December 9, 2022 Brethren Letter
In 2012 I gave two sermons about the various names of God as revealed in the Bible. Later, I received an excellent question from a member I answered, and later shared with all of you. Tonight, I will once again send the question asked in 2012, and my (slightly condensed), answer given.
Please have a good night’s rest everyone!
Your Brother in Christ,
The member asked…
“My question is… Are the names of God in the OT… names of God the Father, or Jesus Christ …the God of the OT, or both of them?”
It’s good to hear that you’re doing a study on this subject of God’s names. It’s an excellent one to do!! Yes, the short answer to your question is that YHWH applies to the God of the Old Testament. Again, that’s the short answer. However, it is a multifaceted subject at the same time.
As we know, the God of the Old Testament was the same being who later became Jesus Christ. We can know this by what Christ revealed about the Father (John 1:18; John 5:37). The men and women of ancient Israel were not aware that two Spirit Beings had existed for all of eternity, as we know today (John 1:1-3).
Genesis 1:1 and 1:26 refer to God as Elohim. Elohim as Mr. Armstrong taught, is a uni-plural noun. “Elohim” included both God beings in the Godhead who have existed for all ETERNITY. Here is what Mr. Armstrong wrote on this point, in The Missing Dimension in Sex, booklet:
WHO — WHAT IS God? I have quoted that passage in the English language. But when God inspired Moses to write it, originally, it was written in the Hebrew language. What I quoted is a translation from the Hebrew.
And in the Hebrew, the word — or the NAME — translated into the English name, “God,” was Elohim. That is a uniplural [collective] noun. It is uniplural, like such words as group, church, crowd, family or organization.
Christ showed that when we pray, we are to pray to the Father (Matthew 6:9). We pray to the Father in Christ’s name, meaning by His authority (John 16:23-24), but we still pray directly to the supreme authority for the entire universe – the FATHER. That’s the example Christ set! Again, even though the personage who became Jesus Christ was the God of the Old Testament (YHWH), we’re instructed by Christ to pray to the Father, to whom we have been given access. “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:6 NKJV).
If any one of us experiences physical illnesses or infirmities, we then go to our FATHER, asking Him for healing from that illness or disease. The ministry beseeches the Father in prayer, when anointing an individual with oil. Of course, Christ’s sacrifice in paying the penalty for physical sin is very much a part of healing. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 NKJV).
Here’s are some excerpts of what Mr. Armstrong wrote in his booklet The Plain Truth About Healing – 1979:
The Israelites, on their trek out of Egyptian slavery, came to Marah. The water was too bitter to drink. Of course the people griped and blamed Moses. Moses cried out to God, who performed a miracle, making the waters sweet. Then God said: “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Eternal thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Eternal that healeth thee” (Exodus 15:26).
The God Who Heals
Those last five words are translated from the Hebrew name Yahweh-Rapha, one of God’s names, meaning the “healing God” or the “God who heals.”
In Exodus 23:25, God is quoted speaking to the children of Israel: “… I will take sickness away from the midst of thee.” …
…Psalm 103:3: “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases.” Is it God’s will to heal? some ask. Or others say, “I know He could heal me, IF it’s His will.” Is it His will to forgive? Then, He says, it is also His will to HEAL — all our diseases…
… “He [sendeth] his word, and [healeth] them, and [delivereth] them from their destructions.” (The original Hebrew signifies the present tense.) This is a case of one who has been very foolish, and brought the sickness upon himself. But, on repentance, God forgives and has mercy and heals.
Specific Case History
God had said to ancient Israel, “I am Yahweh-Rapha” — that is, “I am the Eternal who heals you,” or, “I am your healing God,” or, “I am your God-healer.” He also said in the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
Healing is the forgiveness of physical sin. None but God can forgive sin. None but God heals! God is a jealous God. He is not going to allow anyone else to heal.
…Jesus paid the penalty in our stead.
Like the forgiveness of spiritual sin, God has paid the penalty for us by sending His Son Jesus to suffer the penalty in our stead. The penalty for physical transgression is physical punishment — sickness or disease, physical impairment, pain and suffering or physical death.
Simple Reliance on God
Faith is simple reliance upon God’s Word. It is the evidence of what you do not see or feel. Therefore Christ calls upon you to have patience — to keep on TRUSTING God until He heals you, and then He will heal you!
YHWH-Rapha was one of the names for the Eternal as shown in the Old Testament. God is STILL our Healer today! Healing was not limited to the God of the Old Testament. YHWH-Rapha (Eternal Who Heals), is still applicable for us as we ask of the Father!
God’s names given in the Old Testament reveal much about His Character, His power, His Holiness, and His nature.
YHWH Qadash: (Eternal who Sanctifies)
YHWH Shalom: (Eternal of Peace)
YHWH Rapha: (Eternal who Heals)
YHWH Sham: (Eternal is There)
YHWH Jireh: (Eternal who Provides)
YHWH Nissi: (Eternal is my Banner)
YHWH Ra-ah: (Eternal My Shepherd)
As we reflect on the character traits of God, along with His power and authority, those traits are not limited only to the person who became Jesus Christ. Obviously, there’s a broader spectrum involved with all that God the Father is. All of those traits listed above would apply to the Father too. He is our HEALER; He is a God of PEACE; He is our PROVIDER, etc.
In The Good News magazine (January 1986) in an article entitled “What is God’s Name?”, I’ll quote one short paragraph here. “In 665 places in the New Testament, the apostles translated the Hebrew word YHWH into the Greek word Kurios.” One example is, Matthew 11:25… “At that time Jesus answered and said, ‘I thank thee, O Father, Lord [Greek: Kurios] of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes’”.
Here is some important information Mr. Armstrong gave in Mystery of the Ages regarding God’s Nature:
God’s Nature and Character
Most important of all however is what is God’s nature — his CHARACTER — like? One cannot know what God is unless he knows what his CHARACTER is!
THE CHARACTER of both God the Father and Christ the Son is that of spiritual holiness, righteousness and absolute perfection.
That character might be summed up in the one word LOVE, defined as an outflowing, loving concern. It is the way of giving, serving, helping, sharing, not the “GET” way.
It is the way devoid of coveting, lust and greed, vanity and selfishness, competition, strife, violence and destruction, envy and jealousy, resentment and bitterness.
God’s inherent nature is the way of PEACE, of JUSTICE, MERCY, HAPPINESS and JOY radiating outward toward those he has created!
The Word and God LIVED. What did they do? They created. How did they live — what was their “life-style”? They lived the way of their perfect character — the way of outflowing LOVE. When Jesus was baptized, God the Father said, “You are my beLOVED Son.” God LOVED the Word. And the Word LOVED God — obeyed him completely.
Two can’t walk together except they be agreed. They were in total agreement and cooperation. Also two can’t walk together in continuous peace except one be the head, or leader, in control. God was leader.
Their way of life produced perfect peace, cooperation, happiness, accomplishment. This WAY of life became a LAW. Law is a code of conduct, or relationship, between two or more. One might call the rules of a sports contest the “law” of the game. The presence of law requires a penalty for infraction. There can be no law without a penalty for its violation.
God — Author of Government
The very fact of law presupposes GOVERNMENT. Government is the administration and enforcement of law by one in authority. This necessitates authoritative leadership — one in command.
When the only conscious Life-Beings existed, God was leader — in authoritative command. Thus, even when the only conscious Life-Beings were God and the Word, there was GOVERNMENT, with God in supreme command.
The character of both God the Father and Christ the Son are the same. Each have perfect, Holy, righteous character, which the Old Testament names above, also show. With that in mind, I honestly don’t know how YHWH might be used in the future. All we know is how YHWH was used in the past. Even how “YHWH” was pronounced, we’re not 100% sure of. If correct pronunciation was really important, God would have definitely made that clear to us.
God does have a government structure though that includes us. That’s something we do know. We can actually be a part of the God FAMILY, FOREVER!
Hope this helps, __________.