For those with limited experience confronting non-biblical worldviews, the use of Yahweh in these books seems a little unnecessary. Why even bring that name up? Will it not be confused with Jehovah Witnesses?
To start with, those who are biblically illiterate wouldn’t know that the name Jehovah and Yahweh are related. So it is no problem to them—they don’t make the connection to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. As for the Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves, they do know the connection, which makes these two books more acceptable to them rather than otherwise.
Secondly, we need to understand that just because our society has become increasingly illiterate of the Bible does not mean people live in a spiritual vacuum. Other “gods” and belief systems fill the spiritual vacuum, bringing with them their own definitions for eternity, God, sin and salvation.
For example, the first four words of the Bible, “In the beginning God,” are a problem for people coming from an Eastern background. To start with, the Eastern religions don’t believe in a beginning; they believe in the cycle of life, in rebirth and death. But it is how they define that fourth word God that can really fool you. You may be thinking of the biblical God, but your Eastern friend will be thinking of an eastern god. This “god” may have the attributes of Shiva, Krishna or Brahma. Or it may be a pantheistic god, such as the “force” portrayed in Stars Wars. But it won’t be the God of the Bible.
So what word should one use if you don’t use the word “God?” How about “Creator?” If you use the word Creator Hindus will think of Brahma. This is especially true when you realize that Eastern religions hold strongly to the idea that we all believe in the same god, but just use a different name. No matter how hard you try to convince them that the Creator God of the Bible is not the Creator god Brahma, you often lose. To them he is the same deity.
What about “Lord?” Well, the word Lord is used of all major Eastern gods—Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and so forth. The result is that the use of the word Lord is also loaded with baggage.
Since “God,” “Creator” and “Lord” are not free of aberrant baggage, we find ourselves exhausting the common words we use in the English Bible for deity. Is there a name for God, without major problems, that we can connect with the attributes of the true God?
Well, there is a good option that has a solid biblical precedent. When God brought Moses and the Israelites out of Egypt, he gave them a name to differentiate the true God from all the false gods. It was his personal name, Yahweh. This name appears over 6,000 times in the Old Testament. In our English Bibles, Yahweh is often translated “LORD” using capital letters, but in many languages it is left alone as Yahweh. Those reading the Bible in their own language would immediately recognize this name as being unique to the Creator God of the Bible.
When you use Yahweh as a name for God, it comes empty of negative connotations. Using Yahweh as a key word for the biblical deity creates a distinction. Once that distinction is established, one can then use the words “God,” “LORD” and “Creator.”
The books What are Christmas and Easter All About? and By This Name are written to address a broad spectrum of worldviews, especially the eastern worldview. It is with that in mind that we rely on “the Name that is above every name” to help make the distinction between the true God and all other false gods.
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