Show Me Your Glory, part 4: With a Name

“And Moses said to Yahweh, ‘See, you said to me, ‘lead this people up.’  But you did not reveal to me who you were going to send with me.  And you said, ‘I have known you with a name and you have found favor in my eyes.’ And now, if I have found favor in your eyes, reveal to me your ways so that I may know you and so that I may find favor in your eyes.  And understand that your people are this nation.’”

(Exodus 33:12-13)


Oh the wonders of God’s relationship with his people!  This is the God that created all things with but words of his mouth.  This is the God whose being extends beyond all of the stars and all of the galaxies.  Earth is this God’s footstool!  Yet, this God condescends to know us by name—we who are sinful, arrogant, fallen, and proud, choosing sin of the flesh over the truth that He offers—he comes to us in a relational way.  I find this mind-boggling.

Yet, what is even more amazing is the willingness of this God to redeem us from our sin.  Not only does he choose to have a relationship with us, for those whom he has a relationship with, he saves.  Redemption cost him more than we can even begin to imagine, for it cost him the life of his son.  But because of the work of his son, he adopts us into his household as sons and daughters.  And once there, he does something even more remarkable.  For there he does not simply know us by name, he gives us a new name (Revelation 2:17).

Now, there is some discussion around the meaning of God knowing Moses “by name” or “with a name.”  Many translations translate the preposition used here as “by” to imply the idea that God knew Moses by name—personally.  But does God not know all of his children by name?  Some would suggest that the “by name” might refer to God knowing Moses by his reputation, but what can man do to impress a mighty God? 

No, these two solutions simply do not make sense.  The better way to understand this preposition is to understand it as being what is called an instrumental use.  What this means is that the instrument through which God knew Moses in a special way was through a name.  What name is that then?  The name hwhy (Yahweh)—the personal name of God given to God’s people through Moses (Exodus 3:14).  It is through Moses that this name was revealed to God’s people for all time and it is through this personal name that Moses was given the privilege of such personal access to the presence of God.

There is an old saying that goes: “It’s not what you know, but who.”  Oh how that saying speaks the truth about eternal matters.  Our God is a relational God; you may know every fact and figure about the Bible and be able to articulate every doctrine of the Christian church, but unless God knows you by name, it will avail you nothing.  The question that we must ask is what will God say to us when we stand in final judgment.  Will he say, “well done, my good and faithful servant” or will he say, “get away from me, I never knew you”?  Beloved, how you answer this question makes all the difference.

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear!

It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, and drives away his fear.

Jesus, my Shepherd, Brother, Friend, my Prophet, Priest, and King,

My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End, accept the praise I bring.

-John Newton

About preacherwin

A pastor, teacher, and a theologian concerned about the confused state of the church in America and elsewhere...Writing because the Christian should think Biblically.

Posted on March 22, 2008, in Expositions and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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