How You Can Know God by Name
A NEWSPAPER columnist received the following letter from a reader: “I have wrestled all my life with this question, and I hope you can provide an answer. What is God’s name? The Jews say the real name has been lost to the ages. The Christians call Him Jesus. The Muslims call Him Allah. . . . So, what is it?” The newspaper published the question along with this answer: “According to ancient Hebrew teachings, God is omnipotent, so He cannot be contained in any one name. I assure you, however, He (or She) will answer to any name you respectfully come up with.”
Such a casual attitude toward the name of God is not rare today. Although religiously inclined, many who believe in the Bible give little thought to the issue of God’s name. But how does God feel about it? Is it such a trivial matter to him?
Not a Trivial Matter
Consider the fact that the Bible mentions God’s personal name, Jehovah, thousands of times. In the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, the divine name appears 7,210 times! * It was God himself who inspired Bible writers to use his name so prominently. One of these writers, the psalmist Asaph, wrote: “You, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.” (Psalm 83:18) David also wrote in a psalm: “Concerning the name of Jehovah our God we shall make mention.”—Psalm 20:7.
The Bible shows that Jehovah God examines our heart to determine how we feel about his name. The psalmist said: “If we have forgotten the name of our God, . . . will not God himself search this out? For he is aware of the secrets of the heart.” (Psalm 44:20, 21) The prophet Isaiah wrote: “Give thanks to Jehovah, you people! Call upon his name. Make known among the peoples his dealings. Make mention that his name is put on high.”—Isaiah 12:4.
God himself said: “They will have to know that my name is Jehovah.” (Jeremiah 16:21) On another occasion he declared: “I shall certainly sanctify my great name, which was being profaned among the nations, . . . and the nations will have to know that I am Jehovah.” (Ezekiel 36:23) Some of these statements point to a time when Jehovah will act with anger toward those who show disrespect for his name. The issue of his personal name is no trivial matter to God.
Jehovah God Is Not Far From You
How can you get to know God by name? What does it mean to know God by name? The Bible answers: “Those knowing your name will trust in you.” (Psalm 9:10) Clearly, knowing God by name involves more than just knowing what his name is. You must trust him. That means getting to know the kind of God he is and learning about his qualities and his thoughts. This will impel you to trust him.
Only conscientious reading and studying of the Bible can provide you with insight into the kind of God that Jehovah is. He promises to protect those who show affection for him and his name. Regarding one who does so, God says: “Because on me he has set his affection, I shall also provide him with escape. I shall protect him because he has come to know my name. He will call upon me, and I shall answer him. I shall be with him in distress. I shall rescue him and glorify him. With length of days I shall satisfy him, and I shall cause him to see salvation by me.”—Psalm 91:14-16.
What a wonderful relationship Jehovah God has with those who know him by name! You too can enjoy such a relationship. In your heartfelt prayers, never be hesitant about calling upon him by name. He will answer because, as the Bible says, “he is not far off from each one of us.”—Acts 17:27.
^ par. 5 The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses, is a Bible translation that replaces the archaic language of old translations with current speech forms. The foremost feature of this translation is the restoration of the divine name to its rightful place in the Bible text. To date, over 122 million copies have been printed, in whole or in part, in 45 languages.
[Box/Picture on page 11]
God Knows You by Name
God said to Moses: “I do know you by name.” (Exodus 33:12) The well-known account of the burning bush verifies this. The Bible says that God “called to him out of the midst of the thornbush and said: ‘Moses! Moses!’” (Exodus 3:4) This is just one example of the numerous occasions when God addressed people by their personal name. Clearly, the Creator of the universe is interested in us as individuals.
The Bible says that God knows each one of the many billions of stars by name. (Isaiah 40:26) How much more so must he care about humans who worship him! The apostle Paul wrote that “Jehovah knows those who belong to him.” (2 Timothy 2:19) This implies more than simply memorizing names. God has intimate knowledge of his worshipers. We, in turn, should know God by name and acquire intimate knowledge of his qualities.
The last book of the Bible describes a figurative book in which God writes the names of all who have worshiped him throughout history. This book is called “the scroll of life” because Jehovah God will grant everlasting life to those whose names are written in it. (Revelation 17:8) This is a bright prospect for those who know God by name.
[Box/Picture on page 12]
They Proclaimed God’s Name
● Moses’ song just before Israel entered the Promised Land: “I shall declare the name of Jehovah.”—Deuteronomy 32:3.
● David’s words to the giant Goliath: “I am coming to you with the name of Jehovah of armies.”—1 Samuel 17:45.
● Job’s words after the total loss of his possessions and the sudden death of all his children: “Let the name of Jehovah continue to be blessed.”—Job 1:21.
● The apostle Peter quoting the Hebrew Scriptures in a speech: “Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.”—Acts 2:21.
● The prophet Isaiah: “Give thanks to Jehovah, you people! Call upon his name. . . . Make mention that his name is put on high.”—Isaiah 12:4.
● Jesus Christ teaching his disciples to pray: “You must pray, then, this way: ‘Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified.’”—Matthew 6:9, 10.
● Jesus Christ praying to God: “I have made your name manifest.”—John 17:6.
● God speaking to his people: “I am Jehovah. That is my name; and to no one else shall I give my own glory.”—Isaiah 42:8.