I am excited to welcome Carrie Anderson to the Word Nerd Wednesday team this week with her in-depth look at what it means for us to call God, Jehovah Mekoddishkem.
How can knowing the names of God in Hebrew help us be bold and fearless for the Gospel?
Most of us Christian women lead very busy lives taking care of our families, homes, employers, friends, family, and neighbors. We also routinely encounter faith conversations where we might get stuck not knowing how to answer a question, or we are fearful we will say the wrong thing.
Our evangelism may not look to us like we have a big impact but here is where we are wrong – it does. We carry more impact than we realize.
We are typically our children’s primary caregivers. We serve in children’s ministry and women’s ministry. Women are highly relational, nurturing people by God’s design and so we are usually the ones out in the world slugging away day after day making sure needs are met. We are the comforters and counselors in life.
Therefore we often have far more opportunities to share the Good News with everyday people than we realize. Knowing how God has revealed Himself and Who He has revealed Himself as through His names in the Old Testament can be a useful tool to more confident faith conversations.
Understanding what the Names of God mean can help you in your faith conversations.
Has anyone told you they don’t believe God exists because if He did He wouldn’t exclude people? Or what about they don’t like Christianity because Christians think they are better than everyone else?
It has been said that Mahatma Gandhi once said:
I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
He didn’t say that, by the way. That’s a fake quote. My philosophy professor quoted it in a comparative world religions course! But people like to quote it anyway, to discredit the exclusive claims Jesus made about Himself being The Way to being in the eternal presence of God.
Setting up a straw-man argument that Christians (or people of faith in general) behave in less than becoming ways, attempts to circumvent the need to make a decision about the existence of God.
Jehovah Mekoddishkem: The God Who Sanctifies You
Mekoddishkem comes from the Hebrew word qadash which means to be set apart or consecrated to God. The first appearance of Jehovah Mekoddishkem is found in Exodus 31:13. We see it again in Leviticus 20:8.
“But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you.” Exodus 31:13 (NASB)
The Consecrated vs. The Profane
First, we will discuss the definitions of profane and consecrated as written in Scripture. Then, we will discuss how we can apply that to our faith conversations, especially when we encounter objections to the existence of God based on the attitudes or actions of people who claim to follow Yahweh.
In biblical literature, profane is both an adjective and a verb. It comes from the Hebrew word, chalal, and means to be before/outside the temple. It is secular, or common. The verb form of chalal means “to pollute” – to take something which was set apart by God for His use and bring it down to common use.
In the Old Testament, we find chalal in Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 19:8 Nehemiah 13:17, 18 Psalm 89:39 Isaiah 43:28 Ezekiel 22:8, 26. “Profaneness” in Jeremiah 23:15 (chanuppah) is rendered in the American Standard Revised Version as “ungodliness.”
In the New Testament “profane” occurs in the sense of unholy or godless. It is having no regard for God and divine things (1 Timothy 1:9; 1 Timothy 4:7; 1 Timothy 6:20 2 Timothy 2:16 Hebrews 12:16), and “to profane,” or violate, in Matthew 12:5 Acts 24:6.
We also find the verb form of chalal in the Apocryphal works.
Qadash/qadhosh/qodhesh is of the Semitic root Q-D-SH and possibly derives from an Assyrian word denoting purity or clearness. Most scholars lean towards the view the primary idea is a “cutting off” or separation. This “cutting off” is nothing more than a ceremonial separation of the object from everyday or common use. In the ancient world, this meant separation from that which is called in modern times “taboo”.
Hagios is the Greek word for the same idea: a separation, or “cutting off” of things, places, people, and time from what is common or ordinary, and it is rendered to God.
Within the Biblical sphere, this separation (cutting off) attaches itself first to Yahweh instead of to invisible objects (as in the ancient religions). Places, times, things and people are qadash or hagios only as far as their association with Yahweh.
How God S
In the Old Testament, Yahweh sanctified:
- Temple priests were sanctified by blood
- Firstborn were sanctified to God
- Keepers of the ark were sanctified
- Contact with sacred things rendered a person sanctified
- Feasts and sabbaths (Exodus 31:13)
In the New Testament, sanctification happens differently:
- Jesus underwent death to consecrate Himself on behalf of those who trust His sacrifice as sufficient (Hebrews 9:13)
- As a result, Jesus was sanctified by the Father (John 10:36)
- Those who trust Jesus’ sanctification as sufficient for their own are sanctified:
- by the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:16)
- by truth (John 17:17, John 17:19)
- by the word of God (1 Timothy 4:5)
Those who are sanctified receive an inheritance (Acts 20:32)
How understanding consecration helps you with skeptics
We all have encountered at one point or another people who claim Christianity isn’t true based on the attitudes or actions of some people who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ.
Whether or not their claim against the attitudes and behaviors is accurate is irrelevant. It is not a logical conclusion to make that God does not exist because people behave badly.
The next time you find yourself in a faith conversation where the person is claiming God does not exist because Christians have a holier-than-thou attitude you can explain to them it is God who sets places, seasons, times, things, and people as “set apart” from common or everyday use, for His use. People are only viewed by Him as “sanctified” when they maintain a close association with Him.
The Christian claim that God’s people are “set apart” from common (everyday) use only comes when we trust in Jesus’ sanctification as being sufficient for our own, and we are sanctified by the Holy Spirit, truth, and Scripture.
We are not sanctified, or holy, because of ourselves or anything we do or say. We are set apart by God for His use because of our association with Him.
Learning what Jehovah Mekoddishkem means can help us in our everyday lives when we encounter people who base their understandings of religion in general (and Christianity in particular) on their perceptions of the behaviors and attitudes of those who claim to follow Yahweh.
Maintaining a proper understanding of how we are set apart by God for His purposes can help guard our minds from wrong perspectives, thinking we are sanctified by our actions or choices. We are sanctified only by maintaining a close association with Yahweh, as those who trust Him.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can be bold and fearless for the Gospel come join me at Christian Women Apologists where we talk about Christian theology, the history of Christianity, and how to think well about our faith in order to give answers to all who ask for the hope we have, with gentleness and respect.
I’d love to hear what you think:
What difference will a deeper understanding of “The God Who Sanctifies” make in your life and your conversations about your faith?
“Hagiazó.” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, Biblehub, biblehub.com/greek/37.htm.
Lambert, J. C. “Holiness / International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.” Holiness, Biblehub, biblehub.com/topical/h/holiness.htm.
“Qadash.” Brown-Driver-Briggs Concordance, Biblehub, Biblehttps://biblehub.com/hebrew/6942.htmhub.
Walker, W. L. Profane / International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Biblehub, biblehub.com/topical/p/profane.htm.
A former Mormon and skeptic of biblical/historical Christianity, Carrie Anderson encourages everyday Christian women to think well about their faith at Christian Women Apologists. She hosts several online communities for Christian women who want to be bold and fearless for the Gospel using Christian apologetics, the history of Christianity, and Christian theology. She has shared some of her personal journey of growing up Mormon in a multi-generational Mormon family whose roots go all the way back to the beginning of Mormonism on Theology Gals and Healing X Outreach.
She lives by the motto that God gave us a brain, He expects us to use it. He never told us to check our brains at the church door.