The Name of God – יהוה

The Name of God – יהוה

The Hebrew letters יהוה (read right-to-left Yod, He, Waw, He) are given as the name of God. Believers often refer to God as Yahweh (or more traditionally Jehovah) due to this Hebrew derivation. The first biblical mention of this name that God calls Himself is found in Exodus 3…
 
Then Moses said to God, “Indeed when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?’ | And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” | Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’ [Exodus 3:13-15 (New King James Version)]
The name translated into English as ‘I AM’ in verse 14 is the Hebrew word shown above. Many English bibles use the partially capitalized phrase ‘The LORD’ to translate later instances of this Hebrew word as in verse 15. In this magnificent statement, God declares His completeness and His eternal nature by His very name.

Jesus – The Great I AM

Jesus confirms His identity as this same God, and gives us insight into His godly nature in the seven so-called ‘I Am’ statements He makes in the Gospel of John.
First, in response to the people’s request for a sign (miracle) to prove His divinity, such as God’s miraculous provision of manna (bread) from heaven to feed the nation of Israel during their 40-year wandering in the wilderness…
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. | For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. | Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” | And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst…” [John 6:32-35 (NKJV)]
In these verses, Jesus declares Himself as the creator and sustainer of life. Jesus continues by declaring His plan of salvation for us all through the sacrifice of His own body…
“…Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. | I am the bread of life. | Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. | This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. | I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” [John 6:47-51 (NKJV)]
Jesus also describes Himself as our guide to lead us from a life of destruction in our sin into a life of fulfillment following his holy example…
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”[John 8:12 (NKJV)]
Next Jesus describes for us his role as our entry point not only into salvation and the kingdom of God, but also into a more fulfilling life here on Earth…
Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. | All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. | I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. |The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly…” [John 10:7-10 (NKJV)]
Then, in a particularly tender passage, Jesus declares Himself as our protector, laying claim to us as His own…
“…I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. | But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. | The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. | I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. | As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father, and I lay down My life for the sheep…” [John 10:11-15 (NKJV)]
Jesus proves His divinity, and power over death through the miraculous restoration of His friend Lazarus to life after he had lain dead in his tomb for four days. In speaking to Lazarus’ sister before performing this miracle, Jesus speaks to us all about the hope we have in Him for salvation and eternal life. Yet in this same statement, Jesus challenges us that we must believe in Him if we are to obtain fulfillment of this hope…
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. | And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”[John 11:25-26 (NKJV)]
Reassuring His disciples during the last supper on the evening of His arrest, Jesus tells us that He must leave, and promises to return for us, while also reaffirming His unity with God the Father, and exhorting us that the promise of salvation may only be obtained through belief in Him…
(Speaking to Thomas) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. | If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” [John 14:6-7 (NKJV)]
Finally, Jesus affirms His great love for us, and promises to remain with us always…
“…I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. | Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. | You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. | Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. | I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing…” [John 15:1-5 (NKJV)]

Jesus Condemned for Calling Himself by Name

Tragically, it was Jesus’ forthright declaration of His own divine nature by uttering His own name that eventually led to His condemnation to die on the cross. We see this first, when He is confronted by a crowd in the temple of Jerusalem…
“…Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” | Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” | Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” [John 8:56-58 (NKJV)]
The crowd’s reaction to this undeniable statement of Jesus’ godhood was to take up rocks so that they might stone Him to death for the ‘blasphemy’ of calling Himself by name. Then again, at His arrest, Jesus reiterates this declaration, demonstrating the awesome power of His holy Name when the whole arrest party falls to the ground upon hearing Him utter it…
Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?” | They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. | Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground. [John 18:4-6 (NKJV)]
Lastly, at His trial before the Sanhedrin (Jewish high council in Jerusalem), Jesus makes a final declaration of His divinity, calling Himself by name…
As soon as it was day, the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led Him into their council, saying, | “If You are the Christ, tell us.” But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will by no means believe. | And if I also ask you, you will by no means answer Me or let Me go. | Hereafter, the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.” | Then they all said, “Are You then the Son of God?” So He said to them, “You rightly say that I AM.” [Luke 22:66-70 (NKJV)]

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