LENT 2020 - Jesus Said: I AM, Part I

Monday, March 30 2020



It is definitely with much fear and trembling that I even consider writing about this last “I AM” that Jesus spoke of Himself. In fact, if I hadn’t promised the entire WHO ARE YOU, LORD? series, I would back out right now — and leave Jesus’ “I am”s with the supposedly simpler and more graphic “I am”s from the Gospel of John.


Because, how does a finite human being, and one as small and lowly as me, even begin to comprehend and let alone presume to reflect and expound on Jesus’ words: I AM.


But I promised, so I’ll give it a try…


So, what’s in a name anyway?


In today’s modern world, first names for newborn babies are usually chosen based on the names that are currently in style, the name-likes and dislikes of the parents, first names that sound good together with last names, names honoring past generations in the family…


But in ancient times, names had much more transcendant meaning. A significant  name would be chosen and bestowed on a particular person with an eye to his or her character and destiny. It was a name that they were expected to grow into.


God too has names that describe who He is.


Elohim (or Elohay) is the first name for God mentioned in the Bible. In fact, the very first verse reads: “In the beginning Elohim created the heaven and the earth." (Genesis 1:1) This particular name is used over 2600 times throughout the Old Testament. It comes from a Hebrew root word that means “strength” or “power”. Interestingly, it is a name in the plural form, but describing the One and Only God. Elohim is often combined with other words to describe certain characteristics of God: Elohay Elohim means God Of Gods (Deuteronomy 10:17); Elohim Chaiyim means Living God (Jeremiah 10:10); and Elohay Yishi means God Of My Salvation (Psalm 18:46)… to give just a few examples.


Another name for God used over 200 times in the Old Testament is El, which is basically a simple form of Elohim. It too is combined with other words for describing God: El Elyon means The Most High God (Genesis 14:18); El HaGadol means The Great God (Deuteronomy 10:17); and El Olam means The God Of Eternity (Genesis 21:33)… again, to give just a few examples.


But there is one name for God that is unique and special beyond any of His other names. And that name is YHWH.


It is used over 6800 times in the Old Testament, indicating an insistence on God’s part that He wanted to be known not as a generic deity with a title, but as a specific Person with a Name.


This name, YHWH, is known as the Tetragrammaton, which simply means “the Four Letters”.


The name comes from the Hebrew word “to be” — and declares God’s Absolute Being.


Whether the proper pronunciation is “Yahweh” or “Jehovah”, biblical scholars do not really know — because the orginal “Four Letters” are only consonants without the vowels.


Throughout history, and out of fear of using this sacred name in vain, YHWH has usually been rendered “Adonai” in Hebrew and “LORD” in English — which seems somewhat incorrect, as “Adonai” and “LORD” are titles, whereas YHWH is God’s proper name.


Just like Elohim and El, it is also combined with other words to describe more specifically who God is: YHWH Elohim means LORD God (Genesis 2:4); YHWH O'saynu means The LORD our Maker (Psalm 95:6); and YHWH Shalom means The LORD of Peace (Judges 6:24)… again to give just a few examples.


(information taken from https://www.allaboutgod.com/names-of-god.htm)


Check in again here in Reflections For Living on Wednesday April 1 for LENT 2020 - JESUS SAID: I AM, PART II. 

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