An article by Joel Allen
We’ve heard it said over the pulpit, through the airwaves hundreds and even thousands of times. As Christians and Jews alike this name of God has been a central defining name that separated the God of the Hebrews and the “gods” of the other nations and religions. YHVH our Elohim wanted to differentiate himself from other Elohim or mighty ones worshiped by the heathen so He was specifically the God of Abraham. Abraham had a son whose name was Isaac and so YHVH became the God of Abraham and Isaac. Isaac married and had a son named Jacob and therefore, YHVH became the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob. But could there be more than what meets the eye here? Is there a hidden message in the name, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?
In order to answer this question a basic foundation has to be laid so that you can understand better how the Torah and the other scriptures have been constructed and how one has to study them to reach the proper assumptions derived from them.
The first thing we have to realize is that in order to know the God of the Hebrews fully we should probably get to know the Hebrew roots, culture and historical context of the scriptures. Shaul (Paul the apostle) asked this question: What benefit is it to being a Jew and he goes on to answer this question by saying that the “oracles of God” or the holy scriptures were entrusted to them. It’s true! The Bible was written by Jews or Hebrews. All of the prophets were Jewish, the Messiah was Jewish and he chose Jewish disciples. Wouldn’t it be prudent to understand Jewish things before claiming to know and understand what this book is all about? Both the Old and New Testaments are riddled full of Jewish idioms. Idioms are sayings that are spoken and are understood by a select group of people. Look at it like an inside joke… I guess you had to be there, kind of thing. Imagine if you were a foreign exchange student coming to America and you heard the term, “well a little birdie told me.” They might think you were nuts! Crazy Americans! In like manner, there are Jewish idioms and sayings that make complete sense to those that understand the language and culture of the Bible but those that are alien to it have a hard time trying to figure it out. The Hebrew scriptures were written in Hebrew and therefore the proper context of studying them is going back to the Hebrew language.
The second thing we have to understand is that the Torah (first five books of the Bible/books of Moses) has many layers of revelation and understanding within its text. You can look at it like the human body. We have five physical senses including smell, touch, taste, hearing, and seeing. But beneath the outer shell we are made up of complex organs, vessels, and nerves. Even beyond that we can look in a microscope at different intensities and see the matrix of atoms, the building blocks of life. That doesn’t even get into the almost mystical connections of the soul and spirit. Some of us only care about the five senses and never care to look beyond. Others are scientists and soul searchers that dig deeper to understand more. The study of Torah and all of scripture is very much the same way. According to ancient Jewish sages the study of Torah consists of these levels as seen in the acronym PaRDeS:
- Peshat- The literal reading or face value of the text
- Remez- The hinted or alluded meanings of the text
- D’Rash- homiletical or exegetical application to the text
- Sod- ‘secret’ or mystical meaning hidden in the text (e.g., Gematria)
I personally believe that YHVH has constructed the scriptures in this fashion by the Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) so that He could meet the reader or studier where they are at. Many scholars and theologians can agree that no matter how many times you may read the same scripture over and over you can pull out new and profound things each time. Just like the Israelites who gathered fresh manna every morning, a studier of the word of God should be able to find something fresh every time they “feed” upon the bread of life.
Having laid this foundation we have to look at the story of Abraham and where his name came from and what it meant. Abraham wasn’t always called Abraham but was named Abram according to Genesis 12:1. It wasn’t until YHVH called out Abram and made a covenant with him and a promise that YHVH had changed his name from Abram to Abraham. Interestingly enough, Sarai his wife also had a name change to Sarah. In both cases YHVH had added the letter “h” or “hey” in Hebrew to their names. In Hebrew each letter of the Aleph-Bet has significant meaning. The sages believed that the meaning of the letter “hey” is divine presence or spirit filled in the New Testament vernacular. So when Abram and Sarai came into covenant with YHVH they were promised that nations would come forth from them and that they would inherit the land of Canaan. Furthermore He changes their name by filling them with His presence (the letter hey). Abram in Hebrew means “exalted father.” By adding the hey or divine presence in his name we can look at the new meaning of his name as, “highly exalted father” or “Heavenly Father.” By no means am I saying that we should pray to Abraham as our heavenly father but there is a message in the names that points to something remarkable so let’s push on!
Abraham and Sarah had a son in their old age just as YHVH had promised and they named him, Isaac because Sarah announces that, “God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me (Gen. 21:6).” The Hebrew word for Isaac is, Yitschaq, and it means “he laughs.” This Hebrew word comes from the root word, tsachaq, which means to “mock or jest or make sport of.” Remember that when the news came to Abraham that he would get a son in his old age with Sarah that Sarah laughed to herself. Unlike Abraham and Sarah, Isaac did not have his name changed by YHVH, but you will notice that it was YHVH that named him to begin with (Gen. 17:19).
Isaac grew up and married Rebecca and they had twin sons named Esau, who was the first born out of the womb and Jacob, who grabbed a hold of Esau’s heel as he came out second. Esau was named so because he was red and hairy all over and therefore was named Esav, which means “hairy.” Jacob was a twin of Esau and when Esau came out of the womb, Jacob grabbed a hold of his heel and wouldn’t let go so his name was called, Ya`aqob, which means “one who deceives or literally “one who strikes or grabs the heel.” Later on we can read that Jacob deceives Esau out of his birthright, which goes to the firstborn , and receives the divine double portion blessing from Isaac. As a family feud ensues, Jacob flees his family because he fears Esau’s anger and finds himself wrestling with an angel or even perhaps YHVH almighty himself. During the struggle Jacob grabs hold of the “divine being” and exclaims, “I won’t let you go until you bless me!” The “divine being” touches his hip which makes Jacob crippled on his side and he let’s go. At this time YHVH changes his name from Jacob to Israel, which means “God prevails.” This was because Jacob wrestled and God prevailed.
Now that we have laid the foundation of the meanings behind the names, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob we can dig a little deeper and see an almost cryptic message within this title for God. But first, we have to read one of the first messianic prophecies in the Torah found in Genesis 3:15:
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
The Hebrew word translated as bruised is shuwph, which can be translated as bruised or another possible translation could be seized or grabbed. In this verse YHVH is prophetically laying out the struggle between the serpent (Hasatan) and his seed and the woman (Israel) and her seed (Yeshua). We can see this throughout the history of Israel and in particular with an enemy called Amalek, a type and shadow of HaSatan and his devises.
Deuteronomy 25:18-19b “How he (Amalek) met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God… thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.”
This is why YHVH is so adamant about defending the weak because they are the feeble ones, the poor, the fatherless and widows that HaSatan strikes at like a lion seeking whom he may devour.
Psalm 10:8-9 “He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages: in the secret places doth he murder the innocent: his eyes are privily set against the poor. He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den: he lieth in wait to catch the poor: he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net.”
Psalm 12:5 “For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.”
Psalm 83:3 “Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.”
Yeshua was manifest to destroy the works of the devil and therefore was a defender of the weak, the poor, etc. HaSatan lingered in the dark places and struck at those afflicted but Yeshua became poor so that we could partake of the riches of his glory. He was the good shepherd that left the 99 to save the 1 that was lost. Amein!
2 Corinth. 8:9 “For ye know the grace of our Lord Yeshua Messiah, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”
So now we can see the full picture of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the God of Israel. The seed of the woman, Israel was Messiah, the son of David, Yeshua. Through His death the seed of the serpent struck His heel but through Yeshua’s resurrection the head of that serpent of old was crushed. Let’s review the meanings of the names again:
- Abraham- Heavenly or Highly exalted Father
- Isaac- Laughs or makes sport of
- Jacob- one who grabs or strikes the heel
- Israel- God prevails
If we look at the meanings of their names we see the beautiful picture of the fulfillment of Messiah all the way from Genesis and it looks something like this:
Our Heavenly Father (Abraham) laughs at (Isaac) the one who strikes his heel (Jacob) because God/Yeshua prevails (Israel).
Every time we exclaim and pray the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob we are declaring to the forces of darkness and the world this awesome and prophetic message implanted in the names and selecting of the patriarchs of our faith, both Jew and Christian alike. In a modern world that wants to water down and compromise who God is and abandon the ancient paths we must stand in unity. Our God is NOT Allah, our God is NOT Buddha, and our God is NOT some nameless Higher Power (sorry Oprah). Our God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! In a modern age of disputing and denying the rights and identity of the Jewish people as the rightful owners and inhabitants of Israel with Jerusalem as the Jewish capital we must stand tall and declare that our God is the God of Israel. This is who He has declared Himself and associated Himself with. Perhaps we should take a note from His book and stop trying to rewrite HIStory.