The Christian Walk Lesson 11: Walk in the Name of the Lord

The Christian Walk Lesson 11: Walk in the Name of the Lord

  1. Texts: Micah 4:5; Zech 10:12 (cf. 1 Sam 17:45; Ezra 5;1; Prov 18:10; Col 3:17)
  2. Definition
    1. As we’ve already discovered (see Lesson 1), when Bible writers tell us how to “walk,” they are telling us how to live or conduct our behavior (thoughts, words, and deeds). What does it mean to walk “in the name of the Lord”?
    2. The “name” of a person in the ancient world represented the person himself and therefore all of his character. God’s name represents his entire being, all of what God is and stands for.
    3. Acting “in the name” of someone implies
      1. doing something under his authority, power, or right (1 Sam 17:45)
      2. living in a way that corresponds to God’s character and reputation (cf.  Prov 22:1; Ecc 7:1)
    4. The “name of the Lord”
      1. “LORD” (in all capital letters) usually represents God’s personal, covenant name, Yahweh (YHWH). This is the name God revealed to Moses at the burning bush (Ex 3:14-15).

a)                  The Hebrew people would pronounce the four letters (tetragrammaton) of God’s name (YHWH) with the vowels of Adhonay, transliterated as Yehowah, but read aloud as Adhonay. This accounts for the hybrid name Jehovah which uses the consonants of YHWH with the vowels of Adonay. The Jews did this to protect the divine Name so that it would not be used “in vain” (Ex 20:7). Actually, the Bible does not forbid the use of God’s name; the biblical writers use it hundreds of times. One must, however, be careful to use God’s name properly.

b)                  God’s name is very similar to the Hebrew word for “to be” or “to become” or “to live.” Hence, the word implies the self-existent, independent nature of God, the one who exists eternally of his own nature.


c)                  Characteristic of the OT is its insistence on the possible knowledge of God as a person; and Yahweh is His name as a person.

d)                 The name implies the covenant promise of the Divine presence, both at the immediate time and in the Messianic age of the future. And thus it became bound up with the Messianic hope, as in the phrase, “the Day of Yahweh,” and consequently both it and the Septuagint translation Kurios were applied by the NT as titles of Christ.[1]

  1. Other names for God[2]

a)                  Elohim: This word is the first form of the Divine name in the Bible, ordinarily translated “God” (Genesis 1:1). This is the most frequently used name in the OT, as its equivalent theos, is in the NT, occurring in Genesis alone approximately 200 times.

The meaning of the word is “might” or “power.” The “…im” ending indicates plurality in Hebrew, which probably expresses majesty or “all-mightiness.” It is a generic, rather than a specific, personal name for Deity, as is indicated by its application to any claimed god, true or false.

b)                  Adhon, Adhonay: “my Lord.” This name for God emphasizes His sovereignty (Psalms 2:4; Isaiah 7:7), and corresponds closely to Kurios (owner, master) of the NT. It is frequently combined with Yahweh (Genesis 15:8; Isaiah 7:7, etc.) and with Elohim (Psalms 86:12).

  1. In Micah 4:5, the prophet contrasts those who walk “in the name of his god” with those who “walk in the name of the Lord our God.” The faithful should be more committed to the true God than the wicked are to their false gods. Unfortunately, idolaters were often far more faithful to their false gods than the Israelites were to the true God. The same is true today.
  2. Thus, to “walk in the name of the Lord” indicates living under the authority of God and in a way in keeping with the character of God, upholding God’s good reputation. It further implies faithful obedience and loyalty to the almighty, self-existent, true and living God of Israel, and to no other.
  3. Principles

Since “walk” covers a wide variety of behaviors, it may be beneficial to examine the various categories of behavior that biblical writers admonish us to carry out “in the name of the Lord.” To “walk” in the name of the Lord may include any or all of these behaviors. To do any of these things “in the name of the Lord” implies doing them in a way that is consistent with God’s character and purposes.

  1. Minister in the name of the Lord (Deut 18:5).
    1. “Minister” simply means “to serve.” All service for God ought to be conducted in a way that preserves God’s great reputation. We must serve God in loyalty and in obedience to his revealed will.
    2. Ministry must be conducted as God’s representative, doing things as we believe God would have us do them. Ministers are not merely doing whatever they want; they work for God.
    3. Our ultimate allegiance is to God, not to people. We serve God by serving God’s people. Successful ministry is accomplishing God’s will and leaving the results with God.
    4. Human opinion must always be secondary. How people respond to ministry is not the proper gauge of success or legitimacy. We must remember that “the fear of man brings a snare” (Prov 29:25).
    5. Speak/prophesy in the name of the Lord (Deut 18:22;Jer 26:16,20;Acts 9:29)
      1. One speaking “in the name of the Lord” is claiming divine inspiration for his words; he is speaking for God, communicating God’s word. The prophets and apostles spoke and wrote under direct inspiration as the Holy Spirit “moved” them (2 Pet 1:21).
      2. Since the canon of Scripture is closed, and since no authorized prophets or apostles remain, we should not expect anyone to be speaking under the direct inspiration of God today (contrary to what Pentecostals claim).
      3. Speakers today must “preach the word” (2 Tim 4:2). They should not claim divine inspiration for their own words. Only to the degree that one’s message comports with the Bible can anyone’s speech be considered “in the name of the Lord.” All unbiblical speech must be rejected. Cf.  Acts 17:11.

1Pe 4:11If anyone speaks, let him speak as the utterances of God … so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.

  1. Bless in the name of the Lord (Deut 21:5)
    1. The OT priests, as God’s representatives, blessed the people in the Lord’s name (cf.  Num 6:23-27). Since God had chosen the priests to serve in the temple and to convey his word to the people, they also had authority to judge controversies and set appropriate punishments.
    2. Today, since every believer is a priest (1 Pet 2:5, 9), the blessings that we convey are more in the terms of encouragement, exhortation, and even warning. We bless one another by fulfilling all the “one another” expectations of the NT—edify, comfort, encourage, warn, teach, etc.
    3. Fight/conquer in the name of the Lord (1 Sam 17:45)
      1. The nation of Israel, as God’s chosen people, had a relationship with the true God that no other nation could claim. God’s will for Israel often included physical warfare against God’s enemies.
      2. Goliath entered the battle against Israel with sword, spear, and shield; but David confronted the giant “in the name of the Lord, the God of the armies of Israel.” David claimed to be fighting under God’s authority or command. God used David and the armies of Israel to defeat the Philistines.
      3. The NT tells us that “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds” (2 Cor 10:4). Christian warfare has no physical dimensions. Our enemies are the world, the flesh, and the devil. We fight these enemies using spiritual warfare; our weapons are truth, faith, salvation, the Word of God, prayer (Eph 6:10f) along with all the other resources available to the child of God.
    4. Make oaths in the name of the Lord (1 Sam 20:42;2 Kings 2:24)
      1. David and Jonathan swore an oath of allegiance to one another “in the name of the Lord.” To swear an oath in God’s name is to call God as a witness to the agreement and to call down his wrath on anyone breaking the stipulations of the vow.
      2. Elisha invoked the Lord’s name as a curse against some scornful young people, resulting in “two she bears” wreaking havoc on forty-two of them.
      3. The Pharisees corrupted the practice of making oaths/vows in God’s name (cf.  Mt 23:16-22). Jesus advises us to tell the truth without taking an oath (Mt 5:37). We should not need an oath to guarantee the veracity of our words.
    5. Worship in the name of the Lord (1 Kings 18:32)
      1. Elijah built an altar “in the name of the Lord.” That is, the altar was dedicated to the true and living God of Israel, not some other foreign god or idol.
      2. Worship conducted under the name of the Lord must conform to God’s revealed word and be consistent with God’s character and purpose. Worship must uphold God’s great reputation—his majesty, glory, and honor. Hence it must be reverent, decent, and orderly (cf.  1 Cor 14:40).
    6. Trust in the name of the Lord (Ps 124:8; Prov 18:10; Isa 50:10)

Trusting in God’s name is to trust in God’s person, which results in fearing and obeying him.

  1. Baptize in the name of the Lord (Acts 8:16, 10:48, 19:5)

On three occasions, the writer of Acts mentions people who were baptized “in the name of the Lord (Jesus).” We know from the commission recorded in Matthew 28:19-20 that baptisms were to be done in the “name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Did the early church disregard the Trinitarian formula and baptize in Jesus’ name only? That seems unlikely. All Christians ought to be baptized as a public testimony to their faith in Christ.

  1. Anoint the sick with oil in the name of the Lord (James 5:14).
  2. Do all in the name of the Lord (Col 3:17).

Every action a Christian does should conform to biblical principles and to the character of God (as much as is humanly possible). Acting as God’s representatives in the world, we should seek to uphold God’s great reputation in our perverted culture by living in a way that brings honor and glory to God.

 



[1] ISBE, “God, names of.”

[2] ISBE

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