“even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams which they relate to one another,. . .” Jeremiah 23:26-27
Intend – The Hebrew verb hashav covers a lot more than intentions. It means “to devise, to invent, to consider and to reckon.” When it is used with God as the subject, it also means “to plan.” We find it in the famous verse about God’s plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11). God plans good things for those who faithfully follow Him. But that’s not the case with false prophets. Jeremiah proclaims God’s words about their plans. One of the characteristics of a false prophet is the scheme to make the people of YHWH forget His name. Those who deceive the flock are those who devise ways to remove God’s name from memory. They want God’s name to be lost. That makes substitution much, much easier. The people follow innocently when the prophets scheme to remove the name of the Holy One of Israel.
Does that make you a bit uncomfortable? Do you need to revise your evaluation of the church fathers? Who was responsible for removing God’s holy name from our religious experience? Who gave us Adonai or LORD or Jehovah or Jesus? Why are we left with only the consonants YHWH instead of the name that David used every day (Psalm 145:1-2). What happened in the course of history that made God’s name disappear from human language? Do you think it was “accidental”?
Perhaps you’ve heard the rejoinder, “Well, what’s the big deal? I know who I’m talking about. Does it really matter if I use an English substitution rather than a Hebrew name? Surely God understands.”
Yes, He probably does. But that doesn’t make it right, does it? For quite a long time my senior tutor at Oxford thought my nickname was Steve. As a proper English gentleman, he never considered the name “Skip” as a proper name for a man. Everyone who knew me realized that when he said “Steve” he meant me. But it wasn’t my name. One day someone was brave enough to correct him. He was embarrassed. I was relieved. We became much better friends. I imagine God might feel the same way when we don’t use His name. After all, it’s the most important name in the universe.
Tragically, somewhere in our history we have been the victims of false prophets. They have removed His precious name from our lips and now we have only a guess at its real sound. I am quite sure that God understands our dilemma. But I for one would certainly like to know what it really is. I want His name to be my constant praise.
Topical Index: name, hashav, plan, intend, Jeremiah 23:26-27