We all acknowledge that, by the grace of our heavenly Father, we are a people taken out of the Gentiles for His Name. What does this mean? How should this statement by James affect us? What Name is involved?

The Name for which we have been taken out of the Gentiles is the Memorial Name given to Moses at the burning bush: “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations” (Ex 3:14–15).

We place great emphasis, and rightly so, on the fact that “I AM THAT I AM” (Heb ehyeh asher ehyeh) should be translated “I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE”. This is borne out in verse 12, where the words “I will be” are translated from the identical Hebrew word ehyeh translated “I am” in verse 14. It is the same word translated again as “I will be” in Exodus 4:12, and in every other place.

Who Will He Be?

He was to be Jeshoshua, which means “Yahweh saves or helps”, or in the Greek, “Jesus”. The Yahweh Name was thus to be manifested in Jesus. As Son of God through the overshadowing of Mary by the Holy Spirit, Jesus was “the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Jesus himself said: “Though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him” (John 10:38); “I am in the Father, and the Father in me” (John 14:11); “the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works” (John 14:10). Paul further comments: “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” (2 Cor 5:19). The Lord Jesus was “Emmanuel, God with us” (Matt 1:23). He was the one through whom sin and its effects were to be overcome. Though the seed of the woman, he was a complete manifestation of his Father and could say, “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world” (John 17:6).

However this initial manifestation of the Name in Jesus was to be the basis for a further development in the future when, as a multitude which no man can number, the faithful of every age and race will be the temple, or dwelling place of Yahweh. This idea comes from two statements in the prophecy of Isaiah. Firstly: “Thus saith Yahweh, the King of Israel, and his redeemer Yahweh of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no Elohim” (44:6), and secondly: “Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I Yahweh, the first, and with the last; I am he” (41:4). In the first of these quotations the word for “last” is singular, and in the second it is plural. The comparison is even more striking if we leave out a few words and read, “I first, and I last [singular], and beside me no Elohim”, and “I Yahweh, first and last [plural], I, he.”

This variation in these verses is no accident. Yahweh, the great El, is the first. That is the foundation of any doctrine concerning God. He is from everlasting to everlasting (Psa 90:2). Whatever will be in the future must be “of Him” (1 Cor 8:6). So Yahweh, the first, in His manifestation in the Lord Jesus Christ is the last (One). He will also be the last (Ones), because all those who attain to life eternal will do so as the result of His work in Christ. “God was in Christ” as we have seen (2 Cor 5:19). God raised him from the dead and calls us to His Kingdom and glory through Christ. God, in Christ, reconciles all to Himself. God works in us, to will and to do His good pleasure (Phil 2:13). Finally, those who are accepted at the judgment seat and changed from mortal to immortal nature, will “partake of the Divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4), and God will be all in all (1 Cor 15:28). Yahweh is the last ones in them, and will be universally so when the end shall come. This is how the Yahweh Name contains within itself the declaration of the purpose of our heavenly Father, and is the Memorial of that purpose.

I Have Manifested Thy Name

In John 17:6 Jesus said: “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world”, and this is in the context of his words, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent”. Expanding the first six verses of this chapter, we note that it all has to do with glory to the Father. Our Lord said in this great prayer that he had glorified his Father on the earth and finished the work he had been sent to do.

“Glory” and “Name” in the same context relate to the incident when Moses asked Yahweh to show him His glory (Exodus 33:18). Yahweh’s answer in verse 19 was: “I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of Yahweh before thee.” There is no doubt from these verses that the glory of Yahweh is associated with His Name and with His goodness.

In Exodus 34:5 we read: “And Yahweh descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of Yahweh.” Verse 6 tells us that Yahweh proclaimed, “YAHWEH, YAHWEH EL, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.”

In Psalm 103:8 David quotes the words of Exodus 34:6–7 and this, in the middle of declaring Yahweh’s righteousness and judgment for the oppressed. This Psalm confirms that it is to “them that fear him” that His goodness is extended (v11, 13, 17), and this takes us to the latter half of Isaiah 66:2 and 57:15. Here again Yahweh speaks of dwelling “in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit”.

This goodness of Yahweh has been extended to each and every one of us who have been called out of the Gentiles as a people for His Name. We have experienced His mercy in removing our transgressions (Psa 103:11–12). He does not deal with us after our sins or reward us according to our iniquities (v10). In view of this Peter asks us, “What manner of persons ought ye to be?” as he considers the coming day of God, which we believe to be very near (2 Pet 3:11).

We must never forget that all Yahweh asks of us is to reflect His character to others. He has given us the opportunity of manifesting His Memorial Name in our lives. Peter again tells us: “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar [mrg “purchased”] people; that ye should shew forth the praises [mrg “virtues”] of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Pet 2:9). This is the purpose of our calling: to show forth in our lives His “virtues”. Paul exhorts: “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children” (Eph 5:1). The Greek for “followers” means “imitators”. So we must be “imitators” of God, as dear children.

Manifesting the Name in our Lives

How do we do this? There may be occasions when we feel this is an impossible task, but if we think about it, it is possible. We can manifest the Memorial Name by being merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands (especially our brethren and sisters), forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin (when committed against ourselves)—or in other words, “loving our neighbour as ourselves”. In doing this we do no more than Yahweh does for us daily. In fact we have no option! This is the command of Christ, that we love one another even as he has loved us, and by doing this we are not only manifesting the love of our Lord for us, but also the love and goodness associated with the Memorial Name. These are the qualities our Lord is looking for in us now. If these things are found in us we will become the Elohim or the “mighty ones” of Yahweh—He who will be mighty ones—the “mighty ones” of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. Moses learnt in Exodus 3:15:

“This is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations”, which, of course, includes us today.

In John 17:6 Jesus said, “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world.” In verse 8 he went on to say: “I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee.” Jesus spoke these words to his disciples then, and they have been preserved in writing for his disciples ever since. Because we have received this message today, we now stand in the same position as his disciples did when he gave this great prayer. He not only prayed for them, “but for them also which shall believe on him through their word” (v20).

This message we have received has the power to transform us and direct us to manifest Him in our lives. Brother Robert Roberts, in Nazareth Revisited, says: “It [the gospel] is to carry out His purpose, to enforce His supremacy, that the performances planned and announced in the gospel will be carried out. A reception of the truth, therefore, that limits itself to the skeleton facts of the gospel is inadequate.” If we have just an academic knowledge of the gospel this is not enough to secure our salvation. It might give us faith that these things are going to happen, but faith without works is dead. We must do more than just believe the gospel—we must live it! It must be a power in our lives as Paul says (Rom 1:16), motivating us to show our faith by our works.

Walking in Newness of Life

When we have been baptised into Christ we become the seed of Abraham. If we walk in newness of life, we will become the “mighty ones” of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but if there is no change in our life we are just a “skeleton”, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.

We must manifest the Name to which we have been called, and show forth the characteristics of that Name, even as our Lord Jesus Christ did. Peter says: “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [behaviour]; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Pet 1:15–16).

In Romans 11:22 Paul says: “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off”. When we consider the goodness of God towards us in calling us out of the Gentiles as a people for His Name, we notice the following points from Exodus 34:6–7.

  • Yahweh is merciful. The Hebrew word means “to be full of compassion”. In Psalm 145:8 we read that “Yahweh is gracious, and full of compassion”. Peter exhorts: “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another” (1 Pet 3:8), and Jude gets nearer the mark when he says: “And of some have compassion, making a difference” (v22).
  • Yahweh is gracious. The Hebrew word for “gracious” here, as well as the common Hebrew word for “grace”, comes from the same root word which means “to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior, or to favour”. This attribute of God’s character is certainly required of us. Peter says: “If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Pet 2:3), and Paul likewise says: “And be ye kind one to another…” (Eph 4:32). The same Greek word is used for “gracious” and “kind.”
  • Yahweh is longsuffering. Longsuffering is made up of two Hebrew words which are also rendered “slow to anger” in Psalm 103:8. It speaks of that disposition of God whereby He delays the punishment of men. Paul exhorts us to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” (Eph 4:1–2). Do we have the disposition which delays adverse action? Do we show such longsuffering to others?

God expects us, as a people called out of the Gentiles for His Name, to manifest these characteristics in all aspects of our service. However, the goodness of our God does not allow us to overlook those actions which bring disrepute to that Name. We need to carefully deal with these issues in the spirit of His goodness.

At the end of his life our Lord was able to say: “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4,6). It is our prayer that at the return of the Master he may find that we have been faithful to that Name we bear in word and action. If this is so there is no doubt that we will be changed, to become the “mighty ones of Abraham, the mighty ones of Isaac and the mighty ones of Jacob”. Let us always remember that we have to “continue in his goodness: otherwise we also shall be cut off” (Rom 11:22).