Alphabet of Faith — “Y” Is for YAHWEH

In our Alphabet of Faith series we come to another difficult letter for which to find a suitable word, the letter Y (they seem to have gravitated to the end of the alphabet). Not many choices here, but we only need one word and the obvious one is a name for God.

“Y” Is for Yahweh

When we read the name God in most translations of the Old Testament it’s usually the word Elohim. This is the general, the generic, name for God. But God gave Himself a special name by which His people could call Him, sort of like a nickname that someone only allows close acquaintances to use. This name God gave Himself is Yahweh. Actually, it’s best to spell it YHWH, all consonants, no vowels. The people of Israel thought the name so sacred they didn’t want to pronounce it out loud so they got rid of the vowels, making it unpronounceable. Most often they substituted Adonai, meaning Lord. By jumbling up the consonants from YHWH and the vowels from Adonai some older translations came up with the variation Jehovah. Confused yet? Most of our more modern translations use the title LORD with all capital letters when Yahweh is the name, which is over 6,800 times in the Old Testament.

God probably gave His new name Yahweh for the first time to Moses. The name emphasizes God’s nearness, His very present presence! It’s His covenant name (His agreement to be God if they will be His people).

The name Yahweh is a name of intimacy and closeness. God wants us to know He identifies with us. He has entered into life with us. He’s not some deity in some sky box who amuses Himself by watching us struggle away down here. He’s right down here with us. There is an immediacy about Him; He’s right here, right now! He’s all here! He is more present, more fully aware of what’s going on with us and around us than we are, and He cares deeply! That’s Yahweh for you, that’s the LORD for you! Yes, for YOU, and ME too! How about us living the day like we believe that?

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.” (Psalm 28:7)

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