By Norman S. Edwards
From SVM – Fall 2014 – 1
Shalom v’Ahav (Peace and Love), May this letter reach you and yours in the presence of angels and filled with the Ruach ha’Qodesh (the Holy Spirit).
I received the Fall 2013 Issue of Shepherd’s Voice Magazine and much to my delight, I saw my letter to you published with a very lengthy response to my questions. Thank you. I’m satisfied with your response, as I know that you’re just being careful to not go beyond what is written (1Corinthians 4:6), and you can’t do nothing but respect that. In the interest of letting “iron sharpen iron” (Proverbs 27:17), I would like to rebut a few points of your response.
You say in your response “…the New Testament writers…make no effort to tell us to use Sacred Names…”. To use another writer’s own words, because he just articulates it better than I ever could, I’d like to quote from author Lew White’s book Fossilized Customs, 9th Edition, concerning the promotion of the Sacred Name in the New Testament: “At Romans 10:14, after quoting Joel 2:32,
Paul asks, ‘How then shall they call upon Him in Whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not HEARD?’ They don’t know, or call, on His name” (p. 94).
But not only that N.T. verse, how about Matthew 6:9? How can we “Hallow,” i.e. set apart His Name when using inferior substitutes? How about Acts 4:12? This points to one name only! Is it Jesus? Yeshua? Yehoshua? What??? In John 17:6, 26 Yahushua talks about manifesting and declaring His Father’s Name, yet, as you have rightly pointed out, the New Testament writers “make no effort to tell us to use Sacred Names.”
You said, “We are doing a very dangerous thing if we claim that the original New Testament taught the use of Sacred names, but that it was somehow intercepted by translators who removed the correct names and all the teaching about them. If we claim such, we are teaching that the Scriptures were under complete control of people who could have inserted or removed any doctrine that they wanted.” To this I would say that it might be more dangerous to not state these claims. For one, we have evidence that such is the case (see E.W. Bullinger’s The Companion Bible appendices 30-34). Also, see all of the footnotes in the New Testament of the Word of Yahweh, 2nd Edition. For two, Yahuah tells us that it is possible (see Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32 and Revelation 22:18-19), but He suggests that He will not let it go beyond recognition (see Isaiah 40:8; 1 Peter 1:24-25).
All in all, Norm, I was satisfied with your answer and respect it. I’m a believer in “universal reconciliation” as taught by Dr. Stephen E. Jones and do not believe that this is a “salvation” issue, but rather a “first fruits”/“better resurrection” issue and when I come across brethren like yourself who epitomizes the love of Yahushua, I want to pass that precious jewel on to you, I’m just sorry that either I’m doing such a piss-poor job convincing you of what I truly believe that Yahuah revealed to me on or around Pentecost of 2009 or either He doesn’t want to reveal it to you yet. One thing is for sure though, there will be a time when He will reveal His true Name to us and He will cause us to pronounce it correctly (Zephaniah 3:9). Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter and may Yahuah bless you and yours abundantly!
In Mashiyach Yahusha,John J Adkins
Thank you for your kind letter even though we still have very different views. All of the scriptures you citied make perfect sense if understood from the standpoint that everyone must know the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob— and His Son, our Savior.
The pronunciation or word used in each language to describe God does not seem to be an issue. Acts 2:8-11 shows that on Pentecost, each person heard the disciples speak of “the wonderful works of God” … “each in our own language in which we were born”. If they all heard in their native language except that they heard the Hebrew name of God, why didn’t Luke give us that name here, instead of the Greek theos? In Acts 9:36, Luke gives both the Hebrew Tabitha and Greek Dorcas, for the name of a Godly woman. in Acts 13:6-8 he gives us both the Hebrew Bar Jesus and the Greek Elymas for a sorcerer.
If Luke could do this for these less important people, why did he not do it for God if the pronunciation of His name was an important doctrine? Romans 10:14 states they need to hear the gospel, but Paul uses the Greek Theos in verse 13 saying, whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” Similarly, the “Lord’s prayer” in Matthew 6:9-11 that tells us to hallow His name, never uses any name for “God”, but the Greek Pater for “Father”. Later on in the chapter, Matthew writes, “You cannot serve God and mammon. (v 24), using the Greek Theos for God. Acts 4:10-12 tells us the name under which we must be saved: “Jesus [Iesous] Christ [Christos} of Nazareth…whom God [Theos] raised from the dead. We do not find any effort to refer to the proper Hebrew name spelling or pronunciation here, but we find more description of the Son and Father. It gives the city where Jesus was from— which narrows it down greatly because Nazareth was a small town, and declares the God who raised Him from the dead—other gods do not raise people from the dead. Finally, John records Christ’s prayer about manifesting and declaring His Father’s name, but is certainly referring to His character, not the sound of His name. The Hebrew word for “name”, shem, clearly has this meaning: “a good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,” (Proverbs 22:1). This is not about the sound or spelling of a man’s name, but his character. John makes no effort to explain the Hebrew name for God, even though it was written with non-Jewish readers in mind. John actually explains the meaning of the common Hebrew word “rabbi” in John 1:38: “…They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher)…”
Yes, I agree that there is some possibility that the Scriptures have been mildly altered, but I think God holds us responsible for what He has preserved. I have heard or read hundreds of doctrines from people who are convinced that one or dozens of Scriptures have been altered and that they know the real truth. Some of those people think only certain races can be saved, others have concocted scriptural excuses for their adultery, some believe they personally fulfill nearly all end time prophecy, etc.— all by changing a few verses that they “know” are wrong. Over 6 billion Bibles have been printed all containing the same 66 books (many with the Apochrypha, but still clearly labeled “apocryphal”, meaning “of doubtful authorship or authenticity”). I would much rather stand before Christ’s judgment seat (2 Corinthians 5:10) saying I followed that Word the best I understood it, rather than explain where I thought that Word was wrong and why I thought my ideas were better.
While I cannot reconcile Dr. Jones’ “universal reconciliation” with verses like Matthew 26:24 which says it would be better if Judas “had not been born”, but I have learned a lot from Dr. Jones. I do believe that eventually everyone will have the opportunity to be saved (Acts 2:21; Romans 11:26; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 2:2). I agree with your statement that this life is largely about who will be “first fruits” in the “better resurrection.”
However, I do not think the exact pronunciation of His name will be the issue. For example, you use Yahuah, but you cite a reference work The Word of Yahweh. Will the authors of that work be demoted to a later resurrection because they did not get it right and say: The Word of Yahuah?
To further complicate the matter, I do believe the Scripture teaches ongoing Revelations from God (1 Corinthians 14:6, 26; 1 Corinthians 12:1,7; Galatians 1:12; 2:2; Ephesians 1:17; 3:3), which is essentially the gift of prophecy (1 Corinthians 12:28; 13:2; 14:1; 1 Timothy 4:14). So I accept it is possible that God did reveal His name to you and ask you to use it. Before I would accept that revelation, I would want to know something about how it happened. Most of the Biblical prophets were very clear how they received their revelations: hearing a voice, seeing a vision, seeing a dream, hearing from an angel, etc.
These revelations are generally clear as to whether the individual is to take a message to somebody, to use it himself or even to seal up the book for later (Daniel 12:4). I have received 65 dreams that I thought were significant enough to write down, but I wasn’t told to take the information to anyone else. For some of them I also received an interpretation which has come to pass, others I do not yet know how or when they will apply. Several of them were pointing out my sins that I was ignoring and needed to correct. A few caused me to make massive changes in my life which have worked out for good. None of these dreams were ever contrary to Scripture, nor can I remember any dream that appeared to be “the right” explanation of a Scripture. These things do not make me (or anyone else) a better or more righteous person—just responsible to carry out specific things that God has shown me to do. At times, I have prayed for a dream to help me know what to do in a certain case and have received one—but more often, I have not.
If you have indeed received a revelation, I would like to know more about how it occurred. When others have told me that God revealed something to them, sometimes they had a specific answer to that question, and other times they say, “when things really seem right to me, then I know it is God talking to me.”
I think the latter can be dangerous. We can learn a lot from the commissions of Daniel and Ezekiel; they were alive at the same time. Daniel was an important official in the Babylonian government (Daniel 1:19-21) and Ezekiel was a captive of Babylon (Ezek 1:1-3) who had one revelation, part of which required him to lie down for 430 days and eat food cooked on dung. Daniel had an important purpose as God used him to steer the actions of the Babylonian government. Ezekiel had an important purpose declaring and atoning for the sins of Judah and Israel. Both of their revelations were recorded and preserved for us to this day—and they were very specific about how those revelations occurred.
But what would happen today if a poor person claimed to have a revelation from God which involved him cooking food on manure? Many Christians would probably not accept it because it is just “too gross”. Other Christians might not accept any revelation that came from a person who worked for our modern “Babylonian” government. I wonder if there were some God-fearing people during the time of Ezekiel and Daniel who only accepted one or neither of them as inspired of God. While we do need to judge the modern prophecies that we hear (1 Corinthians 14:29), we need to seek God on these matters and not be quick to condemn based upon our own wisdom:
“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24).