Thursday, March 22, 2018

Are there times when a belief is the results of a tradition that started several hundred years ago?   The answer is “Yes.”  Jesus dealt with it during his ministry.  He even told his audience, “They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” (Matthew 15:9 NIV).  How does a rule “taught by men” develop into one that is readily accepted as a rule taught by God? Several may be related, but to keep this as brief as possible, I’ll only introduce the following.

In the Hebrew scriptures the consonants were written but not the vowels.  The name of God was Yahweh but appeared as YHWH without its vowels.  The individual supplied the vowels while reading.  Try that with English to see its difficulty!  He also produced the pronunciation.  That makes it even more difficult.  Then put all the consonants together with a break and try your skills!  Around the sixth century BC, the Jews developed the idea that God’s name was too holy to pronounce.  Each time the reader came to YHWH, the Hebrew word (Adonia) or “Lord” was substituted.  The King James translation of 1611 was apparently influenced by this practice.  The word YHWH is found 6,519 times in the Hebrew text.  Yet the KJV translation committee rendered it as Jehovah (English for Yahweh), only four times (Exodus 6:3; Psalm 82:18; Isaiah 12:2 and 26:4).  6,510 times that committee changed God’s word by substituting the Hebrew word “LORD” (Adonia) for Yahweh.  Four times they substituted with the word “God.”  Since the KJV became the most read English translation for four hundred years, this substitution fortified the Jewish human concept.  This produced the understanding that Yahweh or Jehovah was not to be pronounced, but a substitution must be used instead!

Some, in the last three centuries also accepted the Jewish belief as a command from God.  Among that group were those who believed if it was pronounced, the person would be committing the unpardonable sin!  If that was true, then the King James translation committee put the reader at risk by translating YHWH as “Jehovah” four times!   The message of safety would be, “In reading from the King James Version, stay away from Exodus 6, Psalm 82, and Isaiah 12 and 26!  Reader, God gave no such instruction.

Some believe God was responsible for the development of that sixth century BC Jewish thinking.  There isn’t any direct evidence of such a demand.  Again, if it was a “God thing,” the KJV committee didn’t get the message in those four passages!  That would infer that God slipped up four times in stopping what was forbidden!  However, God used a humanly devised idea, though warped, and allowed it to develop to bring glory to Himself.  This is seen in the following passage.

Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11 NIV, Emphasis mine, RH).

The name “Jesus” carries the idea of “Jehovah” or “Yahweh saves.”  Matthew writes, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 NIV, Emphasis mine, RH).

Look at the history behind this idea that “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” is too holy to pronounce.  The idea began in the 6th century before Christ.  The King James assisted this man-made belief through its substitution of “Lord” and “God” in the place of “Yahweh.”  That added up to about 2,200 years of a Jewish misunderstanding affecting the beliefs of Bible readers!  Add another 400 years since the introduction of the KJV, and you can understand this “unpardonable sin” syndrome.  The changing from “Yahweh” to “LORD” by the KJV also influenced most newer English translations!  The misconception developed into an avalanche!  Years of misunderstanding created a teaching that was thought to be from God, when its original origin was from man!

How many other innocent “rules” of men have developed into a “law of God” by following that type of thinking?  You might be surprised!