Romans 8:15
Clifford Denton

When the ministry of Tishrei began in 1992 a new door of understanding opened relating to the origin and identity of the Christian Church. It all seemed quite straightforward. A search for the Jewish Roots of the Christian faith would properly identify who we are as believers called from the Gentile world to faith in the Jewish Messiah.

Yet, more than twenty years on it has not been quite so simple as we hoped. Others, on what seemed like a similar journey, arrived at different destinations. One of the chief problems has been a growing fascination for Judaism by some believers. This becomes a problem when a desire to be culturally Jewish replaces seeking after deeper fellowship with the God of Israel. Congregations are even emerging consisting entirely of believers from the Gentile world giving the outward show of being a Jewish synagogue, men dressed in traditional Jewish clothing performing ceremonies and rituals that are more traditional than biblical. It is possible for fascination for Torah as a ritual to replace a walk with the Living God, where mishnaic ideas (oral traditions) are added to biblical interpretation.

The most worrying aspect of this is the possibility of being diverted so that ones relationship with the God of Israel becomes more and more distant, the opposite of what is intended when Yeshua became our sacrifice on the Cross. A clue to departure from a deep relationship with the God of Israel comes from the way we talk of Him and pray to Him.

There are many Names for the God of Israel. They come from the way He revealed His character to His people over the centuries. The Name considered most sacred to Israelites has four Hebrew letters, Yud, Hay, Vav, Hay. Since the Hebrew text of the Bible was originally passed on in consonant form only it is possible that no-one now knows how to say this sacred Name. The Scribes put the vowel pointing of Adonai (Lord) so that those reading the text would pause and say Adonai rather than attempt to utter the Sacred Name of God with imperfect human lips. On account of this many Christians have thought that the Name of God is Jehovah, but that comes from attempting to read the four Hebrew consonants with the vowels of Adonai. Others say that His Name is Yahweh, but we cannot be sure of this pronunciation, since we are not sure of the vowels that go with the four consonants. Moses certainly knew the Name that the God of Israel gave Himself, but now we cannot be sure how to address Him, based on this Name. Anyway, is that what He expects of His people now that He has revealed Himself to us more fully through His Son Yeshua HaMashiach? Due reverence has been carried into the Christian Church whenever the Name Jehovah or Yahweh is said, which is an important point. Nevertheless, how does the God of Israel want to be addressed by His people – by His family?

Those who align themselves with Judaism will discover that the God of Israel is talked about as HaShem (the Name). This is an attempt to revere the God of Israel and not make the mistake of saying the wrong name. This is deeply rooted in the prayers and hymns of the Synagogue and brings beauty and reverence. Because of this, there are some Christians who have set out to discover their “Jewish roots” whom you will find doing just this. They will talk of HaShem and pray to HaShem. This, though on the surface seeming good, may nevertheless be evidence of diversion from a seeking after deeper fellowship with God to a seeking after the practices of ritual Judaism. Though reverence is preserved relationship may be at risk.

How then should we address the God of Israel? What shall we call Him? Perhaps it depends on the circles we mix in, but if we are in the closest relationship with Him then it is not Jehovah, Yahweh or HaShem. Even the title God does not come from the Hebrew language, nor the Arabic Allah, however much we wish to show fear and reverence for our Maker. How we address the God of Israel depends perhaps on how close He has allowed us to come to Him in His inner circle of fellowship – His family, bought by the sacrifice of His Son. The cost was high so that the privilege is great. Nevertheless, our privilege as those born again by His Spirit is to know Him as Abba, Father, no less, and our freedom to know Him as such is evidence of the relationship we have. Those whose lives have not been transformed by His Holy Spirit will not know the experience of a Father/child relationship with God, so it is understandable that the Names they use to address the Creator of the universe will vary. If He has identified us as His child He has singled us out as an individual, brought us into His family by the power of His Spirit, and begun a work of transformation in us to the likeness of Yeshua – and He desires our intimate response. Our relationship must be full of reverence, of course, but to draw back to even a respectful distance is a denial of what Yeshua has done for us:

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out Abba, Father. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of Elohim. (Romans 8:15-16)