What the Bible says about
(From Forerunner Commentary)
YHWH: The Eternal first introduced His name as YHWH (LORD) in Exodus 3 where Moses records the account of receiving his commission from God. In verse 15 God calls Himself YHWH Elohim translated "LORD God" in most English-language Bibles. In the Authorized Version, wherever we find the name "GOD" or "LORD " printed in small capitals, the original is YHWH (see Genesis 2:4-5, 7-8).
The original Hebrew text consists of consonants only and no vowels, and thus the Creator's name is spelled YHWH. This is often referred to as the tetragrammaton, meaning the "four letters." YHWH derives from a form of the Hebrew verb to be and has the same meaning as the name "I AM" (hayah) in Exodus 3:14. Hebrew scholars say YHWH could mean "He exists" or "He causes to be." English equivalents to this would be "the Ever-Living" or "the Eternal." God and His name are both everlasting (Psalm 135:13). The meaning of the name and the permanency behind it are crucial to properly recognizing His sovereignty.
Scholars believe that YHWH was originally pronounced as Yahweh, but we have no concrete evidence of what the missing vowels should be. The Jews considered YHWH too sacred to speak, so they stopped pronouncing it after the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, when it was considered unlawful and blasphemous to vocalize it. The correct pronunciation was forgotten over time. When a Jew recites scripture and comes to YHWH, he substitutes the word Adonai, meaning "Lord" or "Master." Therefore, the name of God is written YHWH but pronounced Adonai.
Some have thought YHWH should be pronounced "Jehovah." In AD 1520, Peter Galatin, the confessor of Pope Leo X, invented this name by interjecting the vowels of Adonai (a-o-a) between the consonants YHWH. This produced the hybrid YaHoWaH, later pronounce "Jehovah." This name, contrived through human reasoning, has no biblical basis.
Martin G. Collins
The Names of God
This verse marks which member of the Elohim Family is the Creator God. He is Yahweh Elohim, the Lord God. The entry in Strong's for “Jehovah” (Yahweh) reads: “(the) self-Existent or Eternal: Jehovah, Jewish national name of God:—Jehovah, the Lord.” Zodhiates says of Yahweh, “The covenant name of God most prominently known in connection with His relationship with the nation of Israel.”
From the Bible, we see that Christ is the Creator God (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16) and that the Creator God is Yahweh—the God of the Old Testament. Therefore, it follows that Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament.
As further confirmation, notice two verses:
» “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: 'I am the First and I am the Last.'” (Isaiah 44:6)
» “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, 'These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life.'” (Revelation 2:8; see also Revelation 1:11, 17; 22:13)
Yahweh of the Old Testament and Christ of the New refer to themselves as “the First and the Last” because both are the same self-existent, eternal Being.
The God of the Old Testament
In Exodus 33:18, Moses requests God to display His glory. How did God respond to that request? He preached him a sermon on His name! Or we could say that He expounded before Moses on the third commandment. What we have here is probably just the barest summary of what God said—the notes, as it were, of what He talked about more fully. He likely preached him a sermon on eleven names of God: Yahweh, El, the Merciful One, the Gracious One, the Longsuffering One, the Almighty, the Bountiful One, the True One, the Preserver of Abundance, He Who Takes Away Iniquity, and He Who Visits Iniquity.
What He did before Moses was rehearse His nature. It was so encouraging to Moses, because he knew then that the children of Israel would not be abandoned—that God would be with him—because of what He is. He would remain with them, though not because Israel deserved His presence in any way, shape, or form—every single one of them deserved to be dead! But because God is God, He would continue through with His purpose, and these names exemplified what He would be doing.
So God did not give Moses a vision of His majesty and power, but of His character. The glory of God is the manifestation of His nature, of His character, of His way of relating to His creation—especially to His children. His names are signposts of His nature. They are reminders to us of what we can expect Him to do. That is why Moses was so encouraged.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Holiness (Part 1)
The Keil-Delitzsch Commentary says in reference to verse 1:
The idea is this, "Bezaleel, Aholiab, and the other men who understand, into whom [Yahweh] has infused wisdom and understanding [there is no way around it: God gave to them the ability to do this from His mind to their minds], that they may know how to do, shall do every work for the holy service (worship) with regard to all that [Yahweh] has commanded."
Let us make this personal. He shows this in the context of building the Tabernacle, which, like the Temple, is a type of the church. In His creative efforts, He adds what we lack to carry out His will. God transferred to them some of the Spirit of His mind. God favored them in this: It was a gift of grace to enable them to build the "church."
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part Six)
Isaiah writes that God "inhabits eternity," that is, He dwells in perpetuity or lives eternally, continually. Moses puts it a different way in Psalm 90:2, "Even from everlasting to everlasting [or age to age], You are God." However, the way Isaiah constructed the phrase, "inhabits eternity" can mean that God moves freely in time; any period of time is accessible to Him. He made it and has power over it. Whether this was Isaiah's actual intent is unknown.
Understanding this is made more difficult because Hebrew has no general word for "time." Ad, the word used in Isaiah 57:15, simply means "duration, perpetual, continuity." This is similar to the idea behind the name Yahweh, translated "LORD," which means "He who is." This corresponds to "'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,' says the Lord, 'who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty'" (Revelation 1:8). God is, has always been and always will be, no matter how men perceive time.
Another of God's names, "I AM" (Exodus 3:14) also implies that men cannot truly understand His relationship to time. Robert Young, author of Young's Analytical Concordance, writes of this word, hayah, "A name indicating rather the unsearchableness of God than his mere existence, as commonly supposed" (p. 506, his emphasis). As Paul points out in Romans 11:33, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!"
God's eternity allows Him to work out His plan over the whole expanse of time. From the most remote past, He has planned, created, and fulfilled each step of His purpose to bring about His ultimate goal, the birth of sons and daughters into His Family (II Corinthians 6:18). God Himself explains how this works:
Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure," . . . Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it. (Isaiah 46:9-11)
Because of God's endless life and His power over events and lives of men, He can prophesy a thing to occur in ancient times and bring it to pass today. Only a Being unconstrained by time could carry out such a long-term feat.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Time and Life
The Bible identifies Jesus Christ as the God of the Old Testament, Yahweh Elohim. Therefore, when Jesus speaks, He is both the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New. Consider this fundamental characteristic of both:
» For I, Jehovah [Yahweh], change not; therefore ye, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. (Malachi 3:6, American Standard Version)
» Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
Considering this unchanging nature, why would many in Christianity paint such different pictures, in many cases literally, of Jesus Christ and the Old Testament God? Knowing that Yahweh Elohim is also Jesus Christ requires rethinking a core issue—the law. Because Yahweh Elohim and Jesus Christ are one and the same, a Being who does not change and is the same yesterday, today, and forever, it is inconceivable to believe that He came to do away with the very laws that He created to be obeyed by His people.
He said as much in Mathew 5:17: “Don't suppose that I came to do away with the Law and the Prophets. I did not come to do away with them, but to give them their full meaning” (Contemporary English Version).
Contrary to Christ's warning, but true to human nature (Romans 8:7), many do suppose He did away with His laws. He proves how wrong that is by the verses that follow. As examples, in verses 21-22, about murder, and verses 27-28, about adultery, He explains that a full understanding covers not just the physical acts but also the thoughts and motivations that lead to those actions.
In each of these instances, rather than abolishing the law, He expands it, making it more sweeping than it ever was in the Old Testament. No longer is physical obedience sufficient. Our Savior adds the higher standard of spiritual compliance.
Because Israel was a physical nation without access to the Holy Spirit, only physical obedience was possible. Since the first Christian Pentecost in Acts 2, we have access to God's Spirit and a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26-27). With that Spirit, Yahweh Elohim, Jesus Christ, now charges us to accomplish His full intent by walking in His statutes, keeping His judgments, and doing all this from a new spiritual heart.
Because Christ made plain the spiritual intent of the law He created as Yahweh Elohim in the Old Testament, Paul could later write that the law is spiritual (Romans 7:14) and that “the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good” (Romans 7:12).
For those who think and teach otherwise, Christ says to them:
» Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19)
» Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:22-23)
Contrary to Christ's explicit warning, many do suppose and conjure up various reasons and explanations as to why the law is no longer in force. The unchanging Christ says to them what He said to the Jews of His day: “. . . making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do” (Mark 7:13).
The God of the Old Testament
The title "Christ the Lord" would probably have been said as "Messiah Adonai" in the Aramaic that these shepherds spoke. This is a not-so-subtle intimation that this newborn child was not only the promised Messiah, but also the One known as "the Lord" in the Old Testament. The angel is not merely announcing the birth of a special baby in Bethlehem but that God had been born as a human being (Matthew 1:23; John 1:14)!
In verses 13-14, Luke writes: "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!'" Here appears another BOOM! in the evangelist's narrative. Suddenly, there was not just one angel in the glory of the Lord, but a whole host of them all around the quivering shepherds. Not only were they visible, they were singing as only angels can, praising God. Their presence heightens the importance of the announcement.
The angels are obviously overjoyed that this greatly anticipated event in God's plan had finally taken place. Another huge step in God's purpose had been accomplished. Note, too, that this was not just a small, heavenly choir but the heavenly host that appeared in full force. God's vast army came to add their voices to the announcement that their great Captain had just been born!
The hymn they sang, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" requires some explanation. Glory is the Greek word dóxa, which means "praise, recognition, honor, worship"—the height of reverence and adulation that we could give or say to God. "In the highest" is a somewhat controversial phrase in that, as a superlative, it could modify either "glory" or "God." Thus, it could refer to the highest glory or the highest God (or even God in the highest heaven). There is a possibility that in the Aramaic, the words the angels sang may have been "Glory to the Most High God," since that is a common title of God in the Old Testament.
They also sing of peace on earth. One of Christ's titles is "The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6), and He who had just been born would eventually bring peace on earth. He would do it first through His sacrifice, making peace between God and sinful man (Romans 5:1), and later He would return in glory, bringing peace to the earth with the sword (Revelation 19:11-21). He will have to impose peace at His second coming, but once He does, the earth will have real peace. Only through the birth of God's Son in Bethlehem could the process of bringing true peace to the earth begin.
The final words in the angels' song are "goodwill toward men," a long-disputed phrase. However, most modern experts in Greek agree that the whole clause should be translated, "Peace on earth among men of His good pleasure." This implies that God was bringing peace and joy especially and specifically to those to whom He had granted favor or extended grace.
During the Passover sermon Jesus gave His disciples, He says, "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you" (John 14:27). His disciples, numbering a mere 120 (Acts 1:15), were the only ones who could really experience peace because they comprised the extent of those with whom God had found favor. Yet, within days, thousands more had been converted, and God's peace began to expand. Real peace, a fruit of God's Spirit (Galatians 5:22), can only be produced in those in whom God's Spirit dwells (Romans 8:14). Right now, members of God's church are the only people on earth who can really have godly peace on earth because "unto us a Child is born. Unto us a Son is given" (Isaiah 9:6).
We are the "men of His good pleasure." Jesus tells His disciples in Luke 12:32: "Do not fear little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." We are the ones who have this favor from God. The angels' song is a declaration to us that God is with us, just as He was with Mary when He overshadowed her (Luke 1:35). As spiritual Israel and spiritual Zion, we are the apple of His eye (Deuteronomy 32:9-10; Zechariah 2:7-8), and He will do all He can to bring us to salvation and into His Kingdom.
These passages mean so much more than what we usually see in a Christmas pageant, a nativity scene out on the town common, or hear in a catchy jingle. What we see in these announcements are elements of the way God works, and they should strengthen our faith in Him and what He is doing. They should solidify our hope in the resurrection because, not only did the Father bring His Son into the world just as prophesied, but He also guided Jesus through a perfect human lifetime to His sacrificial death for us all, resurrecting Him from the grave exactly three days and three nights later, as Jesus had said was the only sign of His Messiahship (John 2:18-22).
That glorious Holy One ascended to heaven and now sits at the right hand of God as our High Priest. He is the Head of the church and our soon-coming King. He promises us, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5), as well as, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:3). He now awaits the word from His Father to return to this earth to set up His Kingdom. What great confidence we can have that all this will happen as planned, and we will be part of it!
As the angels sang to the shepherds in the field, "Glory to the Most High God and peace on earth among those He favors!"
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Birth of Jesus Christ (Part Two): Nativity
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