by Rayola Kelley
“God,” this very word brings some kind of mental picture or reaction to a person. Who would think that a small three-letter word would conjure up a variety of images, attitudes, and responses? The concept of God can be vague, rendering Him into some impersonal force, it can become sentimental in light of a baby in a manger or the brutality of Calvary, or it can cause anger, resentment, and rage in those who judge God according to the insane, cruel injustice of the world we live in.
Regardless of how people try to deny the existence of God or make God into a mere conjunction of ideas, sentiments, and imaginations, there is no getting around the fact that even the unbelief of the atheist towards God, in essence declares that some God exists. After all, how can you hold to unbelief towards something if it does not exist in the first place? How can you make it a cause to get rid of something that does not exist? How can you erect a belief system that rejects the essence of a holy, just God if He does not exist? According to Romans 1:20, we have the very witness of creation that declares that there is a powerful God, and that in the end there will be no excuse for not believing what it declares about His existence, His nature, and His power. It is for this reason that Psalm 14:1 and 53:1 make the same declaration, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”
There is evidence enough that there is a God. The question is why is the fool bent on rejecting Him? Psalm 14:1 explains that such a fool is corrupt and has done abominable works. Jesus stated that man refuses to believe because his deeds are evil and he wants to hide them beneath a covering of darkness (John 3:18-20).
The question is what is in a name? Many in the world are trying to live up to some name. Most of you probably know what I am talking about. You may have even heard it. You are so and so; therefore, you need to do right by your name. And, yet what is in a name? In such cases as the above example, it is almost as if you fall into some vacuum. What determines how a name should be expressed in one’s life to ensure that it is being presented in a proper way? No doubt there is reputation and association attached to names. For example, the name of Hitler definitely arouses some type of response in people, but in most instances a name is a name. It is generic because it is often faceless. It is insignificant because there are unknown dynamics to it that keep the person who is attached to it vague to those who are not personally acquainted with him or her. Such people may cross our path but they will always be standing outside the inner circle and functions of our life.
This brings us back to what is in a name? The idea of a name is to establish identity. A person who possesses a name is identified to family, to some type of roots, and status. A name distinguishes the existence of an individual. For example, the one thing I hear about my first name is that it is unusual or beautiful, but in our society, people’s real association has to do with their last names, not their first name. I am associated with some unusual last names such as Meuleman and Bywater. In fact, if I hear these names, which I rarely do, I know I am related to that person in some way.
The other aspect of our names is that it is associated with our roots, where we came from. From my limited understanding of my roots on my father’s side, they go back to Belgium, but on my mother’s side it is a European mix, which probably is trumped by predominate English and possibly some Danish roots. Although genealogy is interesting, and no doubt ancestors have passed down genes that may in some way influence our likes and dislikes, our talents and preferences, it will not determine our character or final destination.
In America, the government has clearly changed the dynamics of people’s identity. They have put American citizens under the Department of Agriculture and simply given them a number (Social Security). This godless defining of people basically strips them of their personhood, identity, and roots making them a commodity that can be used, traded, and sold to the highest bidder. No doubt this fact may shock some people in America, but it is the harsh reality of a government that ceases to exist for the people and becomes an indifferent self-serving, tyrannical entity unto itself.
It is for the above reason that I am thankful for my citizenship in the kingdom of God. Names mean nothing in this present world and roots are easily severed by the claims of the world upon our souls. However, in the kingdom of God, our identity has been established by adoption in the highest court—that of heaven, and our roots go back to Calvary where they are forever grounded in redemption. As a result, as believers, we are taking on a new likeness, and in the end we will be given a new name that is only going to be known between the Lord and us. It is for this reason that I have concurred that no matter how great or unusual my present name is my heavenly citizenship has declared I have a new name, yet to be revealed.
This brings me to the name of God. Unlike people, God does not have to live up to some vague notion about His name; rather His name describes Him. Could this also be true for the unknown, new name of believers? Will it describe them, their life and works? For God, His name is all inclusive, but yet it contains many different aspects, dimensions, and dynamics.
In the Jewish language, there are no vowels in the name attributed to the English name, “Jehovah” (LORD in Scripture). It is spelled “Yhwh,” but along the way vowels were inserted in what I refer to as the silent spaces, and by doing so we have the word, “Yahweh.” But think about the silent spaces in the Hebrew spelling of Yahweh. To me those spaces represent the unknown, mysterious aspects of God that cannot be defined by finite man or comprehended; therefore, they remain hidden from him. There is no way that we in our present condition can ever comprehend the fullness of God, let alone describe who He is and His ways in a just, deserving manner. On the other hand, the consonants in Yahweh graciously remind me that the Lord can be known because He is a person with a personality and identity.
Because God has a mysterious quality to His name, there are cults that make the sacredness of His name a matter of their worship rather than the actual person of God. They strive to get His name right, but fail to establish themselves in a growing productive relationship with Him. They want to major in the right pronunciation of His name, but they minor in studying the attributes that are attached to the various renditions of His name. They have zeal towards the name of God, but they are void of understanding Him in terms of mercy, grace, godliness, and righteousness. They are ever striving to gain a greater understanding of His name, but never actually come to a real solid knowledge of Him.
It is true that God’s name is sacred, but its sacredness is not to create some mysterious cloud around the reality of God; rather, it is to create a right attitude towards God that will cause man to approach God in a worshipful way. God’s name is not some secret word that ushers one into a clandestine society or group. He is not some vague concept, nor should He be counted among the endless gods erected by man. He alone is the true God and the various aspects of His name speak of His nature, works, and ways. God has made Himself recognizable so that we can discern Him. He has made Himself available so we draw near to Him. He has let His name be known so that we can know Him.
The first name we come face to face with is the word “God.” The actual word “God” points to deity, that which is divine in nature and all of His ways. “Divine” points to that which possesses a celestial, heavenly nature and is marvelous in His ways. In fact, the word “divine” places the one who possesses this stature above this earth.
However, wherever the name of “God” is placed and depending on how it is presented (all caps or lower case etc.) will determine the Jewish name that is attached to it. For example, the Jewish name attached to God in Genesis 1:1 is Elohim. The “el” is the name for God in Hebrew. Good examples of “el” being used in words are Immanuel and Bethel. Immanuel means “El” GOD is with us. Bethel means house of “El” or house of GOD.” There is also El Shaddai, GOD ALMIGHTY. (Note: The Companion Bible distinguishes “el” in the above usage with all caps, while other translations may have their own code as to properly identifying God according to His associations and works.) It is clear that whatever has been added or attached to His name will associate Him with His position or works. For instance, the name of God, Elohim, (lower case) in Genesis 1:1 is strictly associated with His work of creation, and according to Bible Scholars, Elohim occurs 2,700 times in Scripture.
When you come to the presentation of the word “God” in lower case, and consider it in light of the text, you will see that the presentation of God is in relationship to His creation, which points to the name of Elohim, the One who created everything.
Clearly, the names of God are designed to bring about the right association with who He is and with His ways in order to create a right attitude and environment in which man is to approach Him. Because God is our creator, He deserves the proper recognition and respect from His creation.
Regardless of the world’s attempt to mock, downplay, or deny that God is Elohim, creator of all, Romans 1:20 clearly states the contrary. We are told that creation declares the existence of its Creator, and due to such discoveries as DNA, many scientists have had to rethink what they have advocated and eat humble pie as they agree that creation speaks of an Intelligent Designer (ID).
There is much significance attached to God as our creator. When God created everything, He did so with a plan and order in mind. It is important for us to understand this plan. In the next article I am going to touch on this importance. However, my hope at this time is that each reader will come to terms with the importance that God existed in the beginning and was, and still exists in the present and is, and will continue to exist in the future. He is our Creator and He has a plan in mind for each of us.
As a born again, blood-bought saint, have you discovered your potential in the Lord?