In the article on Worship in Issue 50 it was said that the name of relationship that God took with the Patriarchs was not Jehovah but “Almighty God” quoting Ex. 6: 3: “…but by my name Jehovah I was not made known to them.” How can this be when Scripture clearly records them as addressing God as Jehovah?
Jehovah is used of God in the descriptive text of Genesis (see Gen. 4: 3 etc.), by the Patriarchs when speaking about God (see Gen. 14: 22; 27: 7; 28: 16, 21) and when addressing God (see Gen. 15: 2; 49: 18). Indeed in Gen. 28: 13 God Himself says to Jacob “I am Jehovah, the God of Abraham, thy father, and the God of Isaac…”. Clearly the Patriarchs knew and used the name of Jehovah and hence that cannot be the meaning of Ex. 6: 3: “but by my name Jehovah I was not made known to them.” Scripture cannot be used to contradict Scripture for “scripture cannot be broken” (John 10: 35).
Now God says in Ex. 6: 3 that He appeared to the Patriarchs as the Almighty God. There are nine passages in Genesis in which God is said to appear : Gen. 12: 7; 17: 1; 18: 1; 26: 2, 24; 35: 1, 7, 9–12; 48: 3. In only three of these is there a recorded revelation from God about Himself (words such as “I am...”). The revelation to Abram in Gen. 17: 1 was “I [am] the Almighty God: walk before my face, and be perfect…”; to Isaac in Gen. 26: 24, it was “I am the God of Abraham thy father” and to Jacob in Gen. 35: 9–12 it was “I am the Almighty God” (see v11). In none of the appearings does God say “I am Jehovah”. In Gen. 15: 7 and 28: 13 God refers to Himself as Jehovah, but these occasions are not spoken of in Scripture as “appearings”. Thus there is absolute consistency with the first clause of Ex. 6: 3: “And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as the Almighty God”. This leaves the latter clause of that Scripture to be explained: “but by my name Jehovah I was not made known to them”.
Returning to the revelation made to Abram in Gen. 17: 1 it says that “Jehovah appeared to Abram, and said to him, I [am] the Almighty God: walk before my face, and be perfect”. Thus Abram’s walk was to be a direct consequence of the revelation of God as the Almighty God. Research into the original Hebrew shows that the meaning of the name ‘Almighty God’ is ‘abundant power to carry out the divine will’. Now though Abram was at that time childless and ninety–nine years old (Gen. 17: 1), God had previously promised that He would “make of thee a great nation” (Gen. 12: 2), “make thy seed as the dust of the earth” (Gen. 13: 16), and as the stars of heaven (see Gen. 15: 5). Thus Abram’s faith was to be in One who had the power to bring to pass what He had promised (see Rom. 4: 17–21 especially v21: “and being fully persuaded that what he has promised he is able also to do”). His faith in God as the Almighty God was supremely tested when, after the birth of Isaac, he was called upon to offer him up as a sacrifice (see Gen 22: 1–19). Abraham’s faith was sustained because he knew the Almighty God had the power even to raise the dead in order to carry out His purpose (see Heb. 11: 17–19). Thus it was as the Almighty God that God was known to Abraham. Subsequently both Isaac (Gen. 26: 24) and Jacob (Gen 35: 11) were to know God in the same character.
However, while the patriarchs walked with God on the basis of His name of “Almighty God”, Israel's walk was governed by the name “Jehovah“. Now the name of Jehovah as the name of relationship with Israel was first revealed to Moses when the Angel of Jehovah appeared to him at the burning bush (Ex. 3). There the first word to Moses was “loose thy sandals from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground” (Ex. 3: 5). A little later in the passage God reveals the essence of the name Jehovah as “I AM THAT I AM” (v14). Jehovah is thus the name that is the expression of God’s consistent being, and though in nature He is love (1 John 4: 8, 16) that love is always expressed in holiness. Hence the moment God reveals Himself as Jehovah, Moses must remove his shoes for “Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah of hosts” (Is. 6: 3). This was the ground of relationship that Israel accepted and was constantly reminded of: “For I am Jehovah your God; and ye shall hallow yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy” (Lev. 11: 44). Now while the name of Jehovah was known to the Patriarchs, and used by them, it was not the name that God took in relation to their walk before Him, which is why the word “holy” is not mentioned in the Scriptures until Ex. 3: 5. Indeed the words “holy” and “holiness” are entirely absent from the book of Genesis. Thus there is absolute consistency between Ex. 6: 3 and the record of Genesis.