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The terms we use in church are often strange, but all that means is they merely need to be unpacked, taught and explained. These special words are not meant to be mysterious, but to be specific and unique.
First, a testament means a witness or statement about what you believe to be true. In the Bible we have a section called the Old Testament and one other called the New Testament. They refer to the first ways we witnessed God working in the world before Jesus came, and then after.
These sections match up with the old and new “covenants” — another special word. Think of covenants as personal contracts. Usually, a person of lesser means or status would make an agreement to give a person of greater means and status their loyalty and a percentage of their work or income (an ongoing tribute) for the greater person to protect and rule them fairly. The lesser person would usually make an initial sacrifice to prove their integrity in the matter. What’s wonderful about God is that even though there were ongoing tributes expected of followers, it was God who made the initial sacrifice to prove faithfulness. What’s even more amazing is that even though we continually broke the agreement (often not walking humbly before God or even trying to live by God’s instructions), God made the ultimate sacrifice, sending Jesus, the one and only son of God, to die for us so God would continue to be our protector and ruler. This agreement, or contract of grace that Jesus gives us, is the new covenant explained in the New Testament.
What about the names of God? Throughout the Old Testament, we often see the name of our God written in different forms; sometimes LORD, expressed in all capital letters, and other times Lord, with both upper and lower cases used. It is an attempt to differentiate the original Hebrew words used when addressing God. In the second book of the Bible, Exodus, God reveals His covenant name as the Hebrew verb for “to be,” or “I am,” expressing the absolute and ultimate nature of God. We would use the letters YHWH for the Hebrew word. This name was written without vowels to avoid misusing God’s sacred name and to preserve its nature. In order for readers to phonetically interpret God’s Hebrew name, scribes took vowels from the word adonai, meaning “lord” or “master.” This transformed YHWH into Yahweh. When we see LORD written in all caps, this a reference to Yahweh, the name for God’s true and complete “to be” nature, both sovereign and divine. This word expresses God is more than just our master, God is our creator, defender and sustainer.
So, next time you pray, thank the LORD for the new covenant of Jesus and the testaments that reveal God’s ongoing love toward us.
As you may know !