“Every one that is called by My Name ... I have created for My Glory”
This article, together with the foregoing editorial (“A People For His Name”), contain material selected from notes written by Brother H P Mansfield for the 1961 Australasian Youth Conference held at Victor Harbor, SA. They highlight the vital importance of the doctrine of God Manifestation, especially as it was revealed in the Family Name delivered to Moses “at the bush” (Exodus 3) and then further elaborated to him “in the mount” (Exodus 33, 34). It is this doctrine of God Manifestation, expounded so clearly by brethren in the past, that constitutes the essence of our heritage in the Truth and a subject to be treated with the greatest reverence and appreciation.
Bible names have a significance far transcending that of modern names. Today, names are usually selected because parents like the sound of the word, but in ancient times it was not so. Then a name was given because of the significance or meaning of the word. It might commemorate the circumstances of the birth, the character of the one so named, or his mission in life. Frequently, names were changed as the child grew to adulthood and the circumstances of life altered. Thus the word “Nabal” means “a fool”, and Nabal’s wife, in talking to David, said: “As is his name, so is his nature” (1 Sam 25:25).
If such names had meaning, how much more would those which God bestowed! He changed the name of Abram (Lofty Father) to Abraham (Father of Many Nations), because the latter name expressed His purpose with the patriarch (Gen 17:5). The name, Abraham, is a constant reminder or memorial to us of God’s purpose through him.
What is His Name?
God also has a Name! It was proclaimed for the first time in dramatic circumstances. The people of Israel were slaves in Egypt, without hope: Moses had been driven from Egypt in fear of his life and had taken refuge in the land of Midian. He married, settled down, and forty years passed in these peaceful conditions. He became a shepherd, and was used to leading his flocks to the isolated valleys close to Horeb. Suddenly, the peace was broken. An unusual sight met the eyes of Moses in the valley close to Mount Sinai: a bush flamed with fire, and yet, as Moses observed it closely, it was not consumed.
This remarkable sight was followed by a remarkable declaration. The voice of an angel was heard speaking from the bush, instructing Moses that he must return to Egypt to deliver the people. Moses hesitated – he had no confidence in the people nor in himself: moreover, what was God’s purpose in thus delivering them?
“Behold”, said Moses, “when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, the God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is His Name? What shall I say unto them?” (Exodus 3:13)
Why should Moses be concerned about the Name of God? The heathen gods all had distinguishing names that defined their supposed position or power. We meet with many of their names in Scripture: Molech, Astarte, Baal-zebub, Hadad, etc. Jezebel worshipped Astarte, the goddess of love, which caused her to make war on the Truth in Israel; Ahab worshipped Apollo (Baal), the god of light and fire, which probably was the reason for Elijah challenging them with the words: “The God that answereth by fire, let him be God” (1 Kings 18:24).
What was the Name of the God of Israel? What is His purpose and character?
“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” (Exod 3:14).
Let us grasp the significance of this important declaration!
“I AM” is a translation of the Hebrew, “Ehyeh”, which is really a verb in the first person, future tense meaning, “I WILL BE”.
One writer has declared: “Out of over 40 other occurrences of this first person singular number of the future tense of the verb in such a grammatical comparison with this verse, there is only one instance of ‘Ehyeh’ being rendered ‘I AM’ in the Authorised Version. We have ‘I will be’ 27 times, and the remaining occurrences represented by ‘will I be’, ‘I shall be’, ‘shall I be’, ‘though I be’, etc. (e.g. Exod 3:12; Hosea 13:10,14).”
So what God declared was really: I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE, as it is in fact rendered in the margin of the Revised Version, and in other translations. What does it all mean?
God’s Name Prophetic
First notice that it is PROPHETIC – it points to the future. I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE signifies that God will be manifested or revealed in those selected for that purpose.
This name proclaimed His purpose in moving for the deliverance of Israel; it was that His Glory might be revealed in the nation. The burning bush that was not consumed was a symbol. It showed that in spite of the fire of persecution Israel might experience, the nation would not be utterly consumed (Mal 3:6). Associated with this symbol was the declaration of God’s Name which revealed Yahweh’s purpose in preserving the nation – that His Glory might be revealed in it. That purpose will one day be fully revealed (Jer 33:8-9). It is because Israel has been exclusively selected for such a manifestation of Divine Glory that those who follow the Truth claim to be the true Israel.
Meanwhile, EHYEH – “I WILL BE” – became the Name of God when He spoke of Himself: but in the mouth of Moses and others, the first person “EHYEH”, became changed into the third person, “YAHWEH” – “HE WHO WILL BE”, or “HE WILL BE”. Whenever this Name was invoked by a truly spiritual Israelite, the complete purpose of God to fill the earth with Glory would flash before his mind.
The Name Suppressed
The Name “Yahweh”, has been rendered both “Lord” and “God” in the Authorised Version. It occurs frequently in the Scriptures, and the translators have arranged for these words to be printed in small capitals. As examples, compare the way the word “Lord” is printed in Ezek 37:28 with Ezek. 38:3, and the word “God” in Ezek 37:27 with the word in Ezek 38:3. Wherever “Lord” or “God” appears in small capitals, the Name is “YAHWEH”.
The Name is associated with the promises to Abraham. Moses was told: “Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God (Yahweh Elohim) of your fathers, the God (Elohim) of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is My Name for ever, and this is My Memorial unto all generations” (Exod 3:15).
The word “God” in this declaration is the Hebrew word “Elohim” signifying “Mighty Ones”. It is a word that is used for angels, for the leaders of Israel, for the administrators of God’s law. Yahweh Elohim (Lord God) of Abraham, signifies – “He Who will be the Mighty Ones of Abraham ….”
We know who Abraham is. He is the one to whom the Covenant was made. The “Mighty Ones” of Abraham constitute his true seed defined in Galatians 3:28. They are truly Mighty Ones because God has been manifested in them (Psa 82:6; John 10:34, 35). They are the people for “THE NAME”, a people chosen out of all nations for His Glory. When the prophetic Name is fulfilled, Yahweh will be revealed in them mentally, morally and physically. In the glorious company of immortals will be revealed the fulfilment of the prophetic Name of God: “Yahweh Elohim of Abraham, Isaac and Israel”.
The Memorial Name
Moses was told, “This is My Memorial unto all generations”. The Name, Yahweh, is a constant reminder, a memorial, of His purpose. It is not used idly just to distinguish Him from other gods, but to firmly set before men His great purpose.
In proclaiming His Name as “Ehyeh” (I will be, or I will become), God was declaring His intention to extend Himself in order to create many sons in whom His Glory would be revealed. These sons find themselves expressed in the word “who” in the declaration “I will be who I will be”. The channel of this manifestation was to be Israel: thus associated with the declaration are the names of Abraham, Isaac and Israel.
The proclamation of His Covenant Name of Yahweh sets the God of Israel before all mankind as the great Divine Father in the Heavens, whose characteristics will be revealed in His children (Matt 5:44-45) on earth. As the members of a family owe their life, their family characteristics to their parents, so there must be a common family likeness in the family of God, that reflects the Divine character (John 1:14). Thus Christ could say: “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9), and Paul could write of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27).
Are we developing the family characteristics of the Family of God? Do we reflect in any degree the excellent qualities of the Father?
In the next issue of “The Lampstand” – God willing – we will continue the article and consider the character of Yahweh as revealed in His Name.