The Names of God (Part 1) Introduction

Feb 19, 2012 No Comments by

By Ron Ross (February, 2012)
It’s interesting to see what Jesus (Hebrew: Yeshua) expressed as His greatest achievement. Just prior to His crucifixion He declared, “I have manifested Your name…” (John 17: 6) Names are significant. Abraham means ‘father of many’ (Gen 17: 5). Israel means ‘he struggles with God.’ (Gen. 32:28. Peter or Cephas mean ‘rock’ (Acts 4:36). The name represents the person and the personality. A good name even today, indicates a person of good reputation. Prov. 22:1 “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold.”

We are taught to pray in Jesus name. His name speaks of His authority. He has given us His name as a password in prayer.
John 15:16 “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.”

There is healing in His name. Acts 3:16 “And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.”

Salvation is ours in Jesus’ name; Baptism into the family of God is in the name of Jesus. (Acts 4:12; John 14: 6; Acts 2:38, Matt 28:19)

The name of God signifies His person, His presence and His power. Jesus declared He had made manifest that name. He had shown the person, power, character and attributes faithfully. “If you have seen Me, you’ve seen the Father.” (John 14: 9) Jesus announced.

What does it mean to ‘manifest’? The Mirriam-Webster Collegiate Thesaurus relates words like embody, disclose, reveal. Manifest means to make ‘apparent’ or ‘obvious’. As a verb ‘manifest’ means – externalize, incarnate, personalize, substantiate. The synonyms include: show, demonstrate, illustrate. I prefer the word ‘witness.’

The world looks at Christians and expects us to be living examples of the faith we claim. How we behave influences their opinion of our confession. In witnessing to the Jewish people our actions are considered more important than preaching. “Be doers of the word and not hearers only” wrote the Jewish apostle James. (James 1: 22)

The word translated ‘name’ in John 17: 6 is onoma meaning – ‘person’ and is directly linked with ‘reputation. Yeshua made known the reputation or character of God. He commissioned His followers to live out the character they had witnessed in Him.
The notes in the Teachers Commentary say: “The quality of our lives is what will make plain to those around us the character of God. (Teachers Commentary)

A study of the biblical names of God will help us get a more intimate knowledge of His infinite and glorious character. The more we see of Him the more He overwhelms us!

Psalm 8:1 “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth, who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!”

“Majestic’ speaks of royalty, one who is august, magnificent, noble. Splendor describes vigor, glory and honour.

Think of the shepherd boy David, alone at night as he tended the sheep. He studied the moon and the stars. He was overwhelmed by the great expanse. As he meditated he was filled with awe, and from his poetic heart his thoughts and emotions became psalms – songs of praise.

Theologian C.H.Spurgeon wrote:
We are warranted in using all the various names of God, for each has its own beauty and majesty, and we must reverence each by its holy use as well as by abstaining from taking it in vain. (Psalm 70 – The Treasury of David, Charles H. Spurgeon)
In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus taught the name of God is to be hallowed which Spurgeon said we could not do, if we don’t know His Name. But God demands that we KNOW Him. He has welcomed us into His family. God revealed Himself. He provided access for us to know Him even more and specifically by knowing and understanding His name.
In the ancient east, every name had a meaning. Each name indicated something about a person’s character.

Eerdman Dictionary says, “The name conveys the authority of the person even when absent. To speak or act in another’s name is to participate in that person’s authority (1 Sam. 17:45; 25:9; Acts 4:7).

The principle is that of prophecy and revelation (Exod. 3:13–14; Deut. 18:19; John 5:43). How often have you heard ‘Thus sayeth the Lord’ attached to a false or empty prophecy? The frequent pronouncement of false prophecies cause doubt for prophecy itself.

God’s name reveals His character, His person in which people may take refuge Psalm 20:1 “May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high!”

Isaiah 25:1 “O LORD, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.”

Isaiah clearly indicates how the past evidence of God makes Him worthy of praise. In Isaiah 56: 6 he writes about the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord and ‘love the name of the Lord.’

We are specifically warned not to mistreat His name. Exodus 20:7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”

“Please tell me your name,” Jacob asked when he wrestled with the Lord (Gen. 32:29) In our modern vernacular he would most likely ask, ‘Who are you?’

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About the author

Ron Ross worked as the first Sports Editor at WINTV. In Wollongong. He ran The Hamburger Hut an outreach and discipleship program for youth. He served with Youth With a Mission in Hawaii, Philippines and Australia. He was senior pastor of the Noosa Baptist Church, Queensland for 9 years. He reported news from Jerusalem for five years and is now the Middle East correspondent for United Christian Broadcasters and travels regularly preaching and teaching.
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