The Name of the LORD

“The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty.” —Numbers 14:18

AFTER hearing the fearfully distorted majority report of the spies, the Israelites rebelled against Moses and tried to stone him and all who supported his leadership, including the two faithful spies, Joshua and Caleb. But before the first stone could be thrown, the glory of the Lord suddenly appeared in the Tabernacle, and the Lord spoke to Moses, suggesting that he would, instead, destroy all the rebellious people and make of Moses even a greater and mightier nation.

But Moses again, as in the past at the golden calf incident, interceded on behalf of the people, reminding God of what he had earlier told him about himself—that his name represented mercy, longsuffering, goodness and truth, and forgiveness of iniquity and transgression and sin. At Mount Sinai God had thus proclaimed His name to Moses by telling him of the glorious attributes of His character. The term ‘name’ is here used to denote his personality, or character.

God’s name is glorious. This was the true glory by which God wanted Moses and all eventually to understand and know him.

This is well to remember, as some insist that the name Jehovah is the only name for God, and that he should be called by no other. The name Jehovah was first expressed some 2,000 years after mankind had lived on the earth. Exodus 6:33 reads: “God spoke unto Moses and said unto him, I am the Lord. And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them.” Jehovah means ‘the self-existing one’.

This name was peculiarly given at about the time God began to deal with Israel as a nation—a nation which was to look to him as the supreme authority. As it turned out, this authority would many times be questioned through the infiltrating influence of false god theologies. To know him as the eternal God should help to keep preeminent from all idol gods the fact that he is above all the true and living God.

While the limited meaning of the name Jehovah was sufficient for Israel under the Law, when Jesus came he amplified the Father image of God as the fuller expression of his name given to Moses on the mount. This fuller delineation of God’s name must be appreciated and copied by the called of this age, his sons, who symbolically will have his name written in their foreheads.—Rev. 14:1

While Israel for the most part failed to see the merciful and forgiving qualities of God in their experiences, God nevertheless was longsuffering and patient toward them. Like many today, they made God’s love “too narrow by false limits of their own, and they magnified his vengeance with a zeal he will not own.” When, in the temporary absence of Moses, the Israelites erected a golden calf and worshiped it, God forgave them, and later entered into covenant relationship with them. He gave them a ‘second chance’. Their repentance was essential, but where there is true repentance God is quick to forgive and to extend his favor.

God’s viewpoint of forgiveness was expressed by Jesus in his ‘seventy-times seven’ rule laid down for the guidance of Christians. What Jesus taught on the subject of forgiveness must surely reflect God’s own attitude in the matter. However, divine forgiveness is not without limit, nor is it extended irrespective of the individual’s request for it. Guilt which God does not forgive is that which is wholly willful. In order for sin to be willful it must be committed in full understanding of the issues involved, and with full ability to resist the temptation. It would seem, therefore, as though there have not been many among all the teeming millions of earth who have sinned beyond the reach of God’s forgiveness. If God could forgive the Israelites who chose to turn against him and the leadership of Moses, surely his tender mercy will yet be displayed to the millions who have sinned without possessing nearly as much light as they.

But God did not “wink” at Israel’s sin. He noticed it and was displeased, and allowed another forty long years of difficult experiences, wandering in the wilderness, to teach a further lesson of faith and trust. As Moses went up into the mountain to commune with God while the Law was being written, so Jesus entered into the divine presence following his resurrection; and by faith the church is seated with him in the heavenlies. Through a ministration of the Spirit of truth, God’s name is being proclaimed, and his glory reflected!

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |