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Archive for August, 2015

The lands called Mesopotamia, that lie along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, have also been called the “cradle of civilization.” The Bible is in agreement with history and archaeology on this, for this area is where the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11) was located. Suddenly unable to understand the language of one another, tribes of Noah’s descendants abandoned the tower project and scattered across the globe (Genesis 11:9).

It’s possible that several words, or names, for “God” came into existence with the creation of these different languages, while others developed over time. The fact that people suddenly began speaking different languages would naturally have been attributed to the intervention of God. Though myths have become attached to some of them, we find many records from ancient civilizations concerning this event.

There is no hint of myth however, in the record (the Old Testament) of the Semitic people who founded the nation of Israel. Though condensed by necessity, the Bible is an accurate history of the involvement of God in human affairs. According to the Bible, man once knew his creator, but has distanced himself from that which was once understood (Genesis 3:8-10, Romans 1:21-23).

As human beings, we are more receptive of someone if they will meet us on “our level.” That is why God chose a family (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:20-23) through which to be born into this world, and the genealogies of the Old Testament were recorded primarily for the purpose of predicting the birthright of Jesus. The revelation of the expected Christ, the Jewish Messiah, grew with the writings of the Old Testament prophets.

When the Lord (YHWH) first appeared to Moses (Exodus 3:-14), he called himself “I AM.” The Hebrew word translated as “I AM,” is “HYH” (Hayah). It has the same basic meaning as “HVH” (Havah). Both “HYH,” and “HVH,” are derived from the name “YHWH” (pronounced Yahweh, or sometimes Jehovah). I mentioned in an earlier post (JE S O S) that my favorite translation of “I AM” is “JE SUIS” in the French Bible. I believe that it is the pre-incarnate JE SUS who is speaking to Moses in Exodus 3:14.

It is very important for us to know that God exists, and who he is. To the atheist who insists that God is no one, he says, “I am one.” God says to us, “I am someone.” The word “Hayah,” in English usually translated as “I Am,” is “On,” in Exodus 3:14 of the Greek Septuagint. “On,” is then translated as “The Being,” in the English rendering of the Septuagint.

The name “On,” is likely the origin of the English word “one,” and is probably a factor in the “I” shape coming to represent the number “one.” “The Being,” is similar to the English meaning of the name “YHWH,” usually given as “The Self-Existent One,” or something similar. It could be rendered “The Eternal-Being,” or “the “Ever-Existent.”

The Hebrew youth Joseph, sold into Egypt as a slave, eventually married a daughter (Genesis 41:45) of “the priest of On.” There was a city in Egypt named “On,” and I once assumed that Joseph married the daughter of a pagan priest of that city. It’s possible however, that Joseph’s father-in-law believed in the one true God, and was not a pagan. The Septuagint has the name of that Egyptian city as “Heliopolis.”

I think that the name “I Am,” is interesting as translated into other languages also. I mentioned the French, “JE SUIS.” That is similar to the Portugese, “EU SOU,” the Lithuanian, “AS ESU” (ref. the English poetic “Jesu” for “Jesus”). The Italian “IO SONO,” and the Spanish “YO SOY,” are also similar (“I” and “Y” are inter-changable).

In many foreign translations, the “Y” of “YHWH,” becomes a “J.” “I AM,” in Croatian is “Ja jesam,” the Czech is “JSEM,” and the Albanian, “UNE JAM-i.” Also of interest is the Afrikaans, “EK IS, WAS, SAL WEES.” God is saying to us, “I exist.” “I am the one.”

God’s longer statement in Exodus 3:14 of the King James Bible is “I AM THAT I AM.” Most English versions have it as, “I AM WHO I AM.” We really can’t make God into someone, or something, that he is not. He is our creator (John 1:10-12), and our savior.

Jesus made several statements identifying himself with “I AM.” He said to some religious leaders in John 8:24, “If you believe not that I am he, you will die in your sins.” A few minutes later, he told them, “Before Abraham was, I AM,” and they tried to stone him (John 8:58,59). That strange statement testifies of his existence before his advent into this world.

Several similar statements of Jesus are recorded in the Bible. In John 18:3-8, soldiers sent to arrest him fell backward to the ground when he said, “I am he” (Greek, “Ego eime,” or, “I am”). Something about the words, or the way he said them, caused the men to stumble backward.

The wording of the passage makes it sound as if a wind out of nowhere blew them back, but it could have been just a domino effect when whoever was in the lead suddenly backed up. The word “domino” comes from the Latin word for “Lord.”

The great being who said, “I am Alpha and Omega,” is the same benevolent Lord who called himself, “meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29). It was his love, and not only man’s nails, that held him to the cross. His sacrifice should be enough to make humble creatures of human beings.

Inheriting a different race, culture, or language does not mean that we must serve a different God. He is the God of every nation, tribe, and tongue (Revelation 7:9-10). It is fine for you to pronounce the name of Jesus, or of God, in the way that it has been translated into your language. The Lord knows who you’re talking to. When he returns, he may give us the most accurate pronunciation of his name, but we don’t need to be too concerned with that until then.

If we could assemble all languages together, I think we could have a much greater understanding of who God is. Perhaps, that is one of the things he will do when he returns. The prophecy in Isaiah 11:9 reads, “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” I’m not sure of the perfect interpretation of Zephaniah 3:9, but eventually God will give us, “a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.”

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