Getting the name right makes a difference. Companies put a lot of work into picking the right name for their product. Even governments have paid significant money to professional consultants to get the right names for state agencies and projects. What about a right name for God? The psalm sings, ‘I will praise your name forever’. What is it about God’s name that is so special?
Moses longed to see God, but in the end, all he was granted was a backwards view of God, for his own protection. At the same time, he heard the magnificent name that summed up the hidden identity, whose glory would break out only now and then. In the psalm this weekend we hear an echo of what Moses heard: ‘The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger’ and abounding in steadfast love.’ This is the identity that God wants to reveal. Hidden in the original Hebrew of this verse is the love found in a mother’s womb. When God’s glory shines out, it appears as tenderness.
‘Gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love’ is a long way of naming someone. Much shorter is the name ‘Jesus’.
No one has seen God, except the Son who is close to the Father’s heart. He has seen God and does only what he sees. If we want to see what God is like, we only need to look at Jesus: ‘Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.’ The glory of God shines on the face of Christ. Life might have been much simpler for us if that glory had shone out with such power that the whole world would drop to its knees; but God’s glory is not like that. That is not what God reveals in Jesus.
Canon Francis Brown