Should we use God’s Name?

For a long time, the Jews often used the name of God. For example the biblical story about Ruth says that Boaz greeted the harvesters with the words «Jehovah be with you!», and the harvesters called back «Jehovah bless you!» (Ruth 2:4) The Jewish Talmud says: “It was ordained that a man should greet his friends by mentioning the Name.” (Berakhot 9:5)

But after some time, the Jews stopped using it. According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary it happened because of a misinterpretation of Leviticus 24:16, “anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death”. Maybe they stopped using it to prevent none-Jews to get to know it and misuse it, or maybe superstition made them think that the name was too holy to be pronounced by imperfect men.

The Jews had obviously forgotten what God had said to Moses: “Say to the Israelites: Jehovah, 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, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.” (Exodus 3:15)

Micah 4:5 shows that they who trust in the God of the Bible, will keep his name: “For all the peoples walk every one in the name of his god; and we will walk in the name of Jehovah our God for ever and ever.” (American Standard Version)

On the other side, they who opposes the God of the Bible, are characterized by refusing to use his name. We clearly see the contrast in Jesus’ conversation with Satan, as it is described in Matthew 4:1-11. Satan consistently used the title “God”, and quoted a scripture that didn’t have the name of God. Jesus answered every time by citing scriptures that had the name of God.

This is common – we like to use the name of a person who really means a lot to us, because it has great value. On the other hand we will express disdain by only mentioning the name of a person we hate.

The Bible shows us that Satan presumably has a plan of getting people to forget the name of God, by getting people to worship other gods. He wanted this to happen with the Israelites, a situation Jeremiah 23:27 describes: “that think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbor, as their fathers forgat my name for Baal.” (American Standard Version)

Being uncertain of the pronunciation is no reason to avoid using the name. Most of the people have no problem using the name of Jesus, though this is not the correct pronunciation. His name was probably pronounced Yeshua’Yoshua’ or Yehoshua’.

The Bible says that using God’s name is necessary to get approved by God: “And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved” (Joel 2:32, New International Version. Some other translations: 3:5)