We see God named many times in the Bible, but where does God reveal His name? The one He calls His eternal name?
And God said to Moses, “I am Yahweh—‘the Lord.’ I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty’—but I did not reveal my name, Yahweh, to them. (Exodus 6:2-3).
One of the reasons we abide with Christ is to build intimacy with God.
We commune with and learn about all 3 members of the Trinity through the 3 disciplines of prayer, Bible study, and fellowship.
One of the things we can discover through studying the Bible is where God reveals his name. Spending time in God’s Word uncovers a depth of knowledge about the various names of God.
There are names that God’s followers ascribe to Him. Many of these names come out of a direct experience of one of God’s many attributes.
These names can help us more greatly appreciate God’s power and the breadth of His being. In our limited human capacity, we are unable to fully understand God. Yet we are blessed to be given ways in which to reflect upon Him through God’s many names in the Bible.
But there is a time when God reveals His own name. His personal name. It is profound in its very simplicity – which is not to say God’s name isn’t magnificent. When I say God’s name is simple, I mean that it tells us everything we can know about Him, and at the same time, how unknowable God truly is.
So, let’s answer the question “where does God reveal His name?” together.
God Reveals His Eternal Name
The account where God reveals His name is found in the account of Moses and the burning bush in Exodus 3.
You will recall that after Moses was banished from Egypt, he made his way into the desert, eventually coming to tend flocks for Jethro. God called Moses to Him through a bush that was ablaze but was not being consumed by the fire.
As God called Moses to be His messenger and deliver the nation of Israel enslaved in Egypt, Moses asked God a question: by whose name should he tell Israel they were going to be delivered?
Until this point, Moses may have been aware of God generally. Now, as he was being directly engaged by God, Moses wanted to know by what name the Israelites would recognize Moses’ message of deliverance.
God answers by saying “I AM WHO I AM…I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14).
God calls this His “eternal name”, the name that “all generations” should remember Him by (Exodus 3:15).
What God’s Eternal Name Reveals About Himself
I AM (Yahweh) is God’s eternal name both by distinction and definition. God declares it so, and therefore it is. But if we think about it, I AM is an eternal name in that it is ongoing. It very simply reveals God as the one – the only one – with no beginning and no end.
That is not to suggest that I AM as God’s name is simple. It’s beautifully complex and speaks to God’s vastness. It is one thing to say we can learn about Him through His name; it is another to say we can attain a level of knowing everything there is to know about Him. Which of course, we cannot.
It is interesting to note that Yahweh is the name God uses for Himself in the 10 Commandments, where we are taught to revere God’s name (Exodus 20:1-17). We have talked before about the Christian’s relationship to the 10 Commandments. Reflecting on God’s eternal nature and His eternal name in this context adds some food for thought.
If there is one place that answers the question of where God reveals His name, it is here in Exodus 3. It is the name God tells us to remember as His eternal name.
However, it is not the only name God is revealed by. We can learn of God by the name I AM and also learn of Him by others.
God is Revealed Through His Name
In today’s passage, God tells Moses that He had previously revealed His name to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as El-Shaddai, meaning “God Almighty”. God used this name for himself when He established the covenant with Abram, changing his name to Abraham (Genesis 17:1-14).
There are other passages where we see God named, but do not see the original name come across in the translation, such as El Elyon for “God Most High” (Genesis 14:19). Or we are given the original name but not the translation, such as El-Elohe-Israel, which means “God, the God of Israel” (Genesis 33:20).
Although there are times prior to Exodus 3 where we find Yahweh as the first part of a descriptive name for God (such as Genesis 22:14), we find this mainly after Exodus 3. For example, Yahweh-Nissi, meaning “the Lord is my banner” (Exodus 17:15). But we also see the El form of God’s name used afterwards as well.
This does not have to change that Yahweh as God’s name was introduced for the first time to Moses; it only means it can be found written that way prior to Exodus 3.
Neither does it mean it is forbidden to use the El form of God’s name after God revealed the name Yahweh.
Other names for God in the Old Testament have neither Yahweh nor El as the first part of the name for God. For example, Qedosh Yisrael, meaning “Holy One Of Israel” (Leviticus 19:2).
Learning all these names for God is more than a simple mental exercise. When God reveals His name to us, It is an invitation to experience who He is. We grow more intimately close to God as we grow in understanding of His mighty ways.
God’s Name Will be Revealed Upon Us
There are many reasons to rejoice in the names that God reveals to us. The best, as they say, is saved for last, as one of the last recorded uses of God’s name comes in the final chapter of the Bible.
For those that believe upon and follow Jesus Christ and who are eagerly awaiting His return, those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life, they are told wonderful things about the end of days.
We learn that the curse of sin will be lifted forevermore. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the new city, and we will be there with Jesus face to face.
At that time, we will have His name written on our foreheads (Revelation 22:4). As intimately as we can know God by His many names today, there will come a time when we will wear His name, sealed as His for all eternity. What a blessing.
Until then, make it a practice to notice when you see God named in the Bible. Ask God to reveal His name to you, to speak it on your heart as you study God’s Word.
More Bible verses about God’s name:
Psalm 61:8; Proverbs 18:10; Isaiah 42:8; Matthew 6:9; Acts 4:12; Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 13:15