Will Shakspere wrote, “What’s in a name?” This has been the attitude of mankind since. But long before Shakespear, man felt that there was much in a name. There was power, perhaps, or a hint of a man’s character. Thus we hear of Jacob (Supplanter) becoming Israel (Prevails with God), or the account in 1 Sam 25:25 concerning Nabol, which means fool, that “as his name is so is he.” In a time when a name meant so much, how great would a man be who had as his name the name of God? A number of people in the Bible have names that include the name Jehovah (Jah, Yahweh) in some form. Others have names including other names of God. I feel that we can learn a lot about the nature of God from these names or these people. Some are well known, others less so, but all reveal an attribute of our God. Space does not permit an exhaustive list at this time. Since many are similar, they may even fall into natural categories.
First let us look at a few “minor” names, and some of God’s attributes. Two kings of the divided kingdoms had the name “God is Father”ЛJoab and Abijah. (Abba is father.) Some have said that God is not called Father until the New Testament. This is clearly not so. God has been father from the beginning, and even reminded kings of that fact.
A number of men had variations on the name that God is our supporter or aid. These would include Josiah, Joash, Jonathan, and Joseph. It must have been a comfort to this latter person to realize through thirteen years of trouble that God would give him aid. Sometimes, though, he may not have believed his own name. Yet even in prison “the LORD was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” (Gen 39:21) God lived up to Joseph’s name.
At least four people, including an advisor to David and the priest who saved Joash, had the name Jehoiadah (God knows). It is an appropriate name for a teacher or advisor, as these men were. It would be nice to take advice from someone who constantly reminds us that God knows, so his advice is good.
There are several Johanan’s (God is gracious) and a Jotham (God is perfect). A woman even makes the list, and not just any woman. The mother of Moses was named Jochebed (God is gracious). God was truly gracious to make her the mother of one of the greatest and most humble men who ever lived.
Jesse, whose name means “God Is,” was the father of King David. Just as Jesse preceded David the King, so God’s existence precedes his only-begotten son, Jesus.
The first attribute of God we must accept is his existence. We live in a world where many would rather deny that. Some evolutionists and all atheists do not accept the existence of God. There are even Christians who indirectly try to show that God does not exist. Many biblical scholars try to prove the existence of two writers of Isaiah or several in the book of Genesis. They then say that the book that they spend so much of their lives studying is not inspired, but a creation of man. Others explain away the miracles. They say that manna was the natural secretion of a particular bush or that the nation of Israel happened to cross an arm of the Red Sea at low tide. Jericho’s walls fell during an earthquake and the earth came into existence by an accident. People want to explain away God because they don’t want to have to deal with him.
God exists. Genesis 1:1 doesn’t explain God, it just assumes God. One of the “names” of God, as told to Moses, is “I AM.” (Ex 3:14) This may also be translated “I was” or “I will be” because it is a simple statement of God’s existence. The writer of Hebrews put acceptance of the existence of God as a prerequisite to pleasing God. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb 11:6)
A king (Joram or Jehoram) and a prophet (Jeremiah) have names that point out that God is high above all else. We serve God because he is exalted. Jeremiah taught that the people of Judah should return to God because he is exalted. “The LORD shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth.” (Jer 25:30) He frequently complained about the people worshiping on the “high places,” because his own name taught that God was the one who should be on high.
How high is God? Psalm 99:2 says, “He is high above all people.” A few psalms later we read, “The Lord is high above all nations; his glory above the heavens.” (Ps 113:4) Several times (Acts 7:48; Heb 7:1; and others) God is called the “most high.” There is nothing higher than most high.
Even though God is exalted, he paradoxically humbles himself. “Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly.” (Ps 138:6) More than this, he even lives among the lowly. “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Isa 57:15)
The son of God, heir to exaltation, likewise humbled himself. Only then could he be exalted.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Php 2:5-11)
So God is exalted, and his son is exalted. What responsibility does that lay on us? If we want to be exalted like God, then we have the responsibility to be humble. If we do not humble ourselves, we can not be exalted. Jesus stated that on more than one occasion. “For every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 14:11; 18:14) He further gave example of this principle on the night he was betrayed into the hands of those who wanted him killed.
So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. (John 13:12-17)
If we are to serve God, we must be willing to serve his people. Yet there is another obligation laid on us by God’s exalted nature. “And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.” (Isa 30:18) God’s mercy is an exalted virtue, and grows naturally out of his exalted nature. If we are to be like God, we must also practice mercy. “Be ye merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” (Lk 6:36)
Unless we are merciful we will not receive mercy. (Matt 5:7) We must be merciful, for Jesus was merciful to us. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” (Col 3;12-13) This mercy includes forgiveness, but goes beyond that. Mercy includes understanding, even when forgiveness is not requested. It includes forbearance when wronged, or when we see someone who does not follow God. Mercy keeps us from condemning the homeless, the hopeless, and the homosexual. Mercy is the high virtue that allows us to go to them, where they are, and teach the gospel without judgement or condescension. Because God is exalted, this is the sort of mercy we must practice.
These are but a few of the attributes of God given in people whose names include the syllable “Je.” Another time, Lord willing, we may look at others with that syllable, and even some whose names contain more than one name of God. Even if we do not possess one of these names ourselves, though, people can know that we wear the name of God. Whatever our given name, we can also wear a new namethe name of Jesus the Christ. Let us defend that name that it not be diluted. Let the name of Jesus Christ show in everything you do.