How many times have we heard expressions in various Christian churches about the claim to do any number of things “in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ”? Do we really understand what that phrase means? Yahushua made it clear that He came “in the Name of” His Father, YHVH, and frequently said things like, “the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.” (Yahuchanon/John 10:25)
Even more dramatically, what may well be the most blunt warning in Scripture hinges on an understanding of that concept. Yahushua reminded people that it was DOING the will of YHVH that mattered, rather than simply claiming His Name, and then added, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ “
“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness! ‘ ” [disregard His Torah] (Matt. 7:21-23)
Is it possible to claim to “come in His name”, and yet not know what that means? Is it possible that there might be more to it than knowing how to pronounce the ‘tetragrammaton’ — YHVH — or recognizing that His earthly mother never actually called the Savior “Jesus”?
To understand the meaning of the phrase, we must understand the Biblical Hebrew culture. And perhaps the best example of the concept is found in the story of the search for a bride for Yitzak ( or Isaac) in Bereshiet/Genesis chapter 24.
The story of the servant of Abraham who is sent to bring home a bride for his son is the longest personal narrative in the entire Torah. The level of detail, in contrast to most other stories, is striking…and there must be a reason. And yet, in spite of that level of detail, the servant himself is never once identified by name.** It seems that the fact that he WAS such a ‘good and faithful servant’, who did what his master sent him to do, is the thing that really matters.
Abraham asked his servant to swear that he would contract with and bring home a suitable bride from his own kin; that he would faithfully execute the task he was charged with fulfilling. He then sent his servant out on a large caravan of camels, laden with goods which would serve both as gifts for the bride and her family, and surety to demonstrate that he did, in fact, have the authority to contract on behalf of his master; that he really did, “come in his name”:
“…for all his master’s goods were in his hand.” (Bereshiet/Genesis 24:10)
His master’s wealth, and his son’s future, was literally placed in the servant’s hands. He was entrusted with a tremendous amount of responsibility, and empowered to first find, and then contract “in his name” for one of the most fundamental of all human relationships. To put the matter in terms familiar to a modern lawyer, Abraham’s servant was given his “power of attorney”. And such a servant, if he acts lawfully, must exercise what is called “due diligence”.
And Scripture shows that ‘the man’ did in fact do his duty faithfully, and was miraculously blessed by YHVH in the process!
Abraham’s man WAS a “good and faithful servant” precisely BECAUSE he performed the task he was assigned in the same way he knew that his master would have. Each of the true prophets of Yah faithfully spoke the Words that He commanded them, because they did so “in His Name”, and by His Authority. Yahushua came in His Father’s Name, and did exactly what He came to do — even to the point of saying, “nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)
Our Savior says, “if you love Me, keep My commands.” (Yahuchanon/John 14:15) And His “parable of the talents” makes the point that we must learn to be faithful using what He has given us, to DO what He asks of us. It is not enough to “claim” His Name, if we don’t follow His instruction (torah)! If we claim to act on His behalf, it must be in accord with His will, and by keeping His commandments.
There can be no greater reward for any of us that to someday hear the glorious words, “well done, good and faithful servant!”
** While other references in Scripture suggest strongly that the name of the servant in the story is probably Eliezer, he is always called “Abrahams’ servant”, or simply “the man” during this narrative. That, too, seems to be an important aspect of the lesson: it was what he DID that mattered.