The Nature and Person of YHVH Elohim

A Study by Pastor John Sept. 2000


Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God, that in order to even come to God it is required that we believe God exists and that God rewards those who diligently seek Him. So, at the beginning of our spiritual walk we encounter two important questions, 1. Do I believe that God exists and 2. Do I actually believe that my seeking to know God more intimately will be rewarded with results.

Why should I seek God if I believe there is no God? Moreover, even if I believe there is a god, which most people do, why should I use my valuable and limited time on this earth seeking to know God better unless I really believe that God will notice my attempts and will respond? It would make much more sense for me to utilize my time writing computer programing and become wealthy, to wisely invest in the stock market, to devote my time and energies to Green Peace. Such could be good things for me to do and any of them might pay off big for me or might help others in very tangible ways. Why would I want to use my limited time "diligently seeking" God? Why, if I don't believe that God exists or would grant what I seek.

Besides, I do believe in God so that's enough. I've prayed the sinner's prayer, my sins have been forgiven, I've been born again, that's enough.

Is it? James 2:19 says, "You believe there is one God? You do well! [pat yourself on the back!] The demons believe that as well!..."

Certainly salvation is vital, but there's so much more! Being born again is just the beginning of our spiritual life. Of course, we need to look out for ourselves, within reason. Yet our Master says that we are to take no thought of where we will sleep or what we will eat or wear. 'If God provides these things for birds of the air and the flowers of the field, our needs will certainly be supplied' -- Matt 6:25-34. And yet the Ruach haKodesh, the Holy Spirit tells us at I Tim. 5:8 that if we do not provide for the physical needs of our families we are worse than infidels! So yes, some of us will take on positions as software writers, as teachers, nurses, etc. and some us will do work for Green Peace and other groups. These are all fine things and doubtless pleasing to our God.

With our financial gains from these things we can care for the physical needs of our families, our blood families, our heart families, our church families; we can help care for our extended human family by giving generously to feed the poor, to house the homeless, care for the sick, to evangelize our neighbors and bring God's love to the world, and so on.

Yet what remains is that those who would come to God must believe that God exists and that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Beyond our good works, we must diligently seek God, if we would hope to know God. And so, we ask, who is God?

For we Believers there is good news! The Bible has lots of information about who and what God is and how we can grow ever closer to Him. Likewise the Holy Spirit is available to teach us and lead us into deeper understandings and experiences with God.

Our Bible's begin with faith in God as a given. It doesn't argue for the existence of God. Rather it boldly proclaims: "In the beginning God ...."

So again we are left to ask the question, who is this God?

This scripture actually says, when transliterated more literally, "In the beginning Elohim...". You see, our English word "God" is actually a title. It is traditionally capitalized when referring to the one true God and spelled with a lower case "g" when referring to other gods so -called. Our English word comes from the German word "goot" or "good." True enough, God is the "Good One," but as with so many other words, much is lost in the translation.

Here in Genesis 1 and throughout much of the Hebrew Scriptures the word translated as "God" is Elohim. Who is Elohim? The word Elohim, as the word God, is really a title but is generally used in Scripture as a proper name for the One God, though it is occasionally used to refer to magistrates etc. (Strong's 430). The word usually refers to El as God, capital "G".

Elohim provides a fine proper name of God. Within the nature or essense of Elohim the fullness of the Godhead is present (Acts 17:29, Rom. 1:20, Col 2:9). At Genesis 1:26 it is recorded: "And Elohim said, Let Us make man in our own image..." With this act human history began.

In Elohim is the fullness of the Godhead or Holy Trinity, the Parent (or Father), Child (or Son) and Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost), which is to say, YHVH, Yeshua and Ruach haKodesh. Elohim is thus the most inclusive name or title for the Divinity that is known.

Yet Elohim is so far beyond human comprehension and reason, so absolutely holy, righteous and powerful, that we have no possible way of connecting with such a Being! Elohim is the Absolute Fullness and Supreme Totality of the Ultimate Divinity. So, how can we hope to know such a One? There's the rub! Formerly there was a wall or partition separating us from Elohim. YHVH existed within the Holy of Holies and the world was locked away on the outside.

Again, Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please this God, that in order to even approach Elohim it is required that we believe God exists and rewards those who diligently seek. But how can we approach Elohim as depicted in Genesis even if we do believe? Very difficult!

This was a problem for the Hebrew people who were called forth from the nations of the world to be a chosen people unto Elohim. In the beginnings of their relationship with Elohim they could not comprehend this Being who had chosen them. They knew Elohim as El Shaddai, the Almighty El or God. They feared the awesome power of El Shaddai, they honored the Almighty, but knowing El? Developing a personal relationship with El? That was still beyond them.

As time went by to help the people grow into a deeper and more personal relationship with Elohim, more information was given. As the covenant relationships became more binding on the Hebrew people, and more intimate, so too did the ways in which the people of Elohim were empowered to know the Unknowable El.

Elohim says:

So now that the covenant relationship was becoming clearer and more intimate, Elohim, who was known as El Shaddai or the Almighty El, now came to be known as YHVH, which is generally pronounced as "Yahvay" or "Yahway" and translated into English as "Jehovah" -- Ya Ho VaH. With this, a more personal relationship became possible. Consider it this way, a deeply respected person whom you have always called Mr. or Ms. Jones now invites you to use their first name. Your relationship has deepened, become more personal. So too, the Hebrews were gradually lead into a deeper and more intimate communion with YHVH Elohim.

Ancient Hebrew was written without vowels. Those who spoke the language simply knew which vowel sounds to employ when speaking. So for instance the name Isaac or YiSCHaQ, would be written as YSHQ, the vowels being added according to common usage. This most sacred personal Name of YHVH likewise had no vowels in its written form.

As the years went by and the commands to honor the Sacred Name of YHVH spread among the people of Elohim, many stopped using the Name, fearing that it was too holy, too sacred to be uttered (ex. Lev. 22:1-3). As result, many people began replacing the Name YHVH with the title "Adon" or "Adonai" which literally means "master." With the passage of time and in the face of various anti-Semitic attacks on the Hebrew people, their being carried away as slaves to Babylon, the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and so on, the correct pronunciation of the Sacred Name was forgotten. People knew how to pronounce names like Isaac, Aaron, etc. but not how to pronounce YHVH (or Yod He Vav He). Today there is still not certainty on this point, although Yahveh "yah vay" seems the most common pronunciation.

As Christian scribes took up the work of translating the Holy Word of YHVH they typically followed tradition and replaced "YHVH" with Adonai, which English translators translated as "God" or "Lord." This is why the name Jehovah or YHVH is only found 4 times in the Authorized King James Version. This also explains the awkward verses such as: "... I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is The LORD (Jeremiah 16:20-22, KJV).

Now, certainly YHVH is our Master, our Lord, but the near superstitious paranoia about using the Sacred Name defeated the central purpose for which it was originally given. The Name was revealed to draw the people closer to Elohim, to help people better know El. It clearly was not YHVH's plan or intent for the name to be so feared, as the Scriptures make clear. When Elohim revealed the Sacred Name of YHVH it was to lift up that Name, to draw people to Elohim.

It is sometimes pointed out that the word "name," which is "shem" in the Hebrew, refers to more than a proper name. Lifting up the "name of the Lord" means to proclaim God's glory and power, reputation and greatness. This is, in my opinion, a valid understanding. Shem, according to Strong's (8034), refers to an appellation or name, and to a mark or memorial of individuality, it implies the granting of honor, authority and character. Certainly this is the case here as well. This does not however negate the central meaning of the word, i.e. for use as a proper name.

The opposite is true. Exodus 6:3, referred to above, says clearly that the Name YHVH was given as a proper name: "I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, [El Shaddai] but by my name the LORD [YHVH] I did not make myself known to them" -- NIV

Deuteronomy 6:12-14: "You shall fear [or awe] YHVH your Elohim and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name." Here the reference is clearly to the personal name of YHVH. There are many such references.

Having once revealed the Sacred Name of YHVH it was to be used forever as we read at Exodus 3:15: "And Elohim said again unto Moses, Thus shall you say to the children of Israel, YHVH Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Isaac, the Elohim of Jacob, has sent me unto you: This is my name eternally, generation to generation..." Eternity has not ended and neither has this instruction.

As followers of Yeshua (Jesus) should we use the Sacred Name YHVH?

Our Savior Prays:

John 17:

Doubtless such verses are speaking of YHVH's name as the glory, the power, reputation etc. of Elohim, however it is equally certain that they are speaking of the proper Name, YHVH.

The Sacred Name is intimately associated with our Savior. Indeed, the name of Messiah Yeshua means literally YESHUA -- Y' (YHVH) SHUA -- saves. Yeshua means: "YHVH Saves" and our Savior said that he manifested the Sacred Name to his hearers.

Elohim's holy Name of YHVH is to be used throughout eternity for the glory of Elohim. Our Master used the Sacred Name and we as his followers should surely do the same.

In the third part of this three part study we will consider the nature and person of Messiah Yeshua. Until then, may the blessings of YHVH Elohim, Messiah Yeshua and Ruach haKodesh be yours.


Go to: The Nature and Person of Yeshua

Go to: The Nature and Person of Ruach haKodesh

Go to: The Trinity Homepage

Click Here to Meet Messiah Yeshua Personally!


Acknowledgements:

Most of the biblical quotes in this piece are from the ExeGeses Ready Research Bible, World Bible Publishers
Iowa Falls IA 50126

Also Considered: Strong's Exhaustive Concordence
The New International Version of the Bible

Thanks also to Torah Teacher Aaron Smuglovsky of the Messianic Bible Society


Thank you very much. God bless you as you continue Reaching for the One



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