“God of Many Names”?
Today it’s a popular notion that all religions lead their adherents to the same god and ultimate destiny, and that we’re all trying to get to the same place howbeit by different roads; that Elohim has many names and that there are many paths to him depending upon the name we choose. In fact, “God of Many Names” was the theme of the Eight Assembly of the World Council of Churches.
1 Kings 16:29-33 Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel in the
thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned over Israel for twenty-two
years in Samaria. 30. Ahab son of Omri did what is displeasing to Yahweh, and
was worse than all his predecessors. 31. The least that he did was to follow the
sinful example of Jeroboam son of Nebat: he married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal,
king of the Sidonians, and then proceeded to serve Baal and worship him. 32. He
erected an altar to him in the temple of Baal which he built in Samaria. 33.
Ahab also put up a sacred pole and committed other crimes as well, provoking the
anger of Yahweh, God of Israel, more than all the kings of Israel his
1 Kings 16:29-33 Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel in the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned over Israel for twenty-two years in Samaria. 30. Ahab son of Omri did what is displeasing to Yahweh, and was worse than all his predecessors. 31. The least that he did was to follow the sinful example of Jeroboam son of Nebat: he married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians, and then proceeded to serve Baal and worship him. 32. He erected an altar to him in the temple of Baal which he built in Samaria. 33. Ahab also put up a sacred pole and committed other crimes as well, provoking the anger of Yahweh, God of Israel, more than all the kings of Israel his predecessors.
Mark 3:20-30 20. He went home
again, and once more such a crowd collected that they could not even have a
meal. 21. When his relations heard of this, they set out to take charge of him;
they said, "He is out of his mind." 22. The scribes who had come down from
Jerusalem were saying, "Beelzebul is in him," and, "It is through the prince of
devils that he drives devils out." 23. So he called them to him and spoke
to them in parables, 24. `How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided
against itself, that kingdom cannot last. 25. And if a household is divided
against itself, that household can never last. 26. Now if Satan has rebelled
against himself and is divided, he cannot last either, it is the end of him.
27. But no one can make his way into a strong man's house and plunder his
property unless he has first tied up the strong man. Only then can he plunder
his house. 28. `In truth I tell you, all human sins will be forgiven, and
all the blasphemies ever uttered; 29. but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy
Spirit will never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin." 30. This
was because they were saying, "There is an unclean spirit in him."
God of Many Names?
Today it’s a popular notion that all religions lead their adherents to the same god and ultimate destiny, and that we’re all trying to get to the same place howbeit by different roads; that G-d has many names and that there are many paths to him depending upon the name we choose. In fact, “God of Many Names” was the theme of the Eight Assembly of the World Council of Churches just a few years ago (December 14, 1998). Delegates from Christian communities from all around the world came together to celebrate the names for G-d they themselves had chosen. Some of the names the delegates gave g-d were “Barefoot God,” “God of Spiritual Beautifulness” and “Vulnerable God.” In all cases, the generic name “God” was used as part of their god’s name.
After the tragedy of September 11th, a high-placed US official, a United Methodist, showed us his belief in the God of Many Names. In modeling temperance for Muslims, he bowed himself in prayer to Allah with Islamic leaders, saying, “I worship with you the universal God.” On February 18th of this year, to show his solidarity with the Prime Minister of Japan, this official entered a Shinto Temple and worshiped the spirit of a dead Japanese emperor. Dr. Robert Morey of the California Institute of (Christian) Apologetics reports: "The Prime Minister (of Japan) stayed in the limo while [the official] went into the temple and clapped hands to awaken the demon and then bowed in worship and signed the book of worship."
Dr. Morey concludes, "The politically correct are in charge of the public school systems, the universities and the media. They have brainwashed [public officials] to believe all religions worship the same universal God. That's why he has no difficulty worshipping in a mosque with the Muslims or in a Shinto temple in Japan." The last president was scrutinized for his sexual immorality. Perhaps we should consider the spiritual immorality. I don’t enjoy criticizing great men. However, believers simply can’t ignore the signs of the times. (Link to article)
Universalizing Faith and the Future
Spiritual immorality always seems to be in vogue. Many Christian theologians teach that the highest stage of faith is recognizing “the G-d of the universe” as “the universal god.” In theological terms, this doctrine is called Universalism – all gods lead to the one G-d. Many of the professors with whom I studied Christianity are Universalists, teaching that there are many ways to the “god with many names.” Our own Book of Worship and Hymnal are greatly influenced by universalism. Along with our president, many pastors and educators are Universalists (whether they’ll admit it or not). Consequently, the religion of most American rank and file Christians is tainted with the idea that there are many pathways to G-d and that one need only choose their own personal path, whether it be Methodism, Islam, the New Age or demon worship like Shinto. Because our political officials, raised up as examples in the Christian community, believe and model Universalism, then why shouldn’t we all?
Universalism is the easy way to go because it’s a religion of personal choice. We choose the name of our god; we choose our own style of morality; we choose our own doctrines based on our own like or dislike, we choose our prophets and teachers. We choose! Universalism is an easygoing, eight-lane freeway that leads in both directions at the same time. But Jesus calls the highway the “broad way that leads to destruction.”
Matthew 7: 13. “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. 15. Beware of false prophets…”
It’s partly because of this admonition that I choose to identify my god by the one and only name that he has, Yahweh Elohim, the name revealed to Adam, Abraham, Moses and all the Bible prophets. And Yahweh Elohim speaks to us clearly of the past and present when he says,
“Shma`, Yisra'el! Yahweh 'Eloheynuw Yahweh 'echad!”
“Listen, Israel: Yahweh our g-d is the one, the only Yahweh.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)
He speaks of the present and future when he says, through the prophecy of Zechariah,
“The day will come when Yahweh will be king of the whole world. He will be the one and only and his name the one name.” (Zechariah 14:9)
How do I know that the world spirit of universalism will soon be broken and the name of Yahweh will be the one and only name spoken? Because he tells us,
“I shall make Jerusalem a cup to set all the surrounding peoples reeling. When that day comes, I shall make Jerusalem a stone too heavy for all the peoples to lift; all those who try to lift it will hurt themselves severely, although all the nations of the world will be massed against her.” (Zechariah 12:2,3)
There has never been a day until today that Jerusalem has been such a stumbling stone for the world. Soon the Anointed of Yahweh will appear, bringing with him the name above all names. In that day, all will learn his name and tremble. Rejoice and be glad, for you are among the chosen few to know that name in the present so you may prepare for his appearance in the near future.
Ahab and Jezebel
Once upon a time, there was a King who arose in Israel named Jeroboam. He was a religious man. So devout was he that he made up his own religion and promoted it to the ignorant people of his country. He smelted two cows out of gold then built temples for them. He declared to the people that these cows were images of Yahweh. Jeroboam did this in order to unite the nation in the matter of religion. Idolaters loved the idea because they had a reproducible image to worship. The people who worshiped Yahweh loved it because they could finally see what the invisible god looked like and they could fashion their own copy out of clay. There’s was a loose, easy kind of faith that appealed to just about everybody.
Jeroboam greatly widened the road to destruction for the people of Israel. But Yahweh wasn’t happy because he’d made Jeroboam the king under the condition that true worship would be restored. The king intentionally defied the Almighty by universalizing and polluting divine truth. The die was cast, and Jeroboam began to experience grave personal penalties for leading the nation of Israel into idolatry.
King Ahab was a later successor to Jeroboam. Ahab too was very religious. Not only did he accommodate the worship of idols, but he also did something that was vastly more sinful in the eyes of Yahweh. He married a priestess of the Baalim (Baals), the demon-gods of the Phoenicians (Sidonians). The queen’s name was Jezebel. She brought nine hundred priests of her cult into Israel. The Jezebel cult had two supreme gods, a male and a female. The male was “the Lord” Baal and the female was Asherah. In English, “Asherah” is “Easter.” From the union of these two gods came many offspring, or “princes.” Perhaps you’ve heard the name “Beelzebul,” which mean “Baal’s prince.” Because these gods had sexual union to produce princes, worship of them included all kinds of distorted sexual practices.
Like Jeroboam before him, King Ahab enforced universalism in Israel, but on a much grander scale. Here’s how he widened the freeway to destruction. Ahab proclaimed that Yahweh, who by this time was enshrined as a golden calf, was the same god as Jezebel’s Baal -- a god of many names. The name Jezebel means “Yahweh (is) the Baal” or “Yahweh (is) the lord” (for Baal means “lord.”) Her name became the doctrine she and Ahab proclaimed to the people to lead them further away from true worship. Her name is still the doctrine of many religious people today. Jezebel!
The female goddess, Asherah, was placed in the shrines alongside the golden calf they called both Baal and Yahweh. Asherah was represented as a decorated tree (Jeremiah 10:3,4). In our day, both the Christmas tree and the May Pole trace their origin back to the Asherah. Ahab and Jezebel didn’t have a hard time getting the young people to follow their religious directives; worship became very individualistic, exciting and depraved, you see. People got caught up in it because it was highly emotional, licentious and demonic. They really had a ball in church! But in the eyes of the Almighty, who had loved and preserved these people, the national religion was abominable. The record tells us that Ahab was “displeasing to Yahweh, worse than all his predecessors.” The entire nation was judged with invasion and captivity on account of the leadership’s move toward universalism. And you may remember what became of Ahab and Jezebel.
One Name, Not Many
This sad state of religious affairs brings us to our Gospel text today, Mark 3:20-30. Jesus came into this world in the name of his father, the invisible Yahweh. Jesus’ name in the language of the Bible is Yahshua, meaning “Yahweh Saves.” He came to restore the true worship of Yahweh discarded by the kings and religious leaders of Israel, and to “save” the world’s people from ultimate destruction by reconciling them with his Father in heaven.
Jesus’ father Yahweh is nobody’s golden calf; he is spirit and truth. He has only one name, not many; he instructed Moses from the burning bush,
“You are to tell the Israelites, `Yahweh, the god of your ancestors, the god of Abraham, the god of Isaac and the god of Jacob, has sent me to you.' This is my name for all time, and thus I am to be invoked for all generations to come” (Exodus 3:15).
“All generations” includes our generation. Those of us who desire to worship him in our generation must do so within the bounds of his concept of truth, not ours, the pope’s, the preacher’s or the president’s. He taught us centuries ago, “You will have no other.” If one takes the Scripture as authentic (and I do), then there’s no way to universalize his words. He has set down his way, and his way is the only way that will satisfy him. He’s no Burger King god – if you want to be a true worshiper, you can’t always have it your way!
For those of us to whom the truth has been revealed, the consequences of taking other ways include chastisement that extends down several generations. But he promises faithful love to all those who will abide in the narrow way (Exodus 20:3-6). True worship of Yahweh is revealed in his Word and in his Son. Both Word and Son are unchangeable, though they are subject to constant reinterpretation by the politically and religiously correct in order to lead astray, if it were possible, even the elect. The world is full of Baal’s princes, Beelzebuls (if you will), and many are highly placed in our world today.
The Unpardonable Sin
Jesus goes home to Capernaum on the sea. So many are pressed in upon him that he can’t even eat. Scribes are there all the way from Jerusalem. In those days, scribes were reporters, taking notes so they could account for Jesus’ words and actions in order to accuse him, just as reporters do today. Jesus is a big celebrity. Though many appealed to him, some significant others had it in for him. For instance, his family thought he was beside himself and wanted to take him away.
But the scribes purposely judge him falsely in order besmirch his holy name. They report to the nation, “He is possessed by Beelzebul and by the prince of demons he drives out demons.” Recall that Beelzebul means “the prince of Baal” and refers to one of the demonic children of Jezebel’s gods. Can you understand just what a serious, serious mistake these scribes are making? Although they are religious men, they are so spiritually lost that they disparage and insult the anointed man of Yahweh, Yahweh’s Son in fact, by saying that the Holy Spirit of Yahweh that indwells him is a demonic prince. These disrespectful dupes have attributed the word, works and name of the holy spirit of Yahweh to the basest, most perverted kind of demonic spirit of immorality and universalism. And in doing so, these men with their casual and quick, sarcastic words, seal their own eternal fate.
I imagine that Jesus reeled around in such Shekinah glory that the mass of people was silenced instantly. Now from his mouth heralds the most puzzling teaching of the entire New Testament: “I AM telling you, all sins and even blasphemies may be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the holy spirit will never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin." The Gospel commentator tells us that he pronounced this judgment in response to their accusation that he was himself demonized. But even that could be forgiven. What couldn’t be forgiven was their proclamation that Yahweh is Baal, Yahweh is Beelzebul, Yahweh is the prince of demons. How utterly blasphemous they were!
How Close Can You Come?
I just wonder how close to committing the unpardonable sin a “believer” can come before he crosses the line. Publicly professing the god of Abraham then bowing to Allah or clapping to the emperor’s demon or proclaiming Yahweh to be Beelzebul or the “God of Many Names” seems to come very, very close to the kind of blasphemy these scribes committed to lose their souls, especially considering the cruelties, idolatries and indifferences committed in the names of these gods.
Do you see why I don’t care to be religiously or politically correct about the importance of His Name? Do you understand now why we must make every attempt to use his name correctly and to worship his name in truth? True worship will never make points in politics, in the church or in the world – all these will be judged. One who worships in truth is already judged worthy to enter into eternity. And the greatest truth of all is the truthful name of your god. His name is Yahweh Elohim and no other.
We are spiritual Israel, are we not? No wonder the name of G-d is a Hebrew name. I didn’t just make it up. Religious leaders and Bible translators for two millennia have hidden it from us. No wonder it’s difficult and controversial now since we have spent a lifetime calling him names that are religiously and politically correct. But what is correct is not necessarily true. In our day, the “god of many names” has revealed his one name, the name above all names, the only name by which we may find salvation from his wrath. The prophets promised that, in the latter days, it would finally be revealed to the world. And now that name has been revealed to you. You and I are the most fortunate people in the world! You are Israelites indeed. May Yahweh bless you through the power of Yahshua your Messiah.
Jackson Snyder August 17, 2002