God Is Not God’s Name
God is not God’s name. That’s right. The God of the universe has a name, but “God” isn’t it. “God” is what God is. “Human being” is not your name, “Human being” is what you are. You also have a name. Whether it is “Barbara” or “Ken” or “Tom” or “Debbie”, you have your own personal name. So does God.
“And what is God’s name?” Glad you asked. This writing will help you to recognize the answer.
Before we get too deep into things, here are some hints to get you started. You already know God’s name. Oh, yes, there are many, many names people have given to God, but He/She picked one and only one for Him/Herself. God’s Real name is the same for all people everywhere. It matters not at all which religion or cultural heritage you are from! Truth transcends all boundaries we seek to erect. And no matter who you are or where you are from, you have known this Name from the day your mind first began to awake. You see it and hear it each and every day.
The problem with God is not that He’s so far away that we can’t see Him. Rather, He is so close that we overlook Him. Our quest for God is just like fish in search of water. So don’t be surprised if you start to recognize God’s name everywhere.
Helping you do that is the purpose of this writing.
But God’s Real name is not in this document! How’s that for strange? Most of this document is about God’s personal name, which reveals His Real name, but God’s Real name can’t be written down in any book.
And that’s all the introduction you get.
The Biblical Record
In the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religious/cultural tradition, spanning several millennia and the vast majority of the western world, there is only one acknowledged personal name for God. There are many descriptions (the almighty, the beneficent, etc) but only one personal name of God. The Islamic tradition speaks of the “100 names of Allah”, but these are actually titles. The word “Allah” is Arabic for “God”, which is English for the Hebrew word “Elohim”.
In the entire world’s religions there is no revelation or rationalization of God as clear and powerful as the Name that He spoke to Moses. And this personal name is directly related to God’s Real name.
In short, the Name God revealed to Moses is the most powerful religious truth in the world, a huge canopy under which all other religions and truths reside.
So enough already! What is this name?
Well, Moses asked the same question. You can find this in the Bible, in the Third chapter of Exodus.
- 1 Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro His father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and He led the flock to the west side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
- 2 And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and He looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.
- 3 So Moses said, “I must turn aside now, and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.”
- 4 When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, “Moses, Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.”
- 5 Then God said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
- 6 He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Issac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
- 7 And the Lord said, “I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.
- 8 “So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perrizite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.
- 9 And now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.
- 10 Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring my people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.”
- 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?”
- 12 And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.”
- 13 Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I shall say to them, `The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, `What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?”
- 14 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, `I AM has sent me to you.'”
- 15 And God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, `The Lord, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.”
So there you have it. God’s personal name, as we translate its meaning in English, is “I am that I am.” Here are some other ways it has been translated:
He who is
The self-existent one
He who is ever becoming what He is
Is-ness is is-ness
That may not seem like it says very much. That’s because it is a statement of infinite truth.
God’s name, the I Am, reveals the fullness of His nature. All of God’s nature and attributes are embodied in His name. But at first it seems like air to a bird. “So what’s the big deal?” I hope to be able to show you just how big a deal it is, and what it means for you.
To do that we’re going to need a brief lesson in linguistics. This may seem confusing, but believe me, this is very important. It goes like this:
To translate is to explain the meaning of one language using the words of another.
To transliterate is to spell a word using the letters of another language.
“I am” is the English translation of the meaning of God’s personal name.
The English transliteration of God’s personal name is YHWH.
The four Hebrew letters transliterated YHWH are:
a Yod, rhymes with “rode”, which we transliterate “Y”
a He, rhymes with “say”, which we transliterate “H”
a Vav, like “lava”, which we transliterate “W” or “V”
Originally Hebrew (we’re talkin’ over 3000 years ago, folks!) didn’t have any vowels, and was written right to left.
So let’s summarize.
God’s name, as written in Hebrew right to left:
Spelled left to right:
Transliterated into English: YHWH
With vowels added: YAHWEH
Translated: I AM WHO I AM
There. Now you have all the tools you’ll need.
You’ve heard the saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Well, that’s certainly true here. No matter what language you use, whether you translate, transliterate, or what direction you spell, YHWH’s name means “I am that I am.” And it directly points to His Real name, which is the same in all languages.
So here’s the structure of the rest of this writing:
First I’ll discuss why this is so important. Just what does “I AM” tell us about YHWH? What are we overlooking?
Then, once we know a bit more about the meaning of “I AM”, we’ll look at the power and uses of names in general and how they apply to the specific case of YHWH. Then, knowing the possibilities inherent in the personal name, we’ll remove the final veil to see the Real name, and apply what we’ve learned about YHWH to His Real name. And I’ll finish with some practical considerations and exercises to help this all sink in and become increasingly real.
That’s when the fun starts. Can you imagine what it would be like to be a fish who enjoyed drinking water as much as most people enjoy eating ice cream? Can you imagine what it would be like to gain a euphoric high just from breathing air? If YHWH is really everywhere, can you imagine what it would be like to find delight in that presence?
What “I AM” tells us about God
YHWH’s name, the “I AM”, reveals the fullness of His being. All of His nature and attributes are embodied in His name. In other words, rather than a cryptic mystery, “I AM” tells us everything that can be known about YHWH. I know that sounds like a bold statement, but I hope to be able to convince you of at least part of it.
The main concept here has to do with the elusive term “being”. Some things “are”, while others “are not”. If you want a fancy word, this is an ontological issue.
I’d like you to think about a coin. It exists, right? Right. And coins have two sides, heads and tails. They are opposite but equal, in that both exist. Philosophers say that “heads” and “tails” have the same ontological status, which is a convenient way to say that they both exist in the same degree and the same manner.
Now what other things can we think of that are opposites with equal ontological statuses? Let’s try these:
- Left and right
- North and south
- Front and back
- Male and female
- Open and closed
- Sweet and sour
However, there are many pairs of opposites that do not share the same ontological status.
Light and dark, for one.
You may be surprised. We experience two seemingly (at first) opposite states, but they are not ontologically equivalent in the same way that heads and tails are. Why not? Because light IS. Darkness is not. Light IS. It is an energy. It can be measured, quantified, analyzed, seen, felt. Darkness is simply the absence of light.
“Heads” is real. So is “Tails”, and equally so. “Tails” is more than the absence of “Heads”. Erase all the figures on the “heads” side and there is still something on the “tails.” But remove all the light, and what is left?
- Nothing. Absolutely nothing. And the nothing we call darkness.
Light IS. Darkness is the absence of what is. And YHWH is light. YHWH IS. Light is. Darkness is not.
Over the years I have found a great many people have difficulty grasping this. But it is very important, so I’m trying to be as clear as I can, even at the risk of redundancy. And I want to try it one more way.
Imagine yourself in a pitch dark room. You turn on the switch and light floods the room. An actual energy appears. Photons (the stuff light is made of) stream out of the bulb and illumine the room. Turn the switch again, and the photons disappear. It is not as though something different is now coming out of the bulb which we call “darks” that are “darkening” the room the way the photons were lighting it. It’s just that the photons are gone!
No one on the earth knows what light is. We know it moves in waves and we know that it is made of particles, and we know that particles can’t move in waves and that waves can’t contain particles. But that’s what light is. But whatever light is, it is!
“I AM THAT I AM.” God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all!
Two more points about this light and dark business:
First, there is an absolute limit to darkness: 0 photons present. Light, however, has no limitation. There is no theoretical limit to the number of photons that can be present in a given space. Go to the center of a star and you’ll find a whole bunch of ’em. So, pitch dark is the zero point, and light grows to infinity. This is a statement of quantity.
Second is a statement of quality. While pitch dark has only one color and shape (nothing and none), light has an infinite realm of possibilities for different colors and shapes. God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.
If you are comfortable with this concept, then you can begin to see very deeply into the meaning of “I AM THAT I AM”, and why I say that all of YHWH’s nature and attributes are embodied in His name. Find the ontological opposites and YHWH is revealed by the one that is.
Let’s try some more.
YHWH is life. Life, whatever it is, is. Death is simply the absence of life.
YHWH is light (energy/matter). Energy is. Light is just one form of energy. Matter is. We know, in fact, that energy and matter are opposite sides of the same coin. We can change matter to energy and vice versa, but the total amount of energy/matter can’t be changed. It is. And it is YHWH.
YHWH is truth. Truth is a statement of what is. Falsehood is a statement of what is not.
In these few paragraphs we have seen that the personal name of God, YHWH, I am Who I am, embodies all matter, energy, life, and truth.
But there is more. Much more.
Remember that one of the ways YHWH has been translated is “The Self-Existent one.” What does this mean?
Something is self-existent if it can exist all by itself, without any dependencies whatsoever. Everything we encounter in life is dependent on something else. Life needs air. Air needs molecules. Molecules need molecular cohesion. Molecular cohesion needs…….and so on. Where does the chain of dependency end? What is the “ontological anchor” of the universe?
YHWH, the I Am that I Am, the creator of the universe, depends only on Himself for existence. He is the source and origin of all that exists. In Him we live and move and have our being.
That is why YHWH is sometimes translated the self-existent one.
Hopefully you can begin to understand why I say that all of YHWH’s nature and attributes are embodied in His name. He is the ultimate ground. We are the figures. He is infinite subject. We are object. He is the source. We the proceeds. God, the creator of the universe, is. And that is-ness is not dependent on any other reality.
“Ani” is Hebrew for “I Am.” Throughout the Bible you see (in most translations) the phrase “I am the LORD” in all caps like that. In Hebrew, that is Ani YHWH. “Behold, I am the I am.” I am that I am.
Names in general
So now let’s talk about names in general, and see what further we can learn about YHWH from His name.
===Points, refers and distinguishes
A name refers to what or who is named, and in so doing distinguishes different objects/people one from another. If many people are in a room and I say “Please come here, Bill Paul Smith the Third”, the people know who I am talking to because of the name I used. “Bill Paul Smith the Third” refers (usually) to only one person. I am able to linguistically “point” my request to just one person by means of that person’s name. And, assuming that the name is specific enough (Bill Paul Smith III instead of Mr. Smith) I will be able to point to the one and only person I want.
YHWH points exactly to the creator. And in that He is one without a second, it is a name above all names.
===Brings to mind
If I announce to that same room, “Miss Wanda Boefonse will be arriving shortly,” I am referring to someone who is not present. So a second power of names is that they enable us to bring to mind, to remember, someone who is not currently with us.
But YHWH is everywhere. What if His name could be forever on your mind? What if you could see it everywhere you go? Wouldn’t it be wondrous to be able to be continuously aware of the divine presence?
If I know your name I can find out virtually everything about you. Oh, you may have secrets, and uncovering some facts may take a very long time, but once I know your name your life becomes an open book. I can find out where you live, where you work, how much money you have, where and when you were born, etc…
YHWH has revealed His name to us. His life is now an open book, ready for whoever wants to read it.
===Power and authority
Names contain power and authority. The legal and moral claims to your life are embodied in your name. And if you assign your name to me, through a piece of paper called power of attorney, I can use all your money, sell your house, and make far reaching decisions about your life.
YHWH has revealed His name to us. What is more, He has given it to us to use.
All of the things that you have done and said, which we discovered in our investigation of your history, reflect upon “your good name”. Your name encapsulates all of our thoughts, impressions, remembrances and feelings about you. Your reputation and name go hand in hand, then.
Everything we know and feel about YHWH is embodied in His name.
===Summary: Re-presents what is named
How can we summarize these? “What is in a name?”
Your name is a perfect image of you in the realm of language. It embodies all of your history, personality, and fortune. It encompasses all of the thoughts, feelings and impressions others have about you. Your name represents you. It re-presents you. It presents you again to the world.
YHWH’s name is His image. It presents Him to the world. His personal name, which you now know, is His image of reflection in the realm of language.
His Real name, which you have always known, is His image in the world.
It’s time to talk about the Real name of YHWH.
The Real Name of YHWH
The Real name of YHWH has been known for thousands of years. It is all in the spelling.
To review, God’s personal name is YHWH.
These are the English transliterations of the Hebrew letters
Hebrew is spelled right to left, so when the ancient scribes wrote God’s name they wrote it
But YHWH wrote His own name!!! Where? And how did He write it?
Well, I’ll tell you how He wrote it, and then you will know where.
When YHWH wrote His name, He didn’t spell it left to right or right to left. He spelled it top to bottom.Like this:
But He didn’t use a pen. He didn’t use paper. And He didn’t use a rock.
What then? He used flesh and bone!! And He spelled YHWH like this:
The Yod is your head. The He is your arms. The Vav is your torso. The He is your legs. You have been created in the image of YHWH. You have been created in the image of
- You are God’s name! You are “YHWH!!” You are
Remember the previous section, where we talked about names in general, and what they helped us to know about YHWH? Well, since you now see that you are God’s name, let’s review these.
===Points, refers and distinguishes
YHWH points exactly to the creator. And in that He is one without a second, it is a name above all names. You are one without a second! You are the crowning achievement of YHWH’s creation. You point to Him.
===Brings to mind
YHWH is everywhere. Every person you see is a walking, talking YHWH! We are continually reminded of His presence by those around us. When I can recognize YHWH’s Real name, I can indeed see Him everywhere.
YHWH has revealed His name to us. His life is now an open book, ready for whoever wants to read it. Knowing this Real name is in fact a sacred trust.
I am not making this up. This realization of the Real name of YHWH has been known for thousands of years. Only a select few have had it revealed to them. But now you have. YHWH is now an open book to you. All aspects of life, religion, and science are embodied in this name. And embodied in you.
===Power and authority
YHWH has revealed His name to us. He has given it to us to use. What is even more, He has given it to us to be!!
Everything we know and feel about YHWH is embodied in His name. Everything we feel and know about YHWH is the result of interactions we have had with His representatives. Those who give to YHWH give to man, and vice versa.
===Summary: Re-presents what is named
YHWH’s name is His image. It presents Him to the world. You are YHWH’s name. You are created in the image of YHWH. This is not chance. This is not a game. This is not something that has been thought of recently. It is the oldest of revelations. And the most powerful.
All aspects of life are in The Name
I have stated that all aspects of life, religion and science are embodied in the name YHWH. The following is only a sampling to point you in this direction.
As YHWH is reflected in the human body, The Yod is the head, The 1st He is the arms, The Vav is the torso, The 2nd He is the legs.
As YHWH is reflected in the human being, The Yod is the mind, The 1st He is the emotions, The Vav is the life energy, The 2nd He is the body.
As YHWH is reflected in life, The Yod is the intellect, The 1st He is the desire, The Vav is the animation, The 2nd He is the matter.
As YHWH is reflected in the world, The Yod is the human world, The 1st He is the animal world, The Vav is the plant world, The 2nd He is the physical world
As YHWH is reflected in the cosmos, The Yod is the creator/consciousness of creation, The 1st He is the impulse of creation, The Vav is the immaterial created universe, The 2nd He is the material created universe.
This one name reflects and echoes itself in all dimensions.
Four practical meditations
If anything in this writing has sparked an interest in you, here are a 4 meditations to help make this revelation come alive.
Sit down and say out loud or to yourself “Yod-He-Vav-He” 100 times in the morning and 100 times at night. Every month, add 100 times. This is not meaningless repetition – it is the most meaningful. And you are not doing it to be heard. You are doing it so that you can hear. As you call upon the name of YHWH, think about its significance to you. Over the course of a few months you will find the heavens opening and that the name YHWH is indeed full of all power and revelation.
2) Within yourself.
As you call upon the name, picture each part of your body glowing as you say each letter. Yod”-see your head glowing. “He”-see your arms glowing. And so on. This will help you to recognize the name within yourself.
3) Within others. The walking YHWH’s.
Go to a shopping mall or other crowded place. As each person walks by, see them as YHWH walking. This will help you to recognize the name in all people around you.
4) In the Bible.
Find a Bible. Or, better yet, get a computer program with the Bible in it. Replace every occurrence of “Lord” with “I am”. You will be amazed at the results.
Your questions, comments, observations and feedback are the only reasons I do this. It will be my honor to communicate with you.
May you recognize The Name radiating within you.
May you recognize The Name radiating around you.