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Finding Jesus in the Names of God

“My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets.”  (Malachi 1:11)

In Jewish culture, names are not chosen randomly or on a whim.  

A person’s name is believed to affect their entire spiritual identity and even their destiny.

Scripture seems to enforce this idea; for instance, Messiah was named Yeshua (Jesus).  That name means salvation, and Matthew 1:21 confirms that it reflects His destiny.

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Yeshua, because He will save His people from their sins.”  (Matthew 1:21)

Since Yeshua is one with the Father (John 10:30, 14:7; Matthew 11:27), we can expect to find His character revealed in the names of the Father.

Hebrew variations of the name Yeshua.

Variations of the Hebrew name Yeshua (Jesus). The top two are pronounced Yehoshua, and the bottom one is a contraction that is pronounced Yeshua. This spelling and pronunciation was typical in Jerusalem during the Second Temple period.

Discovering the Character of Messiah in the Names of the Father

“So I will make My holy name known in the midst of My people Israel …”  (Ezekiel 39:7)

Father God has, in His mercy, chosen to reveal His Divine character and nature to His people through His Holy name.

All of the names we will look at here are compound and begin with the Four Letters of God’s personal, holy name:  YHVH.

“I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El Shaddai (God Almighty), but by My name YHVH יְהֹוָה, I did not make myself known to them.”  (Exodus 6:3)

This four-letter name of God is derived from the Hebrew verb hayah meaning to be.  God seems to explain this to Moses when He said,  “I Am who I Am [ehyeh aser ehyeh]’”

Most Christian Bibles write LORD in place of YHVH.  And in the Jewish tradition, the Hebrew word Adonai is said when reading Scripture aloud.

Let’s now take a look at Father God and Messiah Yeshua in the names:  YHVH El Elyon (Most High), YHVH Nissi (Banner), and YHVH Roi (My Shepherd).

YHWH in Hebrew

The holy name of God, YHVH, was spoken by the High Priest on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). When the Jewish People read Scripture aloud, however, they substitute Adonai (Lord).

1) The LORD Most High God: YHVH El Elyon (יְהֹוָה אֵ֣ל עֶלְי֔וֹן)  

“For You, O Lord [YHVH], are Most High [Elyon] over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.”  (Psalm 97:9, see Genesis 14:22)

The name Adonai El Elyon (The Lord Most High God) reveals the superiority and supremacy of God.

The Hebrew word Elyon, meaning Most High, Uppermost, Lofty or the Supreme, is derived from the Hebrew root A-L-H, meaning to go up or ascend.

The implication is that God is high and above any and all created things.  This includes the false gods that arise from the imaginations of humankind and all demonic powers.

In fact, when God poured out His fury upon Egypt in the form of the ten plagues, He proved Himself to be Elyon — higher than any false Egyptian deity (Exodus 12:12).

James Tissot-painting-The Plague of Flies

The Plague of Flies, by James Tissot, depicts the fourth plague and the supremacy of YHVH over the Egyptian god Khepri, who had the head of a fly.

The name El Elyon reveals that God is the absolute Highest Supremacy.  He is the Extremely-Exalted, High God who is far superior to anyone or anything.

For this reason, we should both revere Him and trust Him.

“I cry out to God Most High [Elohim Elyon], to God [El], who fulfills [His purpose] for me.”  (Psalm 57:2; see also Psalm 7:17)

“How awesome is the LORD Most High [YHVH Elyon], the great King over all the earth!”  (Psalm 47:2)

The Brit Chadashah (New Covenant) connects this idea of supremacy with Yeshua (Jesus).  God has made Him above all (Elyon) by placing all things under His feet.

“And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the community of Believers.”  (Ephesians 1:22)

A Christian tourist on the Mount of Olives prays for the peace of Jerusalem.

Believers pray for Jerusalem and the Jewish People from the Mount of Olives.

2) The Lord My Banner: YHVH Nissi (יְהוָה נִסִּי)

“Moses built an altar and called it The LORD [YHVH] is my Banner [Nissi].”  (Exodus 17:15)

The Lord My Banner or Adonai Nissi (YHVH Nissi) is the name Moses called the altar that he built when he rejoiced over Israel’s victory over the Amalekites.

To understand this name, consider that today, military units and even marching bands often rally behind the one carrying the flag that identifies the group.  That person is known as the standard bearer.

So, too, Moses rallied behind the Lord, his Standard-Bearer, and He led the way to victory.  

Yet, banner is not an adequate term to describe our Lord.

The word Nissi could be derived from nes (miracle, banner, sign); nasa (lifted up), or nus (flee for refuge).  So, in addition to being our Leader, YHVH Nissi could also mean that God is our Miracle, our Exalted One, our Refuge.

The Jewish People gather at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem on Yom Yerushalayim. (Israel Tourism photo)

Jews and Gentiles, men and women, gather at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem on Yom Yerushalayim. (Israel Tourism photo)

The Prophet Isaiah refers to the Messiah as a banner (nes) in two of his End-Time Messianic Prophecies.

“In that day the Root of Jesse [Messiah] will stand as a banner [nes] for the peoples; the nations [Goyim] will rally to him, and His place of rest will be glorious.”   (Isaiah 11:10)

Also in Isaiah 49, he uses the word nissi in connection with the end-time restoration of Israel.

“See, I will beckon to the Gentiles [Goyim], I will lift up my banner [nissi] to the peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders.”  (Isaiah 49:22)

Messiah Yeshua has been sent to the nations, and because of their great love for Him, Gentiles are helping to restore the Jewish People to the land of Israel, just as Isaiah prophesied.

Christians stand with Israel at a rally in the United States.

Christians stand with Israel at a rally in the United States.

God’s “banner over us” symbolizes His presence, provision, redemptive power, and love.

We no longer need to be out there on our own, gaining the victory through our own might and devices.  He is our rallying point and our Banner, and we can confidently look to Him and to Messiah Yeshua for direction and help.

“He has taken me to the banquet hall, and His banner [dagal] over me is love [ahava].”  (Song of Solomon 2:4)

He demonstrates to us His love as a Sherphed does for His sheep.


“‘I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest,’ declares the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 34:15)

3) The Lord My Shepherd: YHVH Ro’i (יְהוָה רֹעִי)

One of the best known and beloved of the psalms of David begins with these comforting words:

“The Lord is my Shepherd [YHVH Roi], I shall not be in want.”  (Psalm 23:1)

This psalm is traditionally read at many Jewish funeral services because it refers to God walking with us as a good shepherd, through the valley of the shadow of death.

The realization that we have a faithful Shepherd to guide and protect us, and that we are not wandering lost and alone in this world, alleviates fear and loneliness, and establishes the safety, purpose, and direction that we can find in Him.

Yeshua (Jesus) also called Himself the Good Shepherd, saying that He would even give His life for His sheep.

“I am the Good Shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”  (John 10:11)

The Shepherd David, by Elizabeth Jane Gardner (1837–1922; Public Domain)

The Shepherd David, by Elizabeth Jane Gardner (1837–1922; Public Domain)

David, the shepherd who became a shepherd king to the people of Israel remained a humble lamb in the face of YHVH Roi, Adonai my Shepherd.

While YHVH Roi is our Shepherd, He has appointed a Shepherd of His own to rule and reign over His creation on His behalf.

The Hebrew Prophet Ezekiel confirmed that the Messiah, a descendant of King David, would come and, like David, rule Israel as a Shepherd King.

“My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd.”  (Ezekiel 37:24; see also Isaiah 40:11, Micah 5:4)

The Hebrew prophets also foretold, however, that the Shepherd would be struck down, and would give His life as an offering for sin as the Lamb of God (Isaiah 53:4–5).

“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me! declares the LORD Almighty.  Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered….”  (Zechariah 13:7; see Matthew 26:31, Mark 14:27, John 16:32)

The Book of Revelation ties these three aspects of the Messiah—the Lamb, the King and the Shepherd—to Yeshua and His soon return as the Shepherd King of Israel.

“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”  (Revelation 7:17)

Orthodox Jewish man and Israeli soldier pray at the Western (Wailing) Wall

Orthodox Jewish man and Israeli soldier pray at the Western (Wailing) Wall

Although the Jewish People know God as El Elyon (The Most High God), many do not know that all things are under Yeshua’s feet.  

And although they know that God is their Banner, they do not know that Yeshua is the prophesied Root of Jesse who will stand as a Banner to the peoples.

Israel also knows that the Lord is their Shepherd, but many do not yet realize that Yeshua is their Shepherd King who laid down His life for them and will soon return to completely fulfill every Messianic prophecy.  

As for the world, so few know that the God of Israel is the one true God, and that He loves them and is reaching out to meet their needs and save them.

The Messianic Prophecy Bible is being designed to change that.

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