Rabbi Schneider — Yahweh Yireh
Did you know the Lord said that it's through the foolishness of preaching that men are saved? And so as God's Word goes forth it literally changes people's lives.
Even as the Lord spoke the heavens and the earth into existence and he said let there be light and there was light, so too, whenever God's Word is preached in Spirit and in truth, it brings forth a supernatural change and transformation into the lives of those that receive it. And so today may you receive God's Word and be changed and strengthened by it. We're in a very special series right now that I'm calling The Covenant Names of God.
This is now the second episode, beloved ones, in this series. I began last week by going to the Book of Genesis, chapter 1. I went to the first verse there, a verse that most of us are familiar with: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
The Hebrew word there in Genesis, 1:1 for God is the word Elohim. So it actually says: In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth. I pointed out that Elohim was the plural of the word El, and El was a term that even pagans used to describe their god. They referred to their gods as El. So why in the Book of Genesis, 1:1, is El changed to its plural form Elohim? Because when you add him on to the end of a word to make it plural, it really marks the word.
It makes it stand out. It makes it something bigger than what it is in the singular. So number one, we see that El is Elohim in Genesis, 1:1, to put emphasis on it that God is just not one of the many gods but he is The God. And also it's in its plural form because God, beloved ones, is multi-dimensional in his nature.
God consists of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There's relationship within the Godhead. The Son has always been in the bosom of the Father. God is love and love must have an object. And the Son, who's in the bosom of the Father, has forever in eternity been the object of Father's affection.
And so we read in Genesis, 1:26, that the Lord said: Let us make man in our image. Who was he speaking to when he said, let us make man in our image? He was speaking to his Son that's in his bosom. So in the beginning Elohim, plural, speaking of again the multi-dimensional nature of God, the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
But Elohim is not actually God's personal name. It's a descriptive title, the title of God. It's not until Exodus, chapter 3, and Exodus, chapter 6, that we are actually introduced to God's covenant name. The Lord says to Moses in Exodus, chapter 3: I Am That I Am.
This is my memorial name forever. And then he continues in Exodus, chapter 6. And he said this, he said to Moses in Exodus, chapter 6, verse 2-3, he said: Moses, I, I revealed myself to your forefathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El Shaddai, as God Almighty.
But by my name, Yahweh, they did not know me. And so the Lord reveals his covenant name to us in Exodus, 3, and Exodus, 6, Yahweh. Since that time, beloved, every single writer in the Hebrew Bible, those that knew God personally, that had a relationship with him, called upon him, listen now, by his name Yahweh, from Moses onward; Moses, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, and on and on.
You could go through all the books of the Bible. They called him in the Old Testament by his personal, sacred covenant name. In fact, Yahweh's name is used in the Old Testament over 7,000 times.
Now the reason that I want to point this out is because in the traditional Jewish world there's a mindset that feels that Father God's sacred name, Yahweh, is so sacred that it shouldn't be spoken. In fact, the ancient Jewish sages, when they wrote down God's personal name composed of the four Hebrew letters, Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey, (YHWH) they actually put some accent markings around those letters so that Gentiles wouldn't even know how to pronounce Father God's sacred name.
Now let me say this. I want to give respect to my Jewish brothers and sisters that feel that we shouldn't speak God the Father's sacred name, Yahweh. I feel differently about this because his name once again is used over 7,000 times in the Old Testament. All those from Moses onward, when they prayed to God, prayed to him by referring to him by calling upon him with love and reverence by his name, Yahweh.
But, the Jewish people, once again, developed a mindset that it's so sacred it shouldn't be said, and they tried to protect it from having Gentiles learn what it was, because they felt like if Gentiles learned what Father God's sacred name was they would use it and make fun of it in blasphemy.
And so what the ancient scribes did was when they recorded God's sacred name Yahweh, composed of the four Hebrew consonants, Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey, (YHWH) they put accent markings, which I'm going to explain what that means in a second, over the four consonants so that when people that didn't know his name tried to speak it, they would actually speak it wrong.
You see, they tried to cover up how it should be spoken. Now let me back up a second because I know this can sound a bit confusing. Here we go. In the English language we have what we know as consonants and vowels. Most of us know that, right? We have our consonants, the r, n, j, etc. And then we have our, our, our vowel sounds, a, e, i, o, and u.
So we have consonants and we have vowels. And the way that we know how to pronounce consonants in terms of if you have an r and an n, the way to know how to pronounce the r and the n is by the vowel that's in between the r and the n. So for example, if all we had were the two consonants r, n next to each other, we wouldn't know how that was pronounced. It could be rin. It could be run. It could be ran. It could be ren (sounds like reen). It could be run (Sounds like roon), right.
The vowel in between the two consonants tells us how to pronounce it. So if we want to say ran, we put the vowel a in between the r and the n. But in Hebrew there are no vowels, and so what we do to show us how to pronounce the consonants in the Hebrew language is we put accent markings over the Hebrew consonants. And the accent markings show us what vowel sounds are to be used.
So what the ancient Jewish scribes did is when they wrote down God's sacred name, they put the accent markings, get it now, church, in the wrong places so that the Gentiles wouldn't know how to say Father God's sacred name.
That's why, for example, when we hear of the Gentile church wanting to call upon God or sing to God by his name, they say Jehovah, rather than what his real name is, Yahweh. You see, we've all heard songs like Jehovah Jireh. We're actually gonna get to that covenant name of God next.
Jehovah Jireh, you know
Jehovah Jireh, my Provider
Your grace is sufficient for me
Some of you remember that song. But Jehovah isn't really Father God's name. There really is no God by the name of Jehovah. The way that the Gentiles began to pronounce it Jehovah rather than Yahweh comes from two sources.
Number one, because the ancient Jewish scribes put the accent markings in the wrong places over the Hebrew consonants so that the Gentiles would mispronounce it. The other reason is because as time goes on, language changes and language evolves. And so in the ancient Hebrew language, there was no j sound.
We said Jehovah, right? There was no j sound. It was a ya sound often times. So for example, if we look at the Hebrew for Israel, it's Yisrael. There was a ya sound. Or if we look at the capitol city of Yisrael, it is what? We call it Jerusalem.
But in the original Hebrew, get it now, church, hear me, it is Yerushalayim. So the j sound was added later. It was just kind of the, what takes place over the years as language sometimes changes forms. So in the original it was Yahweh, but because of the confusion that came about as a result of the wrong accent markings so Gentiles would mispronounce, and compounded with the fact that over time the ya sound became a j sound as I indicated is the case with Yerushalayim, which is the correct way to say Jerusalem, versus Jerusalem.
As a result of that the Gentile church began to refer to God as Jehovah rather than the original Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey (YHWH) pronounced a breathy Yahweh. Now let me say this as well. We are not totally certain, we're not 100% sure that God's sacred personal name is pronounced a breathy Yahweh, once again, because we don't have the accent markings and because for hundreds and hundreds of years no one would say his name.
But most sematic scholars today, most scholars of the ancient Hebrew language believe that the way that God's personal sacred name should be pronounced, once again, is a breathy Yahweh.