You might be familiar with names for God such as Jehovah Nissi (“God is my banner”) and Jehovah Rapha (“God the healer”), but how about… Jehovah Sneaky?
When it comes to linguistic creativity and verbal imagination, nobody takes the top prize like the Christians in the charismatic and “prophetic” movements. There are so many interesting metaphors and images. Sometimes I hardly know where to start as far as sharing all these charismatic and prophetic Christianese treasures. Well, why not start at the very top with names for God?
The Jewish people utter their most important prayers in Hebrew, because that’s the language of the Old Testament. Modern-day Christians, however, aren’t so attached to the ancient Biblical tongues—with the noteworthy exception of the Eastern Orthodox Christians, who very much keep the old Greek words alive in their liturgies. So it’s somewhat special how Christians have held onto some of the old Hebrew and Greek words and turned them into more-or-less everyday words. For example, we still use the Greek words agape (“God’s love”) and koinona (“church community”) pretty regularly.
Where Hebrew really shines in the Christian church nowadays is in names for God. We have Jehovah Nissi, Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Rapha—and these are just the most popular names for God that start with Jehovah. (We could list lots of more names—for example, who could forget Amy Grant’s compelling worship ballad entitled “El Shaddai”?) People gravitate to all these various names for God because they express basic truths about God’s character: he’s our banner of victory, he’s our provider, he’s our healer and comforter. These names for God are a theology lesson packed into a few phrases that fit on a business card.
Now here’s where the linguistic creativity comes in. About nine years ago somebody invented a new name for God that’s patterned on the traditional Jehovah model. Are you ready for this? Jehovah Sneaky! Like the Biblical Hebrew names for God, the expression Jehovah Sneaky is also intended to communicate a basic attribute of God: in this case, the intended theological lesson is that you can’t really predict what the great “I Am” will be up to from one moment to the next. In fact, he frequently shows up where you least expect him to—and sometimes he shows up where we least want him to! That sneaky God of ours! Always coming in and blessing our socks off!
Do you sometimes refer to God as “Jehovah Sneaky”? What other creative names for God do you use? What is it that these names help you remember?