The word "name" as applied in the Bible to God means much more than appears on the surface. In ordinary, every-day speech its application usually denotes some specific object. but in the Bible when referring to God it connotes many other ideas or thoughts; for it proclaims the nature, power, and other attributes of God, and thus gives a clearer idea of man's creator and preserver. For instance, when Moses is told to go back to Egypt from Midian, and doubts about the reception the children of Israel will give him and his message, he asks what name he shall give to the God who has thus appointed him, and God says, "I am ... this is my name for ever." These two words are far more than a definitive cognomen, and especially in the light of the other six explanatory words quoted. They indicate the authority, the changelessness and self-sustaining ability, the absolute power and self-sufficiency, the independence, justice, and rectitude of the Being who thus expresses Himself. And this connotation has the effect of inspiring confidence in the unseen God for the Israelites,—out of Egypt and through the wilderness, to the borders of the land of promise, where another leader, Joshua, takes command.

The designation by name, especially among oriental and ancient peoples, is a token of authority or command, and is evidenced not only by the naming of children and slaves, but the renaming of men and women, as in the cases of the Israelitish princes by Nebuchadnezzar. It thus typifies the special favor which God shows toward those whom He designates; as, for instance, Abram renamed Abraham, and Jacob as Israel. In many instances the naming was prior to birth, as, for instance, Samson, John the Baptist, and Jesus. Always this naming was because of some characteristic which the individual was to manifest to humanity. And thus God expressed through the individual one or more of His attributes, which were made known to mankind in a tangible way: "I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine."

Often the word name is used to express these qualities of God directly, as when God says to Moses: "I will make all my goodness pass before thee; and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee." Sometimes it is used figuratively for God Himself, as in the Psalms; "Let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee;" and "Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name." Again, it reveals God's power and goodness in the creation, as when David says, "O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!" And still again, the care God takes of His children is expressed in such words as, "The name of the God of Jacob defend thee." These statements and countless others enrich and broaden the human concept of God as infinite Life, infinite Truth, infinite Love, the all-wise, all-powerful, always-present, ever-active, unchangeable Principle or creator. They also indicate the protection of this creator for all that He has created, and also the necessity of being obedient in order to insure this protection and the promises of resultant good. As a primary requisite, therefore, one must have God enthroned in his heart,—must have "no other gods," as declared in the First Commandment. He must recognize God as Spirit and man as spiritual, hence in possession of God-attributes. This recognition also shows the fallacy of taking God's name in vain.

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August 22, 1908

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