The Bible Project

God's Name is a Character - God E10

Episode Summary

Tim and Jon zoom in on a confusing part of the Bible: God’s attributes. Specifically, God’s name, glory, word, spirit and wisdom. Today Tim and Jon will be covering the first two. God’s name and his glory or "kavod."

Episode Notes

This episode continues our series on the development of God as a character in the Bible! Today Tim and Jon zoom in on a confusing part of the Bible: God’s attributes, specifically, God’s name, glory, word, spirit, and wisdom. Today Tim and Jon will be covering the first two attributes, God’s name and his glory.

In part one (0-7:15), Tim outlines God’s name in the Bible. Think of God’s name as his “reputation,” and his name is a big deal in the Bible. Tim briefly outlines and says that God’s attributes take on a life of their own. Literally. The attributes play a similar role in the story of the bible that the Angel of Yahweh does. The attribute can be both distinct from and be Yahweh.

Tim says that the first time God’s name is revealed in the Bible is at the burning bush in the story of Moses in Exodus 3. God reveals his divine name to Moses, and it is utterly unique and undefinable: “I am who I am.” Yahweh = he is who he is.

Tim shares a quote from scholar Gerhard Von Rad: “The name Yahweh was committed in trust to Israel alone among the nations… In it alone lay the guarantee of Yahweh’s nearness and of his readiness to help… This name shared directly in Yahweh’s own holiness, for indeed it was, so to speak, a double of his being. And so it had to be treated as holy in the very heart of Israel’s worship, to 'call on the name of Yahweh' was equivalent to true worship.” Von Rad Old Testament Theology, Vol. 1, p. 183.

In part two (7:15-25:55), Tim continues and says that in Deuteronomy we see a fascinating repeated phrase. Moses says that when Israel crosses into the promised land, God will lead them to set up a place of worship, a temple: Deuteronomy 12:4 says, “You are to worship at the place Yahweh your God will choose from among all the tribes to place his name there for it to dwell/take up residence. That’s where you will seek him and go there.” Deuteronomy 12:11 says, “And the place where Yahweh your God chooses to cause his name to dwell, that’s where you will bring your offerings…”
Tim says the point is that the unique name of Yahweh in this phrase is personified like a person or being who “lives/dwells” in the temple.

Tim moves on and outlines another attribute, God’s glory. God’s kavod = the physical manifestation of God’s important status. Tim highlights Exodus 24:9-11 and God's glory on Mount Sinai. "Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel; and under his feet there appeared to be a pavement platform of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. Yet he did not stretch out his hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank."

While this passage doesn’t use the word kavod, they see a physical manifestation of God. This isn’t the only story of a physical manifestation of God. In 1 Kings 22:19, the prophet Micaiah says, “Therefore, hear the word of the Lord. I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right and on his left."
Then again in Isaiah 6:1-3, "In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of his robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said: “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of gis glory (kavod).”

Tim says the point is that there is uniformity in these stories. Everyone sees a glorious seated royal figure. Then Tim expands the point with a crazy story in Ezekiel chapter 1.
“Now it came about in the thirtieth year, on the fifth day of the fourth month, while I was by the river Chebar among the exiles, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God...
As I looked, behold, a storm wind was coming from the north, a great cloud with fire flashing forth continually and a bright light around it, and in its midst something like glowing metal in the midst of the fire.
Now over the heads of the living beings there was something like a platform (Hebrew word, raqia, from Genesis 1), like the awesome gleam of crystal, spread out over their heads.
Now above the platform that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne, like sapphire in appearance; and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a human. Then I noticed from the appearance of his loins and upward something like glowing metal that looked like fire all around within it, and from the appearance of his loins and downward I saw something like fire; and there was a radiance around him. As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Yahweh. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking."

Tim’s point is that the Ezekiel story is a culmination of this theme. God’s glory and God can be both distinct and indistinguishable from each other. Tim also offers Psalm 26:8. “O Yahweh, I love the house where you dwell, the place where your glory (kavod) dwells.” As a final point, Tim says that all the attributes can weave in and out of each other. God’s glory can also dwell somewhere, just like his name can.

In part three (25:55-end), Tim takes a sneak peak at how these themes of God’s attributes pay off when reading the New Testament. Tim dives into John 17. This passage is often called Jesus’ “high priestly prayer.”

John 17:1-3, 5: “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son, that the Son may glorify you, even as you gave him authority over all flesh, that to all whom you have given him, he may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent...Now, Father, glorify me together with yourself, with the glory which I had with you before the world was.” Tim says the point here is that Jesus was the pre-existent word and wisdom of God, and the embodiment of his divine glory.

Then in John 17:11, we see, “Holy Father, keep them in your name, the name which you have given me, that they may be one even as we are one.” Tim says that Jesus and the Father bear “the name” showing that they are one.

John 17:20-26: “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in me through their word; that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that also they may be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me. The glory which you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as we are one; I in them and you in me, that they may be perfected in one-ness, so that the world may know that you sent me, and loved them, even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, be with me where I am, so that they may see my glory which you have given me, for you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, although the world has not known you, yet I have known you; and these have known that you sent me; and I have made your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

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Show Produced by:
Dan Gummel, Jon Collins

Show Music:
Defender Instrumental, Tents
He’s Always There, Tae the Producer
Another Chance, Tae the Producer

Show Resources:
Von Rad Old Testament Theology, Vol. 1, p. 183