Reading: Ex. 34:5-6; 1 Chron. 16:7-36.
"Father, glorify Thy name. There came therefore a voice out of heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again" (John 12:28).
God's Name the Foundation of All God's Works
This answer of the Father to the prayer of His Son has a very wide meaning. "I have" reaches far back to the very beginning of all the Divine activities. "I will" reaches right on to the consummation of all God's works. "I have... glorified it, and will glorify it." His name always has been and always will be the foundation of all God's works and His name is inherent in all His activities.
God does not act in a nondescript, unrelated, abstract way. He acts in relation to His name, and He acts with the object of having a name put to His acts. If His acts provoke enquiry, that is exactly why He acts; if people are aware of things happening and ask from where and who, that is exactly what God is after in order to give a name to His acts. It is necessary to give a name to the source of all things and to the end and object of all things, for all things are summed up in His name.
The Name the Basis of the Whole Bible
We are always saying, as we come upon some great master-key, that this is the master-key to the whole of the Word of God. I do not know how many master-keys we have found, but there is a sense in which the Name is the basis of the whole Bible. The key to the story of this world and beyond is the name of the Lord. The Bible is concerned with the inherence, the all-pervasiveness, of the names of God, the name of the Lord. Everything is from that Name and everything is to that Name. It is the beginning and the end.
Now, it is quite an overwhelming business to take up this matter of the Name, with its varied meanings, content, challenge, effect, demands, values, glories, terrors and virtues. All these and so much more are bound up with the Name of the Lord throughout the Scriptures. It is quite beyond us to cope with it, but I am quite sure the Lord's message here is of very vital consequence for His people.
The Name of the Lord - the Revelation of the Lord
We will begin by noting that the Name of the Lord is the revelation of the Lord. Perhaps we might just look at a fragment or two by way of setting our feet on that fact. "And God spoke unto Moses, and said unto him, I am Jehovah: and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as God Almighty; but by My name Jehovah I was not known to them" (Ex. 6:2-3). "If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, Jehovah thy God..." (Deut. 28:58). These two fragments imply the truth that the name of the Lord is a revelation, that by which He is known, and those of you who have knowledge of the Word will immediately find leaping up in your memories many parts of Scripture which emphasise how much is bound up with knowing the name of the Lord. You will be recalling: "They that know Thy name will put their trust in Thee" (Psa. 9:10); "I will set him on high, because he hath known My name" (Psa. 91:14) and so on. There is a very great deal in the Word of God shown to be bound up with knowing the Name, because the Name is the revelation of Himself. God is known by His name. That does not mean that God is known by a title or a designation, but by a meaning which is represented by a name and which is in the very constitution of the name.
We know in the Bible that names were never given without very serious exercise. Names, both to those who gave them and those who possessed them, committed the possessor to something, and in so many cases the name that they bore governed their lives and was shown to be the sum total of their lives.
Now, there are many names of the Lord in the Bible. We could give a long list of them. I want to avoid anything that is only technical and try to get as quickly as possible to the spiritual values. We may refer to some of those names as we go on, but they are all partial expressions of the one inclusive name. The Lord God, or as in the Hebrew with the English accent and pronunciation, Jehovah Elohim, is the inclusive name, and you may count all the other names as emanating from that, expressive of that, being the various aspects of that Name's fulness.
What does this inclusive name, 'the Lord God', mean? It is a double name. Wherever you have the name 'Lord' in the Old Testament, you have the Hebrew 'Jehovah'; wherever you have 'God', you have 'Elohim', and these two are brought together in major presentations of God, the Lord God. That by the way. Being foundational, what is the fundamental meaning of this Name?
The Uniqueness of the Name
Firstly, the Word of God makes it very clear and gives tremendous emphasis to the fact of the uniqueness of the name of the Lord, Jehovah Elohim. Perhaps that does not get us very far. We should say it represents His absolute aloneness. There is not another, He is alone; He is the only one. I know that Elohim is a plural name. Elohim said, "Let us make man in our image." If we assume that the Trinity is in that very Name, we shall, before we are through, see the uniqueness of the Triune God in this Name. But first of all we just keep to this fact about the Name on the way to our main object. There is not another. He is one by Himself. He is unique.
The Exclusiveness of the Name
Then this Name speaks of exclusiveness. It is the expression of the exclusiveness of the Lord; that is, none can take His place and none can divide His place with Him. When you have said that, you are placed right into the realm of the great cosmic conflict of the ages: "I will make myself like the Most High; I will exalt my throne above the stars of God" (Isa. 14:13-14). The Word of God makes it clear that that one, in his pride of heart, in his wicked, iniquitous ambition, made a bid to be equal with the Most High, to divide the throne, to be very God, the object of worship. The name of the Lord will not permit anything like that. It is exclusive. Sooner or later, anything that seeks to take His place will come up against another aspect of that Name. That is, the effectiveness of the meaning that God is God exclusively.
The inclusiveness of the Name
Further, the Name means inclusiveness. That is, the Lord is self-sufficient; He is all-sufficient in Himself for everything and anything. He does not need any help; He does not stand or fall by the help of others. While there is a sense in which He needs our help, quite another sense, and while there is truth in the fact that He desires our help and has made marvellous provision for us to help Him, He is not dependent upon us; we are not indispensable to Him in the ultimate sense of His being sufficient. Inclusively He is self-sufficient, all-sufficient in Himself for everything. We ought to bless God for that. I trust that this is going to lead us into spiritual strength and spiritual wealth. It is a blessed thing that God does not break down when man breaks down, that God is not at the end of His wits when man is there; when all other help fails, that the Lord shall not throw up His hands and say, 'Well, I cannot do any more!' The whole Bible gathers itself up to show that when there is not another, His own arm brings salvation. He is inclusive in His self-sufficiency. That is the very name of the Lord.
The Supremacy of the Name
Then this Name expresses His complete supremacy. He is God over all, blessed for ever, supreme - that is His name. If you can get hold of an American Standard Version, you will find the names of God properly translated there. You will find that name Jehovah comes out in relation to these four things that I have mentioned: His uniqueness, His exclusiveness, His inclusiveness and His supremacy. That is the Lord God, and, "they that know His name will put their trust in Him." What a lot there is in knowing the name of the Lord!
The Glory Linked with the Meaning of the Name
It will then surely be seen that the glory is linked with the meaning of the Name. The Lord Jesus, in that moment of tremendous triumph, said, "What shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour. But for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify Thy name" (John 12:27-28). When He prayed that prayer in that hour of conflict, testing and anguish, He was praying with the full knowledge of what the glorifying of that Name meant. In the midst of all the nations gathering together against the Lord and against His anointed One, all the hosts of evil were concentrating upon Him to break Him and triumph. All the heavenly intelligences were looking on, almost holding their breath. In that moment He prayed in the full consciousness that the glorifying of the Father's name demanded that it should be seen that He is God alone; there is none to divide dominion with Him; He is exclusive. He knew that God the Father is all-sufficient for this whole mighty situation; He can see it through; He is supreme in this universe which was focusing its attention upon that hour of the cross. So the cross became the focal point of the glorifying of the Name in the sense of making manifest what that Name means, for it was in the cross that the universal significance of that Name was being put to the test, tried in a great universal crisis. How did the name of the Lord come out of this ordeal? It came out gloriously, as we know. The Name was glorified in this fourfold meaning.
The Name of the Lord - His Reputation
You see, the name of the Lord is God's reputation. Name always involves reputation, but in His case as supreme above all other names, it is the supreme reputation that is centred in that cross. It would be helpful to recall all those prophetic Scriptures of the Old Testament which point on to and prophetically mention the Christ in the hour of His cross, the compassing round about like bees, these evil forces, these spiritual hosts of wickedness, this prophetic cry to be saved in the dire hour. God's reputation is at stake, speaking after the manner of men. It is His name. If that One goes down, if that One's soul is left in Hades, if that One's body suffers corruption, the reputation of God, all His faithfulness, goes down. This One bears the reputation of God. That is what the Name means. God's name is God"s reputation; it is His authority; it is His power. How important, then it is, to know the Name of the Lord - not know the letters put together into a title and be able to say, "God is called Jehovah, Elohim and El Shaddai, etcetera" - that is not the point. The point is to know that there is none beside Him, to know that there is none that can take His place or share His throne or take anything from Him. Not one person is required to add anything to Him or who would be able to do so. He is all-sufficient without our help, without our groanings and strugglings and cravings to save ourselves. He can save us without any of it and very often has to let us exhaust ourselves in order to show that He can do everything by Himself and He is absolutely supreme. To know that, is to know His Name, and to bring us to that knowledge, He has to put us into the school of experience. There we discover the truth of what I said at the outset: all His works are related to His Name.
This school brings us into His works. They are deep works, dark works, unfathomable works; they are mysterious, strange works, works which are altogether beyond our power of understanding to know what He will do or how He will do it. He brings us there where we cannot imagine what God would do in order to show us the content of His name and to make us know His name, that we may put our trust in Him. So trust in the Name, faith in the Name, is nothing other or less than trusting God's reputation and God's ability to look after His reputation. It is having faith in God to stand by His reputation and not let His reputation be spoiled.
Now we ought to go back to Exodus 34:5-6 again. I remind you that four times in that section of Exodus the Name is mentioned four times. "And Jehovah descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of Jehovah. And Jehovah passed by before him, and proclaimed, Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness and truth." That is the Name, the content of the Name.
In this time which has largely laid foundations, just stepping on the threshold of so vast a matter, we must be careful that we do not allow the tremendous implications of this to be easily rubbed out. We have touched the supreme thing in this universe. We have touched the matter of all matters which comes nearest to our very own beings of all matters. You and I, more than anything else, need to know the Name. If we do not know the Name, it is going to be a poor, sorry, lookout for us. This world needs to know the impact of that Name, and it will not know and feel that impact unless there is a people who know it. That is what we have to come to sooner or later in our contemplation, that the impact of that Name has to be registered as it ever was in the sovereign appointment of God, through a people who know the Name. "The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits" (Dan. 11:32). Yes, there is a great need for the recovery of that Name among the people of God in order to register upon this world filled with other gods, where there is a 'god of this age', where an attempt has been made to divide the throne with Him. The registration that He is God alone must come through a people and it must come, in measure, through individuals. I mean that you and I are constantly and personally up against issues where only the Name of the Lord will be sufficient.