29 September 2010

What's in a Name?

More than you would suspect.  I have been a Christ follower for over twenty years now but have never heard the teaching that I am about to share.  Note: most of this post is not original with me, sources are noted at the bottom.

I was in Church tonight, talking a bit with a friend before the service.  She was returning a book I had lent her (When Heaven Invades Earth - Bill Johnson), and somehow the topic of God's name came up.  Her sister was right there and explained what I have never heard before.

I had to know if it was true, so when I got home I got on the internet and started doing some research.  The following is what I found.  Enjoy (but more importantly be enlightened!)


'Yahweh,' the Tetragrammaton is composed of:


-Yod or yud was anciently portrayed as a symbol of a hand [yad in Hebrew]. This is the entire hand, or closed hand [in contrast with the letter kaf, which comes from the pictograph of the palm of the hand]. The closed hand denotes power and, figuratively, ownership.

-Yod is masculine. In the sacred name Yahweh, it is representative of the Father.

-Yod is the seminal letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It cannot be divided into component parts, like other letters can. It signifies the oneness of Elohim.

-The yod is the smallest [and most humble] letter. From it, the other letters originate. It is symbolic of creation.


-The letter hey is feminine, and represents femininity and gentleness. The first hey in the Name is representative of the Mother / Holy Spirit / Eloah.

-Hey means ‘behold’, ‘to show’ or ‘to reveal’.


-Vav is also masculine in gender.

-Vav signifies a nail, peg, or hook. It also conveys the meaning of being nailed or bound together.

-The numerical value of vav is 6.

They are pronounced, in Hebrew, "Yod Hey Vav Hey," when you read them in the Hebrew manner from right to left.

The four letters in God's name in Hebrew have the following meanings:
Hey = Behold
Vav = Nail
Yod = Closed Hand
When read in English from left to right, it says:

Or, "Behold the nailed hand."

"And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn." (Zechariah 12:10)

"Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet." (Psalm 22:16)

"Clearly, this is no ordinary, every-day name. But wait, there's more: Yahushua (often Yeshua or Yahshua, the Hebrew name of Jesus, similar to Joshua), the Hebrew name of the Messiah, the son of Yahweh, means "YHWH is salvation." Therefore, you can take that a step further and see it as "Behold, the nailed hand is salvation." This not only powerfully illustrates Yahushua's role as Savior, but also His divinity (as Yahweh incarnate) and His relationship to Yahweh as His only begotten son. As Yahushua Himself said, "I have come in my Father's name (John 5:43)." Just as His life and character point us to His Father (John 14:6 - "no one comes to the Father but by me;" see also John 17:23-26), so also does His name point us to the sacred Name of Yahweh. He even instructed us to pray: "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name . . . (Luke 11:2)."

You have no doubt heard most or all of the following descriptive terms and/or titles that have often been applied to Yahweh: El (meaning "mighty one,"), Elohim (the plural form of El), El Shaddai ("almighty one"), and Adonai ("my lord"), among others. While those words, like the commonly used English terms "Lord" and "God," can certainly express different aspects of the character of Yahweh, they are merely generic titles and descriptions. None of them is His Name.

When the Scriptures were being transcribed, it was believed by the Jewish scribes performing the task that they should not pronounce the sacred Name of YHWH, for fear of violating the third commandment ("Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain . . . " - Exodus 20:7). This led to the use of other words, generic titles (such as "Adonai"), as substitutes for the true name, Yahweh. Therefore, if you were to compare a typical, modern English translation of the Bible with the original Hebrew texts, you would see how YHWH (which can be found a total of 7,038 times in the original Hebrew Old Testament) was replaced by "the Lord" or "God."

The form Jehovah did not exist as a Hebrew word. It is actually a conflation (blend, fusion) of two Hebrew forms that came about through a peculiarity of the Hebrew writing system. The Hebrew name for God, the consonants of which are transliterated YHWH, was considered so sacred that it was never pronounced and its proper vowel points were never written. In some texts the vowel points for a completely different word, Adonai, "lord," were written with YHWH to indicate that the word Adonai was to be spoken whenever the reader came upon the word YHWH. YHWH was never intended to be pronounced with the vowels of Adonai, but Christian scholars of the Renaissance made exactly that mistake, and the forms Iehovah (using the classical Latin equivalents of the Hebrew letters) and Jehovah (substituting in English, J for consonantal I) came into common use.

A New Standard Bible Dictionary (1936 edition) states, "The form 'Jehovah' is impossible, according to the strict principles of Hebrew vocalization."

So, it is clearly no secret that Jehovah is not the true Name of our God. But don't worry - this doesn't mean that the wonderful suffixes normally attached to Jehovah (as in Jehovah Jireh, Rapha, Nissi, etc.) are also wrong. Those transliterations are for the most part correct, and when added to the name Yahweh (as in "Yahweh Yireh" - "Yahweh the Provider"), they can serve as powerful expressions of certain attributes and characteristics of our Lord Yahweh."



(That's it for tonight folks.  Selah.)

28 September 2010

The Gospel

When I found out our church was going to start making a point of presenting the gospel, I was a little confused.  Hadn't we already been doing that?  To be honest, I wasn't sure how it could be made more clear.  After all, we are members of a Baptist church, and Baptist are very deliberate about presenting a message to get people down the aisle.  I hate to admit it, but I wasn't looking forward to the stock Baptist salvation message every Sunday.

Imagine my surprise when I heard a revelatory salvation message instead.

On Sept 19th, our Pastor gave us milk and meat at the same table, by presenting the gospel in a way that I suspect most Southern Baptists have never heard.  Personally, I had been piecing a similar view together in my own heart for a few years, but didn't expect to hear it echoed from the pulpit.  Efton was stressing that we are now saints, not "just a sinner saved by grace", as we Protestants so often hear.   He made clear the distinction of who we were and who we now are in Jesus.  He used words like "sons of God" (John 1:12), "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4), and mentioned the fact that God has given us a new heart! (Eze. 36:26).

He made the bold statement that maybe the gospel we've heard isn't the gospel of the Bible.  Then he talked about standing in front of God, blameless because of the blood.  And having the ability to live victoriously in this life because of the Holy Spirit living within us.

I walked out of the service full of hope.  Religion is being put to death in our churches, denominationalism will follow, and the Bride will become her glorious true self as we pursue our lover who first loved us (1 John 4:19).

No more fear-induced decisions to get us to come to Christ.  No more guilt trips or emotional blackmail to get us to share the good news with others.  His kindness will lead the people to repentence (Romans 2:4).  His love shed abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:5) will flow naturally from us and, as we lift Him up, He will draw men to Himself (John 12:32).


16 September 2010

Multiple Paths into Destiny - Free Will and Predestination

For a while now (actually several years), I've been trying to reconcile the ideas of 'free will' and 'predestination' in my own mind.  Though I'm not sure how successful I've been, I do feel that I've hit upon a few tenable theories.  They go something like this:

When we say that God knows the future we are right, but only to a point.  Now before you start bringing out the firewood, gasoline, and rope, hear me out.  I believe that God's omnipotence results in a certain amount of omniscience, but not total.  Or at least not in the way that we have defined 'total' omniscience.

To begin with, God is not constrained by our physical realm.  So let's think of our realm as a maze on some large plane (like a really really big desktop).  Let's also think of people as wingless beetles upon that desk and within that maze.  Let's think of God as standing above, looking down.  He is the one who set the beetles upon the desk and allows them to walk where they will.  But only within the borders of the desktop and inside the maze.  Thus they can move only within the pre-ordained parameters.

Within those parameters, however, is a lot of freedom, many paths upon which the beetles may travel.  God allows this, but when He is ready for paths to close and open, He is powerful enough to make it happen, to pick up a beetle and put it where He wants, or to close off/open up certain parts of the maze.  He does this sometimes, mainly to protect the beetle, but often He allows it to move unhindered.

This explains free will.  Which I also think of this way: Ahead of me lie many paths (the desktop plane), many possible futures.  God has left a certain number of them open to me; there are several that are 'good and acceptable' to Him.  In fact, I believe that there are multiple paths that will lead me into my God given destiny, and even multiple destinies for me to choose from, all ordained of God.  Others, however, are paths of rebellion, which He also allows me to travel. 

So then, when we speak of God's omniscience, I believe we have both overstated and understated it.  We have understated it in that we have said God knows the future and then we define the future as only one possible path forward.  As I just suggested, there are multiple paths forward, each resulting from different choices that we are faced with.  The omniscience of God allows Him to see into ALL possible futures.  Every path open to us is visible to Him, and so His omniscience is much broader than we have believed.

On the other hand, I propose we have overstated His omniscience when we declare that He knows which path we will choose.  In this, I believe He limits Himself.  That limitation comes about as He grants us free will, so that God has exchanged a certain amount of His omniscience in order to allow me to have free will.  (Freedom.  God is all about love and freedom.)  As I tell people all the time - God limits Himself, it is an historical fact.  He actually emptied Himself and came to Earth as a man.  He limits His own will.  2 Peter 3:9 says, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."  But rather than imposing that will, He foregoes it in order to grant us ours.

Suppose even that God, although He is outside time, looks into time and sees its final state not as some static endpoint, but an endpoint in constant flux.  As our reality moves forward and approaches time's culmination, what if our choices are causing some sort of flickering expression of this world's final moment?  To use quantum physics terminology, what if, as we make our choices and collapse the wave function, that final state remains indeterminate until our last choice is made and we pop the ultimate quiff (bringing a singular reality into existence). 

But let's go back to the idea of multiple paths for a moment.  Consider the Old Testament custom of a man marrying his brother's widow in order to father offspring for him.  This is because all the futures that would have resulted in his brother's offspring have been eliminated.  The children the widow now bears will be considered those of her first husband.  This is another reason that murder is so heinous.  Not only have you killed someone, you have eradicated all the futures in which that person produced offspring.

And what about satan?  I propose that there were possible futures in which he did not rebel, realities in which the Light-Bearer remained as such and did not allow pride to rot his heart.  Consider God's admonition to Cain: "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."  Gen. 4: 6-7.  Why would God give such a warning to Cain if it were impossible for Cain to choose otherwise?  I suggest that there was a possible future in which Cain did not murder his brother. 

Of course this all reminds me of the Bible's first garden.  Remember, there were two trees in Eden, and man was not forbidden to eat from the Tree of Life, that is until after he had tasted the other.  God wouldn't allow us to eat of a tree that would then doom us to an eternally fallen state.  He used His omnipotence to close that particular path.

Okay, so maybe the rebellion and Fall didn't have to happen?  Maybe.  Just maybe.  I'm thinking out loud right now, so I'm just going to type as ideas come to me.  Things may get a little disjointed, but I'll try to make sense.  What about the following: In Revelation chapter thirteen, verse eight, Jesus is referred to as, 'The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.'  Jesus was slain at a certain place and time, about two thousand years ago, not before mankind was even created.  So what is this verse saying?  Is it saying that God knew ahead of time that mankind would definitely fall and need a Savior and so He decided to make provision?

I'm thinking that maybe God, knowing His own intention to to create sentient beings and then give them the ability to choose whether to love and follow Him or not, saw every possible path that led to satan's rebellion, every path that led to the Fall, and made the decision then to provide our Sacrifice, should that be necessary. 

Jesus himself, when in the garden actually said, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will, but as you will."  Of course at that point there was, for Jesus, only one possible path forward if He was to complete His mission.  Remember also, how he was tempted by satan early on; there were choices for Him to make, choices upon which the future of all mankind depended.  As always, Jesus never sinned.  Never missed the mark.  He did what the Father wanted every time.

I'm thinking also of how Jesus performed His first miracle. At first He resisted His mother's prompting.  But somehow her calm insistence led the Father to open up another path, making that wedding the appropriate occasion for the miracle working Christ to make Himself known.  Jesus recognized this, and the life of Christ had a slight alter made in its course.  The initial revealing was hastened as He turned water turned into wine.

Now let's turn our attention to the future.  What about the end times prophecies?  Aren't they set in stone?  This is where I believe God will choose to exert His will and through His omnipotent power cause the prophecies He has spoken through His prophets to come to pass.  Even here, however, I am not convinced that the church has its eschatology correct.  Our fatalism is holding us back and just killing hope.  But that's a topic for another day.

So what about scripture like Psalm 139:16?  "Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."  Well, that's a good one to be sure, but only if we've interpreted it correctly.  Here is what it says in Hebrew, followed by a word for word translation.  (Follow the link if you want to read more about this verse.)

גלמי ראו  עיניך  ועל  ספרך  כלם  יכתבו  ימים  יצרו  ולא  אחד׃

Embryo saw Eye of book every written day form not one. 

Say huh?  Yeah translations can be quite problematic.  Culture, language, time, all those things can hinder understanding, so we need to examine what we read and pray for revelation.  The Hebrew is read from right to left, so my translation is flipped around for our language.  Also, I have chosen the meanings that were used when the English version of the Bible was developed.  Several of those original Hebrew words have many possible nuances of meaning based upon context. 

One more thing before I'm done.  The Lamb's Book of Life.  If your name isn't found there, then you will not get into Heaven.  So has God already written the names of the Elect there, and left everyone else out because He knows they will not choose Him?  Revelation 3:5 addresses this, I think:

"He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels."

Blotting names from the Book is also talked about in Psalm 69: 28 and Exodus 32: 32.

I propose that all our names are written in the Book, and at the point when we reject God's gift for the final time, our name is blotted out.  Interesting note:  in the Old Testament, the word blot or blotted, is translated from the Hebrew word machah and it can have the idea of "wiping off" as in wiping off a dish.  And if something is to be wiped from something else, then it had to be there in the first place, right?

So there you go, what I've been contemplating lately.  I know this turned into a rambling discourse at certain points, but maybe you agree with some of what I've said.  Maybe you think I'm completely off base.  Either way, I think it's worth considering that we just might be able to make a difference while we are here on Earth, and that things can turn out differently, and for the better, because of our actions.  The Elect may not be some fixed number of individuals that are completely predetermined before any of this even got started.  Maybe that number can be influenced and increased. 

And maybe God is inviting us to get in on what He is doing.  Maybe that involves actually going out and altering destiny, discovering ours, and helping others find theirs.  Maybe?


15 September 2010

Love not Guilt - 'With' not 'For'

I really believe that if we fall in love with Jesus, witnessing will be a natural byproduct.  Not some chore or part of a checklist to prove our love for him or satisfy a sense of duty and obligation.  Let's stop innoculating people against the gospel, and let's get so full of Jesus that we shine and draw people to us.  Listen to what this guy Skye Jethani says.  I think he is on to something.


14 September 2010

This is a series HBO is doing based on the novels by George R. R. Martin.  Sean Bean is in the trailer and plays Eddard Stark, the patriarch of the Stark family and the first main character to...well, just watch it and see.  Or better yet, read the books.  But be warned, this is not feel good fantasy.  There will be betrayal and death and lots of it.  Almost makes me want to sign up for HBO, but by the time George gets the last book written, these things will be on DVD anyway.

I can hardly wait.


My goal is to somehow civilize this creature.  Yeah, I must be crazy.

11 September 2010


Tonight I finally got a competent tech support agent on the phone.  My internet woes are over!  All I can say is AT&T better be danged glad they have Ebony working for them, or I'd be yanking my business outta there.  She deserves a raise.  Right after they fire the half a dozen inept agents that have frustrated me for the past couple of weeks.


01 September 2010

How to Liz - 15: How to Be Fit

Allright, I've decided I need to get fit. I found this youtube link over at "The Master's Artist". I think it's full of practical advice that I could actually put into practice. Slim City here I come!