What is in a name? In most of our names, not much. Some of us may be named after a biblical character or famous person, but in general, our name has no hidden meaning.

Not so in Hebrew—it seems as if every Hebrew name is designed to have a special message. Samuel, for instance, means “heard by God” and was given to her little boy by a grateful woman who feared she was permanently infertile. No surprise, then, that the proper name by which God revealed himself to the Israelite believers would have a powerful meaning. There is no English equivalent; the closest we can get is “The Lord.” The proper name, translated as Jahveh (i.e. Jehovah), or Yahweh, is a verbal variation of the Hebrew I am.

In today’s world, there are many who believe that we all have the same god, and it doesn’t matter whom we pray to… Wrong! Allah, Buddha, Mother Earth, etc. are not the god of Christians. Our God is THE LORD, The I AM! He lives…always has and always will.

The “I am” name emphasizes God’s eternal existence and his rock-steady purpose. He once explained that dual nature of his purpose to Moses, letting him see the intensity of his glory:

“He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord’; The Lord, the compassionate God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished” (Exodus 34:6,7)

Does that sound like a paradox? It is. On Calvary the Lord punished and forgave the world’s sin.