“I will glorify your name to time indefinite.”—PSALM 86:12.
1, 2. In contrast with the churches of Christendom, how do Jehovah’s Witnesses feel about God’s name?
THE churches of Christendom have generally avoided using God’s name. For example, the introduction of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible says that it is “entirely inappropriate” for the church to call God by any name.
2 In contrast, Jehovah’s Witnesses are proud to be called by God’s name and to honor it. (Read Psalm 86:12; Isaiah 43:10.) Also, we feel honored to understand the meaning of God’s name and to know how important it is for his name to be made holy. (Matthew 6:9) To help us never forget what an honor it is to know Jehovah, let us consider three important questions: What does it mean to know God’s name? How has Jehovah shown that he is worthy of his great name? And how can we “walk in the name of Jehovah”?
WHAT IT MEANS TO KNOW GOD’S NAME
3. What does it mean to know God’s name?
3 To know God’s name means much more than just knowing the word “Jehovah.” It means knowing what kind of God Jehovah is. This includes his reputation, his qualities, his purpose, and the way he acts, especially the way he treats his people. As Jehovah has fulfilled his purpose, he has little by little revealed what kind of God he is. (Proverbs 4:18) We know that God told Adam and Eve his name, because Eve used it after she gave birth to Cain. (Genesis 4:1) Jehovah’s faithful servants Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob also knew God’s name. They learned more about the kind of God he is as he blessed them, cared for them, and revealed his purpose to them. Much later, God revealed to Moses something special about the meaning of his name.
4. Why did Moses ask God about his name? Why did he want to convince the Israelites that God would save them?
4 Read Exodus 3:10-15. When Moses was 80 years old, God commanded him: “Bring my people the sons of Israel out of Egypt.” Moses then asked Jehovah a very meaningful question: ‘If the Israelites ask me what your name is, what should I tell them?’ God’s people had known his name for a long time, so why did Moses ask this question? He wanted to know more about the kind of God Jehovah is. Moses wanted to convince the Israelites that God really would save them. And we can understand why. The Israelites had been slaves for a long time and probably doubted that Jehovah could help them. Some Israelites had even been worshipping Egyptian gods!—Ezekiel 20:7, 8.
Jehovah does whatever needs to be done to make his promises come true
5. What did Jehovah reveal about his name to Moses?
5 What was Jehovah’s answer to Moses? He said that Moses should tell the Israelites: “Jehovah the God of your forefathers . . . has sent me to you.” He also told Moses to say: “I SHALL PROVE TO BE has sent me to you.”* (See footnote.) With these words, God revealed something important about himself. He will become whatever he needs to become, or he will do whatever needs to be done, to make his promises come true. And he is a God who always does what he promises. That is why Jehovah added: “This is my name to time indefinite, and this is the memorial of me to generation after generation.” These words must have deeply impressed Moses and strengthened his faith!
JEHOVAH SHOWED THAT HE IS WORTHY OF HIS NAME
6, 7. How did Jehovah do what he had promised?
6 Not long after Jehovah spoke to Moses, Jehovah did what he had promised and freed Israel. He punished Egypt with ten plagues and showed that Pharaoh and the Egyptian gods were powerless. (Exodus 12:12) Then Jehovah opened up the Red Sea, led the Israelites through it, and drowned Pharaoh and his army. (Psalm 136:13-15) In the wilderness, Jehovah kept those millions of Israelites alive by giving them food and water. Even their clothes and sandals did not wear out. (Deuteronomy 1:19; 29:5) All of this proves that nothing can stop Jehovah from doing what he promises to do. He later said to Isaiah: “I—I am Jehovah, and besides me there is no savior.”—Isaiah 43:11.
7 Joshua, the next leader of the Israelites, also saw the powerful works that Jehovah had done in Egypt and in the wilderness. So at the end of his life, Joshua could tell the Israelites: “You well know with all your hearts and with all your souls that not one word out of all the good words that Jehovah your God has spoken to you has failed. They have all come true for you. Not one word of them has failed.” (Joshua 23:14) Jehovah did exactly what he had promised to do.
Jehovah shows that he is worthy of his name by making sure that the good news is preached in all the earth
8. Today, how is Jehovah doing what he has promised?
8 Today, Jehovah is also doing what he has promised to do. He foretold through his Son that during the last days, the good news of the Kingdom would be preached “in all the inhabited earth.” (Matthew 24:14) Only Jehovah could foretell this work and have the power to make sure that it is done. And he uses ordinary people to do it! (Acts 4:13) So when we preach the good news, we are helping to fulfill Bible prophecy. We are honoring our Father and showing that we really mean it when we pray: “Let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.”—Matthew 6:9, 10.
HIS NAME IS GREAT
9, 10. What more do we learn about Jehovah from the way he treated the Israelites?
9 Soon after the Israelites left Egypt, Jehovah revealed more about himself to them. Jehovah made the Law covenant with them and promised to care for them the way a husband cares for his wife. (Jeremiah 3:14) And the Israelites became like a wife to Jehovah. They were a people called by his name. (Isaiah 54:5, 6) If they were obedient to his commandments, he would bless them, protect them, and give them peace. (Numbers 6:22-27) All nations would know that there is no other God like Jehovah. (Read Deuteronomy 4:5-8; Psalm 86:7-10.) When the Israelites were God’s people, many men and women from other nations chose to worship Jehovah. They did the same as the Moabitess Ruth, who said to Naomi: “Your people will be my people, and your God my God.”—Ruth 1:16.
10 For about 1,500 years, Jehovah revealed much more about the kind of God he is by the way he treated the Israelites. Even though they disobeyed him over and over again, he showed them great mercy and patience. (Exodus 34:5-7) But Jehovah’s patience had a limit. When the Israelites as a nation refused to believe in Jesus and killed him, they could no longer be called by God’s name. (Matthew 23:37, 38) To Jehovah, they became like a dead, withered tree. (Luke 23:31) How did the Israelites later feel about God’s name?
11. Why did the Israelites stop using God’s name?
11 After some time, the Jews started to have a wrong idea about God’s name. They thought that God’s name was so holy that no one should say it. (Exodus 20:7) As a result, they little by little stopped using God’s name. Jehovah must have felt hurt to see his name treated with so much disrespect. (Psalm 78:40, 41) Jehovah’s name is very important to him. In fact, the Bible says that he is jealous for his name. Because the Jews dishonored Jehovah’s name, they were no longer worthy of it. (Exodus 34:14) This teaches us that it is extremely important to treat our Creator’s name with great respect.
A NEW PEOPLE CALLED BY GOD’S NAME
12. Who became the people called by God’s name?
12 Through Jeremiah, Jehovah promised that he was going to make “a new covenant,” or agreement, with a new nation. All members of this nation, “from the least one of them even to the greatest one of them,” would “know Jehovah.” (Jeremiah 31:31, 33, 34) When did God make this new covenant? It was at Pentecost in the year 33. With whom did Jehovah make the new covenant? In the Bible, they are called “the Israel of God,” and they include people from all nations. Jehovah refers to them as a “people who are called by my name.”—Galatians 6:16; read Acts 15:14-17; Matthew 21:43.
13. (a) Did the first Christians use God’s name? How do we know that? (b) How do you feel about using God’s name in the preaching work?
13 The first Christians, who were members of this new nation, used God’s name. For example, they used his name when they quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures.* (See footnote.) When the apostle Peter spoke to a large group of Israelites and proselytes at Pentecost in the year 33, he used God’s name several times. (Acts 2:14, 20, 21, 25, 34) Because the first Christians honored Jehovah, he blessed their preaching work. Today, when we tell others his name and show it to them in their Bible, Jehovah also blesses our work. It is an honor for us to introduce people to Jehovah in this way. And for those who get to know God, this can be the beginning of a wonderful friendship with Jehovah that will grow stronger and last forever.
We have the honor to introduce people to Jehovah by showing them his name
14, 15. How do we know that Jehovah has protected his name?
14 Later on, especially after the death of the apostles, some began to corrupt the Christian congregation with false teachings. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-7) These false teachers even followed the Jewish tradition of not using God’s name. Did Jehovah allow his name to disappear? Not at all! How do we know that? We may not know exactly how God’s name was pronounced in the past, but his name has survived. For hundreds of years, God’s name has been in many Bible translations and in the writings of Bible scholars. For example, in 1757, Charles Peters wrote that the meaning of God’s name describes the kind of God Jehovah is better than any title. In a 1797 book about the worship of God, Hopton Haynes wrote that Jehovah was the name the Jews used for God, “whom alone they worshipped; as also did Christ and his Apostles.” Henry Grew (1781-1862) not only used God’s name but also understood that God’s name had been dishonored and must be sanctified. Also, both George Storrs (1796-1879) and Charles T. Russell, who worked together, used God’s name.
15 The year 1931 was very important for God’s people. Until then, they had been called the International Bible Students. But in that year, they accepted the name Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Isaiah 43:10-12) They let the world know that they were proud to be “a people for his name” and to praise God’s name. (Acts 15:14) When we think of how Jehovah has protected his name, it reminds us of his words recorded at Malachi 1:11: “From the sun’s rising even to its setting my name will be great among the nations.”
WALK IN JEHOVAH’S NAME
16. How should we feel about being called Jehovah’s Witnesses?
16 The prophet Micah wrote: “All the peoples, for their part, will walk each one in the name of its god; but we, for our part, shall walk in the name of Jehovah our God to time indefinite, even forever.” (Micah 4:5) For God’s people at that time, to be called by his name was more than just a great honor. It also made them confident that they had God’s approval. (Read Malachi 3:16-18.) Is that how you feel? Are you working hard to “walk in the name of Jehovah”?
17. What does it mean to “walk in the name of Jehovah”?
17 To “walk in the name of Jehovah,” we must do at least three things. First, we must tell others about that name, because only the one who “calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” (Romans 10:13) Second, we must have the qualities that Jehovah has, especially love. Third, we must willingly obey God’s laws and, in that way, honor our Father’s name. (1 John 4:8; 5:3) Will you continue to “walk in the name of Jehovah our God” forever?
18. Why do all those who honor Jehovah’s name look forward to the future?
18 All those who ignore Jehovah or rebel against him will soon have to know who he is. (Ezekiel 38:23) They are like Pharaoh, who said: “Who is Jehovah, so that I should obey his voice?” Pharaoh was forced to see what a great God Jehovah is. (Exodus 5:1, 2; 9:16; 12:29) But we have chosen to know Jehovah and to be his friends. We are proud to be his obedient people and to be called by his name. We look forward to the future because we trust the promise at Psalm 9:10: “Those knowing your name will trust in you, for you will certainly not leave those looking for you, O Jehovah.”
God’s name is a form of the Hebrew verb that means “to become.” “Jehovah” means “He Causes to Become.”—Genesis 2:4, footnote.
Jehovah’s name was in the Hebrew text that was used by the first Christians. Jehovah’s name was probably also in early copies of the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures.