This article came at the perfect time for me as I was trying to understand the importance of the Hebrew names of our Heavenly Father and His Son. At the beginning of the Sabbath, what began as a simple search through the writings of our pioneers using the Hebrew name for Our Father, Jah, found in Ps 68:4, turned out to be a blessing beyond what I could have imagined. Written by A.T. Jones and published in the Review and Herald Sept 17, 1895, this article shows clearly that the Father’s name is far more than a mere title, but rather His name is His very character! May this study be a blessing to you.
What is His Name?
WHEN the Lord told Moses to go to the children of Israel and lead them out of Egypt, Moses inquired: “Behold, when I came unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: ... this is my name forever.”
The name of the Lord expresses both existence and character. “I am” expresses existence. I am that, or that which, I am, expresses character. And to believe in God is to believe in both his existence and his character.
It is not enough to believe only in the existence of God. To believe only that he is, and not to believe that he is what he is, is not to believe in him at all. For even to believe in his existence and then to believe him to be of a character different from that which he really is,—this is only to believe in a different God from that which he really is. And to believe in a different God from what he is, is really to believe in another God; but in reality there is no other God than he; all others are only imaginary. Therefore, even to believe that he is, and then believe him to be different in character from that which he really is—this, in reality, is not to believe in him at all. It is to believe in another than he, it is only to have another God, and so is idolatry.
Accordingly it is written: “He that cometh to God must believe that he is”—and more. He “must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6. In other words, he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is what he is; he must believe both in his existence and in his character. This, and this alone is to believe in God. This and this alone is what it is to believe in his name.
What, then, is his character? what is his name? what is he? In one word the name is this: “GOD IS LOVE.”
In another place his name is given in a more extended form, so that we may more fully understand what it really is. When Moses asked the Lord to show him his way, the Lord said: “I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken.... I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee.” “And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God.” This is “Jehovah, Jehovah God;” “Jah;” and corresponds to “I am,” expressing existence. And now comes that which expresses his character: “Merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” That is his name; and this is what he is.
“Merciful,” is full of mercy. Mercy is the disposition to treat people better than they deserve. It is not to treat persons thus from some outward constraint; but it is his disposition, it is his very inmost nature, to do it. It being his nature to do it, he cannot do otherwise. To do otherwise, he would have to be other than he is. And to do other than he is, he would cease to be God; but he cannot cease to be God. Therefore, he can never be other than what he is. Consequently he never can do otherwise than to treat people better than they deserve; for he is merciful,—he is full of the disposition,—to treat people better than they deserve. It is his very nature to do so. Praise his name!
Gracious. Grace is favor. Gracious is favorable; extending favor. This is what he is. This is his nature. This is why it is so often written, “Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” And because he is gracious, therefore, “Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” Ephesians 4:7. The measure of the gift of Christ is but the measure of “the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” Colossians 2:2. So that in this gift of grace there is given himself in his fullness. For “of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.” John 1:16. This grace, even himself, is given that all men might be saved, for “the grace of God bringeth salvation.” Titus 3:11. He is gracious. He is the Saviour. Thanks to his name.
Long-suffering: “God is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish; but that all should come to repentance.” And “the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation.” 2 Peter 3:15. The long-suffering of the Lord is salvation, and he is long-suffering,—this is his nature, this is himself,—consequently he is salvation. Therefore, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.” Isaiah 12:2, 3. For he is “the fountain of living waters.” Jeremiah 2:13. Bless his name!
Abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy—treatment better than they deserve—for thousands; not simply for thousands of persons, but for thousands of generations of people. For, “Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:9. Where the English version in Exodus 34:7 reads, “Keeping mercy for thousands,” the German version reads “thousand generations.” This is the true thought of the passage. This is his nature. He is the faithful God, and he takes pleasure in them that hope in his mercy—them that hope in his disposition to treat them better than they deserve; in them that believe in his name, which is merciful, even to a thousand generations. Exalt his name.
“Forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin;” not merely that he will forgive, if we do penance enough; not that he can be persuaded to forgive. No; but that he is forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. This is his very nature; so that effort is not required on his part, in order to extend forgiveness. Forgiveness is in him. It is of him. It is his very self to extend it to every soul. He cannot do anything else; because he cannot be other than he is, and this is what he is. This is his name. If men will not accept it when it is so freely and so constantly extended, they must perish in their sins of course; because he cannot compel any to accept it, but he extends it. He extends it to every soul; and he extends it always. For this is what he is; and he is the same yesterday and to-day and forever. From everlasting to everlasting he is God. And he is God to every soul. From everlasting to everlasting he is what he is, and he cannot be anything else. “I am that I am.” This is my name forever, and this is my memorial throughout all generations.” O, he is “forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” This is his name. Glory to his name!
“And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” This is his name. This is himself. Therefore, “Stand up and bless the Lord your God forever and ever; and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.” “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.” RH September 17, 1895
A. T. J.