Bible · Christianity · God · Moses · religion

The day God first revealed himself as Jehovah

Moses at the burning bushA close look at the Bible reveals that God sets aside different time periods to reveal different aspects to mankind about himself. This is why to the untrained, unsaved mind he seems to be more than one god and has falsely been accused of being so. One of the favorite attacks by unbelievers against Christianity is that the God of the Old Testament is different than the God of the New Testament. Another favorite attack is that we aren’t genuinely monotheistic but serve three gods.

In Exodus 6:2-3 is a curious passage:

And God spake 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 [El Shaddai], but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them.

However, a look back at Genesis shows that the patriarchs did know that God’s name was JEHOVAH. In Genesis 22, after Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac, who was spared when God set up a ram to take Isaac’s place, Abraham called that place Jehovah-jireh. It meant “Jehovah shall be seen” or “Jehovah shall provide.” It’s the same spot where God’s temple was eventually built. So if Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob called the Lord by his name Jehovah, why did God tell Moses in Exodus 6 that he was “not known to them” as Jehovah?

God’s name Jehovah is derived from the Hebrew word hayah, meaning “I am.” Jehovah means, “the Self-Existent One.” It has a multi-faceted, deeper spiritual meaning than El Shaddai or Elohim, but encompasses all of God’s other names. When God said he was not known as Jehovah until Moses and his fellow Israelites, he meant that the patriarchs did not have the experiences that God was about to reveal to them–experiences that would show them greater revelations of God than what the patriarchs had seen in the physical and in the spiritual realms. Yes, the patriarchs knew God’s name was Jehovah, but they did not know why his name was Jehovah. They just knew why his name was El Shaddai, God Almighty.

Abraham prophetically called part of Mt. Moriah Jehovah-jireh because he knew God would one day provide a greater revelation of himself to his descendants just like he provided a ram for Isaac even though Abraham was known to be God’s friend. When Moses came, it was the perfect opportunity for God to reveal himself as Jehovah because these were the darkest, most impossible days the Hebrews had ever experienced in their history up to that point. Here are a few ways God would show Moses and the Israelites why his name is Jehovah:

  • He fulfills his established covenants [Ex. 6:4, 8]. The covenant to give his people property that didn’t belong to them originally and property they didn’t deserve in order to honor his word, reveals the grace, mercy, longsuffering, love, and power encompassed in who Jehovah is. It shows how his covenants are unbreakable and that he is unchangeable and righteous even over hundreds of years, since he is from everlasting to everlasting. The patriarchs had not seen this covenant fulfilled.
  • He hears the cries and groans of his people in their darkest hour [Ex. 6:5]. Jehovah takes things to heart because of his compassion and takes note of the dire situations his people are in.
  • He delivers and redeems his people to keep his covenant [Ex. 6:5-7]. Jehovah has more power than any enemy (natural or spiritual) that would harm his people. Through his power of deliverance, he would show himself greater than the greatest world power of that time–Egypt. He would show himself greater than Egypt’s greatest gods through the 10 plagues, which mocked their gods. His deliverance and redemption of his people was not only from Egypt’s physical bondage, but also from the spiritual bondage of worshiping Egypt’s gods [Joshua 24:14]. He would demonstrate his power to move any type of physical obstacle that could keep his people from their deliverance at the Red Sea.
  • He wants a personal, intimate relationship with his people [Ex. 6:7]. In revealing himself as Jehovah, he showed his people they do not have the power to deliver themselves out of every danger like he does. They didn’t have the power in and of themselves to be accepted into his household. They had to rely on him and because of the covenant–based on his grace, mercy, and everlasting love–Jehovah proved he was reliable. His reliability was not bound by space, matter, or time.

Yet for all the greatness encompassed in the name Jehovah, God still had an even greater name with a greater plan under a greater covenant that would not be revealed until thousands of years after Moses. We who profess the name of the Lord Jesus have embraced it. But the name of Jesus is also not the end of the story. Revelation 3:12 says the Lord has yet a new name to be revealed at the time New Jerusalem is established on earth.

Harry A. Gaylord

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9 thoughts on “The day God first revealed himself as Jehovah

  1. The reason that some people disassociate the god of the Old Testament with the god of the New Testament is that the god of the Old Testament had an unenviable track record, from lying all the way to the outright killing. He was not omnipresent since he did not know where Adam was hiding in the Garden of Eden; he was not omniscient because otherwise he would have known in advance that the humans would eat from the Tree of Knowledge; and he was not omnipotent since, if God was all-powerful, he could have created a more perfect being that would have acted the way he wanted and he would have insured that evil didn’t exist in the world. He also endorsed slavery (see the Tenth Commandment). Then there’s….but I’m pretty sure that you’ve already tuned me out.

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    1. [He was not omnipresent since he did not know where Adam was hiding in the Garden of Eden]

      Typical tactic of the atheist. Use something in the Bible that’s symbolic then claim that it’s literal to try to slam the Bible. God knew where Adam was hiding. He started the line of questioning to bring Adam to the point of admitting his wrongs. Parents today do the same thing when they find out their child has done something wrong and questions them to get them to the point of coming clean. Your case is weak here.

      [he was not omniscient because otherwise he would have known in advance that the humans would eat from the Tree of Knowledge]

      All the prophecies God prophesied in ancient times in the Bible that have even recently been fulfilled prove you’re wrong. Case in point: Revelation predicts that there will be a one world government and today we see the UN and other organizations, including our government and the EU, actively moving us in that direction. Another case in point: Revelation also predicts that the people of the world would have a mark by the government placed on their forehead or hand to buy and sell. Now we see the technology that makes it possible and certain people being implanted with microchips while behavioral scientists are pushing for more of us to be implanted.

      God created us with the capacity to choose right or wrong–free will. That’s not a lack of omniscience or omnipotence, that’s love. If anyone forces someone to do everything they want, we call it tyranny. God didn’t create us to be mindless robots to be forced to do stuff. That’s the funny thing about you God haters. If God lets you do what you want and it lands you in trouble, you claim he isn’t omniscient. When he stops you from doing something evil like gay ‘marriage’ or punishes you for doing bad things like having sex outside of marriage, you call him a tyrannical killjoy.

      [He also endorsed slavery]

      Not true. The servanthood spoken of in the Old Testament was a form of indentured servitude, not the transatlantic slave trade you’re attempting to make it out to be. Those servants were allowed to leave their servitude. I guess you people want us to be as mindless as you by just believing whatever someone else tells us then repeating it without looking into the facts. You should exercise more critical thinking and fact checking and take time to read things before you just repeat back what others tell you about the Bible that you obviously have no clue about.

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      1. Thank you for your response. A couple of thoughts. The first is that I’m not an atheist, I’m a Christian. Second, the real book of prophecy is Isaiah. Isaiah is the reason why the Old Testament is even relevant to Christianity. Otherwise, why did Christianity accept what is, in effect, the Jewish Bible as the front half of their religion. Finally, many of the prophecies of Isaiah about the coming of the messiah still remain to be fulfilled. As for your interpretations of the Bible, that’s your choice and I respect that. It’s not important if your belief systems are right or wrong. It is important, though, that one doesn’t get too emotionally attached to their beliefs, lest they forfeit their free will because, as you said, God didn’t create us to be mindless robots. Thanks again for the dialogue.

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      2. [It’s not important if your belief systems are right or wrong. It is important, though, that one doesn’t get too emotionally attached to their beliefs, lest they forfeit their free will]

        So let me apply this statement to an example from the Bible. Jesus said in John 14:6 ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father but by me.’ John 3:36 says ‘He that hath the son hath life. He that hath not the son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.’ Now if my belief system says those statements aren’t true, you’re saying it doesn’t matter since it’s not important if your belief systems are right or wrong. If this is what you would share with me as a person who doesn’t know Jesus, and I die and end up in hell, then your words are worthless.

        But let me put your words to the test in another situation. If I’m in a gang and my belief system says that I can shoot any person who sets me off, and you set me off because you’re wearing something I want for myself so I shoot you and take it, then based on your philosophy, my belief system isn’t important as to whether it’s right or wrong. Your statement wouldn’t stand up in a court of law.

        Furthermore, your statement is contradictory. You presuppose that your statement is the right belief system and that anyone’s belief system is wrong if it doesn’t match your “it’s not important if your belief systems are right or wrong” statement. Since your statement contradicts itself, it cancels itself out as being untrue. Then you follow it up with another contradictory statement because you’re saying that a person’s belief system is wrong if they get too emotionally attached to it. If belief systems aren’t important as to whether they’re right or wrong, then it’s also not important if my belief system says I should get emotionally attached to it. See how you contradicted yourself several times? That means your statement isn’t true.

        You claim to be Christian but your belief about belief systems isn’t in line with what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that a belief system is so important as to whether it’s right or wrong to the point that if a person embraces a wrong belief system, the eternal consequences are hell. If the belief system is right, the eternal reward is heaven.

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      3. As a “Christian”, I have a belief in Christ. However, my belief is based on divine revelation rather than the Bible, although I read and study the Bible extensively. My point about belief systems (which is something that I have spent a lifetime researching) is that it’s okay for two people to disagree with respect to a particular point of, say, theology. Since neither one of them knows the Truth of the matter, arguing about their differences is generally unproductive. With respect to growing as a child of God, the search for the Truth requires that you suspend belief because otherwise you would never accept the Truth even if it was staring you in the face. That’s because most belief systems, but especially theology, are a by-product of our culture (e.g. how many Christians are there in Saudi Arabia).

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  2. Your opinion..Your opinions about who God is or who the devil is are based on pagan beliefs, not the Bible. Your words are simply the ramblings of someone who doesn’t know Jehovah, the true God, or his word.

    IE if my words are ramblings then what are yours but that of a shasta talking parrot constantly repeated drivel.

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  3. Wow. I really enjoyed the post. I was amazed (but not surprised) to see the comments section. Sigh…. I agree with the assessments in your counter-arguments against that first person’s claims. Someone who is more blossomed in their walk with God would know that Jesus asked questions a LOT. That doesn’t mean he didn’t know the answer (it’s definitely a method of initiating self-investigation of motive). Also, I heard about the slavery thing being something that definitely had quite a bit of a choice component, and that they would choose to stay (at the end of their captivity) rather than return to the places they were taken from (and I would definitely choose a decent life as a servant with gracious hosts over the alternative, atrocious acts that most war-captives endured), (and that it served as a means for them to introduce their beliefs and God to them and that by the end they would rather stay away from where they originated). As for the *other* (,other) comment… I have to say I’m a bit confounded as to what they are exactly referring to and what upset them so?? …but I have a bit of understanding, I can see, and have a sense of what other mechanisms might be having an effect to illicit such an odd outburst? Haha. Anyway, just wanted to say that I really found a lot of helpful meaning in your post. … and this is coming from someone who isn’t 100% church-circle approved, aka very much having had (and still having) very personal experiences influencing their walk more so… I guess I just don’t see the reason for all of the confrontation I’m seeing here in the comments section? 🙂 But yeah, thanks, I heard a lot that I needed to hear in this post. God Bless.

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    1. Playplay,

      Thanks for your comment. Glad you got something from my post. So you noticed the weird outburst also. Sometimes when truth is spoken people get so worked up they don’t exactly know how to express themselves effectively and go off on tangents because the truth makes them feel uncomfortable when it points out what they may be doing wrong. Instead of humbling themselves and admitting their shortcomings, they sometimes lash out unintelligibly. It can be amusing at times.

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  4. Seems like a lot of interpretation to me. Why do Christians, Jews and Muslims fail to see the utter awfulness of a God that would subject one of his ‘chosen’ people to think they were going to kill their own child. Disgusting no matter what spin you want to put on it.

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