Reposted from September 9, 2013:
I got into a theological discussion (two years ago now) with a friend. (and some of you are saying, “Uh oh!)
It was a friendly discussion! Really!
She wanted to know why some people write God’s name as G_d.
I don’t know for sure. I have some ideas on it though…
My first thought on this was that someone somewhere went to Bible College or seminary, and discovered that those who copied the Old Testament scrolls had such a respect for God that they took the vowels out of His name along with the accent marks so that no one could pronounce His name, thereby helping those who read the scrolls to avoid “taking God’s name in vain.”
Since not taking God’s name in vain was one of the Ten Commandments, this was very important to the Israelites, especially when the people involved in this activity were Scribes or Pharisees.
Jesus had a LOT to say about the Scribes and the Pharisees in the Gospels when He had to deal with them in person. Mostly all of it was very negative! He came up with the most colorful descriptions of their dysfunctional efforts at making everyone BUT themselves righteous, too: having logs in their eyes (vs. everyone else’s “splinters”); and camels trying to fit through needles! At every turn He rebuked them for the unreasonable burdens they placed on other people while trying to hide their own hypocrisy.
Helping other people to avoid sinning in so many cases requires us to sin ourselves via legalism. We can hedge our conduct around with so many rules and regulations that we find ourselves barred from doing what is right and just by what others have said we MUST or MUST NOT do.
Jesus cited many examples of exactly this kind of activity in the Gospels, although He never specifically discussed the effort to obscure God’s name.
Obscuring the name of God may have kept people from taking it in vain in that form–it certainly didn’t take them long to come up with other names to call Him instead, and also to abuse those instead–but I have to wonder: did this also discourage people from calling on God when they needed Him?
Did hiding the pronunciation of God’s name contribute to setting God’s people at such a remove from Him that He seemed unnecessary or irrelevant in their daily lives, a great impersonal being who was too important to be approached by anyone who truly needed Him? Was this one of the things that men did, desiring to be holy, yet by their actions, discouraging others who reacted by embracing all-out-rebellion because they felt rejected and ignored by God?
Is this veil that prevents us from truly knowing something we might otherwise have known about God greater than the actual, physical veil hanging floor to ceiling, wall-to-wall in the temple; the veil that no one but the High Priest could pass to make atonement for sins? The veil that tore in two when Christ died on the Cross for our sins so that it would no longer separate us from God?
When I think about that, and how some Christians, not content with being unable to pronounce the Hebrew name for God, are trying to render the English name for God unpronounceable too, I’m grateful that God doesn’t expect us to follow their example!
But I do have to wonder–if they got their way, if they would be happier to hear the rest of us mispronouncing God’s name instead?
And as for YWHW or YHWH–however you’re spelling it or misspelling it– Some people say that name, Yahweh or Jehovah; but it doesn’t matter, really. What matters is in your heart, and having a right relationship with Jesus, because that’s what HE came to do: save us and to tear the veil separating us from God so that we could have a personal relationship with Him!
And yes, if you want to call him Yee Haw, I don’t think He’ll mind, as long as your heart is right.
Some of His children probably will mind–but hey, siblings are going to always find things to pick on each other about. Don’t let them get to you!
God’s the best thing that ever happened to the human race, and if anyone or anything is worth a YEE HAW, then God definitely is! And I’m pretty sure He’ll understand if you want to tell Him so.
Reposted from September 9, 2013: