Let’s Talk About the Name of the Lord

We’ve been over this, again and again, so let’s go over it one more time.

The Tetragrammaton, the four-letter word that God told Moses, is God’s Holy Name, and how it is used in speech and prayer should honor God.

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Yet, there are some who use his Holy Name as if it was just any ordinary name, like Tom or Dick or even Steve. They also condemn anyone who doesn’t use it.

They are called (and it probably isn’t the nicest appellation) “Holy Namers”, and that is because they constantly use the Hebrew name of God, those 4 Hebrew letters called the Tetragrammaton. That name is composed of the letters Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh (יהוה), and has been pronounced in any number of different ways.

And their justification for this is when the Bible uses the term “Call on the Name” or “The name of the Lord”, they take that out of context, both written and cultural, to mean using the Tetragrammaton.

Now, as a Jewish man I never even try to pronounce that name because it is God’s Holy Name, and Jews don’t pronounce it out of respect for God.

Many Christians, especially the Holy Namers, must think that they are on a first-name basis with the Lord, God, Almighty; addressing him as if he was one of their human friends.

If you met a world leader, would you call that person by their first name?

If you met the CEO of the company you work for, would you call him or her by their first name?

If you met a teacher that you highly respected from your past, would you call that person by their first name?

I hope not- that would be disrespectful, wouldn’t it?

So what makes anyone think they are on such a high, spiritual level that they can address God by his first name?

This is the very reason why Jews do not pronounce God’s name, but instead substitute Adonai (which means “Lord”), or HaShem (which means “the name), or Elohim or Shaddai (both different names for God, but not his actual name) whenever we come across the Tetragrammaton in the Tanakh.

We also feel that using God’s Holy Name is a violation of the 3rd Commandment.

Yet, despite these highly logical and respectful reasons for not pronouncing the Tetragrammaton, Holy Namers accuse us of being wrong by not pronouncing the name of God!

I think, and this is my own idea, that because Christians are brought up saying Jesus’s name all the time that they think it is also OK to use God’s Holy Name just as easily.

But, as for the term “the name of the Lord”, when used in the Bible almost always has nothing, whatsoever, to do with the Tetragrammaton.

The phrase “name of the Lord” refers to God’s reputation and his greatness. It represents his power, his goodness, his mercy, and everything else about God- everything, that is, but his actual name.

There are times when we do see his actual name being used, such as when Moses needed to use it to convince the people in Egypt that he was sent by God, but the need to pronounce the Tetragrammaton is rarely found in the Tanakh.

In the New Covenant it is almost completely missing, and the name that is referred to mostly is “Yeshua”. But even in the case where Yeshua says “in my name”, that doesn’t mean that we are to say “Yeshua”, or “Jesus” (which isn’t his name, to begin with) but to refer to his role as the Messiah.

So, look- if you want to call out the Holy Name of God, I won’t tell you it is wrong, and I never tell anyone what they should think, but I would ask you to consider what I have said about respecting God.

It isn’t a sin to respect God by referring to him as Lord or Sir (another usage of Adonai) or Elohim or Shaddai; but, it just may be disrespectful to address God as you would your drinking buddies.

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That’s it for today, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!