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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 6

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verse 3

THE GREAT NAME

‘My name Jehovah.’

Exodus 6:3

The keystone of the arch of this lesson is the import of the name Jehovah. God is here revealed as the Unchangeable One Who never falters or fails. He is the Eternal, whose plans are not to be measured with man’s foot-rule. Man can see only a very little part at a time of God’s great work, and, if that little part is not what he would wish it to be, he thinks that everything is going wrong. What is needed to keep him from despondency is a firm faith in the immutable power, wisdom, and love of the eternal God.

In introducing this subject the preacher should describe the great expectations of the unhappy people when Moses and Aaron came to them as the accredited messengers of God (chap. Exodus 4:31). He should then emphasise their intense disappointment when the word of God to Pharaoh was treated with contempt, their loss of faith in Moses and Aaron, and Moses’ dejection, and discouragement. Then it was that God bid Moses instruct the people as to His nature. They had known Him in the past as El Shaddai, ‘God Almighty,’ they had not given thought to His other name, ‘Jehovah.’ Now they were to understand that God is not only Mighty, but Constant, ‘the Ancient of Days,’ whose purposes change not by one hair’s breadth from the eternal plan which He has wrought out for the salvation of the world. The secret of peace is Trust. Dwell on the following details:—

I. God Almighty.—Moses and Aaron went to their unhappy brethren full of faith in God. They believed they had been sent to set the captives free, and called the elders together, a vast gathering of principal men, and gave them God’s message. Then Moses showed the signs, and the people believed and thanked God that He had sent them a deliverer.

II. Jehovah.—This holy name of God is, except in four places, or where it forms part of another name, as Jehovah-Jireh, always rendered in the English Bible as LORD, every letter being a capital. The Hebrews considered this name so sacred that they never uttered it; did not even write it fully, so that we do not know exactly how it was pronounced. It means ‘The Being’—the One Who always was, and always shall be, and always is. God’s name is I AM. Of all other persons and things we say they were, or they shall be; of God alone we can say He always is.

The same unchangeableness is attributed to Jesus Christ, ‘the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.’ Not one day angry, another day loving, but always love. Jesus Christ is God, and with God ‘is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.’

III. A terror to God’s enemies.—This name of God is the assurance to His enemies of their defeat. All the power of Egypt cannot change the plans of the unchanging Jehovah. It is said of the devils that they ‘tremble.’ They know that they shall not in the end prevail. So it is said of Satan their leader that he has ‘great rage knowing that he hath but a short time.’ The ignorant and hardened may say with Pharaoh, ‘Who is Jehovah? I know not Jehovah,’ but they shall know, and in that day shall understand that God has said, ‘I have sworn by Myself that unto Me every knee shall bow.’

IV. A comfort to the friends of God.—An old coloured woman in the West Indies sat still during an earthquake, while all others ran away. When all was over, she said, ‘I am glad to think that our God can shake the world.’ That God is always strong, always wise, always loving, is our assurance of safety. The Israelites could not believe it at first, ‘for anguish of spirit.’ The literal translation is ‘shortness of breath.’ They were like frightened creatures which pant with terror, and cannot listen to reason. Do not be like that. If pain, or sorrow, or any distress come, remember that God is working all things together for our good; and that He never ceases to work. God’s work is like a painting. When you watch an artist you wonder at the strange masses and blots of colour laid on. You cannot judge the result till the picture is finished. The little ephemeral insect which lives but a day, if it could criticise, would, no doubt, call that picture a failure. We are like the ephemera. We can only see a little part of God’s eternal work. When we see all we shall confess that it is very good.

Illustration

(1) ‘ “By My name Jehovah was I not known to them,” or “Was I not made manifest to them”; Revised Version, “I was not known to them.” That the name is very ancient appears from its derivation from the obsolete word, hayah; and, also, from its occurrence in some of the oldest documents in Genesis, as in chapters Exodus 2:4; Exodus 2:3-4, and Exodus 11:1-9. Abraham, also, uses it as an element in a name (Jehovah-Jireh). But, though known to the fathers, the full significance of the name was not appreciated by them, till God revealed it to the consciousness of His servant, Moses.’

(2) ‘To us these lists of names are comparatively uninteresting. But they are the inventories of God’s jewels. They show how much value God sets on each of His own. Not a fragment of redeemed star-dust escapes His notice! Not a bird falls to the ground without His notice! Not a child that has been born into His family is unrecorded in the family register, which is known as the Lamb’s Book of Life.’

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Exodus 6". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/exodus-6.html. 1876.
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