Yahweh - A Name With Promises

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, December 12, 2013 0 comments

One lesson that many of us have probably learned at some point in our lives is that there is a lot of pressure in expectations. If you’ve ever promised somebody something you were relatively confident you could deliver only to find the task much more difficult, you’ve experienced great pressure. If you make a promise you know you can’t keep just to get someone to believe in you at the time, you feel the instantly overwhelming pressure of trying to do the impossible. Sometimes the expectations are from others. When parents fail to encourage and appreciate their children for what they have already done because they are constantly pushing them to do more, those children feel the pressure of the expectation that they will constantly achieve. Some of you have probably seen those talk shows where parents seem to be more wrapped up in their kids’ sports, educational goals, or beauty pageants than the kids themselves!

My guess is that some of you reading this right now are either dealing with these things or have baggage from your past where you feel like a parent or someone else put expectations on you that caused you to go through life with pressure rather than peace. In some cases, your very name may even be attached to the expectation. Your first name may have been selected by your parents because of their thoughts of what you would become, or there may be expectations attached to your last name because of a family legacy. Either way, I believe most of us would choose not to have pressure attached to our lives or our names if we could.

Last week, I wrote about the concept known as “ex nihilo”, which refers to God creating the world out of nothing. In the post, I explained that the very first truth about God that we learn in the Bible is that he was here before anything else. This is the foundation for everything else we believe, and every human being must choose to believe either that God was lying or was telling the truth. Whatever you believe about that influences how you receive and respond to God’s promises as they relate to your life. The thing about God is that he’s not trying to dodge the pressure of expectations. In fact, he desires that you trust him so much that even his name is on the line with his promises.

You may have seen in Monday’s post that “Yahweh” is the name of the Lord from the Old Testament. As Katie mentioned, the root of the Hebrew word likely comes from Exodus 3:14 where God says “I Am” in response to Moses asking him what he should tell those who ask for the name of the God of their fathers. In the next verse, God says, “This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation” (v. 15). How awesome that is! When God says “forever”, he means it! Friends, that means that even today God’s name is “I Am”. Since we are not God and do not get to say those words, it would be more appropriate to say, “He Is”. Thus, the name YAHWEH is likely from the third-person form of what he named himself before Moses so many years ago. You may be asking why he gave himself that name. Well, other than the obvious statement that he was here before anything else, he was also making a promise. Some translations, instead of “I Am”, have it written as “I Will Be”. This is where context of such an important declaration comes into play.

In Exodus 3, God was first calling Moses to be the deliverer of his people from the oppression of Pharaoh and Egypt. God had already told Moses he would set his people free, so just think how Moses must have felt upon hearing the promise of “I Am” or “I Will”. Then, in Exodus 6:2-8, God reminds Moses of his name and his promise. He reminds Moses that he did not reveal his name as Yahweh to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but only as God Almighty (v. 3). He reminds Moses of the covenant he made with those fathers (v. 4), and that he has now “remembered” his covenant (v. 5). This is so cool! Rather than just expecting Moses to blindly believe him, God explained what he has done in the past, how he is keeping his promises, how Moses can know this because God chose to share his very name for the first time with him, and how that name is the essence of his promises. Once God says “I Am” or “I Will”, that about settles it! He then tells Moses to go tell the Israelites that he will bring them “out from under the yoke of the Egyptians” and that he will follow through on his promise to their fathers to bring them to their own land (vv. 6-8). In that promise, God begins AND ends with “I am the Lord”, putting his name on the line with this promise.

What promises do you need to trust God for today? Exodus 6:9 tells us that the people did not believe Moses, which really means they did not believe the Lord “because of their discouragement and cruel bondage”. Yet, God followed through on his promise anyway. Later, in Exodus 34:6-7, God makes more promises that begin with his name. He proclaims, “The Lord (Yahweh), the Lord (Yahweh), the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin” (parenthetical words mine). I can’t begin to tell you how much I have needed to bank on those promises lately and I’m sure I’m not the only one reading this who feels that way. God promises to set us free from what enslaves us if we’ll let him, and sometimes even when we don’t. He promises to love, show compassion and grace, and to forgive our wickedness. There will be consequences, as he says later in Exodus 34. But the consequences are temporary and we need simply to cry out to him and he will always do as he has promised. No matter what your past includes, you can trust God to rescue and forgive you, because his very name and reputation are on the line!