Our Covenant-Making God: 'Yahweh' Gen 2:4-25.
The nation of Israel believed God’s name was so holy that it should never be spoken aloud, and so one of the ways they spoke about God without mentioning His name was by way of a euphemism. A euphemism can be a neutral word or phrase that is used to describe something else. For example, “We are experiencing many casualties” could be put in place of “Many soldiers are being killed.” Another example could be, “If something happens to me” in place of, “If I die.” The euphemism behind the word ‘LORD,’ (written in capitals in English), is ‘Yahweh’
‘Yahweh’ is from a Hebrew root meaning “breath” (hayah) and has the extended meaning of “to exist.” Therefore, Yahweh speaks of the One who creates and breathes life into all things. The first mentions of the word, ‘LORD’ is in Genesis 2:4 and 2:7 where we read of life being breathed into dust with Adam then rising from the ground as a living being.
God is the life-breather and we are those who have been made in the image of God to receive His love and blessing. We have been created with the ability to transcend our physical bodies by thinking, loving, feeling and willing. Although this world has been stained by our failure and rebellion, it was created for us by God and we have intrinsic value because God says so. Because we are of great value to God there is never any justification in thinking we are better than others.
Due to sin, and a lack of understanding concerning our true identity we live in a world that is fragmented and often life-sapping. Yet God is gracious and merciful and reaches out to us with the offer of life. It is because of this that we have stories like the following one which is from a young woman called Kate who wrote to a Christian radio programme with these words….
“I was rejected at conception by my father, abandoned by my mother as an infant soon after birth and was abused, condemned, despised, rejected and scorned. I can only say that my life was filled with despair and darkness and tremendous efforts to let go of my hurts and pains which added to my misery without any success…
I owe my sanity, healing and deliverance to the discovery of Premier Christian Radio. I shall die with the gratitude to Premier for making it possible for people like me to have a hope, and believing that people like me have a hope that God is not a partial God. He loves the unlovable, to God be the glory.”
In Kate’s testimony we find the life transforming grace of the LORD at work as the One who breathes life into hopeless situations and who raises up and restores broken humanity, enabling people to find their true identity and security in Him. The raw materials of human life, the things that come at us day by day, can be woven into garments of character insofar as we allow the life-breather to take hold of our lives. We have been raised from the dust and ashes of our existence to a relationship with God through the work of Christ and power of the Holy Spirit.
“I finally realised that God wanted more than my religious commitment; he wanted me. He wanted to sit next to me in class, to walk with me through life. God wanted to be my friend. Life was different after I realised that God wanted a relationship. He brought a sense of happiness to my life. I had my ups and downs of course, but it was different with God. I knew that no matter what, I was saved and I was loved.”
‘I Am Second’ Ed D. Bender and D. Sterrett, page 177
In Luke 15:22 we read of a loving father putting the best robe from his house on to the shoulders of a filthy starving man as, in incredible grace, mercy and love, He restores him to the position of a son. God is the master of history and although He is the most offended person in history He still reaches out to us in incredible grace through the smashed and disfigured body of His Son (John 3:16-17) whom He judged as our sin-bearer (John 1:29; 1 Pet 1:19, Rev 5:6) . Because of Jesus we are raised to life and fellowship with our heavenly Father (Rom 8:11) and in Jesus, who rose victoriously from the dead we see the work of the Alpha and the Omega, the One who has all life in His hands.
The words ‘Alpha’ and ‘Omega’ are the names of the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet and the term ‘Alpha and Omega’ is a ‘merism.’ A ‘merism’ is a figure of speech where a phrase or statement actually refers to one single thing. So for example, “Lock, stock and barrel” (which originally referred to the parts of a gun) is now a phrase used to speak of the whole gun. As the Alpha and Omega, God holds all history in His hands.
“History is not our story – it is not the story of the progress of humankind. Rather, history is the narrative of God at work bringing creation to a divinely intended goal.”
Dr S.J. Grenz in, ‘Created For Community’ p 257.
God is before all things and as the creator will bring all things to their true eschatological fulfillment. He is the origin and goal of all history – the One who spoke creation into existence and who will have the last word concerning this world’s final destiny. God is the One who is beyond the horizon of the horizons and also the One who is here right now in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:11, 2 Tim 1:14). When we ask for His help and guidance He breathes life and victory into seemingly impossible situations and circumstances. Note for example how Noah was raised up to safety in the Ark or how Moses was taken from the backside of the desert and then brings down the might and power of Egypt. Then remember how God took a reluctant and disobedient prophet called Jonah and spewed him up on the shoreline (Jonah 2:10) to challenge Nineveh and yet again you see a love that is willing to reach out to all. Now think about how God reached into the desert and restored life to Hagar and her son (Gen 16:7-12) or His challenge to an adulterous nation on Carmel through Elijah (1 Kings 18), with the purpose of restoring wayward people, and you see the work of the life-breather. Finally, think about how David could say that God raised Him from the mud and mire (Ps 40:2-3), or how Jesus brought Zacchaeus back to his true calling to be a son (Luke 19:1-9) and you see grace and mercy at work yet again. God is with us right now by His Spirit (1 Cor 3:16) and so we can echo the words of Paul who said, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil 4:13). You and I are precious to God and the sole reason we live is because this world, His world, is founded on His sacrificial love.
“Freedom is found in the act of transcending the self when one no longer regards the self as one’s own end.”
D. Moore in, ‘The Human and the Holy’ page 181.
As we have already noted, the word ‘LORD’ (Yahweh) speaks of the Life-breather and yet it is also a word that speaks of relationship and therefore of covenant. He is the One who enters into fellowship with those who are, by nature, caught up in rebellion and death – you and I – through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. He is the One who causes us to stand again, so let’s remember to think about this – that the LORD says “Live” in all His power and glory whenever we find ourselves in difficulty. All we need to do is reach out to Him as we resign as general manager of the Universe (yet again!) and rise up in His power and blessing.