Is it not fascinating that God - divine Creator existing always in triune and indivisible, communal personhood - reveals his personal name to us?
He is not a distant, impersonal, unemotive potentate (or "unmoved mover"), but rather a relational, emotional, humble-mighty (gentle!), sacrificial covenant-making Artist-Shepherd-King who is abundantly joyful within himself - Father, Son and Spirit.
He - as revealed in the holy Scriptures and even more fully though the incarnation - wants us to know him personally, not from afar. This stands in contrast to the alternative pantheon of "gods" who have been revered in history. Those gods demand more of us, this personal God offers himself and his kingdom to us for our joy.
So, what is the personal name of God in Scripture and how do we read it? There are two names which rise up from the pages: YHWH and Abba (to use the Hebrew nomenclature; the former dominating the Old Testament and the latter held up by Jesus Messiah, but both being equally significant).
Just this morning I read from Isaiah's prophetic poetry:
Who among you fears the Lord
and obeys the voice of his servant?
Let him who walks in darkness
and has no light
trust in the name of the Lord
and rely on his God.As I reflected on this, I came across this thought from Adam Lewis Greene (see his Kickstarter for his beautiful Bibliotheca project):
The name of God in Hebrew ( יהוה ), is most commonly represented in contemporary bibles as "The LORD." This comes from a Jewish tradition that replaced the name of God when spoken aloud with "Adonai" (Lord) out of reverence for the Holy Name...
I will be using the English transliteration of the name of God; that is, YHWH, set in all small capital letters. This way, pronunciation is not suggested, but the name of God is still represented, rather than replaced.This seemed appropriate to me because the name of God in Hebrew is indeed a unique personal name, not an honorific title preceded by a definite article (i.e. the master, the king, the lord). It is my opinion that using "The LORD" in place of the name of God creates an impersonal barrier between the character of God and the reader that does not exist in the earliest manuscripts, and was not intended to exist by the original authors. As a simple example, there is an obvious disparity in the two statements, "I, the king, care for you," and "I, George, care for you." Even if George is the king, it is significant if he has chosen to use his personal name when speaking to you rather than his honorific title.This may seem minor, but is it not revolutionary? Does it not make God seem nearer - and not as a false illusion to soothe our imaginations for a therapeutic deity, but as a personal God who is to be revered (i.e. "fear of the LORD") and simultaneously known (adored, felt, intimately united with).
I'm thankful today that I can trust his name - the fullness of his personality which is good, gracious, glorious and great.