All Articles

September 11, 2019

Knowing God Through His Name

How do you start reading the Bible?

God, Father, Lord—These names typify our communication with and about him. We know His name is to be honored, not said in vain (Exodus 20:7). It is to be “hallowed,” revered in our prayers (Matthew 6:9). Yet, God’s name signifies so much more.

God invites us through Scripture to see how His name declares who He is. And as we faithfully ponder His majestic, holy, and awesome name (Psalm 8:1; 111:9), we see how He not only reveals His character, but also His promises to us. Here are four names that embody the Lord’s attributes and assurances:

1.) He is Jehovah-Raah: The LORD My Shepherd

God’s Word illustrates the desperate need of sheep for a shepherd. Because sheep are prone to stray and become lost, they will fall into destruction without a tending shepherd. It’s no surprise that the Bible compares humanity to sheep:

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way. (Isaiah 53:6)

Thankfully, we have Jehovah-Raah, “who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3). The Lord our Shepherd cares for, guides, protects, and leads His wandering sheep.

Isaiah says of Him:

He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (40:11)

Jesus is our Good Shepherd—he knows His sheep, and we know Him (John 10:1-16). He has compassion on us in our propensity to wander and in our helplessness (Matthew 9:36). Our Shepherd willingly laid down His life for His sheep (John 10:11), carrying our iniquities to reconcile us to a holy God (Isaiah 53:6).

He now awaits us in the middle of heaven’s throne, where He will guide us to streams of living water (Revelation 7:17) and give us the unfading crown of glory (1 Peter 5:8).

Therefore, like King David, we echo in praise: “The LORD is my Shepherd. I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).

2.) He is Jehovah-Jireh: The LORD Will Provide

Abraham saw God’s gracious provision in sparing Isaac’s life with a sacrificial ram, naming the location, “The Lord Will Provide” (Genesis 22:14). Notice, Jehovah-Jireh does not mean, “The Lord did provide,” but rather, “The Lord will provide.” Abraham was not looking solely to past and present provisions; he was anticipating a future action from his Almighty Provider—and we can too.

Jehovah-Jireh provides earthly life and breath (Genesis 2:7) and eternal life (Romans 6:23). He gives abounding grace (2 Corinthians 9:8); the ability to escape temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13); heavenly rewards (Matthew 6:1-4); good and perfect gifts (James 1:17); and every need according to the riches of His glory in Christ (Philippians 4:19).

God’s ultimate provision points to Calvary, where He provided Jesus to pay the penalty of mankind’s sin, giving salvation by death on a cross (John 3:16; Romans 8:32). Yet, Jehovah-Jireh did not stop there: As Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father, so did He provide His Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of His people (John 16:7). 

3.) He is Jehovah-Shalom: The LORD Is Peace

Jehovah-Shalom occurs once in Scripture in Judges 6, where Gideon realized that he saw an angel of the Lord. Gideon was fearful, but God responded to him assuredly: “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die” (Judges 6:23). Responding in praise, Gideon built an altar to the Lord, calling it “The Lord Is Peace” (6:24).

With “peace,” the word “shalom” also means “to be complete or sound” and “absence from strife.” Therefore, Shalom, according to the Bible is: found in Him (John 16:33); a blessing reserved for His people (Psalm 29:11); promised to His faithful servants (Psalm 85:8); for those who love His law (Psalm 119:165); for those who trust (Isaiah 26:3); a secured covenant (Isaiah 54:10); a spiritual gift (Romans 8:6); an effect of righteousness (Isaiah 32:17); and a result of a mind set on the Spirit (Romans 8:6).

Peace also comes after godly discipline (Hebrews 12:11) and guards our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:7).

Believers have the utmost shalom: peace with God through Christ (Romans 5:1). The prophesied Prince of Peace has come, and His chastisement brought us peace with God (Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 53:5). We can rejoice that, not only has He given and continues giving peace, but He himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14)!

4.) He is Jehovah-Shammah: The LORD Is There

In Ezekiel 48:35, Jehovah-Shammah is a symbolic name for God’s presence in the earthly Jerusalem: “And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The LORD Is There” (italics added).

In this context, the Israelites’ shameless rebellion and detestable idolatry caused God to withdraw His presence from them. Yet, in abounding mercy, Jehovah-Shammah did not fully abandon Jerusalem. Through the prophet Ezekiel, God promised to restore and return to Jerusalem. In that day, the city would be called “Jehovah-Shammah.” That very prophecy was fulfilled when the exiles returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the walls.

The Lord’s once-departed glory (Ezekiel 8-11) had returned (Ezekiel 44:1-4)—and His presence returned with fulfillment in the form of Jesus Christ. And though Jesus physically departed from the earth after his death, He ascended into heaven with assurance for us:

“I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

In his place, the Holy Spirit was provided to dwell in the Church and His people forever (John 14:15-17). He is there within us, teaching, helping, convicting, and interceding for us.

We eagerly await God’s restoration of the New Jerusalem, where we will dwell glorified in His presence forever. And as we apply this promise to our present lives, we are fueled by the Spirit’s power (Acts 1:8).

Matthew Henry says of our divine union with Jehovah-Shammah:

“It is true of every good Christian; he dwells in God, and God in him; whatever soul has in it a living principle of grace, it may be truly said, The Lord is There.”

The Name That is Above Every Name

When life’s hardships often tempt us to forget that God is our Shepherd, Provider, Peace, and that He is There, gaze upon the name of Jesus Christ. Paul says of him:

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

This name of incomparable power, authority, and deity humbled Himself to be made lower than the angels, to suffer death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9). This name poured out His life unto death, numbered among the transgressors, bearing the sins of many, making intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12).

Yet, this name brought salvation (Acts 4:12), and was given dominion, glory, and kingship, so that every people, nation, and language should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed (Daniel 7:14).

So in faith, we respond in praise:

Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and forevermore! (Psalm 113:2)

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Meredith Hodge

Meredith Hodge lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband Matt. She is a freelance writer and editor who loves coffee, spending time in nature, cooking, reading, and serving others in ministry. Meredith blogs about living for Christ in faith-led freedom and grace-filled growth. Follow her blog at It's Positive!.
Meredith Hodge lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband Matt. She is a freelance writer and editor who loves coffee, spending time in nature, cooking, reading, and serving others in ministry. Meredith blogs about living for Christ in faith-led freedom and grace-filled growth. Follow her blog at It's Positive!.