What is God’s Name?



What is God’s Name?

13 May 2020 Hits:1498

What’s in a Name? A couple of things. A person’s name reveals their character, whether they have a good name (reputation) or not. A name is also the primary point of communication. For us to fully communicate with others and develop a relationship, we must know their name. Remembering people’s names has been one of my lifelong goals and is one way I show that I care for and value others.

“I am who I am”

When he was standing at the burning bush, one of the first things Moses wanted to know was God’s name. “Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you'” (Exodus 3:13-14).

What sort of name is “I am who I am?” What if I introduced myself to you like that? You’d think my driveway didn’t go all the way to the road. God then went on to tell Moses that this was a new name. God “appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God Almighty [El Shaddai], but by my name the Lord [Yahweh], I did not make myself fully known to them.”

In other words, God communicated in a whole new way to Moses than he had for the past 500 years since he introduced himself to Abram. El-Shaddai (Lit. God of the breast) is a feminine name that implies provision. El-Shaddai denotes the past and the present.


In contrast, Yahweh is a prophetic name that announces who God will be in the future. This was great news for people who were in slavery. What do you need if you’re a slave? God says, “I am He who will be” your deliverer.

“I am who I am” comprises four Hebrew consonants (YHWH) called the Tetragrammaton. YHWH is an unpronounceable name. A Rabbi friend of mine won’t write the name God. He always types G-D as a sign of respect. In Biblical Hebrew, vowels are rarely written. We English speakers have no such rule and happily insert two vowels into YHWH to develop Yahweh.

Yahweh was then Latinised in the 13th century when Christian scholars took the consonants of “Yahweh” and pronounced it with the vowels of “Adonai.” This resulted in the sound “Yahowah” (Latin “Jehovah”). The Spanish Dominican monk, Raymundus Martini, made the first recorded use of this spelling in 1270.

The Names of God

After the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, God progressively revealed himself to people according to what they needed him to be. In the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Christian Old Testament) we discover seven Yahweh (I AM) names of God – what God will be for his people:

Yahweh-Rapha (Ex. 15:22-26) = I AM the One who will heal you.

Yahweh-Nissi (knee-see; Ex. 17:15) = I AM the One who will give you victory.

Yahweh-M’kaddesh (Lev. 20:1-8) = I AM the One who will sanctify you.

Yahweh-shalom (Judges 6:24) = I AM the One will give peace.

Yahweh-rohi (Psalm 23:1) = I AM the One who will be your shepherd.

Yahweh-tsidkenu (Jer. 33:16) = I AM the One who will be your righteousness.

Yahweh-Shamma (Ezekiel 48:35) = I AM the One who will be there for you.

In the New Testament, we discover a corresponding seven “I AM’s” of Jesus:

  1. I AM the bread of life (John 6:35)
  2. I AM the light of the world (John 8:12)
  3. I AM the door of the sheep (John 10:7)
  4. I AM the good shepherd (John 10:11)
  5. I AM the resurrection and the life (John 11:25)
  6. I AM the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6)
  7. I AM the true vine (John 15:1)

In the New Testament, JESUS reveals a new name for God as the ultimate revelation of who God is (John 17:6). The new name for God is “Father.”

Revealed Throughout Scripture

And so, God was a provider (Jehovah Jireh) to Abraham, deliverer (Yahweh/Jehovah) to Moses and the people of Israel, and Father to those who follow Jesus the Saviour. This new name was revealed by Jesus to his followers in the Sermon on the Mount, a summary of Jesus’ principal teachings. Jesus taught his people to pray, “Our Father in heaven.” In other words, we have the same relationship with God as Jesus.

In this way, we see an incredible progressive revelation of God to humanity. How people viewed and experienced God thousands of years ago is very different from how we see and encounter God today. God is no longer the one who comes down to rescue his people (Ex. 3:8); God is now within us, closer to us than the air we breathe. He no longer identifies with us as El Shaddai, Yahweh, or Jehovah. God is our Father, and we can communicate with our Father because we know his name, and, like a good Father, he will be to us all that we need.

Rob Buckingham

Senior Minister

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3 replies on “What is God’s Name?”

zizi paltossays:

I loved this so much pastor Rob.
I felt quite emotional reading it.
Our FATHER was so present in this blog. I miss our church gatherings, and the precious presence of our Lord when we are all together.

Rob Buckinghamsays:

Thank you for your encouraging message, Zizi. You are a very precious lady and we look forward to seeing you again as soon as it’s safe to gather. Much love from Christie and me

Kellie Waldensays:

Wow I really learnt a lot then. I didn’t know that was how Yahweh and Jehovah came about. It’s so beautiful to read how God made Himself known to those people over the centuries in the form that they needed at the time. I like to think God is my greatest supporter. He needs to give me a name for that 🙂

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