Adonai, YHWH, HaShem?

Set Apart Ministries Position
on the Use of the Hebrew Name of Y'shua and His Deity

We are clear that our Savior is Hebrew and that His Name is Hebrew. We know that the transliteration we have all grown up with, Jesus, cannot be correct as there was no "J" sound in Hebrew and no "J" in the English language until the 15th century. Yet, we know and recognize that we first came to know Him in that Name. In His mercy, He has been gracious to us during our exile!

And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away,
neither will I abhor them to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the LORD their God. (Lev. 26:44)

He has, and still does, answer prayer in the Name of Jesus of Nazareth for those who have not yet understood.

We also know that there is disagreement as to how to transliterate His Hebrew Name most correctly: Yahshua, Yeshua, Yehoshua, and so forth. (S.A.M. had  originally chosen to use the transliteration of  Yahshua and Yahweh (YHWH) when we refer to Him. Later we learned that this carries an association with those who view the Sacred Name as having only one correct transliteration. Since we do not believe this should be at issue, we have since chosen to use other ways, and in truth, would prefer to just keep the Hebrew letters if this webhost could support the Hebrew font.)

Occasionally, in our worship praise times, we may choose to use a few songs that do not contradict Messianic understanding, but may use the Name Jesus. Judah maintained knowledge of Torah but "missed" Messiah while Ephraim "lost" Torah and has had only a limited, distorted understanding of Messiah. Yet, YHWH has used Ephraim to keep knowledge of Yahshua alive! In His time, He is removing the veils from the eyes of both houses! He has been gracious to us in our ignorance and we believe we can do no less. Therefore, we believe that both houses have valuable things to offer as we come together. S.A.M., as an equipping ministry, will encourage study and understanding of Y'shua our HEBREW Saviour, using His Hebrew Name, however, we will not disparage anyone who, as they begin to learn, finds comfort in the familiar transliteration "Jesus" or who prefers Yeshua or Yehoshua rather than Yahshua; HaShem, Yahoweh or Yahweh.

We believe that each community will establish their own halacha/way to walk as was true in first century times.  Many good hearted and scholarly people can make a case for different viewpoints on the way to transliterate or pronounce the Name or the way to observe a moedim/feast.  Our thought is that this is our YHWH's way of testing the hearts, to see if we will fall into the snare of contentiousness or not.  Our choice is to remain open, holding things like this "loosely" so as not to become rigid or dogmatic in error. We do have to make a choice for our own community as a general practice, for instance, in celebration of Feasts for without this determination, chaos would reign. But we have no intention or desire to enter into contentiousness over these matters with anyone.

One day, our Messiah will come. When He is here, there will be no more doubt or confusion as He will make all such matters clear. Kumi ori, Y'shua!

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is
in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child:
but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly;
but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
And now stays faith, hope, charity, these three, but the greatest of these is charity. (I Cor. 13:9-13)

In recent months the controversy over our Messiah intensifies, just as we are told it would as we draw nearer to His return.  There is a resounding crash going on between those who see Him as a Prophet and those who see Him as the Son of God. There is perhaps a more subtle crash as people debate whether He is actually God or a representative of God.

So that there would be no confusion as to where we stand on this issue, let it be known that we firmly declare Him, Y'shua ha Maschiach, (Jesus of Nazareth as we formerly knew Him) to be fully God and fully man.  He is the fullness of the Godhead bodily as written in Colossians 1: 13-20.  We declare Him to be One with the Father as He Himself declared as recorded in the words of John 17: 21-23. The plural unity is described in Hebrew as echad and seems to lack a comparable word in the English language.

A simple analogy that has helped make the picture more clear for some is as follows:  If we were to consider all of the Red Sea to be our Elohim, then we were to remove a cup of the Red Sea to represent the Son; it could be said that the Son/water in the cup is ALL God but it is not all OF God.

Set Apart Ministries Position
on the Use of the Hebrew Name of Our God:  Adonai, YHWH, HaShem?

As we have studied the Hebrew roots of our faith, we have become more familiar with Judaism.  There we see that the usual tradition is to refer to our Elohim with a substitute name such as Adonai or HaShem, meaning Lord or Master and The Name.

We have understood that this practice has come from the concern about using the Name correctly in accordance with the command:

"And you shall not profane My holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the Lord who hallows you"

Leviticus 22: 34


And three further reinforcements to the command:

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.  Exodus 20:7

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold [him] guiltless that taketh his name in vain.  Deuteronomy 5:11

For they speak against thee wickedly, [and] thine enemies take [thy name] in vain.   Psalm 139: 20
Lest I be full, and deny [thee], and say, Who [is] the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God [in vain].  Proverbs 30:9

The Hebrew term is transliterated as: Chillul HaShem meaning desecration of the Name. It is a term used in Judaism that refers to any act or behavior that would cast shame or disrepute to a belief in Elohim, our God. It may also be used of similar shameful acts or behavior that would reflect badly on any part of Torah teachings, or even of Jewish law or community.  If you do an internet search on the term, you will find some interesting commentaries. Some even question whether what would be considered as shameful among fellow Jewish believers would be viewed equally as badly if it were done among the goyim, or people of other nations. It does appear that there is some discussion as to whether or not desecration of the Name is the only or primary issue or whether it might also include anything that would be generally anti-semitic in nature.

 

We do not wish to be in danger of using His Name in vain! Nor do we wish to be discourteous or hostile to our brother, Judah.

In American Christianity, we had been accustomed to referring to Him as God or Lord and Father. We have no objection to using these Names, though we recognize that they are more like titles, as they do describe Him in various ways. However, there remains a concern if these are the ONLY ways we call on Him!

There is an additional concern.  We understand that our Abba has provided His Name so that we MAY use it call on Him and to honor Him!  

And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this [is] my name for ever, and this [is] my memorial unto all generations.  Exodus 3:15


Thy name, O LORD, [endureth] for ever; [and] thy memorial, O LORD, throughout all generations.   Psalm 135:13


The word translated as “LORD” is YHWH, or Yehovah, or any of the various transliterations; Strong’s # 3068, “the existing One” from the root word “haya” Strong’s #1961, meaning to be, to become, come to pass, exist.

The word translated as “God” is from the Hebrew word transliterated as Elohim, Strong’s # 430 meaning rulers, judges, god, goddess, the one true god,

The word translated as “memorial” is from the Hebrew word,  zeker, Strong’s 2143, meaning a memorial, remembrance.  This word is from zakar, Strong’s 2142, a primitive root. It means to remember, recall, call to mind; to cause to remember, to mention, to record, to make a memorial, to make remembrance.

We have understood that in Judaism, the custom is to avoid using the Name, YHWH, or Yahweh, or any of its various transliterations in order to avoid misusing it. Yet, we understand that our God gave us His Name as a memorial so that we would remember Him.  It seems clear to us that the custom of avoidance of the use of His Name is rooted in a fear bond type relationship, the potential of doing wrong.  It is our understanding that decisions based in this kind of fear bond are not necessarily wise or appropriate.  (See further information on this kind of fear bond here.)

Andre Roosma, a Dutch colleague, has done an extensive study on the Name and had some similar conclusions, though in much greater detail.  His work can be found in both Dutch and English in his article entitled:
The Magnificent and Most Lovely Name of the God Who Was there, Who Is There and Who Will be There. 

See the last appendix for comments on Chillul haShem, page 64..

In America today, the use of the generic terms “God” and “Lord” have all but replaced the Name of our God, YHWH, or Yahweh, to the point that most Christians do not even really know that His Name IS YHWH!  The connection to the God of Israel is obscured.  Along with that, the more general words, “god” and “lord” can be applied to anyone viewed as authoritative.

We see a contradiction and problem here. 

The Jews custom has been to avoid using the Name, except in prayer, in order to avoid breaking a commandment not to misuse the Name.

Not using the Name has led to a confusion and distancing from the true character and identity of our Elohim Who is THE God of Israel.

So we are faced with this situation:
1)    continue the tradition of not using the Name of YHWH in order to not offend the Jews, substituting Adonai or Lord or HaShem, which are generic terms.
2)    Continue the tradition of not using the Name of YHWH and continue the identity confusion which certainly does not honor His command to keep His Name as a memorial.


So, in effect, the choice is: honor what we view as a fear-bond based decision by doing as the Jews do so as not to offend them OR honor the love-based command to keep and call on His Name as a memorial to all generations.

NOTE: we certainly agree that the Fear of Elohim is the beginning of wisdom.  The kind of fear bonds we are talking about here are not seen as the same thing.  This is more fully explained in the link provided above.

When it comes down to a choice between offending a people group, the Jews, or offending our Elohim, we would prefer to honor our Elohim and NOT offend Him!

Therefore, for our community, we have elected to call on the Name of YHWH by His Memorial Name as He commanded us to do rather than continue the identity confusion or the honoring of a fear bond-based tradition common in Judaism.

Once again, we do not wish to offend our brother Judah, and we do not refuse to use the titles Adonai or HaShem at times but we are more concerned lest we offend our Elohim and concerned that His true identity be made clear.

 

Go Back to Introductory Statement:  How Shall We Call Him?

Go on to Statement on:   Messiah's Name