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W.I.S.H. – Weekly Insights for Spiritual Health 04-07-2021

Read: Exodus 4:27-31

The personal name of God, YHWH, is a mystery. God didn’t tell it to everyone.  The Hebrew language doesn’t have vowels, so God’s proper name is YHWH; nobody is sure exactly how to pronounce it.  Afraid they’d mispronounce it or say the name of God in vain, rabbis never spoke it; they’d say, “Lord” instead.  “YHWH” is referred to by scholars as “the Tetragrammaton” – every time it appears in the scriptures the scribes substituted the word, “LORD”; most Bible translations do as well.

But at this point in the Exodus story, the 12 tribes of Israel didn’t have the written scriptures yet.  That’s why Moses didn’t know God’s name (Exodus 3:12-13).  For Moses to prove his claim: that the LORD had sent him on a special mission to free the captives, the people would expect him to know God’s real name.

True to God’s promise, God prepared the way for Moses to return to Egypt.  The LORD spoke to Aaron and told him to go and greet Moses, who was returning to Egypt.  Aaron found it just as the LORD had told him, and Moses related the details of what the LORD had shared with him. This gave Moses the respect and authority that he’d need to speak for the people, and to lead them when the time came.

“YHWH” or LORD, that’s God’s name.  But what does it mean?  It can mean several things.  It’s based in the root-meaning, “I am”.   YHWH likely means, “I am Who I am”.  It can mean, “I am Who I will be” or even “I will be Who I will be”.  Each of these meanings strongly asserts existence and sovereignty.  There is no debating the existence of God here:  God is.  But even to say “God is”, while true, is too impersonal and somewhat distant.  The LORD is: “I AM”; it’s closer, more immediate and personal.  The promise to Moses is “I will be with you” (Exodus 3:12). 

How about you?  Scholars think “YHWH” is pronounced “Yahweh”.   If you take a sudden deep breath through your open mouth and let it out the same way – that’s probably how God’s name sounds.  So, in a way, God’s name is invoked every time you breathe.  This may mean that every breath you take, every breath we all take, over our entire lifetimes, is … a prayer.  God is closer than you ever realized, and you’ve been calling out the name of the LORD since your very first breath of life.

Shalom,

Pastor Rob Nystrom