Saturday, January 31, 2009

God's Real Name

I talked with my pastor about the seeming dichotomy between Yahweh and Jehovah. I learned some things that helped me resolve the word-origin issue.

The Hebrews considered God's personal name to be so holy and sacred, it wasn't allowed to be spoken. That was a human-decision. In the same effort to protect the holiness of God's personal name, the Hebrew priests read aloud Adonai when the written text read YHWH -- God's personal name. Because God's Hebrew name wasn't pronounced for so long, and because it is written without vowels, scholars can only make educated guesses as to the correct pronunciation of the word. When scribes started writing the Hebrew into languages that use vowels, they inserted the vowels for Adonai into the word that is written YHWH. The result of that combination is "YaHo WaH." Thus the pronunciation "Jehovah."

Scholars can make an accurate guess at the correct pronunciation of the word because YHWH is the verb "to be" in Hebrew. And here, we get to the point: YHWH, regardless of how you choose to pronounce it (Yahweh or Jehovah), means "Being." God tells Moses in Exodus 3 that He is "I AM that I AM." Israel's God--the One Who sent Jesus as the Messiah--I AM--YHWH--exists outside of time and space. My finite mind (and yours) will never be able to fully comprehend His sovereignty or His perspective. We as humans live with three dimensions--maybe four--and YHWH exists with infinite dimensions. He is.

Because He lives and moves outside of time and space, I AM isn't bound by causality. (I'm still chewing on this one, so bear with me.) My sense of justice clashes often with Yahweh's sovereignty--His Godness. When I think about the effects of the wounds in my heart--the grief I've been slogging through--I dig down to the layer underneath where I'm walking to find the root cause of the wound. It seems to be an unending cycle of discover the wound, confess the hurt, bless and release the wounder, heal a little; discover the wound, confess the hurt, bless and release the wounder, heal a little more. This cycle that looks like a quest for healing is really legalism in soft clothes. It feels comfortable, just like cotton pajamas. But you can't go anywhere in your pajamas.

You know what? Grace exists now for me to just be. Because Yahweh is, and Jesus is, and His Spirit (Who is) indwells me, the I AM is in me. As I type that truth here in this blog, I feel my heart relax. My breathing grows deeper. My shoulders fall to their natural position instead of rubbing up against my neck.

I've decided not to be indignant because the pronunciation of YHWH is only an educated guess. God's personal name hasn't been lost; Yahweh did even better than speaking His Name to us. He sent His Son, Who is the image of the invisible God, the One Who holds all things together, Who was, Who is, and Who is coming. We know His name.

His name is Jesus.

1 comment:

mandy said...

I kinda like the fact that we don't really know how to say it. Especially since the story goes that the ancient Hebrews didn't say it, so it wasn't passed down.
I LOVE the reverence in losing the pronunciation. There's power in that.