Worship in the Old Testament, 18th and last in the series
Volume 8, No. 4 (April 2013)
You have exalted above all things
Your name and Your word. (Psalm 138:2)
“I am the LORD; that is My name;
I will not give my glory to another.” (Isaiah 42:8)
1. THE NATURE OF GOD’S NAME
As is well known, names in Scripture carry much more weight than mere appellation or identification: they speak of the character or reputation of the one so named; nowhere is this more true than in the case of God. J. Hampton Keathley at bible.org suggests that “in Scripture, the names of God are like miniature portraits and promises.”
The many names and titles God gives Himself in the Old Testament each says something important about His nature (e.g., El Shaddai, God Almighty, Genesis 17:1-2; El Elyon, God Most High, Genesis 14:18-19; etc.); most importantly, of course, He takes upon Himself the special covenant name of Yahweh (Jehovah).
The common phrase “the name of the LORD” speaks of the totality of His glorious Person, character and reputation.
2. THE PURITY OF GOD’S NAME
“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)
“Profane” in its original meaning is the opposite of “sacred,” and refers to something intended for common (as opposed to religious) use; as in the distinction in the Old Testament between implements and vessels reserved [set apart, “holy”] for use in tabernacle or temple worship, and everyday things.
Hence “profanity” means a flippant or casual use of something meant for sacred purposes. The name of the Lord, precisely because it speaks of His holy and majestic character, is unspeakably holy, and should never be used in any way other than in worship.
It has also pointed out that, because as believers we bear the name of God and of Christ, that our behavior should likewise not be profane (this would be another way of taking His name in vain); we should be “be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44; 1 Peter 1:16).
3. GOD’S PASSION AND PURPOSE FOR HIS NAME
God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent Me to you.’ This is My name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” (Exodus 3:15)
“But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you My power, so that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16)
And he said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you My name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” (Exodus 33:19)
“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)
“He [Solomon] shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” (2 Samuel 7:13)
“If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Your name, O LORD, endures forever,
Your renown, O LORD, throughout all ages. (Psalm 135:13)
You have exalted above all things
Your name and Your word. (Psalm 138:2)
“I am the LORD; that is My name;
My glory I give to no other,
nor My praise to carved idols.” (Isaiah 42:8)
“ . . . everyone who is called by My name,
whom I created for My glory,
whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:7)
“For My own sake, for My own sake, I do it,
for how should My name be profaned?
My glory I will not give to another.” (Isaiah 48:11)
Thus says the Lord GOD: “On the day when I chose Israel, I swore to the offspring of the house of Jacob, making Myself known to them in the land of Egypt; I swore to them, saying, ‘I am the LORD your God.’ On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands. And I said to them, ‘Cast away the detestable things your eyes feast on, every one of you, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.’ But they rebelled against Me and were not willing to listen to me. None of them cast away the detestable things their eyes feasted on, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. Then I said I would pour out My wrath upon them and spend My anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt. But I acted for the sake of My name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made Myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt.
“So I led them out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. I gave them My statutes and made known to them My rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live. Moreover, I gave them My Sabbaths, as a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them. But the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness. They did not walk in My statutes but rejected My rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live; and My Sabbaths they greatly profaned. Then I said I would pour out My wrath upon them in the wilderness, to make a full end of them. But I acted for the sake of My name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out.
“Moreover, I swore to them in the wilderness that I would not bring them into the land that I had given them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands, because they rejected My rules and did not walk in My statutes, and profaned My Sabbaths; for their heart went after their idols. Nevertheless, My eye spared them, and I did not destroy them or make a full end of them in the wilderness. And I said to their children in the wilderness, ‘Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers, nor keep their rules, nor defile yourselves with their idols. I am the LORD your God; walk in My statutes, and be careful to obey My rules, and keep My Sabbaths holy that they may be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the LORD your God.’ But the children rebelled against me. They did not walk in My statutes and were not careful to obey My rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live; they profaned My Sabbaths. Then I said I would pour out My wrath upon them and spend My anger against them in the wilderness. But I withheld My hand and acted for the sake of My name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out.” (Ezekiel 20:5-22)
The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, when the house of Israel lived in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their deeds. Their ways before Me were like the uncleanness of a woman in her menstrual impurity. So I poured out My wrath upon them for the blood that they had shed in the land, for the idols with which they had defiled it. I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through the countries. In accordance with their ways and their deeds I judged them. But when they came to the nations, wherever they came, they profaned My holy name, in that people said of them, ‘These are the people of the LORD, and yet they had to go out of his land.’ But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came.
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘when through you I vindicate My holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes and be careful to obey My rules.’” (Ezekiel 36:16-27)
“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.” (Malachi 1:11)
4. CALLING UPON / INVOKING GOD’S NAME
a. In trust/devotion
To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD. (Genesis 4:26 )
From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD. (Genesis 12:8)
And he [Abram] journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the LORD. (Genesis 13:4)
So he [Isaac] built an altar there and called upon the name of the LORD and pitched his tent there. (Genesis 26:25)
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. (Psalm 20:7)
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8)
The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
the righteous man runs into it and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10)
For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god,
but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God
forever and ever. (Micah 4:5)
“For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech,
that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD
and serve him with one accord.” (Zephaniah 3:9)
b. In praise/thanksgiving
For I will proclaim the name of the LORD;
ascribe greatness to our God! (Deuteronomy 32:3)
Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples! (1 Chronicles 16:8; Psalm 105:1)
And he [Job] said, “Naked I came from My mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)
Blessed be the name of the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore!
From the rising of the sun to its setting,
the name of the LORD is to be praised! (Psalm 113:2-3)
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD. (Psalm 116:13)
I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call on the name of the LORD. (Psalm 116:17)
Let them praise the name of the LORD!
For he commanded and they were created. (Psalm 148:5)
And you will say in that day:
“Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
proclaim that his name is exalted.” (Isaiah 12:4)
Therefore in the east give glory to the LORD;
in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the LORD,
the God of Israel. (Isaiah 24:15)
c. In petition/blessing
And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” (1 Kings 18:24)
And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD. (1 Chronicles 16:2)
Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“O LORD, I pray, deliver My soul!” (Psalm 116:4)
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. (Joel 2:32)