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The Name that is Above Every Name
Chapter 15

"THE FIRST AND THE LAST"

WE should expect the last revelation from the Father to sum up and to confirm what we have been considering about the Name which His Son by inheritance has received. For the Revelation itself was "the revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave unto him", and he received it because, as the Lamb of God, he "hath prevailed to open the book and to loose the seven seals thereof". That very fact emphasized Christ's surpassing excellence, since other than he "no man in heaven nor in earth, neither under the earth" was worthy of such privilege, or "to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing".

John heard "every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and alt that are in them . . . saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever" (chapter 5). That which Paul declared in Philippians 2 was here seen in a vision of the Lamb seated at the right hand of God, and the repetition of the idea that all in heaven, on earth and under the earth would honour him serves to underline the fact that all the blessings of the covenant and the glory of the Father, even "the good will of him that dwelt in the bush", are upon "the head of him that was separated from his brethren" (Deut. 33:16).

It is worth drawing attention once more to the fact that the Greek word doxa, "glory" in the sense of fame or reputation, is inadequate to represent all that is conveyed by the Hebrew kabod, which in the case of "the glory of the LORD" is all that God is in honour, majesty, power, might and fulness. The glory of the Father shared by the Son is spelled out, as it were, as power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory and blessing.

The Apocalypse is also the last recorded work of inspiration from which our understanding of the title LORD can be verified. It will be found to be consistent with what we discovered when considering the first proclamation of it at the Bush. No single English expression, or Greek expression either, can render the full force of the words conveyed by the Hebrew words for I AM THAT I AM. As we wrote in chapter 8:

"In them all the power, authority and grace of the Godhead are proclaimed . . . God was what He was, their God, uncreate, self-existent, sovereign in majesty and might, Disposer supreme of all things in heaven and earth, Judge and Saviour of men according to His own will. None could say, What doest Thou? or, Why hast Thou made me thus? His purpose was as sure with Israel as it was with the ordinances of day and night."

"The Lord . . . to come"
The consummation of the purpose proclaimed in the covenant Name draws near, as the Revelation shows. Accordingly the proclamation, "Behold, he cometh with clouds and every eye shall see him" (1:7), with reference to the Lord Jesus Christ, is made by the One who describes Himself thus: 'I am the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God, which is and which was and which is to come, the Almighty'' (v. 8, R.V.; see also 11:17; 16:5-7).

All the names and titles are there -- Adon, Elohim, Shaddai and Yahweh or Jehovah, the last being represented by "which is, and which was, and which is to come". So the Name is one of everlasting covenant. He who was from the beginning, who manifested Himself as Israel's God, who is our God today and will fill the whole earth with His glory, declared through the prophet Isaiah that He is "the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and lam the last" (44:6). And in the fulfilment of the purpose unfolded in the Apocalypse, God shows Himself to be the Eternal One.

At first sight the Name of the LORD is not attributed to the Lord Jesus in this book. The verses referred to above are clearly applicable to the Father Himself, while Jesus is usually referred to as "the Lamb" or "his Christ". Yet while the supremacy of "him that sitteth upon the throne" is clearly marked, in accordance with the Lord's own saying, "I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God and your God" (John 20:17), the Divine titles are plainly his as well. For their is no mistaking that in Revelation 1:17 and 2:8 it is he who is "the first and the last'', for it is he ''that liveth and was dead". Chapter 22:13 is even more explicit: the coming one (a title of Messiah) is "Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last".

Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, but their use here is not tautological, simply another way of saying "the first and the last". For in an alphabet are comprehended all the characters necessary for saying everything that needs to be said. So as the Alpha and Omega the Lord Jesus is also the Word of God (19:13), the fullest expression of all that God is and is doing for the salvation of men and the consummation of His purpose.

"My new name"
So the risen Lord has "a new name", which is "the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God", the new Jerusalem to be known ''from that day" as "the LORD is there" (2:17; 3:12; Ezek. 48:35). Thus the title of Kyrios, applied by the disciples to their Master after his resurrection, the title attributed to him at the very end of the Book -- "Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus" -- implies much more than the English translation "Lord" suggests. The Christ is not simply the lord of his servants, high though that status should be in their eyes in very truth. Nor is he only Lord of all that is in heaven and in earth and under the earth. He is in fact "King of kings and Lord of lords" (19:16), a title drawn from those ascribed to the LORD Himself by Moses, the Psalmist and by Nebuchadnezzar, the last in the context of the establishment of the Kingdom (Deut. 10:17; Psalm 136:3; Dan. 2:40).

In short, the Lord Jesus, "the coming one", is LORD, and bears the excellent Name which by inheritance he hath obtained as the Beloved, the Only Begotten Son of the Living God.

 


Chapter 16

"I AM HE"

As we begin to draw our study to a close we offer a brief survey of what has been written here before offering a concluding reflection on its practical and spiritual implication for the twentieth century ecclesia.

We embarked upon the study in an attempt to stimulate interest in a theme of great beauty as well as being basic to our unique understanding of the unity of God and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, yet sadly neglected because of the presumed difficulties of the subject. In chapter 1 we wrote: "In the firm belief that the true understanding of the Name of God should be a unifying and not a divisive force among brethren, our present purpose is to recall attention to the sublime teaching of Scripture about it without direct reference to earlier writers, although acknowledging with gratitude the insight they have afforded, and with only such reference to Hebrew and Greek as will confirm or cast further light on what we have already discovered".

Distinguishing between titles -- forms of address which denote status, office or distinction of merit -- and names personal appellations which identify one person from another, as well as the reputation each has acquired by his needs or character -- we have considered the Names and Titles of God in their Scriptural context.

El Shaddai
God revealed Himself to Abraham as God Almighty, or El Shaddai (Gen. 17:1). The tide is expressive of Power and Might, but not of purely impersonal force. God talked with Abraham, and invited him, on the basis of the righteousness which is by faith, to share a personal relationship with Him. To be the friend of El Shaddai meant fruitfulness, blessing and the inheritance of a land, 'with the promise that the Creator would also be Abraham's Sustainer.

All the Scripture references confirm this understanding. The title was used in the blessing of Jacob at Bethel, and at Peniel where his name was changed from Jacob to Israel, the Prince with God. The fullness of the blessing of El Shaddai came upon the head of Joseph, "him who was separated from his brethren". Then the full title disappears from Old Testament Scripture, apart from the reference to Abraham in Exodus 6:3 and the prophet's reference in Ezekiel 10:5, where the voice of the Creator and Sustainer is also the voice of judgement. In the New Testament Paul refers to "the Lord Almighty", and in Revelation the title is linked with "the Lord which is, and which was, and which is to come".

Adon
The title of "lord", in the sense of "lord and master", one having absolute authority over another, occurs frequently with reference to men but rarely as a Divine title. Nevertheless because God is the Creator He is also "the Lord of all the earth". Amongst the notable uses of this title is Psalm 8:1-9:

"O LORD our Adon, how excellent is thy name in all the earth."

This Psalm which speaks of the glory of the LORD proclaims His sovereign right to set the Son of man over all the works of His fingers.

Adonai
Adonai is a title applied exclusively to God. It is a plural form, although not applied in a plural sense, and perhaps the idea of "My Lordship" (rather like "Your Majesty") is a more helpful concept for English readers It is evidently a term of great reverence and respect, magnifying God as Sovereign Lord, Disposer Supreme of all things in heaven and earth.

This idea is amply supported by Scripture, as in Abraham's anxious plea to Adonai, using the title four times in his prayer for the salvation of Sodom and Gomorrah. Similar urgent yet reverential requests are to be found on the lips of Moses in Exodus 4 and 34, and in Numbers ]4:17-20; Daniel 9; Amos 7.

When used in conjunction with the Divine Name itself -- Adonai Yahweh -- then we have the solemn recognition that the Disposer Supreme is also the Judge, and especially so when the covenant relationship is in question.

The Name of the Lord
By far the most frequent form of reference or address to God is by His Name -- represented in the Authorised and Revised versions by "the LORD". We have lingered long over the Scripture passages which reveal the significance of the Name, and have seen that from the beginning it was an appellation that expressed relationship. Or rather, it summed up in itself all the titles and attributes of God which we have here briefly considered, and related them to Him who, for the sake of His covenant with the fathers, redeemed a nation and brought them unto Himself, that they should be holy unto Him, His peculiar treasure.

The declaration of the Name at the Bush proclaimed the absolute self-existence of God, with all His arbitrary powers, who nevertheless had been Abraham's God, was God to Israel, and would be their God and their fathers' God for ever.

So as we wrote in chapter 8: "There is thus a strong element of prophecy in the Name . . The relationship of God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was such as to ensure their future resurrection from the dead . . . We shall miss the power and beauty of this Scripture, however, if we think simply in terms of the future tense as we understand it in English . . . God was what He was, their God, uncreate, self-existent, sovereign in majesty and might, Disposer supreme of all things in heaven and in earth, Judge and Saviour of men according to His own will. None could say, What doest Thou? or, Why hast Thou made me thus? His purpose was as sure with Israel as it was with the ordinances of day and night."

It is worth recalling once more the classic exposition of the Name which the LORD Himself gave to Moses, in the very context of the revelation of His glory in both mercy -- or chesed, covenant love -- and judgement at a time when the covenant had been wantonly set aside by Israel and their redemption attributed to the golden calf, which Aaron called "thine elohim, O Israel". In it the LORD, their true Elohim, declared all that He would be for them:

"The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation." (Exodus 34:6-7)

To this may be added that equally informative sequence of ideas which links Name and title, to be found in the prayer of Moses after the disaster at Kadesh-barnea:

"And now, I beseech thee, let the power of Adonai be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying, the LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgressions, and by no means clearing the guilty . . ." (Numbers 14:17-18)

The wondrous Name which we praise fills the pages of the Old Testament. In fact, all that God says and does for, or even against, His people Israelis an expression of His own proclamation: "God himself that formed the earth, and made it . . . I am the LORD; and there is none else"; and "I am he: I am the first, I also am the last" (Isa. 45:15; 48:12, and many other similar passages in Isaiah).

"A more excellent name"
What then can we say of him whose name fills the New Testament, Jesus, or The LORD is become my salvation? Surely no less than the New Testament tells us: that as the only begotten Son of the Most High, of El Shaddai, Adonai, even the LORD of hosts, he has "inherited a more excellent name" than the angels, even than those who were sometimes known as Elohim, or the very Angel of God's Presence. And what more can we say of the great Uncreate Himself, other than that He became the Father of our Lord and to fill the earth with His glory exalted His Beloved Son, giving him

"the name that is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.''

The glory of the Father is declared in full in the Apocalypse, where all honour is paid to the Lord God Almighty, which is and which was and which is to come, because His great power is revealed in the supremacy of the Lamb who can also truly say, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last" (Rev. 22:13).

 


Chapter 17

"THAT GOD MAY BE ALL IN ALL"

THE remarkable fact about the Scriptures is that from the very beginning they make us look towards a great and final consummation of God's purpose, a time of perfection of the earth, immortality for its inhabitants and the complete manifestation of the glory of the LORD. Yet of this consummation very little is revealed beyond the certainty that they are blessed indeed who attain unto it.

He that Inhabiteth Eternity
Even the final consolation of the saints who live and reign in the Kingdom appears to be but a prelude to eternity, when "cometh the end, when (Christ) shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father . . that God may be all in all" (1 Cot. 15:24-28). In Eureka, Vol. 1, Dr. Thomas has an interesting section on "For ever and ever", in which he views that expression as referring to "the olahm and beyond" -- that is, lasting throughout the age of the Kingdom and on into perpetuity. It is this "eternity" (in Hebrew, ad) which "the high arid lofty One" inhabits, and in which he "that is of a contrite and humble spirit" will finally dwell with Him also (Isa. 57:15).

What are we to make of the expression "God all in all"? The original text makes it clear that God is to be all things, but there is a certain ambiguity in the second "all": is it again "all things", or "all men"? The point is not really important since the result is the same, as we shall see.

It has frequently been pointed out that the glory of God is His fullness, His honor and majesty, the full weight of all that He is. This glory He set in the heavens and all the earth is full of it, or at least, it was until sin entered in and marred it. The fullest manifestation was to be in man. Made in the image and after the likeness of God, he shared a physical resemblance and a capacity to mature spiritually until he reflected the Divine attributes in a character directed by the Divine mind. So the LORD had been "mindful of him" when He set all things under his feet.

Our early brethren saw in the expression "the LORD God (Yahweh or Jehovah Elohim) of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" the promise that God would reveal Himself in the seed of the patriarchs, to make them equal unto the angels in immortality and might, yet superior in status as brethren of His beloved, only begotten Son. Although it would be difficult to sustain, either grammatically or from Scripture, that the word Elohim always refers to the angels or to the saints, or indeed that it must always be given a plural meaning [The so-called "plural of excellence or majesty" does exist in many languages, especially ancient ones, and there are many places in Scripture where elohim can only refer to something singular, as in its ascription to the golden calf.], the promise is soundly based in the covenant Name itself. For as the Lord Jesus himself declared, the very expression "the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" was a guarantee of the resurrection of Abraham and his seed and their everlasting participation in the blessings of the covenant.

An Inheritance in Light
These blessings were centered on the inheritance of the Land, but in fact went far beyond that. In the first place it was to be an eternal inheritance, and "an inheritance of the saints in light" (Col. 1:12). As a result of their relationship with God through the Lord Jesus they are joint-heirs with Christ, partakers of the glory yet to be revealed. So what is true of the Lord Jesus will be true in them also: they are called and chosen, "to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8:17, 29-30).

Many a page of Scripture justifies the concept of "the multitudinous Christ", even although that term is not itself used in Scripture. It is Paul in Ephesians who teaches us clearly that "the body of Christ" is more than the body which was laid in the tomb and came forth to a glorious resurrection. It is also that corporate community of which Christ personally is the Head, and the individual saint one of the members to be compacted together in unity with one another and with the Father and the Son. They are "the many sons" being led to salvation by their captain; they are the Bride to become one with their Lord. Paul had so clear an idea of this corporate Man that he could say of his sufferings for the Gospel's sake:

"(I) now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church." (Colossians 1:24)

God was in Christ
If it could be truly said that "God was in Christ" the same will be true of those who are Christ's Body: God will be in them, since their mind will be the mind of Christ and in their bodies they will have been made "partakers of the divine nature" by reason of the "exceeding great and precious promises". Thus all the saints will be able to rejoice together, saying, "Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth" (2 Cor. 5:19; 2 Pet. 1:4; Rev. 5:9).

This glory will be theirs when they enter into the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. The earth, however, though at rest and fruitful to the point where a handful of corn on the top of the mountains produces a harvest like the forest of Lebanon, will still have a mortal population until "the last enemy" itself is destroyed: and then cometh the end.

Of the future, "the beyond", we know little. The earth will be full of the glory of the LORD: He will be manifest in all things, since all things will fulfil the purpose of their creation, "the work of thy fingers". And Re will be in all men, since all who live will reflect "the exact workings or the eternal Mind", as Dr. Thomas once put it, and nothing that is not of God will have any place in heaven or in earth. The glory of that time is truly unspeakable. They only will be able to utter it who will live in the day when "He Who will be" has become "all in all".

Concluding Reflections
The question of the exact transliteration of the Hebrew into English, and indeed the precise grammatical and linguistic significance of the Name when viewed simply as a Hebrew word is still a matter of discussion among scholars as well as among brethren. We have been at pains to draw attention to the beauty and deep significance of the Name in all its glory, and not to those points on which there may be disagreement, and have therefore preferred to make plain where it is used in Scripture by using the expression "the LORD" for the most pan when referring to it. Standard Christadelphian practice from the beginning has been to use either Yahweh or Jehovah in our hymns and expositions, with a general preference for the form Yahweh, but otherwise to follow the same convention we have used in this series. Contrary to general opinion, Dr. Thomas did not entirely discount the other form in Eureka even after he had argued that Yahweh was more correct, and in his last work, published after his death, a Pictorial Illustration of Deity Manifested in the Flesh he used the expressions "Ehyeh, Yahweh, Jehovah, or Yah, is a man of war" and "I am Ehyeh (or Jehovah) and there is none else".

With such clear evidence that for the children of the New Covenant, revealed to us on the basis of the New Testament's interpretation of the Old, the Name of the LORD has been inherited by the Son who has taught us to follow his own practice of referring to and addressing God as the Father, it is most unseemly that such matters should ever become cause for contention, much less of separation amongst us. Rather should we unitedly lift our hearts in prayer to our Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because He has hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes.