When trying to get to know someone, the first thing you would likely do is ask, “What is your name?” If you were to ask God that question, what would he say?
“I am Jehovah. That is my name.”—Isaiah 42:8.
Is that name new to you? It may well be, because many translators of the Bible use God’s name sparingly, if at all. They often replace it with the title “LORD.” Yet, God’s name actually occurs some 7,000 times throughout the original-language text of the Bible. The name consists of four Hebrew consonants, corresponding to YHWH or JHVH, and has historically been rendered “Jehovah” in English.
God’s name appears throughout the Hebrew text and is found in many translations
WHY GOD’S NAME MATTERS
The name matters to God himself. No one gave God his name; he chose it for himself. Jehovah declared: “This is my name forever, and this is how I am to be remembered from generation to generation.” (Exodus 3:15) In the Bible, God’s name occurs more often than any of his titles, such as Almighty, Father, Lord, or God, and more often than any other personal name, such as Abraham, Moses, David, or Jesus. What is more, it is Jehovah’s will that his name be known. The Bible states: “May people know that you, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.”—Psalm 83:18.
The name matters to Jesus. In what has been called the Our Father or the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught his followers to petition God with the words: “Let your name be sanctified.” (Matthew 6:9) Jesus himself prayed to God: “Father, glorify your name.” (John 12:28) Jesus made glorifying God’s name a priority in his life, and for this reason he could say in prayer: “I have made your name known to them and will make it known.”—John 17:26.
The name matters to those who know God. God’s people in the past understood that their protection and salvation were linked to God’s unique name. “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower. Into it the righteous one runs and receives protection.” (Proverbs 18:10) “Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” (Joel 2:32) The Bible shows that God’s name would distinguish those who serve him. “For all the peoples will walk, each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of Jehovah our God forever and ever.”—Micah 4:5; Acts 15:14.
WHAT THE NAME REVEALS
The name uniquely identifies God. Many scholars conclude that the name Jehovah means “He Causes to Become.” Jehovah God gave insight into the meaning of his name when he referred to himself with these words spoken to Moses: “I Will Become What I Choose to Become.” (Exodus 3:14) God’s name thus conveys more than his role as the Creator who causes all things to come into existence. His name expresses his ability to cause himself as well as his creation to become whatever is needed to achieve his purpose. While titles may describe God’s position, authority, or power, it is only his name, Jehovah, that embodies all that he is and can become.
The name reveals God’s interest in us. The meaning of God’s name implies his ongoing attachment to his creation, which includes us. Moreover, the fact that God has made his name known indicates that he wants us to know him. After all, he took the initiative to tell us his name before we even knew to ask for it. Clearly, God wants us to view him, not as some vague and distant deity, but as a real Person we can draw close to.—Psalm 73:28.
Using God’s name reveals our interest in him. To illustrate, you may ask someone you hope to befriend to call you by your given name. How would you feel if that person persistently refused to use your name? In time you would likely wonder whether that person really wanted to be close to you. So it goes with God. Jehovah has told mankind his name, and he encourages us to use it. When we do, we show Jehovah that we want to get close to him. Why, he even notices “those meditating on [or, “treasuring,” footnote] his name”!—Malachi 3:16.
Learning God’s name is the vital first step in knowing him. But we must not stop there. We need to discover the Person behind the name. We need to learn what he is like.
WHAT IS GOD’S NAME? God’s name is Jehovah. That name uniquely identifies God as a Person who can accomplish his purpose