Nearly as long as humans have existed, they have worshiped many gods and goddesses. Yet, the Bible refers to one God who “is greater than all the other gods.” (2 Chronicles 2:5) Who is that? And what makes him greater than all the other gods that people worship? In this lesson, learn how this God introduces himself to you.
What is God’s name, and how can we be sure that he wants us to know it?
In the Bible, God introduces himself to us. He says: “I am Jehovah. That is my name.” (Read Isaiah 42:5, 8),“Jehovah” is the translation of a Hebrew name that evidently means “He Causes to Become.”
Jehovah wants us to know his name. (Exodus 3:15) How can we be sure of that? In the Bible he included his name over 7,000 times! The name Jehovah belongs to “the true God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.”—Deuteronomy 4:39. (From LESSON 4 from Enjoy Life Forever! An Interactive Bible Course on JW.org)
This introductory study published by the Watchtower goes on to inform the student that “God has many titles, but one name” and that “Jehovah wants us to know and use his name.”
The lesson is complete with a goal for the student to achieve: When talking about God, use his name, Jehovah.
The importance of the name Jehovah was introduced by the Watchtower’s second president, Judge Rutherford, in 1926.
By 1931, the group once known simply as the “Bible students” had officially adopted the title of “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
Through various printed material and public talks, they made claims that this specific name of God was important to use.
The student engaged in a study with Jehovah’s Witnesses will also be told “the Bible promises that humans will be able to enjoy life forever in Paradise on earth” (From LESSON 2 Enjoy Life Forever!) As they continue in their study they’ll be taught that Adam and Eve were originally planted upon a paradise earth but forfeited this by eating the forbidden fruit. Jehovah’s plan, however, is to restore those original paradise conditions where animals and man lived in peace with Jehovah God as their ruler.
Therefore, Jehovah’s Witnesses portray the Garden of Eden as a goal to which we must strive to return.
But apparently the first couple who once enjoyed a close, personal relationship with their creator in that Garden didn’t know His name.
The Bible doesn’t say anyone called upon the name of the Lord until the time of Enosh, Seth’s son. This was when men BEGAN to call upon the name of the Lord (Genesis 4:26). Adam is recorded as 130 years old when he fathered Seth who in turn fathered Enosh 105 years after that (Genesis 5:3, 6). So we’re talking at least 235 years passing by before men actually BEGAN to call on the name of God.
Many years later, when speaking through the Prophet Jeremiah, God expressed a desire for His people to call Him “Father” (Jeremiah 3:19) and this is what Jesus also taught His followers to do (Matthew 6:9).
Fast forward to an encounter between a JW and a follower of Jesus in the 21st century. The Christian tells the guest at his door about the close, personal relationship he enjoys with God because of Jesus Christ. The emphasis is on that RELATIONSHIP. The JW smiles politely as he pretends to listen and says, “Yes, that’s very nice sir…. but do you know God’s name?”
For JWs, calling upon that NAME is more important than a relationship because they think you can’t have a relationship with God without knowing his name first.
But what does the Bible reveal as important to God? Do you have to know God’s name to know him?
In the creation account, we learn the names given to rivers, one of the trees, and Adam is assigned the task of naming animals, yet God fails to inform Adam of His own name. (Genesis 2:10-14, 17, 19-20)
Before revealing to Adam any personal name for Himself, God showed concern for RELATIONSHIP by noting “It is not good for the man to continue to be alone. I am going to make a helper for him, as a complement of him.” (Genesis 2:18 NWT).
Jehovah’s Witnesses want to restore a name, but it appears that God has always been more interested in restoring the RELATIONSHIP.
In Genesis 32:24-30 we find Jacob wrestling with a man (v.24). That man had him confess his name. Jacob means deceiver. After the confession of his name Jacob, the man renamed him Israel “for you have striven with God and men and have prevailed.” (v.28)
Now, Jacob/Israel seeks to know the name of this man he just wrestled. And the reply he receives is “why is it that you ask my name?” Then he gives Jacob a blessing (v. 29)
Jacob did not claim to have wrestled a man after that, but rather said “I have seen God face to face.” (v. 30)
A few chapters later it says God Almighty appeared AGAIN to Jacob and renamed him Israel (Genesis 35:9-13).
It seems God can make Himself known without answering someone who asks for His Name. In fact in Genesis 6:3, soon after God reveals his name to Moses for the first time, he says: “And I used to appear to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as God Almighty, but as respects my name Jehovah I did not make myself known to them.” (NWT) It seems clear that God is more concerned about restoring the relationship between man and God, than he is about revealing his name, and he is more concerned that we own up to our sin and confess our “name” first.
Even in the often cited passage of Exodus 3:13-15 in which Moses asks God’s name, we see God taking an interest in Moses first. God knew Moses’ name! Moses stood before the burning bush and was given a ministry assignment from God Himself and only AFTER that he asked “What is your name?” But God had already introduced Himself to Moses as “the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:6) It appears God’s relationship to those men were impressed upon Moses more than any specific name.
Concerning that account, God did proclaim His name as YHWH to Moses (Exodus 3:14) which the New World Translation renders as “Jehovah.”
“While inclining to view the pronunciation Yahweh as the more correct way, we have retained the form Jehovah because of people’s familiarity with it since the 14th century.” — KIT, p.23 (1969ed.)
If knowing God’s name is so important to Jehovah’s Witnesses, why isn’t the correct pronunciation important also? Why don’t they call themselves “Yahweh’s Witnesses”?
YHWH is the name God chose to give Himself. Ever wonder why? Could His desire for relationship be hidden, even in His name?
Consider this beautiful lesson by Sandra Thurman Caporale:
There was a moment when Moses had the nerve to ask God what his name is. God was gracious enough to answer, and the name he gave is recorded in the original Hebrew as YHWH.
Over time we’ve arbitrarily added an “a” and an “e” in there to get YaHWeH, presumably because we have a preference for vowels.
But scholars and Rabbis have noted that the letters YHWH represent breathing sounds, or aspirated consonants. When pronounced without intervening vowels, it actually sounds like breathing.
YH (inhale): WH (exhale).
So a baby’s first cry, his first breath, speaks the name of God.
A deep sigh calls His name – or a groan or gasp that is too heavy for mere words.
Even an atheist would speak His name, unaware that their very breath is giving constant acknowledgment to God.
Likewise, a person leaves this earth with their last breath, when God’s name is no longer filing their lungs.
So when I can’t utter anything else, is my cry calling out His name?
Being alive means I speak His name constantly.
So, is it heard the loudest when I’m the quietest?
In sadness, we breathe heavy sighs.
In joy, our lungs feel almost like they will burst.
In fear we hold our breath and have to be told to breathe slowly to help us calm down.
When we’re about to do something hard, we take a deep breath to find our courage.
When I think about it, breathing is giving him praise. Even in the hardest moments!
This is so beautiful and fills me with emotion every time I grasp the thought. God chose to give himself a name that we can’t help but speak every moment we’re alive.
All of us, always, everywhere.
Waking, sleeping, breathing, with the name of God on our lips.
— written by Sandra Thurman Caporale from the Memorial Church of Christ in Houston.
This reminds me of the moment Adam became alive: “And Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7, NWT)
While it’s not theological correct to insinuate that everyone, by nature of breathing, calls upon the name of God, it does help us understand how he has made himself known to all:
“18 For God’s wrath is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who are suppressing the truth in an unrighteous way, 19 because what may be known about God is manifest among them, for God made it manifest to them. For his invisible [qualities] are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable; 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God nor did they thank him.” (Romans 1:18-21, NWT)
Thus, salvation can only be found in repenting from our sin and calling upon His name in Yeshua (Jesus) which means “YHWH saves”:
“Let it be known to all of YOU and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ the Naz·a·reneʹ, whom YOU impaled but whom God raised up from the dead, by this one does this man stand here sound in front of YOU. Furthermore, there is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.” (Acts 4:10, 12)
Keep yourself in God’s love,
For more info on God’s name see: