Article: WHAT’S IN A NAME? | Pr. Ribi Kenneth, UAE

November is special. Providence allows me the privilege of adding another candle to the ever-diminishing edible real estate of the cake. Yes, that’s the concession of getting older, and it is a time to appreciate the gift of life, reflect on the ways God moved in the years past, and embrace the blessing of the new year. Yet, while birthdays call for gratitude, reflection and celebration of life, over time, I discovered that adding life to life is not just a yearly function but one that dwells with every single breath we take.

What is in a breath, we may ask? The reality, however, is in the name we breathe. The illumination of life’s enigmas and the purpose of every moment bestowed as life are entwined in this reality.

Fundamentally, names are a significant part of one’s identity. They carry deep personal, familial, cultural and historical associations. They define who we are, the societies to which we belong, and our standing in the world. More so, having a Family surname attached to one’s name amplifies this identity, especially one with a royal lineage or power.

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*God’s Name, the Life we breathe*
When God chose to create a living being that would represent him, unlike all other creations that He spoke into existence, God did two unique things in human creation. Firstly, God desired to make humankind with His own hands. And secondly, God breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and he became a living being. This is remarkable because it indicates how involved and personal God is in the life of a human and how His life-giving breath sustains each of our lives.

Years later, when God spoke to Moses from within the burning bush at Horeb, Moses questioned God about His name. But, God, the uncontainable creator and sustainer of all breath, in all His omnipotence, graciously presented His name as “I AM WHO I AM.” (Exodus 3:14–15). God further declared, “This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation”.

This phrase expanded the most sacred name for God, recorded in the original Hebrew as ‘YHWH’.
Firstly, ‘I AM’ is derived from the Hebrew verb for existence, ‘HaYah’, which means ‘to become’, ‘come to pass’, or ‘sustain’. So God’s name is attributed to our being and life, and our sustenance is the breath we inhale and exhale. God’s life-giving nature, declared as His name, is the piece of who we are. The Scripture states, “God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ (Acts 17:27 – 28a)
Secondly, the name YHWH, consisting of a sequence of consonants ‘Yod’, ‘Heh’, ‘Waw’, and ‘Heh’, known as the tetragrammaton, is typically not pronounced to avoid the misuse ofb God’s holy name in keeping with the third of the Ten Commandments. Although the original pronunciation of YHWH has been lost and remains debated among scholars, intervening vowels were added to the tetragram to make it legible as ‘YaHWeH’. But, the Jewish sages associate the complexity of the letters YHWH with the simplicity of the breathing sounds or aspirated consonants. When pronounced without intervening vowels, it sounds like breathing. The inhale produces “YaH”, and exhaling produces “WeH,” or vice-versa. It is overwhelming to comprehend that the name of the sovereign, almighty God, is ingrained into the very fabric of our being, and it resounds at every breath – from the moment we are born to the last breath we take!

Now, connecting this to numbers based on open research data, for an average person, this would mean declaring the name of God about 960 times an hour, 23,040 in a day, and 8,409,600 a year. The person who lives to 80 will take about 672,768,000 breaths of divine declarations in a lifetime! How amazing to know that irrespective of whether we love God or despise Him, whether we are well or ill, knowingly and unknowingly, night and day, we are designed to declare the Name of God, the glory of the creator who intimately formed each one of us. The 150 Psalter concludes with this declaration “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.”

*God’s Name, declared by the lips of babes*
Inaugurating the heart of the new Covenant, when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, the address of a ‘Father’ is introduced to the disciples for the first time. For we, who are adopted as sons and daughters into the kingdom of light, have the privilege to draw close to the Holy of Holies, bearing His name as our family name. This name ushers us into a new birth, a new life, a new race, and a new kingdom. As complex as it may seem to a rational mind, the Aramaic word ‘ABBA’ used by Jesus is the most elementary word any human being can utter. Without any introduction, education, or practice, a newborn child declares ABBA as the word of address to the creator by the mere sound of closing ‘ABB’ and opening ‘BBA’ of their lips. Matthew 21;16 states, “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants, You have perfected praise”

How profound to know that God, while He is transcendent, is also immanent in the simplest ways that all may bear the goodness that flows from the father. I cannot describe how such a majestic God could contain all essence of his nature in a name that sounds as superficial as a breath, but I know in both my jubilations and brokenness, I always declare his Name with every single breath I take. And I cannot explain how this tremendous unfailing love found me and adopted me as his child, but I know He is my stronghold and when I am weak and unable to speak, the mere opening and closing of my lips shall sound ‘the love call’.

When a name defines our whole life, speech, and declarations, we realise that beyond this life, a new beginning hangs on every breath. So as I pause to contemplate the passing year, I recognise that by divine design, I have praised him with every breath of my heart, and in my lowest estate, I had access to the sweetest name of all – the one I call by name, ABBA, Father!

But the question remains: “If the essence of God’s name is ‘default by design’ in every human being He creates, what is my distinct worship and praise as a ransomed and redeemed child of the Light? Thanks be to Christ Jesus!, who’s won the race for me! And so I lift up the cup of salvation and declare in harmony with the Psalmist, “Hallelujah! Praise the LORD, O my soul. I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being”.  (Psa 146:1-2)

Pr. Ribi kennethNovember is special. Providence allows me the privilege of adding another candle to the ever-diminishing edible real estate of the cake. Yes, that’s the concession of getting older, and it is a time to appreciate the gift of life, reflect on the ways God moved in the years past, and embrace the blessing of the new year. Yet, while birthdays call for gratitude, reflection and celebration of life, over time, I discovered that adding life to life is not just a yearly function but one that dwells with every single breath we take.

What is in a breath, we may ask? The reality, however, is in the name we breathe. The illumination of life’s enigmas and the purpose of every moment bestowed as life are entwined in this reality.

Fundamentally, names are a significant part of one’s identity. They carry deep personal, familial, cultural and historical associations. They define who we are, the societies to which we belong, and our standing in the world. More so, having a Family surname attached to one’s name amplifies this identity, especially one with a royal lineage or power.

*God’s Name, the Life we breathe*
When God chose to create a living being that would represent him, unlike all other creations that He spoke into existence, God did two unique things in human creation. Firstly, God desired to make humankind with His own hands. And secondly, God breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and he became a living being. This is remarkable because it indicates how involved and personal God is in the life of a human and how His life-giving breath sustains each of our lives.

Years later, when God spoke to Moses from within the burning bush at Horeb, Moses questioned God about His name. But, God, the uncontainable creator and sustainer of all breath, in all His omnipotence, graciously presented His name as “I AM WHO I AM.” (Exodus 3:14–15). God further declared, “This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation”.

This phrase expanded the most sacred name for God, recorded in the original Hebrew as ‘YHWH’.
Firstly, ‘I AM’ is derived from the Hebrew verb for existence, ‘HaYah’, which means ‘to become’, ‘come to pass’, or ‘sustain’. So God’s name is attributed to our being and life, and our sustenance is the breath we inhale and exhale. God’s life-giving nature, declared as His name, is the piece of who we are. The Scripture states, “God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ (Acts 17:27 – 28a)
Secondly, the name YHWH, consisting of a sequence of consonants ‘Yod’, ‘Heh’, ‘Waw’, and ‘Heh’, known as the tetragrammaton, is typically not pronounced to avoid the misuse ofb God’s holy name in keeping with the third of the Ten Commandments. Although the original pronunciation of YHWH has been lost and remains debated among scholars, intervening vowels were added to the tetragram to make it legible as ‘YaHWeH’. But, the Jewish sages associate the complexity of the letters YHWH with the simplicity of the breathing sounds or aspirated consonants. When pronounced without intervening vowels, it sounds like breathing. The inhale produces “YaH”, and exhaling produces “WeH,” or vice-versa. It is overwhelming to comprehend that the name of the sovereign, almighty God, is ingrained into the very fabric of our being, and it resounds at every breath – from the moment we are born to the last breath we take!

Now, connecting this to numbers based on open research data, for an average person, this would mean declaring the name of God about 960 times an hour, 23,040 in a day, and 8,409,600 a year. The person who lives to 80 will take about 672,768,000 breaths of divine declarations in a lifetime! How amazing to know that irrespective of whether we love God or despise Him, whether we are well or ill, knowingly and unknowingly, night and day, we are designed to declare the Name of God, the glory of the creator who intimately formed each one of us. The 150 Psalter concludes with this declaration “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.”

*God’s Name, declared by the lips of babes*
Inaugurating the heart of the new Covenant, when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, the address of a ‘Father’ is introduced to the disciples for the first time. For we, who are adopted as sons and daughters into the kingdom of light, have the privilege to draw close to the Holy of Holies, bearing His name as our family name. This name ushers us into a new birth, a new life, a new race, and a new kingdom. As complex as it may seem to a rational mind, the Aramaic word ‘ABBA’ used by Jesus is the most elementary word any human being can utter. Without any introduction, education, or practice, a newborn child declares ABBA as the word of address to the creator by the mere sound of closing ‘ABB’ and opening ‘BBA’ of their lips. Matthew 21;16 states, “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants, You have perfected praise”

How profound to know that God, while He is transcendent, is also immanent in the simplest ways that all may bear the goodness that flows from the father. I cannot describe how such a majestic God could contain all essence of his nature in a name that sounds as superficial as a breath, but I know in both my jubilations and brokenness, I always declare his Name with every single breath I take. And I cannot explain how this tremendous unfailing love found me and adopted me as his child, but I know He is my stronghold and when I am weak and unable to speak, the mere opening and closing of my lips shall sound ‘the love call’.

When a name defines our whole life, speech, and declarations, we realise that beyond this life, a new beginning hangs on every breath. So as I pause to contemplate the passing year, I recognise that by divine design, I have praised him with every breath of my heart, and in my lowest estate, I had access to the sweetest name of all – the one I call by name, ABBA, Father!

But the question remains: “If the essence of God’s name is ‘default by design’ in every human being He creates, what is my distinct worship and praise as a ransomed and redeemed child of the Light? Thanks be to Christ Jesus!, who’s won the race for me! And so I lift up the cup of salvation and declare in harmony with the Psalmist, “Hallelujah! Praise the LORD, O my soul. I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being”.  (Psa 146:1-2)

Pr. Ribi kenneth

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