For a few years now there has been a teaching among some Seventh-day Adventists which has become known as The Sacred Name. This teaching declares that the Hebrew personal names of the Father and his Son are to be used when speaking and writing of the divine persons. Some take the case further, stating that terms like God, amen, and even Jesus have pagan origins and should not be used. What is the truth on this matter?
Let us first note that God the Father does have a personal name. In Hebrew we find it given as YHWH sometimes known as the Tetragrammaton (a word with four letters). Biblical Hebrew was written only with consonants; there were no written vowels. The reader was assumed to know the language and how to sound the words. When the Hebrews were in captivity in Babylon, they did not use their language and a certain understanding of the vowels became lost. Today there is no one who has a sure understanding of all the proper vowels to use in Hebrew. There are some who make educated guesses at the vowels, but this cannot always be done with certainty. Thus the name YHWH was translated in the King James Bible as Jehovah but is more commonly understood to be Yahweh today. Some have advocated pronouncing it YAHVAH, YAHVEH, or YAHUWAH; however, honesty demands that we acknowledge the vowels, and perhaps even the consonants, are not fully understood. Thus, outside of a direct revelation, it would be impossible to correctly pronounce the divine name, no matter how hard one may try.
The Jews considered the name of God sacred. In fact, they considered it so sacred that they would not pronounce it and quit using it in all common conversation, as well as writing, with few exceptions.
The Septuagint (LXX) is the Greek translation of the Old Testament and in the place of YHWH the translators used the Greek word kurios (Lord) for YHWH.
The name of the Son of God is usually considered Yashua by those who promote the sacred name teaching. This is a version of Joshua. Joshua is the Hebrew equivalent of the name the King James Bible calls Jesus, from the GreekIesous. The scope of this article will not deal with the etymology of the name Jesus, but it is certainly not from the name Zeus, though it might sound and look something like it. Jesus is simply the best translation we have of the Hebrew Joshua, into the Greek Iesous, into the English Jesus.
The Old Testament has three other spellings and pronunciations for the name Joshua: Jehoshua, Jeshua, and Hoshea.
Interestingly in the New Testament, the divine name of the Father is never used by any of the speakers or writers. Even the recorded words of his Son do not have one usage of YHWH. Almost all the quotations in the New Testament come from the LXX and there is not a single usage of the name YHWH in any of the New Testaments quotations from the LXX.
At times I have seen people adamant about the need to use a special pronunciation of the divine names, while refraining from using the names and titles as given in the King James English version. Speakers, at times, may use various terms not found in the Greek, Hebrew, or English Bibles. When they come to words referring to God, Lord, or Jesus they refuse to read what is written. Sometimes these people will insert a Hebrew or Greek word into the passage, but sometimes they will say “Most High” or “Father” instead of God, or something else other than what was written in the Scripture. This is actually promoting the idea that we have to learn to speak a certain degree of Hebrew to be saved, for all of the Christian terms used for God and his name are considered satanic. These people take words such as amen, Lord, alleluia, Christ, God, and Jesus; and in every place they appear in the Bible or in the Spirit of Prophecy they insert another word as a substitute. If we do this, we have to rewrite the word of God.
In John 20:17 Jesus told Mary, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God (all emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted)”. Here we have inspiration stating that Jesus used the term God. Also in Hebrews 1:8 and 9, God the Father uses the term “God” three times; once for himself and twice for Jesus. Shall we say that God is wrong? Our word amen is derived from the Hebrew word amen, meaning truly, or so be it. It is based upon the word aman which is translated believe, assurance, sure, etc. Two words may sound and even look alike, but that does not mean that they are from the same origin or have similar meanings. The English words car and bar have similar sounds and are spelled almost the same but they have very different meanings and origins.
Let us look at a few quotations from the Spirit of Prophecy beginning with Sister White’s testimony as to the origin of what she wrote under the claim of inspiration: “Although I am as dependent upon the Spirit of the Lord in writing my views as I am in receiving them, yet the words I employ in describing what I have seen are my own, unless they be those spoken to me by an angel, which I always enclose in marks of quotation” (The Review and Herald, October 8, 1867, see also Selected Messages, book 1, p. 38, book 3, p. 278). Let us consider what the angel told her:
In a view given June 27, 1850, my accompanying angel said, “Time is almost finished. Do you reflect the lovely image of Jesus as you should?” (Early Writings, p. 64)
The angel himself said “Jesus.” Another example:
“Educate, educate, educate,” said the angel. “Give the people the truth. Lift up Jesus before them.” (Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, p. 87)
This is a quotation from the angel. The angel was not speaking in Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, or any other language. The angel was speaking in English to Ellen White and said “Jesus.” Here is another quotation:
Said the angel, “Jesus has nearly finished His work in the sanctuary.” (Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, p. 219)
These are just some of many quotations. What about the word God? Did any heavenly messengers use that expression?
Said the angel, “The little remnant who love God and keep His commandments and are faithful to the end will enjoy this glory and ever be in the presence of Jesus and sing with the holy angels.” (Early Writings, p. 66)
The angel spoke English and said “God,” as well as “Jesus.”
The angel said, “Can such enter heaven?” Another angel answered, “No, never, never, never. Those who are not interested in the cause of God on earth can never sing the song of redeeming love above.” (Early Writings, p. 50)
What about the word Lord?
And the angel said, “These are they that believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and are obeying the words of Christ.” (Gospel Workers, p. 378; 1892 edition)
The angel speaks English and says “Lord,” “Jesus,” and “Christ,” all three. Over and over again, the angels speak of the Lord, the day of the Lord, anger of the Lord, etc., and all are in quotation marks.
What about the words amen and alleluia? Again we go to the book Early Writings:
They would bear the tidings upward, and all the angels in the city would weep, and then with a loud voice say, “Amen.” But if the saints fixed their eyes upon the prize before them and glorified God by praising Him, then the angels would bear the glad tidings to the city, and the angels in the city would touch their golden harps and sing with a loud voice, “Alleluia!” and the heavenly arches would ring with their lovely songs. (Early Writings, p. 39)
Ellen White also used the term Jehovah literally hundreds of time.
That time will soon come, and we shall have to keep hold of the strong arm of Jehovah. (Early Writings, p. 60)
At the Saviour’s baptism, Satan was among the witnesses. He saw the Father’s glory overshadowing His Son. He heard the voice of Jehovah testifying to the divinity of Jesus. (The Desire of Ages, p. 116)
If the teachers of the sacred name are correct, Ellen White and the angels must not know how to refer to the Father, to his Son, and to spiritual things correctly. But no, despite what we might think, we are not smarter than the prophet or heaven.
Here is why we see the resistance to the use of the name of Jesus today:
The prayer of faith is the great strength of the Christian and will assuredly prevail against Satan. This is why he insinuates that we have no need of prayer. The name of Jesus, our Advocate, he detests; and when we earnestly come to Him for help, Satan’s host is alarmed. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 296)
Inspiration tells us that Satan detests the name of Jesus, our Advocate, and that is why there is such adamant opposition to the name of Jesus!
Former General Conference President, A. G. Daniells, recounted the experience of Nathaniel Davis, an Australian minister who had been possessed by evil spirits. Ellen White encouraged Daniells to help Davis break free of the evil spirits that possessed him. She wrote a letter to Davis that she asked Elder Daniells to read to David. Here is Daniells’ recollection of the experience:
When I began reading it to him, he became very much excited. After a little, I heard some sort of disturbance, and looking up, saw him with an open knife in his raised hand. I asked, “What is the matter?” He grated his teeth and glared at me like a madman.
His wife and I appealed to him to put the knife down, but he was menacing us so wildly that I did not dare to go on reading. I did not know whether he would thrust it into me or his wife or himself. I said, “Let us kneel down and pray to God. There is a God in Israel who can help us, and we must have His help.”
We knelt down, and I may tell you that I was never in a more perplexing place. I knew that demons were in the room and I knew that we must have the power of that same Christ who subdued demons and cast our devils while among men.
The first thing I said was “O Lord, we come to Thee in the all-prevailing name of Jesus.” At the mention of the name Jesus, that man hurled his knife across the room with terrible violence. At the mention of the all-powerful name of Jesus he broke into sobs and the violence disappeared. After his wife and I had prayed, he prayed most earnestly to God to deliver him from those tormenting devils. (Herbert Douglass, They Were There, p. 74)
By God’s grace, Nathaniel Davis was delivered through the mighty name of Jesus. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
Beloved, we are not so presumptive to say that English or any language will be the language of heaven, but we can see that God is more than willing to communicate with his children on a level that they understand. “All His biddings are enablings” (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 333). If God bids his children to use a special name then he will certainly enable them to do so. However, without being able to accurately know how to say the divine name exactly, we can be sure that God has not commanded this.