“Blessed be the name of the Lord From this time forth and forever. From the rising of the sun to its setting The name of the Lord is to be praised. The Lord is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens.” Psalm 113:2-4 (NASB)
Like many of the Psalms in the Bible, today’s selection is a song of praise to God. Our choice of verses today are found in one of the Hallel Psalms. “Hallel” means praise and these songs were sung on the night of the Passover. We are reminded in these verses that the Lord deserves praise from us at all times and in every place. We begin our praise in the morning when we rise by setting in our heart an attitude and desire to praise God. Through the day we praise the Lord for who He is and for what He does. He is what He is and has always been that way. He will not change and that is a promise we can depend on. We continue our praise to the end of the day⸺the sun’s setting and into the night. We can fall asleep praising God. Perhaps our ancestors praised Him and our descendants will also always praise Him. God wants people everywhere to praise Him. He wants them all to hear about Him and about His goodness. The gospel message has gone out and there are people across this world who are praising Him⸺He is worthy.
“ I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake.” – 1 John 2:12 (NASB)
Is it worth it? We try and try and fail and fail so we try again. Yes, there is hope. One gift from God that came to us through Christ – He has given us a clear purpose for living. There is a meaning and purpose to our salvation. The second implication of the twofold truth that Christ came to destroy our sinning and to forgive our sins is this: We make progress in overcoming our sin when we have hope that our failures will be forgiven. If we don’t have hope that God will forgive your failures, when we start fighting sin, we give up. Soon it will be a new year on our calendar. Perhaps many of you are pondering some changes, because you have fallen into sinful patterns and want out. You want some new patterns of eating, entertainment, relating to your spouse, of sleep and exercise, courage in witness. But you are wondering whether it’s any use. Well, here’s your second Christmas present: Christ not only came to destroy the works of the devil — our sinning — he also came to be an advocate for us because of experiences of failure in our fight.
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 (NASB
“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High;” – Luke 1:31-32a (NASB)
“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:21 (NASB)
The birth of Jesus was known before God created the earth and humans. During this season, we sing about the message which the angels told to the shepherds near Bethlehem the night Jesus was born. But today’s verses tell us that before that, God predicted through His prophet Isaiah the birth of the “Son of God.” God had sent the angel Gabriel with the message about the birth and name of Jesus to Mary who was chosen to be His mother. Gabriel made a visit later to Joseph who was to be Mary’s husband. Gabriel revealed why God had chosen the name Jesus for the child who was to be born. It was because He would save His people from their sins. The prophecy of Isaiah is repeated in Matthew 1:23. These messages, given to the world before the child was born, are important to us. Jesus was coming in order to be our Savior. We should rejoice today that God sent His Son to save us. It was an important message given before He came. It is just as important today. God promised to provide a way for us to be saved and Jesus is that Way.
“I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” – John 17:26 (ESV)
Our verse and promise come from the Lord’s Prayer. No, not THAT Lord’s Prayer but the prayer our Lord offered up to the Father on His last night. Soon to be arrested, Jesus prayed for all his disciples and included all who ever will be. Can you imagine being able to enjoy what is most pleasurable with unrestrained energy and passion forever? This of course is not our experience now. Too much blocks our satisfaction in this world. Is there anything in this created world that has a personal worth great enough to meet the deepest cravings of our hearts? Do we possess the strength necessary to treasure the best resources to their maximum worth? Do the joys we have here and now come to an end? No, No, and Yes. Nothing lasts. Jesus prayed “that the love with which you, Father, have loved me may be in them.” God’s infinite love for his Son in us! If God’s pleasure in the Son becomes our pleasure in the Son, then the object of our pleasure, Jesus, will be inexhaustible in personal worth. Never become boring, disappointing, or frustrating. No greater treasure can be conceived than the Son of God.
“Remember the word to Your servant, In which You have made me hope. – Psalm 119:49 (NASB)
I have remembered Your ordinances from of old, O LORD, And comfort myself. – Psalm 119:52 (NASB)
O LORD, I remember Your name in the night, And keep Your law. – Psalm 119:55 (NASB)
Can you consider for a moment what life would be like if you were unable to remember? Memory is critical part of our lives and when we know someone in their later life whose memory is failing them, we understand the critical factor of danger. Perhaps they no longer remember what might hurt them such as a hot pot on the stove. Perhaps they no longer remember their way home. Perhaps even they no longer remember their family or even their own selves. It is tragic. The Psalmist affirms three remembrances in his life and we’ve selected the verses that declare what he remembers. He remembers the word God has given him and from that He has acquired hope. He remembers the ordinances he learned in the past and he is comforted by them. And, perhaps most important and valuable, he remembers God’s name in the night which helps him keep God’s law. Those afflicted with the diseases that rob them of their memory often struggle most at the end of the day as the sun sets. Let us rejoice for it is a blessing when we can remember God’s Word all through each day.
“For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself” – 1 Samuel 12:22 (ESV)
What is in a name? Especially the name of God? Foremost it is the guarantee of an unbreakable promise. When God promised ancient Israel those with faith believed them and trusted in their fulfillment. Samuel was the last prophet/judge of God’s chosen people. The people demanded to have a king and God chose Samuel to anoint Saul to be Israel’s first king. Demanding a king, the people rejected God as their true King. As King Saul is crowned, the people are warned to not forget their God and to serve, obey and not rebel against His commandments. God’s promise that He will not forsake His people is renewed. He established the promise on His name, “for His great name’s sake.” God’s promises to us are also given to us in His name. That means the promises are unbreakable and even when we disobey, God keeps His promises. God promised to make Israel a people for Himself based on His name. His promises hold true no matter how far the people stray. We have the same promise. All faith believers are given promises of God for salvation, which include justification, sanctification, glorification. God will be with us forever.
“For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.” – Malachi 1:11 (ESV)
As we read the Bible we find that God’s name is to be taken (used) seriously and with much honor. So it is that one of the Ten Commandments instructs us to not take or use the name of the LORD God in vain. What God does for us and for all humans is all done for His name’s sake. It is for His great name’s sake that God will not forsake His people – that is us who believe. Even when we indulge in our owl pleasures and when we forsake the straight path He lays out for us. Even when we trust in our own understanding instead of God and turn from God’s commands in disobedience, He remains faithful to us because he has promised to and He does this for His name’s sake AND that He might make known to His mighty power. That was why God opened the Red Sea for the Children of Israel to cross on dry land as they exited Egypt (Psalm 106:8-9). It is difficult to break the habits we’ve had for years invoking God’s name uselessly but God’s name is who He is and He is worthy of honor and glory.
“For the Lord will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the Lord has been pleased to make you a people for Himself.” – 1 Samuel 12:22 (NASB)
As we study the words and acts of God, we discover that He placed a great amount of importance on how we treat His Name. Everything God does is done for His great name’s sake. The name of God is above all names ever for His name has been from before time. Whatever we think, say, and do reflects how important God’s name is to us. In our verse today, the children of Israel after having had God as their ruler and King and administered by God’s appointed judges and prophets, we now jealous of the ways of the godless nations around them had Kings. They wanted a King too. They demanded Samuel appoint a King for them. Once they had their King, they quickly forgot how God had cared for them, even when they strayed into idolatress pagan worship. But God chose Israel and his decedents to be His people. God promised in an unbreakable covenant to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel) that He was their God and would care for them. Because of that promise it was for His Great Name that God keep His promises. God name is why He can’t break a promise.
“God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” – Ex 3:14. (ESV)
Moses was confused. He was tending the sheep and goats in the wilderness for his father-in-law. It had been 40 years since he fled from Egypt and his favored position. On Mt. Horeb he comes across a bush on fire but not consumed by the fire. He approaches to investigate. God calls out his name, “Moses, Moses”. So much to learn here but our promise today is one God made his Name. He is sending Moses back to Egypt with a massive job to do. Moses lacks confidence. He knows names are important so he asks God who he is to say sent him on this mission. Who he will tell the Israelites, has sent him to lead them out of Egypt when they ask what God’s name is. Moses asks “They’ll want to know under what authority I have come back.” God tells Moses His name. “Say…I AM who I AM has sent me to you.” It is the verb “to be” and spelled out in Hebrew as “Yahweh.” It is a name that is a promise. God is and always has been. In English Bibles we use ‘The LORD.’ Older versions use Jehovah.*
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*The making of the name Jehovah.
There was no name ‘Yehowah’ or ‘Jehovah’ at the time God met with Moses in the wilderness. His name was I AM which in Hebrew becomes the four consonant name YHWH and when pronounced, it needed vowel sounds to voice it as Yahweh. Hebrew often did not use vowels for certain words but had pronunciations and when written out vowels were used. When God gave the Children of Israel the Ten Commandments, the third commandment was “You shall not take the name of YHWH your God in vain for YHWH will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” The Jews over time were so concerned with possibly slipping up and accidently saying the name YHWH in vain they refused to ever say it or even write it. It was overly cautious because infractions of the law required so much in sacrifices and vows to wipe their slate clean. Forgiveness for sins required proper and fitting sacrifices as well as behaviors.
The Masoretes were a group of Jewish scribes who were guardians of the written law and helped preserve the text of the Old Testament Scriptures. They eventually developed notes on the text based on Jewish traditions. The word Masorete comes from the ancient Hebrew word for “bond,” used to refer to the Jews’ obligation to keep covenant with God. Masoretes, who from about the 6th to the 10th century worked to reproduce the original text of the Hebrew Bible, replaced the vowels of the name YHWH with the vowel signs of the Hebrew words Adonai translated “Lord” or Elohim translated “God”. Thus, the artificial name Jehovah (YeHoWaH) came into being. Although Christian scholars after the Renaissance and Reformation periods used the term Jehovah for YHWH, in the 19th and 20th centuries biblical scholars again began to use the form Yahweh. Early Christian writers, such as Clement of Alexandria in the 2nd century, had used a form like Yahweh, and this pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton was never really lost. Other Greek transcriptions also indicated that YHWH should be pronounced Yahweh.
“ O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:25-26 (ESV)
The last meal Jesus had with His disciples was His last Passover meal. He concludes his prayer with a call to the Righteous Father. The word translated “righteous” here doesn’t occur often in John’s Gospel. It’s significant as it’s His praise of the Father’s work of revelation. God our Father is right (righteous) and the world is in the wrong (“the world does not know You”). Jesus has known, and revealed the Father, and continues as Christians follow His example. The essence of God is love. Jesus revealed the Father and His love to the world in His own death and resurrection. And the Father made known His love for the Son by raising Him to glory. Jesus’ purpose in revealing the Father was that Christians would continue to grow in that love, that the Father’s love for the Son may be in them, and to enjoy the personal presence of Jesus in their lives and “I in them. Jesus has four petitions for believers: preservation (John 17:11), sanctification (John 17:17), unity (John 17:11, 21–22), and participation in Jesus’ glory (John 17:24). This prayer is answered every day with the conversion of each lost soul.