Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Demonic Attempt to Return the Church to One Language

The Pastor's statement startled me.  He said, "The name, 'Jesus,' has no power."  

Sitting across the table from me as we ate a post service meal among the other congregants, and seeing my jaw drop, he continued, "I've seen this name work many times, but once you know the truth about it, the name 'Jesus' will no longer have power for you."

The "truth" the Pastor was trying to convey was that because "Jesus" is not the original given name of the Messiah, that is, the name He was called in His native language, the modern English name, "Jesus" does not have the power of His "real" name. Though, he conceded, that God will honor the English name Jesus when used in prayer until the Believer knows this "truth" and has the opportunity to change to his original name.

He further explained, others present chiming in supporting this view, that the Messiah's original name is the Hebrew name that was also shared by Joshua ("Joshua" also being an English translation), the son of Nun, the leader of Israel just after Moses, and that the English name,  "Jesus" had been transliterated through several languages, from the Hebrew, to the Greek, to Latin, to the old English and finally to the name we use in modern English today.

He then showed me an original King James Bible which predated the revised version most people use, which showed Jesus' name as "Iesus," the letter "I" in the place of the "J" we now use.  He said that the letter J had only been part of the English language for 400 years or so, and thus the modern name English speakers use is yet farther away from the original pronunciation.  His argument was that because the name Jesus had been transliterated multiple times to our present-day English form meant that the name had been perverted so far away from the original that God would not acknowledge this name for His Son.

Then the Pastor played a bit of a trick on me.  While we were talking he called me, "Robert," (though my name is Doug) waiting for me to react.  I didn't say anything when he did so because we had only just met and I didn't want to embarrass him.  Moments later he asked me how I liked being called a name other than my own, positing that this is what we're doing when we call the Son of God, "Jesus."  

(Note, he also would have avoided using the word "God,"as I just did, because according to many Hebrew roots and Messianic Believers, God also is not the true name for the Father, rather "Elohim."  It is true that the word translated God is derived from the Hebrew word, "Elohim," but does this fact make the English translation,  "God," off limits, too?  With this blog I'm focusing on the use of the name "Jesus," but the conclusion should also apply to the use of the word "Elohim" in the stead of God., as well as the use of "Jehovah" in place of "The Lord.")

I have also read other arguments that the name Jesus in fact is a transliteration for "Hail Zeus," and thus should not be used to call on the only begotten Son of God, but more on this later, as this Pastor did not make this claim.

My initial reaction to all of this was that calling the Messiah "Jesus" is simply our, that is, the English speaking world's, translation of His name.  I was reminded of when I have moved among Hispanic circles, I have often been called, "Doo-glaws," though my name in English is pronounced more like, "Duh-gliss." However, the spanish pronunciation did not bother me in the least, in fact I found it endearing to hear my name spoken with this different pronunciation unique to the Hispanic culture.

Since then, I have also considered the fact that inasmuch as I have been exposed to the Messianic movement through the years, I never latched onto calling the Messiah "Yeshua" which is often used (and now I've been introduced to a name some believe to be more accurate, "Jeusha."  Joshua would have been called this as well).  The name, "Yeshua," felt foreign to me, as does Jeusha.  I don't know God's Son as Yeshua or Jeusha, but as Jesus.  (I also don't know Joshua as Yeshua or Jeusha either.  This particular congregation used the original Hebrew names for every name and book in the Bible., and on several occasions I had no idea of where to turn in my Bible or about whom they were speaking, even though I would know just where to go if the English version of the names were read.)

Now, I must admit that after calling Him Jesus for many years, using a different name (for Jesus, the Father, or any other Bible character) could take some adaptation on my part (which I would gladly undergo if it were indeed necessary), but nevertheless, during the eighteen or so years I've known the Messianics to call Him Yeshua, I haven't found myself calling Him that very often.  On occasion, and when among others who do so, yes, but for the most part I've stuck with the name Jesus, especially in my own private worship.

As I consider how foreign calling Him Yeshua or Jeusha still feels, my thoughts take me back to the Tower of Babel, where God scrambled the language of earth's inhabitants.

Genesis 10 "1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. ... 4 And they (the people) said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. 6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one languageand this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth."

Here at Babel, God was concerned that man's evil devices could and would be accomplished if they maintained one language as all people would be able to continue to pool their knowledge and resources together.  Creating many languages and "downloading" them into the people of that day actually produced a division that God wanted and caused them to obey His initial instruction, that is, to scatter abroad and populate the earth, rather than all congregating in one place.

Just how many languages are there then?

"The most extensive catalog of the world’s languages, generally taken to be as authoritative as any, is that of Ethnologue (published by SIL International), whose detailed classified list as of 2009 included 6,909 distinct languages" ( 

Since Babel, many people, therefore, unless they are gifted to bridge the gap of foreign languages, have a very hard time speaking and understanding just one the multitudes of languages which are not their own.   And even when people do speak second and third languages well, their capacity to do so is most often a far stretch from feeling at home in their non-native languages.  Even capable foreign language speakers feel more at home in their native language.

As I have been writing this blog, I have had the opportunity to be among many foreign language speakers.  Over Thanksgiving I was blessed to dine with 10 lovely people from Haiti, all of whom spoke French as their first language, but being well educated, they also spoke English better than most native English speakers I know.  My question to them was, would you want to be married to someone who didn't share French as their first language?  I asked that seemingly unrelated question trying to get at how they felt in terms of sharing the most intimate earthly relationship with someone who didn't speak their native language. The initial reaction, laughing, was that it would be great because then they could talk about their spouses behind their backs and they wouldn't know! HA! But after some serious thought, they all unanimously agreed they would prefer someone who spoke french so they could share that greater level intimacy that sharing a first language with a spouse would bring. 

I also asked a serious Believer who was there who is actually a professional translator, and who leads prayers very well in English, the language in which she prays to the Father when alone.  Her reply was, in French, her first language.  French, of course, is the place of closeness with God for her because this is the language in which she automatically operates, and of course where she feels more at home in her communications with God.

And, why not? It is by God's purpose and design that we have this comfort in our native languages.  That being the case, why would He have us speak His name in another language in which we are not at home if God was the one who purposely scattered the languages to begin with?  I believe this explains why I have never felt totally comfortable calling Jesus "Yeshua" or the Father "Elohim."  Hebrew is not my home language any more than Spanish, and in the case of Spanish, I have had occasion to learn and speak it on an elementary level, but even calling Jesus the Spanish version of His name, which sounds like "Hey-soos," still feels foreign, and it's by God's design that it does.

Let us consider the treatment of a few other personal names between Spanish and English that I think illustrates the point that names, when they cross into other languages and cultures, take on different pronunciations.  

"Robert" in English is "Roberto" in Spanish, Patrick = Patricio,  George = Jorge,  James = Jaime, and so on.  These names, while being loyal to their roots, take on a feel more appropriate for the language in which they're spoken.  The words, though having the same meaning in both languages, take on a feel native to their own language and culture.

And while the English name for the Messiah did not exist in its current state until the 1600's when the use of the letter J began, this does not change the fact that the letter J is now in use and that many names have taken on that letter without corrupting the original intent of those names.  

The English names, John and James, are written Juan and Jaime in Spanish, but both J's in Spanish are pronounced as somewhat diminished H's, resulting in a pronunciation that sounds more like, "Huhwan," and "Hi-me".  No one is offended when in English these names are transliterated, "John" and "James" with the J pronounced sharply and the ending of James adding the s consonant that's not even present in Spanish.

No one is up in arms with these differences, because, while pronounced differently the modern English derivation has not taken on some sort of evilly purposed transliteration.

Why all the fuss, then, about the name Jesus?

As mentioned before, some believe (though this Pastor did not) that the name Jesus is derived from the greek for "Hail Zeus." 

If Jesus is a modern version of this greek compound, then we should indeed discontinue its use because we certainly don't want to use the name of a Greek pagan demonic deity when calling call on the true Son of God.

But before we throw the baby out with the bathwater, let us first do a study of how "Hail Zeus" would have been said and written in Greek and compare that to the way the word English speakers now use for the Messiah, "Jesus" was also said and written in the Greek.

The word "Hail" in the greek texts of the new testament is actually a two (possibly three) syllable word that sounds nothing like "hail." Here's the Strong's definitiion:

Strong's Number:   5463  
Original Word
Transliterated Word (how it would be written in English)
Phonetic Spelling

"Hail Zeus," therefore, in greek would be said, using English phonetics, "Khah-ee-ro Zeus."

Whereas, Jesus' name, as written in the greek is:

 Strong's Number:   2424  
Original Word
Transliterated Word
Phonetic Spelling
One can quickly discern that the "Ie" in "Iesous" when transliterated from the original greek "ÅIh" has nothing to do with the greek word for Hail, "Cha-i-ro."

Also take note that the second syllable for Jesus is actually transliterated "sous" from the original greek: sou'ß.
Only two of the letters even match the letters for Zeus, the transliterated u and s.
So not only does the first syllable not contain the greek word for, "hail," but the second syllable isn't even reflective of Zeus.

Therefore, the original Greek translation of Jesus' name in no way reflects "Hail Zeus." 

Our current English version "Jesus" stems from this Greek form.  Sure the J has replaced the I, and the second syllable, "sus," though adopting a "z" sound for the first consonant s, is pronounced with the short u sound, "uh", rather than the longer u sound, "oo" as found in "Zeus".

There's just no way around the fact that "Jesus" in no way reflects a "Hail Zeus" meaning when it is easy to identify how it was derived from the original Greek, especially since the word for "hail" is so different. So, here we have a false argument.

Over the years I have heard many Messianic Believers say "Yeshua Hamashiach" in an effort to stay faithful to the original Hebrew.  I have no problem with that.  If this is how native semitic Hebrew people say (and said) His name, more power to them.  But I am not going to defy God's very own judgment by forcing myself to be multi-lingual when it was He who gave us the differing languages in the first place.  If our language translates Yeshuah Hamashiach as Jesus Christ, who am I to go against that, especially since the name has no pagan root?

And to my earlier point about enjoying the Hispanic pronunciation of my own name, God may also enjoy having his name said in a variety of pronunciations as long as they all maintain the same meaning.  He obviously has no trouble whatsoever navigating the languages (He invented them!) and has no trouble with us calling Him His name in our own language. 

I will say, however, that if there was any truth to Jesus meaning, "Hail Zeus," I would discontinue calling Him Jesus post-haste (just has I have years ago stopped honoring Christmas, Easter, and Sunday Sabbath which all have their roots in paganism), but since such is not the case I will not do so, and  will continue to call Him "Jesus" with the utmost confidence in His English name, and in the power of it.  

Therefore, those who say there is no power in the English name of Jesus risk hurting the faith of those who,  in submission to God's will that the language of the peoples of the earth be divided, do not feel comfortable saying the Messiah's name in a language which is foreign to them.  Being pressured and ultimately forced to do so can make the worshipper feel as if God is distant and foreign and decries the fact that there are other languages and cultures outside of the Hebrew, when it was God who created those differences through the confounding of the original language at Babel.  The gap that needs to be bridged between cultures is the one that has to do with the stopping of sin through the adoption of obedience to God's commandments, not in the adoption of the Hebrew language, traditions and culture which are separate from how we are supposed to live according to Biblical mandates.  Therefore, the Yeshua (or Jeusha) only name movement is in error, and God is not happy with this, especially inasmuch as it can discourage intimacy between Himself and His people within the confines of their own languages.

One final thing to remember about the Yeshua or Jeusha only movement is that it is actually a point of pride and superiority exhibited by Hebrew Roots and Messianic Believers.  It's like saying the Jewish/Hebrew language and culture, and as a consequence, the Jewish/Hebrew people's way of speaking and behaving culturally are superior to others.  This is far from the truth as what makes anyone a superior person is the keeping of God's commandments, not the absorption of an earthly human language or culture.  Yes, God honored the descendants of Abraham by giving them His Word, but His Word is what we are supposed to adopt, follow, and keep, not necessarily a language, traditions, or cultural underpinnings that are outside of the simple obedience to God's commands, i.e., there is no command stating, "Thou must speak Hebrew to know me."

God created us all, and as Jesus warned the Jews of His day, God could make followers of Him from the very rocks.  God has even used people from the "heathen" nations to draw them to jealousy.  We must watch for the slow creep of pride, intellectual, spiritual, and otherwise, from taking over and causing us to create division where there shouldn't be.  

I've noticed another pattern, too, with Hebrew language adopters, that they are all highly intelligent, intellectually gifted, and almost scribe like in their pursuit of the study of God's Word.  I am not trying to diminish this pursuit, we all should be studiers of God's Word, but sometimes intellectual gifting like multilingualism can become points of pride, and also something that they expect everyone else to possess.  But each of us have different gifts, and the gift of foreign language abilities can lead a person to appear smarter than others (which is not the same as wiser), and thereby lift the person up in pride, and worse still, to then become a mediator between God and other worshippers.  This is very offensive to God inasmuch as God wants to know and lead each one of us individually and does not intend for any kind of language gap to stand in the way.  It is unfair to those who don't share an interest in foreign language studies to have to take a back seat to those who do.  God is not looking for the intellectually gifted, he is looking for the obedient.  Intellectual gifts that are often shrouded in narcissism and a know-it-all spirit very often stand in the way of that person truly knowing God, and can hinder others from getting closer to God if that person is given too much credit and then acts as a go-between.

Leadership's goal should be to lead a person to a closer walk with the Father, not into positions where language experts act as default mediators because the only way to God becomes through them and their way of breaking down the Word.

In conclusion, Jesus name users are not in error and are not to be belittled because they are more comfortable in their own language.  God is equally comfortable in all languages and has no problem with us using Jesus as His name since it has no pagan roots and is a derivative of his real name.

All languages came from the mind of God. If the name Jesus has no pagan origin, but is simply a "transliteration", even across multiple languages, and this is how He is known to us, not foreign, but accessible, the Creator of all mankind, then we should use that name without reservation, venerating it as it is the english name of the only begotten Son of God.

One final note, when the wicked take the name of the the Lord in vain in English, they say "God damn" or "Jesus Christ" (forgive using the expressions here, but I only do so for this illustration.)  Why would they do so .if the names used weren't really names attributed to God? People's of the English speaking world would say "Elohim damn" or "Yeshuah Hamashiach" in taking God's name in vain if that were the only way to call on God, but they don't because people don't curse God's name in a language that is not their own.  And guess what, God is just as offended when the English versions of His names (or any other language's versions) are taken in vain as He is in the original Hebrew, and this is why demons encourage sinners to do so!