YHWH: The Name of the Lord
One constant in the language of the Old Testament that makes it different from the New Testament is that we notice that “LORD” is in all capital letters. Some may wonder why this is. In the original Hebrew language, LORD is translated YHWH, God’s name. From this we get the anglicization “Jehovah.” As the O.T. writers penned the Word inspired by God Himself, they used many compound Hebrew names for God. These names reflect God’s character– His faithfulness, His unchangeableness, His truth. Let us explore some of these. This article is written based off a list of names for God in the Old Testament found in the MacArthur Study Bible.
“The LORD,” Genesis 2:4-6
“This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.”
The original Hebrew here for “LORD” is “Yehovah,” which stresses God’s self-existence and eternality. The Lord has always existed, in the past, in the present, and in the future. Isaiah 46:9-10 says, “‘Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.”‘” God is self-existent– He created the end and the beginning themselves! We see God’s eternality affirmed again in Deuteronomy 33:27: “‘The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…'”. The Lord is eternal– He is everlasting, forever!
“The LORD Will Provide”, Genesis 22:14
“And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, ‘In the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.'”
Jehovah-Jireh: the LORD will provide. When we start to panic over not having enough of something– like not having enough money, time, patience, energy, or other things– how often we forget that God is the God who provides for our every need. And indeed, God has provided for us. He has provided the resources we need to preach His Word to a lost and dying world. He has provided our necessities, as Jesus affirmed in Matthew 6:32, when He assured us that the Father knows what we need. And perhaps the most hard-hitting provision of all was prophesied by Abraham on that mountain– that the Lord would provide His one and only Son to suffer and die on a cross to take away our sin and shame.
“The LORD Your Sanctifier”, Exodus 31:12-13
“And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: “Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you.”‘”
The Sabbath is spoken of here as a sign between God and His people, Israel. God had set Israel apart from other nations. They were always different, from the time that Abraham left his homeland in Ur. When we give our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ, He sets us apart from the world, just like He did His people in the Old Testament. The apostle John wrote: “Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15) We are separate from the world as believers– we are in the world, but not of the world. God has set us apart for good works, which He prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).
“The LORD Our Banner”, Exodus 17:14-15
“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.’ And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-LORD-Is-My-Banner; for he said, ‘Because the LORD has sworn: the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.'”
John MacArthur says regarding this, “By titling the altar with this designation for the Lord, Yahweh-Nissi, Moses declared the Lord Himself to be the standard for His people.” The Amalekites were a corrupt people who did not worship the one true God. On the other hand, God declared His standard throughout the Old Testament, calling His people to holy living and to honor Him. The Lord is our banner– He is our standard. It is His flag that we carry with us and display to the people we meet. If we’re living a fruitful Christian life, other people will notice it in us– they’ll see our banner flying high.
“The Lord Our Righteousness,” Jeremiah 23:6
“‘In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.'”
Jesus Himself is our righteousness– for only God gives us righteousness. The Bible tells us that there is none righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10). How can we become righteous? There is only one way, and that way is by trusting the Lord Jesus Christ and accepting His atoning sacrifice for us at Calvary. Without Him, we can never be righteous. Our righteousness as believers is not our own– it comes only from the one true Lord God.