Why Does God Take Names, and Why Does God’s Name Change?
By Mu Guang
Since I believed in God, I have been confused about God’s name. The Old Testament records, “Jehovah … is my name for ever, and this is my memorial to all generations” (Exo 3:15). That’s to say, only Jehovah is God’s name for ever. But the New Testament says, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Act 4:12). This also shows that only Jesus is God’s name, and that there is no other name except Jesus. But why do these words say that God is called Jehovah and also Jesus? Isn’t this a contradiction? I was wrapped in clouds of doubts and always felt very puzzled about these. Although I have consulted many spiritual books and asked some brothers and sisters in the Lord, I still didn’t get a satisfying answer.
One day, I saw Brother Zhen was online on Skype. I was very happy: Brother Zhen has a good foundation in belief in the Lord. When I contacted him before, I found he had a pure understanding of and many unique insights into the Bible, and that what he talked about always edified others very much. However, he went to another country to attend the Bible training some time ago, so I have not seen him since then, nor have I seen that he was online. Today he was finally online. So, I asked him if he had any unexpected gains in the training and I also told him my confusion about God’s name. Not knowing what was going on, I still haven’t received Brother Zhen’s reply after waiting for quite a while.
After supper, I turned on my computer and saw an email from Brother Zhen in the mail-box. Then I opened it and read …
Brother Mu Guang:
I have received your message. I’m sorry that I didn’t reply to you in time, because my online status was Away. This time I indeed gained much in the training. What’s more, I’ve got a surprise for you, please allow me to keep you guessing. Tomorrow I will go to your house and share it with you.
As for the problem about God’s name that you put forward, it was also a confusion to me. But luckily, I happened to meet a brother a few days ago. Through communicating with him, my problem has been resolved.
Through the communication with the brother, I knew that God didn’t have a name in the beginning. For this point, we can see in Genesis: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen 1:1). “And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters” (Gen 1:2). “And God said, Let there be light” (Gen 1:3). “And God said, Let there be a firmament in the middle of the waters” (Gen 1:6), and so on. These verses only speak of God but not Jehovah or Jesus. It is because before mankind was corrupted by Satan, God didn’t need to do the work of salvation. Therefore, God didn’t actually have a name at first, and God is just called God.
Afterward, mankind was corrupted by Satan. And then, God began His management plan of saving mankind, that is, God began to carry out His work on the earth. Due to the requirements of the work, God took the name Jehovah. We can look up Exodus 3:15, “And God said moreover to Moses, Thus shall you say to the children of Israel, Jehovah, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial to all generations.” From this verse, we can see that Jehovah was the name that God took when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. Then, why did God take the name Jehovah at that time? Because from then on, God would use the name Jehovah to begin the work in the Age of Law and lead people to live on the earth.
Seeing this, maybe you will have doubts: “Since the name Jehovah didn’t appear until Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, how come there appears the name Jehovah in Genesis 2 in the Bible? How can you explain this?” In reality, it’s not difficult to understand this question. First, we can be sure that there was no Book of Genesis when God created the heavens and the earth, and all things; Genesis was written by Moses after Jehovah God led the Israelites out of Egypt. At that time, Moses had already known that God’s name was Jehovah. So, it’s not difficult to understand that Moses called God “Jehovah” when he wrote Genesis. But it doesn’t represent that God is called Jehovah at first.
Jehovah was the name that God took when He did the work in the Age of Law. Then, why did God take the name Jehovah in the Age of Law? Here, I want to share a passage of God’s words with you: “‘Jehovah’ is the name that I took during My work in Israel, and it means the God of the Israelites (God’s chosen people) who can take pity on man, curse man, and guide the life of man; the God who possesses great power and is full of wisdom. … The name Jehovah is a particular name for the people of Israel who lived under the law. In each age and each stage of work, My name is not baseless, but holds representative significance: Each name represents one age. ‘Jehovah’ represents the Age of Law and is the honorific by which the people of Israel called the God whom they worshiped.”
This passage of God’s words clearly tells us the significance of God’s taking the name Jehovah. The name Jehovah represents the man-pitying, man-cursing disposition expressed by God in the Age of Law and what He has and is that is full of great power and wisdom. It also represents the work of God leading man to live on the earth in the Age of Law. All people in the Age of Law respected the name of Jehovah as a holy name. They worshiped Jehovah, prayed to Jehovah, praised Jehovah, and offered sacrifices to Jehovah on their altars. The Israelites also tangibly experienced Jehovah God’s work, saw His wrath, and got a taste of the man-pitying, man-cursing disposition expressed by God. Under the leadership of Jehovah God, they kept the law and learned to live on the earth normally until the end of the Age of Law. And Jehovah God said, “Jehovah … is my name for ever, and this is my memorial to all generations” (Exo 3:15). It means that God’s name was Jehovah in the Age of Law and that this name would never change in the Age of Law. God said this in order to prevent people under the law from being coaxed by Gentiles to pray in another name, be confused by a false god, and lose God’s protection and care. From this, it can be seen that every word God has spoken holds the disposition of God and contains God’s great love toward us mankind.
Then why was God called Jesus later? This is also related to God’s work and disposition.
As we all know, since mankind had been even more deeply corrupted by Satan, at the end of the Age of Law, there was no way for people to keep the law, and at last they had less and less reverence for God: In order to atone for their sins after committing sins, they began to offer defective sacrifices to God on their altars. If they continued like this, they would be condemned for violating laws and offending God’s disposition, thus being stoned to death or incinerated by fire. In this case God’s creation of mankind would have been meaningless. To save mankind, God began a new work — the work of redemption of mankind — on the basis of the work in the Age of Law. As soon as the Lord Jesus began to work, He bestowed endless pity and grace upon man; finally, He was nailed to the cross for redeeming man of their sins as the sin offering. Because the disposition God expressed and the work He did in the Age of Grace was different from that in the Age of Law, God’s name also changed along with His work, and in this way He took the name of Jesus.
The name Jesus is a particular name for God’s work in the Age of Grace. What’s the significance of this name? I would like to share with you another passage of God’s words: “‘Jesus’ is Emmanuel, which means the sin offering that is full of love, full of compassion, and which redeems man. He did the work of the Age of Grace, and He represents the Age of Grace, and can only represent one part of the work of the management plan. … Only Jesus is the Redeemer of mankind, and He is the sin offering that redeemed mankind from sin. Which is to say, the name of Jesus came from the Age of Grace and came into existence because of the work of redemption in the Age of Grace. The name of Jesus came into existence to allow the people of the Age of Grace to be reborn and saved, and is a particular name for the redemption of the whole of mankind.”
God’s words tell us: The name Jesus is a particular name for man’s redemption in the Age of Grace. It represents the compassionate and loving disposition expressed by God in the Age of Grace, and it also represents the work of God redeeming mankind as a sin offering. So, in the Age of Grace, only by calling on the name of Jesus and believing in and relying on the Lord Jesus, can people gain bountiful grace bestowed by the Lord Jesus and can their sins be forgiven. Except for the name of Jesus, there is no other name which we can rely on for salvation. So the New Testament records: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Act 4:12). Therefore, these two verses are not contradictory, but just represent God’s different names when He did work in different ages.
After these words, Brother Mu Guang, I believe some of your confusion has been solved. However, I have a question to test you: It is recorded in Revelation 2:17, “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows saving he that receives it.” Here it mentions “a new name.” I wonder how you understand it. I’m looking forward to your answer. (Tips: There are related prophecies in Revelation.)
By the way, could I visit you tomorrow? If it’s convenient to you, please contact me.
Having seen the above fellowship of Brother Zhen, I had my problem resolved indeed. I understood: The name God takes only represents God’s work and disposition in that age, and it will never change in that age. But when God starts His new work and ushers in a new era, God’s name also changes correspondingly. Thank God! The fellowship of Brother Zhen was really enlightening. However, with regard to the prophecy of “a new name” in Revelation, what does it refer to?
Before going to bed, I opened and read the Book of Revelation and I finally found several verses which appear to be prophecies about God’s new name: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, said the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Rev 1:8). “And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are your works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are your ways, you King of saints” (Rev 15:3). “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunder, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigns” (Rev 19:6). After carefully reading and pondering these words, I found that “the Almighty” is mentioned in these verses. Do they have anything to do with God’s new name? There must be mysteries within them! So I quickly replied to Brother Zhen’s message: “Early tomorrow morning, I’ll wait for you to answer my questions!”
From: Grow in Christ
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