Topical and Doctrinal Notes
Leading Thought: Jehovah
Today we study the most holy subject treated of in the Scriptures, namely the Lord, and the way He made Himself known to Moses. Moses had been drawn out of the water by the daughter of the king of Egypt, was adopted by her as her son, was educated like a prince in all the learning of the Egyptians. Centuries before, Egypt had been one of the countries in which the Ancient Word was read and studied, and the Lord was known thereby, to Whom they built magnificent temples. But in the time of Moses the Egyptians had turned away to idols and no longer knew the Lord nor cared for the truths of His Word. So Moses knew not the Lord. The Hebrews also, of whom he was one, did not know the God of their fathers.
Now, because Moses was a man learned in many things belonging to the laws and government of people, he was chosen by the Lord to lead the Hebrews, or Israelites, out of the land of Egypt, in fulfillment of the promise made by the Lord to Israel or Jacob, to his father Isaac and to his grandfather Abraham. For this purpose it was necessary for Moses to be taught who the God of his fathers was. And so the Lord made use of his flight into Midian, to teach him what he needed to know. Here he was in the country where Mount Sinai towers in solemn grandeur. You have read the story in this chapter how in this awe-inspiring place, he saw a bush burn with fire, and yet not be consumed, and how he turned aside to see this wonder, and that when he did so, the Lord called to him out of the midst of the bush and told him to take his shoes off because the ground on which he stood was holy ground.
Who did the Lord say that He was? "I AM THAT I AM." "Thus shalt thou say unto the sons of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." And then He continued and called Himself by what seems to be another name. Look at verse 15, and you will read, "And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the sons of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob hath sent me unto you, this is My Name forever, and this is My Memorial to all generations." Notice that the name, The LORD, is printed in small capital letters. Wherever the name of the LORD is printed in this way, it always stands for JEHOVAH. The Lord said that His Name is JEHOVAH. But what does "Jehovah" mean? It is a Hebrew word which means "He who was and will be," or, He who is. It is therefore simply another name with the same meaning as "I AM."
Whenever we read of calling by name, in the Word, it means the character or quality of the person or thing. In ancient times names were given that fitted the character of the person. So that whether they spoke of the "name" or the "character" of a person, it was the same thing. Even at the present day, we speak of a person as "having a name," when we mean that the personís character is so pronounced, that people generally know about it. We speak of the "fair name" of a person, meaning that he or she has the reputation of having an upright character. On the other hand, we hear of someone being given a "bad name," meaning that he or she is believed to have a bad character. In the Word, then, the name of a person or a thing, yes, of the Lord Himself, means character or quality: all that is known about that person.
So the Lord says here that "Jehovah" is His Name forever. What, then, does this mean? Why, that He always will be known as the one Supreme Being who alone Is. We people on earth, and angels in heaven are, only because He is. We live only because He lives. We could not live, we could not be, unless He were. If the Lord were not, we would not be. If for one moment He should cease to be, all of us - all people on earth, all people on the planets, all people in the whole universe, all people in all the heavens - would at once die, and cease to be. Of course, the Lord never will stop being. That is exactly what is meant by saying that "Jehovah will be His Name forever." The Apostle Paul said of the Lord, "In Him we live, and move, and have our being." (Acts 17:28)
Did you know that the Lord calls Himself "I AM" in the New Testament also? Look in John 7:58, "Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM." And that we cannot live without Him, and above all cannot live in heaven unless we know and believe this, He teaches in the same chapter, verse 24, "Unless ye believe that I AM, ye shall die in your sins."
Whenever you use this name "Jehovah," remember what it means. It is most holy because it expresses exactly what the Lord is. When Moses was getting ready to learn that name, he had first to put his shoes off his feet to represent that nothing soiled should enter the holy ground. The name was so holy, that the Jews were never allowed to pronounce it, but instead said "Adonai," which means "Lord." This is how we have come to have the name "Lord" instead of "Jehovah" in our English translation of the Old Testament.
In the New Testament the name Jehovah occurs as part of the Name Jesus. "Jesus" means "Jehovah our Savior." So you see how holy that name is. How sad, that there are people, yes and children too, who use it in vain.
The expression "Hallelujah" has the holy name in it also. That is a Hebrew expression, often recurring in the Psalms. "Hallelu" means "Praise ye," and "Jah" is "Jehovah." "Hallelujah" therefore means "Praise ye the Lord."
The Ten Commandments teach "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." The Lord's Prayer says, "Hallowed be thy Name." Let us remember this, and also bear in mind that when the Lord first made known the most holy name to Moses, the very ground was holy.