In His Name
When Moses asked God, as He appeared in the burning bush, what name should he tell the Israelites was his authority, God responded,“Ehyeh-’Asher-’Ehyeh” The best translation of this from the ancient Hebrew is “I-Will-Be-Who-I-Will-Be”, or “I-Am-Who-I-Am”. We believe it is from this Hebrew construction that the scribes of old formed ‘YHWH’, (Yahweh), which the Greeks rendered, “LORD”.
God gives great power and significance to His Name. As we read Exodus 20, God declares His authority by referring to Himself as YHWH by saying, “I am the LORD your God”, as He began to deliver His Ten Commandments. The fourth of these Commandments expresses His regard, and even the reverence that He holds for His Name. “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name.” (Ex. 20:7)
By continuing to refer to Himself as LORD, and having His prophets frame their oracles with “This is from the LORD”, He reinforces His authority and sovereignty as the Creator God of the universe. God gives great power to His name. Many of the heroes of the Bible knew this. When David confronted Goliath in the Valley of Elah, he responded to Goliath’s diatribe with, ” “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. ” (1 Sam. 17:45 NKJV)
It is prudent to note here that David believed that his power to challenge Goliath was more than that allotted him by the God of the armies of Israel. The Hebrew word for God in this case is ’ĕlôhıym – a term used for many gods in the ancient world – not necessarily the omnipotent Creator God. The armies of Israel were an embattled force, standing by meekly, afraid of the great Philistine.
But the “LORD of hosts” – that’s another matter. The title – “LORD”, is YHWH – I-Am-Who-I-Am. The LORD of hosts, used over 200 times in the Bible, expresses an authority, a sovereignty over angels and worlds, over the armies of heaven, over elements of matter, of winds and waves, and of life and death, as a vast ordered army, all creation obedient to the commands of their Captain, YAHWEH, of Hosts.
This is whom Goliath has blasphemed, and this is the LORD God David will call upon. This is the God who allowed David to kill the lion and bear that would threaten the sheep in his charge, and he now has no fears that this same LORD will give him whatever is required to vanquish the great provocateur.
David’s battle cry would do three things – it would reinforce his trust – reminding him of the source of his deliverance; it would give hope to his Israelite brethren; and it would serve notice to Goliath, and the army of Philistia, that even a small boy, when empowered by the LORD of hosts, is not a force to take lightly. (1 John 4:4)
When we call on the name of the LORD, or the name of Jesus, or the name of the Holy Spirit, we dip into a wellspring of power like none other. Jesus, the great miracle worker, said that He did not come of His own, but in His Father’s Name, (Jn. 5:36; 43a)
We must all remember that God has given us permission to call on the power of His Name. To come in the name of the LORD of hosts does not simply mean that we understand the power that we call on. Even Satan understands that power. More than understanding the power, we must be in lock-step with Christ, seeking His will and purpose.
I find it comparable to a U.S. citizen traveling in a foreign land, where his personal statements or declarations may carry little weight. However as an ambassador or representative of his government those same declarations are now viewed as coming with a degree of authority. For a man to speak by the authority of the name of the United States means that the United States speaks through his lips, and the might of the United States is ready to enforce his statements or demands and to avenge any affront or indignity to which he may be exposed.
The gospels relate a score of occasions where Jesus related some blessing or promise as things are done “in His Name”. Ultimately He promised “.. the Father will give whatever you ask in my name.” (John 15:16b; 14:13) It is from these verses that many of us end our prayers with the words “in Jesus name”.
When Jesus bids us ask what we will in His Name, He does not mean that we should simply use that name as an incantation or formula, but He means that we should be so one with Him in His interests, purposes, and aims that it is as if He were Himself approaching the Father with our petitions.
There are conditions for invoking God’s Name.
1. We must be pure in our motives. David’s one ambition was to take away the reproach from Israel and to let all the earth know that there was a God in Israel. Is our invocation for the glory of God, or for our own cause, our prejudices, or our opinions? It has always been a temptation of sincere men to veil from their own eyes the selfishness of their motives and aims by insisting that they are spurred by pure zeal for the cause of God. To fall into this sin, even unconsciously, is to forfeit the right to use His sacred Name.
2. We must allow God to occupy His rightful place.
- David said repeatedly that the whole matter was God’s – (1 Sam. 17:46-47);
- Moses said “The LORD God. . .appeared to me,. . .[He] will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt” (Ex. 3:16-17)
- Samuel said, “Prepare your hearts for the Lord, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” (1 Sam. 7:3 NKJV).
- Paul wrote to the Romans, “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done—” (Rom. 15:18)
We must recognize Jesus Christ as the warrior, worker, organizer, and administrator of His Church. Even as we see Kingdom work accomplished, some perhaps we think resulting from our prayers in His Name – we still recognize and acknowledge those accomplishments are by His will and His purpose – never our own. We are simply His tools, and blessed to be so used.
I encourage you as you pray, to do so in all earnest and fervor. Call upon God’s Name. He has given us leave to do so. And ass we do so, we prayerfully align our motives with His; that His will be done; and that He is glorified.
We thank You, Heavenly Father, that you allow us the power of Your Holy Name.