Is God's name Yahweh, the LORD, or just "God?" Most Christians have no clue and aren't that interested. It's just not important in Christianity, but it is in God's Word and end time events. Get ready, as this ignorance of God's name will end, and by spectacular means. Joel 2:32 says that those whom God protects from end time events will know and call upon God's personal name. How will believers be able to do that when Christianity does not teach the name of God? Through the return of something that will excite us all... Find out God's name, who will teach it and how Jewish and Christian tradition has kept you from knowing it already.
Do You Know God's Name Yet? (Prophecy: You Will)
Is Yahweh a word you are familiar with? Or the Tetragrammaton? Few Christians are. That's because both words are related to the subject of God's name, which is not a Christian core doctrine (with a few exceptions noted below).
To the surprise of many Christians hearing it for the first time, God has a personal name in Hebrew. It's four letters long, consisting of the four Hebrew consonants yod-hey-vav-hey or יהוה transliterated to YHVH in English. It is used nearly 7,000 times in the Old Testament by prophets, kings, judges, regular saints and "heroes of faith."
God's personal name has a profound meaning to go with it:
יהוה → "He is, He was, He will be" (Rev 1:4-5,8)
That's because his name comes from the Hebrew root word "to be" (להיות lihyot)(Ex 3:14, conjugated in the first person form). (The idea that it comes from hovah making YHVH "God of ruin, destruction" is wrong as the root analysis shows. Anyone who tells you this is only proving they do not understand Biblical Hebrew.)
As you will see, this topic can be very exciting to learn and study and very significant prophetically.
Objection: "Judaizer, Jesus' name is above all names!" vs. Prophecy
But be warned: some Christians don't want to hear about this. When they see someone teaching God's name, they immediately judge them as a "Judaizer" or bringing "Judaism into the faith" or in a cult like Jehovah's Witnesses. They may feel indignant at focus being taken off Jesus with his "name above all names" (Php 2:9)—missing that this implicitly excludes the Father (1Cor 15:27) who exalted Jesus "to the glory of the Father" (Php 2:11). Jesus knew this and told people to pray to the Father, not to himself (Mt 6:9). Jesus and his name are not above the Father and his name.
Zechariah 13:9 (HCSB) — I will put this third through the fire; I will refine them as silver is refined and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say: They are My people, and they will say: "YHVH is our God."
Ezekiel 39:7 (HCSB) — So I will make My holy name known among My people Israel and will no longer allow it to be profaned. Then the nations will know that I am YHVH, the Holy One in Israel.
Many Transliterations, Many Titles
Besides Christian bias, another big challenge for believers new to this topic is the dispute over what exactly God's name is. This dispute exists because the vowels between the four consonants are missing in (most) Old Testament Hebrew manuscripts, unlike they are for all other Bible names and words. That's why you will see many different representations for God's name. Here's just a few of them:
- YHVH (yod-hey-vav-heh)
- Yah/Jah (yod-hey, יהּ, poetic shortened form of YHVH - Ps 68:4 KJV)
- YHWH (yod-hey-waw-heh, from German scholarship W=V)
- Jehovah (favorite of Jehovah's Witnesses)
- Yahweh (Christian scholarly best guess)
- Yahveh (modification of above)
- Yahuah (based on combining vowels of Judah with YHVH)
- Yahuwah (?)
- Yehovah (see below)
Each variation has advocates who think it the right transliteration of יהוה based on their deduction of what the missing three vowels are.
Adding to the confusion are the many titles for God in the Bible. Here's some examples:
- Elohim (Hebrew: אֱלֹהִים) - "God" (Literally "gods" - a majestic plural)
- El Shaddai (Hebrew: אֵל שַׁדַּי,) - translated "The Almighty"
- Adonai (Hebrew: אֲדֹנָי ) (Literally "my lords").
Just keep in mind for the rest of this article that God has one personal name (יהוה/YHVH) and many titles. His name appears many more times than any of his titles, showing God places importance on it and is not hiding it.
Vav vs. Waw (It's a Vav!)
Because of Arab influence on Hebrew, some pronounce the vav letter as a W and call it a waw. That's why you see the word Yahweh instead of Yahveh and the transliteration YHWH instead of YHVH.
Nehemiah Gordon's recent research (2016-2017) proves that "It's a Vav," as one of his blog posts is aptly titled. He shares evidence from the scrolls of Jeremiah, 1Kings and Nehemiah that vet (always a V sound) and vav are equivalent because the word for "back" (gav) is written alternatively with either letter. Check out in the Hebrew Aleppo Codex Ezekiel 23:35 ("back"/gav spelled with vav) vs Ezekiel 43:13 ("back"/gav with soft bet/vet) and 1Kings 14:9 ("back" gav spelled with vet). Nehemiah 9:26 ("back"/gav with vav).
He also debunks the idea that Arab or Ashkenazi/Yiddish influence led to the vav being pronounced as a W universally. He lists six Jewish communities (without European influence) who nevertheless pronounced the vav as a V: Kurdish Jews, Syrian Jews, Egyptian Jews, Persian Jews, Moroccan Jews, Algerian Jews. This is in contradiction to five communities who pronounce it as a W due to Arab influence: the Yemenite Jews, Baghdadi Jews, Libyan Jews, Tunisian Jews, Atlas Mountain Jews.
Bias Against Studying God's Name
It can be off-putting to see strange "Hebroid" names like those above instead of just God or LORD. The high level of confusion in this subject is enough to discourage anyone from looking into it. Why not just stay with God and LORD and forget all this?
I still recall my reaction in my twenties upon first encountering the topic of God's name, or the Tetragrammaton (Greek, "four letter word") as it was called by the commentary I was reading. The commentary explained that the word LORD (in all capitals) appeared in English Bibles in place of God's "unknowable" personal name. I hastily concluded that if God's personal name was a matter of confusion and not important enough for the Bible translators to even try to carry forward into English, then it was nothing for me to concern myself with. (Their referral to God's name by such a clinical Greek term didn't help any!)
"Depart From Me, I Never Knew you!" - Jesus
Jesus' predicted he will tell many sincere believers basically to "get lost" instead of welcoming them into the Kingdom. So...who are they and what did they miss or do wrong? In this study, get those answers and the one requirement for salvation Jesus taught (that Christianity misses) so that you can make sure you don't hear these dreaded words yourself!
I confess that because of common biases, I missed the significance of God's name at my first encounter. Perhaps this is not your first time hearing about God's name, too.
Nevertheless, God made sure to correct my misjudgment on the importance of his name. It's good he did, because without understanding God's name, it's impossible to fully understand and appreciate a key event in end time prophecy and our soon future which I will discuss below.
God's Name Suppressed by Judaism...
Many years later (in my thirties), I got onto the subject of God's name again. This time, a Christian friend was explaining to me that they had replaced the name of God in the Bible almost 7000 times. I told him I knew about the Tetragrammaton already; it was no big deal.
However, my friend gave me a new piece of information about the origin of this replacement that got my attention at last. He shared that it was the Jews who started this practice in the centuries before Christ. They decided that the name of God was too sacred or holy to be pronounced. This became known as the "ineffable name of God" doctrine.
(Later from Hebrew scholar Nehemia Gordon, I learned that the original reason for the ban was to keep people from doing magic incantations with God's name under the Roman rule of Judea.)
...In Contradiction to the Bible and Jesus
This gets more interesting when you find out that this ineffable name doctrine is contradicted directly by the Word of God. The reason the name appears those nearly 7000 times is because God's prophets knew and spoke God's name. The Israelites were commanded to use God's name in oaths (Dt 6:13). It's clear they also used his name in daily speech such as in greetings (Ruth 2:4 YLT). God says his name is to be taught to his people (Ex 3:13-15 YLT).
When religion says the opposite of this, it's because they teach and follow "traditions and commandments of men." Jesus condemned those traditions for doing away with or nullifying God's word (Mk 7:13).
Jesus did not follow their tradition, much to their chagrin (Mt 15:2). John quotes Jesus saying that he had revealed the name of the Father to his disciples (John 17:26).
So why doesn't Christianity follow Jesus' example and teach God's name to its disciples?
No doubt in part because they don't see God's name anywhere in the New Testament (at least not in the manuscripts extant today). This is not surprising since it's a Hebrew word that you cannot translate or transliterate accurately into Greek. Instead, in the Greek OT (Septuagint) they replaced it with the Greek word kurios meaning lord. This makes it hard to tell where in the original text it said YHVH and when it just said lord.
Nevertheless, there is evidence that the original NT manuscripts did have God's name written in them. The Talmud records discussions among the Jews on the question of how to dispose of the New Testament copies they encountered. The dilemma was that they (at that time) had God's name written on them and it was forbidden (by another invented tradition) to destroy any documents with God's name.
Religions Teach Tradition, Not (Pure) Truth
If this Jewish tradition is contrary to Scripture, then why didn't Christianity reject it? Why adopt it? That's an important question I had that not enough Christians do.
Back when I first wondered why, I was a more naive on how the world works and did not immediately guess the answer. Now in my forties, I've known for a while that if you had to characterize religions like Judaism or Christianity in one word, it would not be with the word "truth." Another word beginning with the letter T fits much better: "tradition."
Central to any religion is the body of sacred traditions it has preserved from the esteemed "fathers." While religious traditions do have much helpful truth, they unavoidably tow along much error, too. Despite the errors, the tradition continues to be followed because it is firmly established in the practice of the religion by millions.
Trying to change an established tradition is not easy. If you object to a church practice to those in leadership, you will find you won't get much sympathy. They just want to keep things going on course, not "fix what ain't broken." Even if they agree with your opinion, who are they to overturn the "tradition of the elders?" (Mt 15:2). After all, everyone else seems to be fine with the tradition and there are bigger matters than correcting a side issue (in their estimation).
That's probably the thinking in early Christian scholars' minds when they learned Biblical Hebrew from Jewish scholars. They Jews had followed this tradition of banning the name for centuries by then. When the Jews explained how they handle God's name by replacing it with euphemisms in speaking and writing, Christian scholars would do as they were told out of respect. They had no good reason not to as the focus of Christianity is not on the so-called "angry" God of the Old Testament, it's focused on the loving Jesus of the New Testament. Covering up God's name by replacing it with LORD in English translations probably seemed fine and even appropriate.
And that's how Christians ended up in this situation today ignorant that God has a personal name or of a good idea of what it is.
Not A Salvation, Prayer or True Servant Issue
Before going further, I hasten to add the following caveats lest someone misunderstand:
- Knowing God's name is certainly not a salvation issue. I'm not making it one in pointing out that Christianity has erred in this area by emulating Judaism.
- Nor is God's name required to be heard in prayer. You don't need to pray in the "right name" for God to answer your prayers, obviously.
- Nor is using God's name a benchmark of a true servant. Some judge others as not being serious about obeying and serving God if they use popular replacements for his name in writing and speech.
I say all this because by using and discussing God's name, I am sure to some I may sound like "those groups" who make knowing God's name a focus and part of their doctrines (or a part of any sect, come to think of it.) Jehovah's Witnesses is the most-well known of them and I've been accused of being one of them before for even bringing up God's name. There are also the so-called fringe "sacred namer" groups who mostly favor words other than Jehovah such as those listed earlier.
I'm not a part of any of these groups (or any other, by the way).
Because sacred namers place so much importance on God's name, there is lot of argument and judgment among them over who is using the right version it. Sadly, the one thing they do agree on is that Christians "should" (a judgmental word) try to use God's name and not replace it. This causes them often to judge those don't do as they do. For example, while I was composing this article, I received an email from a sacred namer "rebuking" me over having the name "Jesus" on my website (as if this was a sin worthy of rebuke.)
It's sad when Christians let theology issues like these make them forget that the central command of Jesus was to love and be kind to others. At least he was clear never to condemn others, especially for something as minor as having a different understanding of the Bible.
Coming Revival of God's Name
Let's review. At this point you understand that:
- God has a personal name (Heb: יהוה) that he commanded Israel to know and use.
- Despite this, Christians don't know God's name because their Bibles replace God's name with “The LORD” (which is not even a translation of it).
- While suppression of God's name contradicts Scripture, you can still serve and please God without knowing it.
- Those who do seek to know God's name end up in confusion and must settle for one of many opinions.
Now that you understand all that, let's tie in the end time prophecy about how the ignorance of God's name will change, along with the confusion as to what it is.
The key is in this end time prophecy:
Revelation 6:12, 17 — 12 the 6th seal… A violent earthquake occurred; the sun turned black …moon became like blood 17 …the great day…has come! And who is able to stand?” 14 and every mountain and island was moved from its place
Joel 2:31 (HCSB) — The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and awe-inspiring Day of the LORD comes...
Notice that Revelation 6 and Joel 2 both speak of the same global cataclysm heralded by eclipses of the sun and moon. The entire earth is rocked violently, radically changing its topography. Regular readers know this is caused by the close flyby of dwarf planet Wormwood that happens pretrib—before the Great Tribulation. God's plan to save the faithful is to gather them to one place as indicated in the next verse in Joel:
Joel 2:32 (HCSB) — .... Then everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh will be saved, for there will be an escape for those on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem...among the survivors the LORD calls.
God will "call" people to "survive" at a special "safe" place in "Mt. Zion" or Judea, the land around "Jerusalem" (Ps 78:68, 97:8). How all that happens and can happen is very interesting and discussed in my previous article.
But for now, please notice how Joel emphasizes first that the survivors saved in Mt. Zion "call on the name of Yahweh/יהוה" (Of course, in context this does not mean that all you have to do is know God's name and call on it. You have to also be in the right place, as we shall see next). This is highly significant when you recall that neither Jews nor Christians are taught nor use God's name. Even righteous believers today could not "call upon the name of YHVH" with confidence if their lives depended on it, literally.
Logically, for the above prophecy to come true, this means:
- Someone must come to teach them God's name.
- Someone, at the same time, must tell them about safety in Judea and "call" them there (at the right time, or they won't know where or when exactly to go).
In the Bible, there is one class of person who both teaches people God's name and leads them to where God is directing them: a prophet, just like Moses (who did both during his ministry).
Elijah's Revival of Repentance and God's Name
It's not hard to figure out which prophet will do this. There's really only one clear choice in end time prophecy. Helpfully enough, Joel's prophecy is linked directly to that prophecy. A unique phrase appearing twice in the Bible links them:
Joel 2:31 (HCSB) — The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and awe-inspiring Day of the LORD comes...
Malachi 4:5 (HCSB) — I will send Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome Day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise, I will come and strike the land with a curse.
Luke 1:17 (ESV) — and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
Of course, "great and awe-inspiring day of the Lord" is the linking phrase. Joel talks about someone calling people to safety before that day; Malachi talks about Elijah calling people to repentance before that day. Luke clarifies Elijah's mission greatly by interpreting the unclear "turning hearts of the children to the fathers" to turning "disobedient to the of the just." Putting it all together, Elijah is the one leading us to repentance and safety in Zion before the blood moon of the 6th seal and the Wormwood progression (until the 4th trumpet).
By the way, that's real repentance like you have never seen before. It's not the "repentance" you've seen in churches, typically with a one-time "altar call" proclamation of accepting-Jesus-into-your-heart. To repent for real takes wisdom from education and instruction by the truly righteous who are already walking in faith and love. Jesus spent his ministry teaching and demonstrating this to his disciples who actually had this real, rare, selfless love as a result (John 13:35). Elijah will teach that, too, while at the same time warning people why they need to repent: Wormwood and the Antichrist are coming and you need to get right with God, develop faith, and obey the command to flee.
Finally, God's Name Found (in Israel)!
Can all this really happen? And soon? Yes. In fact, the foundation for the revival of the name is already here.
Remember I said above that there is confusion on pronouncing God's name because the Jews left the vowels out of the Hebrew manuscripts? The missing vowels is why Christian scholars believe the true name is lost or not knowable with certainty beyond a guess like "Yahweh:"
- Scholars: יהוה → Y?H?W?H → (guess:) “Yah-weh”
That's what I learned early in my research on God's name and also what most people learn to this day.
But that conclusion was overturned for me in 2002 when I went on tour in Israel and met (real) Hebrew scholar Nehemia Gordon who served as an expert for part of the tour. In private conversation I heard him using a strange word in Hebrew seemingly for God that I had never heard before. I asked him to repeat it more slowly: "Ye-ho-VAH." (To hear what it sounded like click the play button for the audio of me repeating it below:)
I asked Nehemia what that word was and he explained it's God's name. Wow! (At the time, I confess I had moved on from Yahweh to get stuck on an even more embarrassing opinion of "Yehuah".)
This was October, 2002, just a year after Nehemia had made this discovery himself as the September 11 attacks were happening. Nehemia was busy at work proofing the Leningrad Codex Hebrew manuscript for errors. To his shock, he discovered a place where all three vowels of God's name were intact. (The scribes always at least left out the middle vowel, which was an O or cholam). Right after, the phone rang to alert him that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. He got off the call thinking the plane strike was a fluke, and kept reading, specifically now to see if he could find another case of God's name with all the vowels. When he found that second witness, the phone rang again: a second plane hit the second tower. Here's what he saw:
- יְהֹוָה → Yehovah (full vowels as found in the Leningrad Codex in dozens of places)
Yehovah may remind you of the word Jehovah, the name that Jehovah's Witnesses use. It actually is the same sound when you correct for the fact that the J of Jehovah as originally transliterated centuries ago had a Y sound, just as J does in German to this day. The other difference being that the accent is on the last syllable, not the first (JeHOvah vs. YehoVAH). Nehemia has since found scores of other places that consistently record the name of God with full vowels in the Leningrad Codex and other Hebrew manuscripts.
Why is this an important discovery? Unlike "Yahweh" or other renditions of God's name, this is not a guess or based on external evidence (outside the Bible), like say, what "Josephus said..." Yehovah comes directly from the Hebrew manuscripts where the scribes wrote the complete vowels. Just as we know how to pronounce, say, King Jehoshaphat's from what the Hebrew Bible text records, so, too, we finally know again from the Bible how to pronounce Gods' name.
God's name has been found!
Second Witness - The Rabbis Knew All Along
Nehemia Gordon has also confirmed the vowels in rabbinical literature. The rabbis don't support Yahweh; they support Yehovah. This also shows that, contrary to myth, the Jews never lost the name even with the ban on saying it. In fact, God's name is common knowledge among the rabbis and no secret to them.
When I got back from Israel, I was able to confirm all this myself. I ordered a Hebrew Old Testament based on the Leningrad Codex and saw the vowels in there where Nehemia said they were. I even happened to see in my own Stone Edition Chumash that the Introduction (written by rabbis) plainly listed God's Hebrew name with the vowel points (only once)! In the scan below, I have highlighted it with a red box. Of course, it is immediately followed by their warning to not vocalize the name as written, but say Hebrew adonai ("lord") or Hashem ("the name") instead.
(Click image above to expand the scan to a more readable size and then hit Back in your browser to return to the article).
Implications for Your Daily Walk?
As I said earlier, you don't need to know God's name. Honestly, knowing it may not matter to you or impact your daily walk at all. That's OK.
For some, however, learning that God has a name or finally getting the verified spelling of it is thrilling. I was thrilled by both discoveries, years apart. (I say spelling because short of a tape recording of a prophet saying it, we can't be 100% sure we're pronouncing it as they did. But the latest evidence rules out Yahovah or Yehoweh.)
"Yehovah" is exact enough that you may want to immediately start using it in prayer. For me this was more meaningful and intimate than just Father. Our Father is not just generic "father" (a role) but Father Yehovah.
With how both end time and millennial prophecy indicate a revival of knowing and using God's name by believers and eventually the world, then it is a privilege to have and use this information now already.
As you can imagine, with so much confusion and misinformation in the areas of Bible prophecy and God's name, I consider myself extremely blessed to have found satisfying and verifiable answers in both areas. Both areas are required to make sense of the highly significant Joel 2:31-32 blood moon prophecy covered above.
Personally, I'm convinced it was a 'God appointment" that I met Nehemia Gordon and happened to hear him using God's name casually in conversation. My wife and I opted to let him drive us in his car to the next point on the Israel tour instead of staying with group on the bus. He said the name a few times in that drive and that's when I asked him what it was. He was not trying to teach it or share it then as he later would in several books, posts and videos.
We live in exciting times! We can understand prophecy literally (including the challenging but key Wormwood prophecy) as Daniel said for the time of the Internet (Dan 12:4, 10). We can see the groundwork for prophecy's fulfillment being laid before our eyes with the restoration of God's name, too.
I discuss all about Wormwood (the real meaning of the "blood moon" prophecy) and God's name in my book Know the Future, which includes this research on pronouncing God's name from the Biblical evidence. True repentance is also covered in the book—as well as in my new major studies on understanding and doing the Sermon on the Mount.
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