh has become a human being. We know see Yahweh. We know him as “Jesus.”
Later in John’s biography of Jesus, we hear the religious leaders asking Jesus to explain himself. “Who are you?” they’re asking. Jesus links himself to the God of Abraham. Sound familiar?
Then, he says, “Before Abraham was born, I AM!”/ John 8:58
Those two words “I AM” was a deliberate link back to what Yahweh said in the first person. And, that"s certainly the way the religious leaders understood it:
At this, they picked up stones to stone him…/ John 8:59
Jesus as claiming to be Yahweh. In the minds of the religious leaders, this was blasphemy. Unless of course, it’s true. That Jesus is Yahweh incarnate. We now see what Yahweh is like. It’s not just hearing descriptions. We see His character and person in Jesus. Yahweh has taken on flesh and blood.
Friends, God has a name. It is not God. It is Yahweh. He is made known to us in the very best way through Jesus.
He’s not some impersonal force or idea.
He is not distant from us.
Yes, He is Holy God. The LORD. But, He does not want to have a title that keeps him at arm’s length.
He says, “hello, my name is YAHWEH.” “Call me Yahweh.”
The creator of the universe wants to relate. With you. With me.
Later in the story of Exodus, we read about the relationship Moses and Yahweh enjoyed.
“Yahweh would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.”/ Exodus 33:11
Jesus came and lived and died and rose to make the kind of relationship Moses had with Yahweh available to everybody.
This is Jesus desire for us. This is at the heart of the Christmas message.
Right before his death, Jesus prayed to the Father:
I have made your name known to them, and will continue to make your name known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”/ John 17:26
That we will know Yahweh like he did. And to join Moses and the characters of the Bible in friendship with our Creator.
We often talk about a personal relationship with Jesus. I wonder if the language has become so cliché that we have failed to grasp the radical concept. We can have a relationship with the creator. We can converse with him. The creator can personally speak to me – as a friend.
The only difference between now and Moses – is that we don"t have to climb a mountain. All we have to do is open our lips.
歸屬 精進 更新
如果您需要進一步了解以上活動信息或者參加活動，請添加我們的微信號：GCCChinese，或聯系教會中文傳道 021980083 Alex