The following two articles are the first in a series of five dealing with the inexpressible greatness of God’s character based on Exodus 34. The importance of knowing God cannot be underestimated. Eternal life hinges on appreciating the depth of God’s goodness and the revelation of His wonderful character in His Son (John 17:3). May we take the time to ponder the Father’s power and become perfect even as He is perfect (Matt 5:48).

In the Epistle to the Ephesians the Apostle Paul makes reference to “the whole family [of God which] in heaven and earth is named” (Eph 3:15). Thus he establishes that there is a family of God and as with all families each member bears the family name which in this case is “Yahweh”. Associated with every family name are standards and characteristics and this is no less the case with God’s family. God’s name is indicative of the fact that He has a character and a purpose, that there is an absolute standard, and one day will move to vindicate Himself and manifest that standard in the earth. In the mean time God is drawing out of the na­tions a people who are willing to submit to His Will and Purpose and to become a people for His name.

A Name Above Every Name

Whenever someone’s name is mentioned it allows us to visualise that person and automatically create in our mind an image of their appearance and char­acter and the associated standards by which they live. So that a name is in fact more than merely an appellation, it is a link or connection that changes a nonentity into a person of substance in our mind.

In Exodus 3 Yahweh distinguishes Himself by the revelation of His name when Moses at the burn­ing bush said to the angel, “Behold, 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?” (Ex 3:13). In answer, God revealed His name unto Moses, and declared, “This is My Name for the Olahm, and this is My Memorial for a generation of the race” (Exod 3:16). Normally, we do not have a choice of the name by which we are called as this is conferred upon us by our parents. But here is the name that God has conferred upon Himself and by which He desires to be remembered. It is a name given by God Himself. And as in the case of any other the same principle applies to the use of God’s name. When we hear or think of the name of God, we associate with it everything God has revealed of Himself, as we do in the case of men. Here then is a name which is above every name (Psa 148:13; Neh 9:5).

Brother Thomas writes concerning the Name:

“The Divine Name defines what the Eternal Spirit is in manifestation. ‘Yahweh whose name is jeal­ous is a jealous power.’ Here ‘name’ defines what exists… Hence, when the Eternal Spirit is fully manifested on earth according to His revealed purpose, that manifestation is ‘His Name’ or the name of Ehyeh, the I will be manifestation of the Spirit” (Phanerosis p62).

The Name Revealed

“In answer, then, to the question, What is this name? The Deity said to Moses by his Elohim, ehyeh asher ehyeh, Iwill be who Iwill be; and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Ehyeh hath sent me unto you. The Elohim said moreover to Moses, Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel, Yahweh, Elohim of your fathers, Elohim of Abraham, Elohim of Isaac, and Elohim of Jacob, hath sent me unto you. This is my name, leolahm for the hidden time, and this is my memorial, ledor dor for a generation of the race”’ (John Thomas, Eureka Vol 1 p98, Logos Edition).

It is significant that the memorial name of “Yahweh” was not revealed until God was to take Israel out of Egypt (Exod 6:2–7), thus signifying that the very purpose for which Israel was being taken out of Egypt was that they might become a people for his name (Ezek 20:5–9). As well as being a “son” of God, Israel was also His “servant” and should therefore have “feared” or “revered” Him. Sonship and service are co-related, for Moses was to say to Pharaoh, “Let my son go, that he may serve me.” (Exod 4:23). Israel’s call to service was based on redemption from Egyptian bondage (Lev 25:55)—“Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (Rom 6:18).

Manifestation of the Glory

Later, after Israel had corrupted themselves in the matter of the golden calf (Exod 32:1–6,25) and jeopardised the presence of the Name bearing angel leading them into the Land (Exod 33:1–3), Moses asked for a manifestation of Yahweh’s Glory (Exod 33:18,19). The Name bearing angel replied: “I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of Yahweh before thee”. Thus there is a connection here between God’s Name, Character and Glory. This is similar to the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is set forth as the manifestor of the Name, the giver of the Word, and the glorifier of the Father. Jesus says: “I have glorified thee”; “I have manifested thy name”; “I have given them Thy word” (John 17:4,6,14).

Revelation of the Way

Moses, having succeeded in securing the existence of Israel (Exod 32:34; 33:1–3), identifies with Yah­weh by pitching the tabernacle outside the encamp­ment of Israel. There he meets with Yahweh face to face and continues to appeal for the divine presence to go with him in leading the nation into the land. “Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way” (Exod 33:13). The word for “way” is derek and has reference to a well trodden path; “a course of life or mode of action” (Strong’s). So it is that the Psalmist, in the context of this incident contrasts Yahweh’s response to Moses and the people, “He made known his ways [derek] unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel” (Psa 103:7).

Extended to the Nation

Yahweh accedes to the request of Moses and declares, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest”. However, despite his prayer being answered so far as he was concerned, Moses continues to intercede on the behalf of Israel: “For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name” (Exod 33:16,17).

Ehyeh, Ehyeh El

Moses again ascends mount Sinai with fresh tables of stone upon which Yahweh is to inscribe His law. Yahweh then descended in the cloud and pro­claimed the attributes of His Name: “And Yahweh passed by before him, and proclaimed, Ehyeh, Ehyeh El, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth”.

“As often as this word Ail [El] passed before the mind of the Hebrew, the idea of power, might, and strength, would stand out in bold relief. It always presented to the Hebrews the idea of strength and power” (Gesenius).

In Eureka, Volume 1, p95, Brother Thomas writes:

“Every member of the heavenly host is an Eloah, but of all the Elohim one only is the original and self-existent Ail—the absolute, omnipotent, and independent power of the universe. Speaking of Himself, in his address to the ends of the earth, he says, ‘Look unto me, for I am Ail, and none else’—Isaiah 45:22; and to Israel he saith, ‘Ye are my witnesses, and my servant whom I have chosen, that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I, Yahweh, am He; before me Ail or Power, has not been formed, nor after me shall be’—Isaiah 43:10, a testimony that identifies Ail with the Logos and Theos of John, which as One Power, he saith, ‘made all things; and without him was not any thing made that was made.’ From him came the Apocalypse; as it is written, ‘a revelation which the Theos committed to Jesus Christ.”’

El or Ail, therefore, refers to that mighty Power whose work is exhibited in all creation, and whose energy is the basis of all matter for out of Him were all things made (1 Cor 8:6).

El refers to that which is first, that which is strong or mighty. It is a title that suggests the Power of God that is universally diffused, and the “first cause” from whence all else has come. El is eternal and before all things, and thus defines the great Creator. So the Psalmist declared: “Yahweh, thou hast been our dwelling place in all genera­tions. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art El” (Psa 90:1,2).

Yahweh is the great Power, the El, that existed before all things. The title “El” reveals Him as the Creator of all things as well as the underlying power that continues to uphold all of creation.

In Phanerosis, pp 46,47, Brother Thomas wrote:

“The source or fountain of power in the universe is one. It is a unit. Therefore, everything which ex­ists is out of Him. Hence the Creator did not ‘make all things out of nothing’.”

Again (p48):

“The Father Spirit is embodied power. Paternal power implies offspring or children, children or Sons of Power. Son power is also embodied power. It is power emanating from the Father, corporeal­ised in one or a multitude, but never separated or detached from the focal centre. The Son power is, therefore, the Father power multitudinously ex­pressed, manifested through many bodies.”

Thus life came from El Who is power, might, strength, and who has created all things from His all pervading energy. But El does not merely have reference to physical power, it also relates to a moral force, because this is the way in which Moses un­derstood the intent of this declaration in Numbers 14:17–19 when he said, “And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken”. Whilst El therefore is expressive of a present physical reality or quality of God, Ehyeh El (I will be power) is expressive of a future intention to manifest Himself in a glorified multitude, com­prised of individuals who have revealed the divine character in the days of their probation. Yahweh El then is a family name.

Again, in the context of the proclamation of the Name (Exod 34:6,7), Moses describes some of the divine attributes, “Yahweh your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great El, a mighty and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward (Deut 10:17). We, as Israel, need always to remember that God is not only powerful for the salvation of His people, but that He is also terrible in judgment upon those who deny His Name and fail to uphold the Word of His power. Yahweh re­quires our complete allegiance and obedience (Deut 10:12–16), and though He extends mercy to those who are repentant, He brings great judgment upon those who despise His name.

A Faithful El

In Deuteronomy 7:9 Moses declares that El is faith­ful: “Know therefore that Yahweh thy God, he is God, the faithful El, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his com­mandments to a thousand generations”. Yahweh keeps covenant and mercy and so we too need to manifest this attribute of faithfulness and maintain our covenant.

A Jealous El

Whilst it is true that El is revealed as one Who is “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34:6) , we need to be mindful that He is also described as a “jealous El” (v14): “For thou shalt worship no other El: for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous El”. Yahweh will take away our sins by means of forgiveness, but we need to remember that God’s mercy and forgiveness does have conditions. Broth­er Roberts expressed it thus: “God ‘forgives for Christ’s sake’” (Eph 4:32). This is the literal issue of the whole matter. God’s supremacy having been vindicated, a foundation has been laid on which He can offer forgiveness without the compromise of wisdom and righteousness. He does not offer it, or allow it, apart from submission to the declaration of His righteousness in Christ crucified. There must be the most humble identification with that declara­tion. Baptism in our age is provided as the means of that identification” (The Blood of Christ, page 20).

It is a great privilege to have access to the mercy of El through the work of Christ, but as with all privileges there needs to be accompanying responsibilities to maintain that covenant relation­ship. El is faithful and keeps covenant and mercy, and so we too must uphold both “the goodness and severity of God”. In so doing we demonstrate that we “are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; showing forth the praises [Gk arete, virtue, excellence] of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Pet 2:9).