Do you know God's name?

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Sermon St Mary’s Comberton / Toft Methodist Church

Sunday 22nd October 2006.

Job 38:1-7; John 11: 17-27

<< Do you know God’s name? Do you know who God really is? >>


Job so far

Job the patient (Job 2)

Job the despairing (Job 23)

Other people speaking ‘Job’s comforters’ – didn’t do much good

The bit you’ve all been waiting for – God speaks

‘Then the LORD answered…’

I’m going to press pause there. really significant.

Not only have we waited for 35 chapters for God to speak.

But 35 chapters since we last heard God’s name.

Oh yes, of course people have referred to God.

Peppered with references to God. roundabout or impersonal way, ‘almighty’,

But they haven’t used his personal name.

!! God’s name

Has the Jewish God got a personal name? Yes but it’s hard to spot.

Let me take you back to the time of Moses. (Ex 3:13-15)

forgotten years of Moses –shepherd for father in law Jethro.

Turns aside – The Burning Bush.

Will you lead my people out of slavery in Egypt?

Not the most willing of volunteers!

Read Ex 3:13-15.


As is so often the case with names we’re not entirely sure what they mean - something like I AM WHO I AM.

To be honest – we’re not entirely sure how to pronounce it. Vowels not there in orig Heb.

Used to be ‘Jehovah’. Best guess.

Modern day Jews are forbidden from pronouncing it. Upshot of all that is that in most Bible translations we don’t write out the name – we replace it with the words the LORD.

Bit of a shame really.

Footnote to Ex3:15: “The word LORD when spelled with capital letters stands for the divine name, YHWH, which is here connected with the verb hayah, ‘to be’”

Ought to have a footnote each time.

So where were we? Back in Job 38.

35 chapters without the name of the LORD

Then The LORD, and answered Job out of the whirlwind.

Who answered Job out of the whirlwind? The LORD. Jehovah. Yahweh. The God of Israel.

last 35 chapters Job and his friends have been theologising, debating philosophy, cursing, lamenting, rebuking.

Using words like El, Eloah, Shaddai.

If you were leading a Multifaith service in ancient near east you could use any of those. You wouldn’t offend anybody.

Yahweh. The LORD. The God of Israel.

Significant for how we read this chapter.

It makes a difference whether or not you use a personal name.

!! Illustration

example of church. Draft constitution for Lordsbridge Team Ministry.

Member of this church who hadn’t been to the service.

Priest-in-Charge. Assistant Curate.

either being over-technical

or you don’t know someone very well.

If you know someone well you use their name.

Do we sometimes forget God’s personal nature?

Sometimes when things go wrong, find ourselves like Job: seems like we’re talking to a brick wall. impersonal, faceless.

Sometimes we can be so good a talking about God, theorising, we make him into a theory rather than a person.

!! God’s answer

So what does God say?

Answer a series of questions! Baffling.

1) draws him into the conversation.

  1. shows that having the right anwers isn’t the same thing as having a right relationship.

‘God did not love the world so much that he gave us all the answers…’

Job, you don’t know me very well.

Maybe you did, but you’ve forgotten.

Read v1-3. strong stuff.

Eyes are opened to who God is.

Discovers some uncomfortable truths about who Job is.

Illustration: Bruce Almighty

Jim Carrey – Bruce TV presenter.

seems to be doing ok.

But then – dog pees on sofa / arrives late for work / loses his job/ gets beaten up in the street.

Bruce turns his anger on God:

God is like a mean kid on an anthill, burning ants with a magnifying glass. And I’m the ant.’

God (Morgan Freeman) responds by meeting Bruce in person and saying

Ok you’ve been doing lots of complaining about me… if you think you can do better, here’s your chance.

A day as God.

Of course – even with powers – an impossible job.

Bruce ends up learning a lot about God and a lot about himself.

verses 4-7

God’s name.

What sort of God?

Architect – stretched a measuring-line (v5)

Builder – laying a foundation (v4), cornerstone (v6)

Entertainer – fun!

when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy’ (v7)

What I love – they’re not what you’d expect as descriptions of God. Most unlikely.

Enlarge our vision of who God is.

Later on in the chapter.




Stock keeper

Manual Labourer




In the developed world – science, wealth, leisure, healthcare.

God in a box. Open on Sunday. Open at Christmas. Open when I feel I need a bit of a pick me up.

God is so much bigger than our experience. Not going to be held hostage by our ideas about what’s best.

Scary. But also exciting.

!! How well do you know God?

How big is your vision of God?

[Illustration. Steve Croft.]

A NT perspective

Bringing this out of the OT and into the NT.

v17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?’

Of all the people in the world, Job might be the most qualified to say yes. Might be tempted to say yes.

sheep and servants, sons and daughters killed.

inflicted with loathsome sores from head to foot.

God what do you know about how I feel! When have you ever suffered like I have suffered?’

That’s where the NT perspective comes in.

Jesus Christ (God in human form)– suffered like Job suffered, even to the gates of death.

bound up like a criminal,

felt the searing pain of nails driven into his wrists

heard the taunts and jibes

felt the silent rejection of each one of his friends slipping away.

Talked about knowing God’s name.

Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Talked about knowing who God is.

in the face of Jesus Christ

[Extra bit for Toft

John 11:17-27

the resurrection and the life.

moment of grief, sadness at the tomb of her brother

Martha recognises who Jesus is

What a note of reassurance and hope!

‘I am the resurrection and the life’]

!! Conclusion

#. Using God’s name – do you know him personally or only as a theory

  1. Knowing who God is.
  2. Talk to me.

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