Yehowah

By Phillip G. Kayser · Exodus 3:13-15 · 2/7/2021

Please stand for the reading of Exodus 3:13-15.

Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘Yehowah God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’

You may be seated.

In my last communion meditation I started to look at the names of God. And we saw that there are two names that form the foundation for almost all of God's other names - Elohim and Yehowah. Elohim is the first name in the Bible. It occurs in Genesis 1:1 and another 3000+ times in either its full form or a shortened form El. The full name showcases the fact that even before there was a world or any creatures, God always existed with awesome power (that's the El part) and with inter-Trinitarian fellowship (that's the im part). The El part of this word is paired with other names over 60 times to connect His awesome power with some other attribute. So El Olam shows that His power is everlasting. El Roi shows that He sees everything not in an uninvolved way, but He sees so as to manifest His power on our behalf. El Shaddai shows that His power is sufficient for us. Etc.

Well, the second foundational name that is paired with other words is often written as Jehovah. You are familiar with numerous Jehovah names - Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Rapha, etc. Some scholars pronounce this name as Yahweh, but if the letters are pronounced exactly as written in the Hebrew, it is pronounced Yehowah. There are three syllables. So either Jehovah or Yehowah is fine. And that name occurs 6,877 times.

The root of Yehowah means “to be” or “existence” and refers to God as the self-existent One. But it was not used until God revealed Himself to be in covenant with man. It is His covenant name by which He commits Himself in covenant to others.

In the passage I just read, God speaks a great deal about His covenant and gives His names "I AM THAT I AM," "I AM," and "Yehowah" as all amounting to the same meaning. Yehowah means I AM. It means that God exists and He needs nothing outside of Himself to exist. He is the self-existent One and everything else is dependant on Him for its existence. Those of you who like to read theology will immediately recognize that this is one of God's attributes - His aseity. Aseity is spelled A-s-e-i-t-y. And this is the name that speaks par excellence of His aseity. It means that since God is self-sufficient and needs nothing, it is impossible for God to be selfish. A selfish person is self-seeking. God needs nothing. Instead, God glorifies Himself by being self-giving. In eternity past Father, Son, and Holy Spirit always gave everything of themselves to teach other. And when they created man, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit gave of the overflow of their generosity to Adam and Eve - incredible generosity. And even after the Fall, God shows grace through the name Yehowah to assure men that He will always overflow for all of our needs because He has no needs. So already we can see that it is a pretty rich name. It speaks of God's covenant, His aseity, and His generosity.

In the Hebrew “I AM” is just the first person verbal form of the noun Yehowah. They are both from the same root word. Now this gives huge significance to the way Jesus used the term “I AM.” It explains why it so enfuriated the Jews and made them pick up stones to stone Him. He was claiming to be Yehowah. But when the Jews sought to stone Jesus, they were rejecting the I AM and embracing the I am not; they were rejecting the power of God and embracing an empty form; an empty ritual. When we come to the Lord’s Table to covenant with God, we must be sure that we do not embrace an empty form. It is in knowing Yehowah that we find our every need fulfilled and thus can imitate God in some faint way by being generous and not self-centered. We become more like Yehowah.

But just to dig a little bit deeper - the Bible uses the term “I AM” to indicate that God’s all-sufficiency is on our side. That's why we speak of it as being His covenant name. When Abraham was afraid, God said, “I am your shield.” Which was another way of saying, “Yehowah your shield.” When Abraham left all to follow the Lord, God encouraged him by saying, “I AM ... your exceedingly great reward.” That was another compound name. When Israel doubted that God could gain the victory, God said through Isaiah, “I AM the first and I AM the last. Besides me there is no God.” In otherwords, “Don’t worry about it. I’m in control. I am sufficient for these things.” When Moses doubted that he was sufficient to lead the Israel, God told Moses to say to Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.” And for any other need that you might have, Yehowah says I am sufficient for this too. Are you spiritually hungry? He says, “I am the bread.” Are you lost, “I am the way.” Are you sinking, “I am the rock of your salvation.”

So just as Elohim adds strength to all of the names to which it is connected, Yehowah adds a strengthened promise to every other name that we will look at in the future. When He calls Himself Yehowah Rophe, He isn't just a healer who may or may not heal. As Jehovah He is in covenant with you for healing, is sufficient for your healing, is generous with your healing, and commits Himself to give you all the health you need to glorify Him. And the same is true of all of the other compound names we will look at.

So when you come to the Lord’s Table this morning, realize that you are coming to a Generous Covenant Lord - Yehowah. He as the all sufficient one has laid His all on the cross and has said, “Those who by faith claim Me will find everything they need.” Let’s by faith lay claim to His name as we cut covenant this morning.