The Divine Whisper

God is not the name of God. Christian practice has adopted the word god to refer to the only divine being, we acknowledge. Yet, God is not the name of God. We confront this issue when we see someone referring to the Being we believe in with the lower case “g” for god. Yet, we must acknowledge that Biblically speaking God has a name we do not pronounce. Why? Because we don’t know how.

Moses asks God his name so that the Israelites and presumably their Egyptian captors will have a name for the God of Israel. The name given HWYH and later as YHWH in our English letters translated from the Hebrew. It is a curious name often translated as “I am that I am.” But, the sounds of the consonants (we do not know what vowell markings we should use. The masoretic text makes some guesses here) are breathing sounds. The sound of human breathing is used for the Divine Covenant Name. 

Most English translations of the Bible (Old Testament) use the word LORD (all caps) in place of the Hebrew YHWH. This is a consideration to Jewish practice of speaking the Hebrew “adonai” instead of YHWH, Some English translations have attempted to transliterate the Name as Jehovah or Yahweh. This is as I said previously based on scholarly guess work. Personally, I prefer keeping the practice of using the word “LORD” because Jesus kept the practice except for the one incident in John 8. If it was good enough for Him. It is good enough for me. There is also another consideration. And this one gets to the heart of our understanding of the God of the old and new testaments.

Breath is the word that is also translated as Spirit in both Hebrew and Greek in the Christian Scriptures. The Spirit (or Wind NRSV) moves over the primordial waters and separates water from land. The same Wind from the East parts the Red Sea. God breathes in the adam and he becomes a living being. All animals with the breath of life are destroyed in the Flood which brings the primordial chaos back and then the wind re-creates the world (this time with the agency of the raven). Elijah hears God in the gentle stillness (still small voice KJV) on Mount Hored (Sinai). Whereas on the same mountain the voice of God was like Thunder (a violent rushing of wind). And the same voice speaks to Jesus in John 12. There are many other examples.

My point is that the Divine Name for which we use words like God and LORD are stand-ins for a word that may sometimes be a whisper and other times be a storm. This is why listening as well as praying is important. We need to know when God is speaking. And make certain it is not our voice drowing the Divine one out with trivialities.

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