Knowing God's Name
Knowing God's Name
Speaker: Marcus Overstreet
Well, it’s good to see everyone this morning, it is from this perspective, it’s dark out there, but I’m squinting because I want to see your faces as much as possible. But it’s good to be together. Great to see the children here. Thank you so much, parents, for all of your patience. I know it’s not been particularly easy the last year and a half, but it’s good to have the kids with us. I do want to remind the parents we do have something special today if you grabbed it on your way and we do have a note taking page for the children so they can follow the lesson today.
So they have something to be able to take home with them. So that’s, I believe, at the front door. There’s some markers there for them as well. I guess I should also say it’s seven 11 today. So happy seven 11. So go get yourself a free Slurpee, right. Happy Slurpee day. And I think that’s what’s happened. What a wonderful marketing plan that is. As you may or may not know, I do enjoy running.
This has not always been the case. Some people hate running and are like, you are a sick man, but I do enjoy running. My mom taught me how to run, so it’s special between us. This is my mom, Christina, and the picture here. She’s a Christian in Gainesville, Florida, part of the church there for many, many years. And she’s not only my mom, she is the self-appointed president, secretary and treasurer of my fan club.
And she does not apologize for it either. So you know what I’m talking about, if you are friends with her on social media, she is so much in love with me. It’s embarrassing. You know, this is true. And I love her too. This picture here is from a 15 K race that they run every year in Jacksonville called the Riverrun. All right? Its almost 10 months. And this has always been my mom’s favorite race. She’s been running it off and on since 1981.
Yes. And campus students. Yes, that’s the nineteen hundreds. You know someone in the nineteen hundreds. You were born in the 1900s? Yes. That’s right. Now my mom is now in her early 70s and my mom, we’ve won this race together. We’ve actually won it together three times since she crushed cancer. Amen? Prasie God. And its quite a race. Twenty thousand people run the Riverrun in Jacksonville every year, the biggest 15k race in the country.
And if you’ve ever seen those people lined the streets of Jacksonville with signs, with snacks, with water, they’re shouting encouragement. As you run, you run through the different neighborhoods of Jacksonville and people spray you with a water hose. It’s it’s perfect it’s beautiful, but you need it at that time. They give you gummy bears, they give you snacks. Some even offer adult beverages as you’re trying to run. It’s quite a scene. And what I really love is what I really need, especially once you get to about the seven mile mark and you start hitting the heart rate, which goes straight up like this, you’re on your way to death, basically, but you have people lining the streets in their neighborhoods that you’re running through and they cheer you on as you run past them.
And they’re saying, let’s go Marcus. Come on, Christina, you’re doing great. Keep it going. And the first time I participated in the race, I thought, OK, I like this. This is weird. How do they know me? Do I know them? Was that an old friend, you know who who was that? And then I remember. Oh, yeah, I have a I have a number that we’re in with my name on it.
Right. My name is on my shirt. So it’s very encouraging. It’s very personal. When people know my name, it feels like they, they know me. And I’d say that for all of us, in order for us to really know someone, we must know their name. Right. And some of us are better with names than others. But it really is the first step of deeper connection. The first step in knowing someone’s identity is knowing his or her name. Right? Without a name there’s a wall in the relationship. And it’s the same with God. Knowing God is knowing God’s name. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today. Knowing God is knowing God’s name. Let’s turn in our bibles to Exodus Chapter three. The Holy Spirit is working today, Eddie gave us some Exodus. I’m going to give you some more exodus this morning, knowing God is knowing God’s name. And here’s why this is important. You know, billions of people have their own name for God, all with their own definition of who God is. Allah, Buddha, Mother Nature, the universe, the God of your inner self.
And the list goes on and on and on. In our world today, God can become anything or anyone you want. But here’s what we’re talking about today. Knowing the God of the Bible, knowing the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, knowing the God of the first century Christians, and knowing that God that Jesus called father, knowing this God is knowing his name. So keep in mind, most of the time when the Bible speaks of knowing God, when the Bible talks about the knowledge of God, this does not mean intellectual knowledge or this theological study.
I’m not saying that’s not important. But when the Bible speaks of knowing God, it doesn’t mean intellectually. It does not mean knowing about the existence of this God, but rather this is knowing God and a close, intimate and growing relationship. That’s what this is. And here in Exodus, Chapter three, Moses is a young and spry 80 years old. And like his Hebrew brothers, he’s forgotten who God is. He’s allowed his pain to cloud his view of God, so God reaches out to Moses and the burning bush, God tells him to go to Egypt and lead the Israelites out of slavery.
So next year in Chapter three, Moses asks God a very important question for all of us. In verse 13, Moses said to God, Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you. And they ask me, What is his name? Then what shall I tell them? And this may sound like a really silly question for Moses, but actually it’s a terrific question. As a Christian today in Orlando.
What if someone asks you today, you invite them to church? You know, it’s all about the Orlando Church of Christ. And and I want you to come out. It’s a great church. Great people. Come to my family group, come to my Bible discussion, and then they just ask you, well, what makes your God different? What makes your God different than all these other gods, the God of the Muslims or the Hindus or the Buddhists or or maybe your child asks you and be prepared for this. As a parent when your child says, well, there are so many gods, what makes the God from our church the one God that we must trust and obey? Mom and dad, who is our God?
Well, God gives us the answer in verse 14, God said to Moses, I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites. I am has sent me to you. God also said to Moses, say to the Israelites, the Lord or the I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God Isaac and the God of Jacob has sent me to you. And not only that, this is my name forever. The name you shall call me from generation to generation.
You see in ancient times, to know the name of someone was to have insight into the person’s entire being. With this in mind, God’s name is who God is. So God, as he does from generation to generation, and as he does and has done with each one of us individually, God reintroduces himself. Now, I’ll give you this. It’s easy to forget names, right? For example, this may happen to you with me today after the last song.
It’s time to chat with one another. We’re finished. We’re starting to file out expeditiously so we don’t get rebuked. All right. And we get out of the building. But we’re talking right? And this happened today. And many of us have been apart more than we’ve been together in the last year and a half, especially in this setting. We’re wearing masks. so I walk past you today. I’m building in some excuses for myself here.
I walk past you today and you’ll say Hey Marcus how you doing? And either because of memory loss or any other number of wonderful excuses I can make, I can’t remember your names. Or I’m afraid I know their names, but I think I’m going to mispronounce it for the hundredth time. So I’m just like, you’re like, hey, Marcus how are you doing? I’m like, hey, you, brother, thank God your brother and sister. Just cause I call you brothers or sisters doesn’t necessarily mean I forgot your name, but it is very nice. Hey you brother, my sister.
You know, when you forget someone’s name, it’s awkward. It’s uncomfortable. You’re afraid of embarrassment. But Moses he goes there. He asked a seemingly dumb question. Pretty much he says, Now, what’s your name? You’re sending me to do this? But what is your name and who are you? What makes you different from all the other gods? How can I explain who you are to these people? And God doesn’t leave them hanging.
In verse 14, God reveals his name to be Yahweh or the capital letters y h w h. And many of our English Bibles will translate this as Lord. All capital letters and the small capital letters. It’s very interesting that they do that, but they wanted to stand out for us. But God’s name is Yahweh. God has many, many names, but when pressed on it he says Yahweh. I remember several years ago one of our children it was time for our special missions offering.
If you’re visiting with us once a year, we collect a whole bunch of extra money and we send it out for missions. Right. This big event, it’s amazing. It’s encouraging. Its the grace of giving. So we get our kids involved. And several years ago, one of our small children had saved allowance money and just different over and over time and got this envelope and put all kinds of coins in a few dollars in there and then colored it and everything with crayons.
And it was beautiful. And it said to your Yahweh. And you’re like, whyd you do that? I just wanted to make sure I got to the right person, because that’s God’s name, right? I didn’t want to go to the wrong God. And it had to go specifically. It’s Yahweh, right? But God’s name is Yahweh, the great I am. It’s so simplistic, but it’s who God is. It means I am who I am.
I am because I am, I will be who I will be. God’s true name literally means to be. In other words, God’s name is life and existence. Sounds simple, but very deep waters. I’ll give you some more explanation of this. First of all, Yahweh is self existent. You know, that burning Bush really illustrates is the bush just keeps on burning. It doesn’t stop. It doesn’t burn up. We just get a sense it just keeps going. So this guy that we’re talking about today, this God does not need us or any other being in order to exist. Think about that for a second. You go whew mind blown. God is self existent apart from us, yet we are not existent apart from God. We don’t even take our next breath without the great I am allowing it to happen. secondly, the Lord is the creator and sustainer of all that exists.
The universe is not the I am Mother Nature is not the I am. Money. Wealth. Culture. Those are not the great I am. And all those so-called gods submit and bow down to Yahweh. And Yahweh’s not some absent grandfather who set the universe in motion and now he’s sleeping in his rocking chair. All right. Yahweh is involved in the details of his creation. Everything good that you and I have in life comes from Yahweh. Every good motive, every good deed originates from God.
Nothing happens without the permission of the great I am. It’s the classic hymn saying several weeks ago, and I think it says it best. There is a God, he is alive in Him we live and we survive. From dust our God created man. He is our God. The great I am. Also gods the same gods the same yesterday, today and forever. Hebrews thirteen verse eight the God of the Old Testament did not suddenly become a Christian in the New Testament.
So we got to fix God. We got to convert God. Same God, both testaments. God has never changed. God has never repented. God never needs forgiveness. God is not a disciple of anyone. There’s nothing new for Yahweh to learn that God needs no accountability. Never has. Never will. God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. We could count on him. He is so high above us.
God’s different. Also, the great I am is eternal and his existence. At best, you and I live 80 years. I think the last two years have shown us how fragile life can be. We’re a mist in the span of history. But as for the Lord, there’s no beginning. How bizarre is that? Like everything we know has a beginning. That’s what our lives are built around. There’s a beginning. There’s a building of some people.
There’s no beginning to God, there’s no end to God. And that’s so much more than my small mind can comprehend. I remember as a kid, I realized that for the first time. Well, where did God start? He didn’t. Mind blown.
And you know what? God can become a man if he wants to, and he did. God can be killed by the most powerful nation in the world, but our God will not stay in the grave. God lives forever. God’s resume has these words with this word tight at the top. Indestructible. God is life. Knowing God is knowing God’s name. Let’s now fast forward to Exodus, Chapter three. We’ll start in Exodus, Chapter 33. And this takes place about a year or two after the burning bush.
At this time, Moses has now started to really get to know God. Moses is called God’s friend. But that’s not enough for Moses. He wants a deeper connection with the i am and check this out in chapter 33, verse 18. Don’t miss this exodus, 33 verse 18. Then Moses said to God, Now show me your glory. That, brothers and sisters, is shameless audacity on the part of Moses. I love it. I want to imitate that. Knowing God’s name is powerful.
When Moses came back from spending time with God, his face would shine. The skin of Moses returned with super natural color, and it freaks people out just from being in the presence of God. His face shined so brightly from the glory of power of God, many of you know this, moses had to wear a veil so he wouldn’t scare the people. With all that being said, Moses wants more of God. He now gets brash and he demands show me your glory. And then verse 19. Here’s the result of that. And the Lord said to Moses, OK, I added that, OK. I will cause all of my goodness to pass in front of you. Now, think about that for a moment. All of God’s goodness passing by. One wave. One moment. God says I will proclaim my name, the Lord in your presence, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy. And I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. Now let’s get down to chapter 34, verse five. We move forward in this conversation. Exodus 34, verse five. Then the Lord came down. And that’s the way it always is for us to connect with God. God has to lower himself to get to us. God stoops down. Then the Lord came down in the cloud and he stood there with them and he proclaimed his name, the Lord, or Yahweh, and he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming the Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger abounding and love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands of generations, forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.
Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished. He punishes the children and their children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generation. And then at once what Moses do. Moses bowed down to the ground and worshiped. Knowing God is knowing God’s name. God’s name is his identity. God’s name is his presence. God’s name is his authority. God’s name is his nature and his character. Let’s break this down. What God just told Moses about himself.
First of all, God’s name is compassion. This means God has deep feelings for you and me. Deep. He cares about everything we’re going through. Whether great or small, known or unknown, and here’s the thing, Yahweh is not simply compassionate. God is compassion. God’s name is Grace, God offers all of us undeserved personal connection with Him, no matter our past, no matter our present, a free gift, God’s grace is always greater than our sin.
Again, Yahweh is not simply a being that gives grace. God is grace. His existence defines grace. God’s name is slow to anger. Thank you, God. God is patient, God is long suffering with you and me, and that’s hard for me to grasp because I grew up in a household with my father and at times it felt like I was walking on eggshells.
And I could be like that too. Think about the person you know hardly ever gets mad. Multiply that by a million and then you have Yahweh maybe. God’s name is love. God abounds in love, God is love. Again, God’s not just loving. God is love. When we cheat on God, he never, ever cheats on us. God never quits on you and me. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. Even when you’re running, even when you feel ashamed, even when you’re breaking.
God loves you the same. We’re going to sing that song in just a few moments. The same same God, same love. Steadfast. God’s name is forgiveness. Forgiveness is the core of God’s being. God’s first name, middle name. Last name is forgiveness. God’s name means he’s not giving up on you yet. Not by a long shot. God keeps offering to forgive you until your heart of stone finally changes and you love him back. That’s what he did with me.
He was long suffering with me, kept loving me, kept wanting to offer forgiveness to me. God fought for me and chased me down. And last but not least, and this is the one that can bother us. And it’d be easy to skip it. Last part of God’s name is God’s name is justice. There’s just a way that he’s set up the universe and the morals of it and good and evil and the consequences of the choices that we make as human beings.
God is justice. God does not allow sin to go unpunished, doesn’t mean he doesn’t forgive it, offer forgiveness for it. But there are consequences to sin. There’s a popular song that we sing in our family of churches, and one of the verses starts like this. God is justice. God is love. That’s such a divine dilemma, how can you be both? God can only God can. There are far reaching consequences to our sin in this lifetime and the next. The sins we commit in our lifetime not only affect us, but also our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren. Sin hurts generations yet to be born. But did you catch this? While God’s punishment of sin lasts only four generations, at most, God maintains his love for thousands of generations. So I think that last verse, there’s a stinger for us. Like Oh, God, I don’t like that about you. But have we forgotten that he maintains love to thousands of generations?
Those numbers are in our favor. Brothers and sisters. While the consequences of sin fade over time, God’s love endures forever. There’s no God like our God and it’s not even close. God is just different. He’s set apart he’s holy. He’s different. Knowing God is knowing God’s name. So as we conclude, what do we do with this? Here’s some ideas for repentance. This is a place you can go from here, I can go here, first of all, have shameless audacity with God
We saw that from moses exodus, 33 verse 18. He says, show me your glory. Show me your glory. I want to know you God in a deeper way. Show me your glory of my current suffering. Show me your glory in this new normal following the pandemic. Show me your glory in my outreach to the lost. Reveal yourself to me, God, in a deeper way that you never have before. Show me your glory. God knows your name, but do you know his?
Pursue God this summer like you never have before. Also, I encourage us. Just choose one of these, and it’s going to be refreshing. Another thing we can do is as dearly love children be imitators of God, Ephesians five verse one. If God’s name means compassion, grace, slow to anger, love and forgiveness, then what is your name mean to other people? As God’s child, what is your name mean to your classmates, to your coworkers and your neighbors, be imitators of God, proclaim the name of God, the mission of the man or woman of God is to reveal God’s name to the world.
And then finally, some of you here today must decide to be saved by the name. Acts 4:12 tells us this truth about Jesus. Salvation is found in no one else, but there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved. If you’ve not been baptized into Christ by faith as an adult, I appeal to you. Grab someone here today. Do not delay. Tomorrow’s not guaranteed immediately after the final song. Get into God’s word.
Together, let’s discover true Christianity and do it together. What it really means to follow Christ. God is chasing you. God loves you. God wants to save you in the name of His son, Jesus. So as we now celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus as a community, what an honor this is. And if we’ve been baptized into Christ, we have so much to be grateful for. Because of the blood of Jesus, because of the resurrection of Jesus, we all have hope and we have a hope that no one can take away because it’s a hope that’s protected by the great I am.
At the cross, Jesus reveals the beautiful mystery of God’s name. At the cross god is justice and God is always love. Colossians 1:15, Hebrews one three. They both teach us that Jesus is the exact representation of God. Jesus is Lord Jesus is the great I am. And that’s why we can say Jesus, Jesus, the compassionate and gracious Jesus. Jesus is slow to anger. Jesus is abounding in love and forgiveness. Jesus maintains love to thousands of generations and Jesus forgives our wickedness our rebellion and sin. Let’s all choose Jesus. Let’s bow at the throne of Jesus. Let’s pray together now in the name of Jesus.