Names for YHWH

We are learning the identity of the One named YHWH who is to be king over all the earth (Zech 14:9). The name YHWH, the great I Am, is properly applied to God alone. It can never be given to another. “I am YHWH [LORD], that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images” (Isaiah 42:8; Ex. 3:15). Throughout the Old Testament, the Jews learned God’s character because of the many ways in which He interacted with them. When God met a particular need they had, they assigned to Him a name attached to YHWH that described exactly how He had helped them. Let’s investigate.
YHWH instructed Abraham to take his only son to Mount Moriah and offer him to GOD as a sacrifice. This seemed totally irrational to a human mind, but Abraham obeyed God without flinching. He had learned that no matter how it appeared, he must trust in the Giver not in the gift. As long as he had the Giver, he could not lose the gift – never. Abraham had learned to love and trust YHWH, with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength (Deut. 6:5). To Abraham, YHWH would always provide. YHWH provided a ram in the place of His son. Abraham called Him, YHWH Jireh, the LORD will provide (Gen. 22:13-14).
As the Jews wandered toward their new home in Canaan, they faced many enemies. One of these was a tribal warrior named Amalek of the family of Esau. The Amalakites were much stronger than the Jews. Moses climbed a hill and held up in his hand a rod, the symbol of God’s power. God gave Israel an amazing victory over the Amalakites. The name they gave to GOD was YHWH Nissi— The LORD, your victory (Ex. 17:15–16).
The Jews had left Egypt and were winding their way through the wilderness. YHWH said if they would do what was right and keep His commandments, He would not bring upon them any of the diseases that He had brought upon Egypt. He identified Himself as YHWH Rapha— “The LORD who heals you” (Exodus 15:25–26).
King David was at one time, a shepherd boy. He realized that GOD was his shepherd because GOD took care of His people just as a good shepherd takes care of his sheep. David called him YHWH Ra-ah— “The LORD, my shepherd” (Psalm 23:1).
Israel’s army once again faced a much stronger enemy – the Midianites. Gideon was the general. Gideon’s stress was unbearable at times. He wisely called upon the name of the Lord. The Lord’s response was to flood Gideon’s heart with peace – real peace. Gideon called Him YHWH Shalom —“The LORD our peace” (Judges 6:24).
Speaking through the prophet Ezekiel, God gave a description of the New Jerusalem. He said that the new city would have a special name. The name reveals that GOD will dwell in the city. The name of the city will be YHWH Shammah — “The LORD is there” (Ezekiel 48:35).
One of the most memorable narratives in the Old Testament is the battle between David the shepherd boy and Goliath, the giant from Gath, the Philistine champion. What chance would a small boy have against such an enemy? Just before the battle began, David called out to GOD, using a name that revealed that he really knew who God was. He realized that God’s army was far superior to any human army that he would ever face. David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of YHWH Sabbaoth—“The LORD of hosts whom you have defied.” David killed the giant and cut off his head. GOD’s army is more powerful than any army in the entire universe (1 Samuel 17:45).
Despite all the turmoil in our nation and the world, Jeremiah prophesied a time when Judah would be saved, and Israel would dwell safely in their own land. There will be real peace on earth. It is all because of an amazing King that is coming to reign. The king’s name gives us another big clue to His identity. Jeremiah called His name YHWH Tsidkenu— “The LORD is our righteousness.”
The names for GOD teach us that God is the source of all power, He is the master over all of His creation, and that He is eternal. These names also reveal that GOD was going to provide a sin sacrifice for us, that GOD is our victory, that it is GOD who heals us of our diseases, that GOD shepherds us, that GOD is our peace, that God has an army far superior to any human army, and that GOD will one day dwell in a city called the New Jerusalem. This gives a fresh look at the meaning of “calling on the name of the LORD,” and another hint identifying the coming King over all the earth. Stay safe and stay tuned.