Several years ago, when I attended seminary, I got to know several persons from around the world who came to study theology and ministry. One of those people was a man from India whom I became good friends with. His name was P.J. I asked P.J. one day what the initials stood for. He replied, “No one in the West is able to pronounce my real name, so I simply go by the initials P.J.”
When Moses asked God what his name is, God gave him an answer similar to my friend P.J. He replied to Moses, “I Am Who I Am.” Okay. That was not exactly what Moses was looking for, but he did get an answer to his question. It was as if God knew that his name was much too wonderful to ever pronounce, so he gave Moses a name that people could actually call him.
“Yahweh” is the name in Hebrew. It is only one word, but is difficult to exactly translate; it certainly cannot be translated into one word in English which is why we need to have an entire phrase in order to even begin to make sense of the name “Yahweh.” Other Bible translations (i.e. NIV) capitalize all the letters of “LORD” in order to cue the reader that the name “Yahweh” is being used.
A phrase in vogue today to communicate something that is hard to make sense of but is nonetheless real is, “It is what it is.” That perhaps is as close as we get to understanding “Yahweh.” He is who he is; God will be who he will be. The LORD is so far above us that he must communicate to us in a kind of baby language, much like a parent who simply bends down and utters coos over the crib of her infant.
God has been gracious to stoop to us and reveal something of himself to us. The fullest expression of this love is the sending of the Son, the Lord Jesus, to be with us so that we can know this God who is who he is. The proper response to this grace from Yahweh is gratitude, praise, and trust.
Yahweh, the great I AM, you have graciously entered my life especially through the person of Jesus Christ, your Son. Guide me each day to explore and know you so that my faith will be strengthened and my path righteous, through the power of the Spirit. Amen.