Thursday, October 12, 2017
When I first started preaching in 1954, fresh out of high school, I had some interesting beliefs. I also was introduced to some that were just as curious as the ones I held. Some of the members at my circuit church thought the expression, “Every tub sits on its own bottom” was found in Proverbs. Having a Protestant background, I thought one would be struck by lightning if he used profanity in the church building. Why? Because I thought that building was “the house of God,” a sacred place, and using profanity in it would provoke God’s destructive anger. It never crossed my mind that it was just as wrong to say those words prior to entering that edifice. Then, as well as now, we develop ideas from our culture and think it is from the Bible.
The 1611 King James Version became the well-established translation in English until the twentieth century. Although it was not well received in King James’ day, by the nineteenth century it was almost deified as THE standard to judge the worth of all other English translations. Although the Hebrew name of God, הךהי is Latinized as Jehovah, the King James committee rendered it as such only four times (Exodus 6:1, 3; Psalms 83:18; Isaiah 12:2; 26:4). The name is found 6,519 times in the Old Testament! Why did the KJV committee render JHVH as “Lord” 6,510 times, “God” 4 times, and a variant once, rather than as the Latinized “Jehovah” or Hebrew “Yahweh”? Is there a specific command in the Old Testament which forbids the insertion of God’s name in writing or speech? If so, why would anyone, much less God, give His name and then forbid it from being spoken or written? If it was taboo, why did the KJV committee ignore that restriction four times? Wouldn’t four be more condemning than once? The KJV committee did capitalize the word “LORD” to show that it meant Jehovah or Yahweh, although they were not always consistent. Many readers do not know that “LORD” was a subtle substitution originating from man rather than God!
When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, the third one was, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain” (Exodus 20:7). During Israel’s second Temple period, the expression “in vain” morphed into “never.” Since the Hebrew scriptures were written without vowels, the correct pronunciation was lost after the proper vowels were forgotten. What we have today is JHVH or YHWH. This Jewish misunderstanding of “vain” was carried over into the King James Version. Even today, some are still influenced by this misunderstanding. The first time the committee translated הוהי as “Jehovah” is in Exodus 6:1-3, yet that is not the first appearance of God’s name! Even in the following quote, the KJV uses “LORD” rather than “Jehovah” or “Yahweh.” I have used brackets “[“ ”]” where the translation should have been “Jehovah” rather than “LORD.”
“Then the LORD [Jehovah] said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land. And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD [Jehovah]: And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them” (Exodus 6:1-3).
Moses first used “Yahweh” or “Jehovah” in Genesis 2:4, “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD [Jehovah] God made the earth and the heavens.”
Although neither the Old nor New Testament spell it out, God apparently allowed this misconception to continue, without correction, to later fulfill Paul’s statement about Jesus in Philippians 2:9-11,
“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
It is strange how culture spoon feeds our thinking, leading us to created beliefs that are based upon tradition rather than scripture. Some have a problem saying or writing “Jehovah” or “Yahweh,” but think nothing of saying or writing “Jesus.” What does the name “Jesus” mean? Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14 in 1:23 telling us his name shall be “Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Prior to that, the angel told Joseph, “Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21, Emphasis mine, RH). The name “Jesus” means “Jehovah saves” or “Yahweh saves.” So, in speaking or writing “Jesus” one is saying the very thing that he has been led to believe is taboo! If one is in error for saying “Jehovah” or “Yahweh,” then one cannot say “Jesus” since his name means “Jehovah saves” or “Yahweh saves”!
Every tub may sit on its own bottom, but “Jehovah saves (Jesus)” or “Yahweh saves (Jesus)” isn’t taboo. That’s what “Jesus” (Jehovah saves) came to do!