I have received several questions asking why I use the name “Yeshua” instead of Jesus. Then after receiving this post about how Palestinians are claiming Jesus was actually a Palestinian “martyr” and a “messenger of peace,” I knew it was time to finally answer this question.
For those who may not know my “faith story,” I was raised in the Christian church. At 6 years old I was “saved” when I came to know Jesus (but you gotta say that in your best southern pastor-style voice; I think it’s something like “Ja-zus!”). I went to Christian school, which included a Bible class every single year, church on Sundays, and youth group. I grew up learning to call on the name of Jesus in every situation.
But then something happened.
At my Christian high school there was a Muslim girl who I had become friends with. One day we starting asking each other questions about what the other believed. Her responses always began with, “Well God said…” and ended with something that totally contradicted what I believed. The funny thing is that all of my responses also began with “Well God said…” I learned an important lesson that day. Even though we came from different religions and believed completely different things, we both said that “God” had said so. From that day forward, I didn’t refer to God as simply “God” but rather as “Jesus” as a means to distinguish my God from all the other gods out there.
And that planted the seed in my heart that would cause me to search deeper than mere surface level for truth in the years to come.
Then, when I started college, I felt God telling me to start studying the roots of Christianity. By this time, I had basically abandoned only referring to God as “Jesus”…something just didn’t feel quite right about the name “Jesus” and so I went back to referring to Him as “God.”
As I continued to study the roots of Christianity, I came to a crossroads.
I realized that there were two paths I could take in this journey. There were the Hebrew roots of Christianity and then there were the Greek roots of Christianity. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, I reached out and grabbed a hold of Hebraic Roots. Literally…I was in a book store at the time staring at two books with these two choices written on them.
From that day in the bookstore, my life has (thankfully) never been the same. I have learned so much more about the Bible and what God desires from His people. But much more than simply learning just facts I have come to know Him more and more. And by knowing Him more, I have grown to love Him more.
I learned that God’s name isn’t “God” but YHVH. I learned that Jesus’ name wasn’t actually “Jesus” but Yeshua. I know, it may not seem like a big deal, the difference between calling Him YHVH and not God or Yeshua instead of Jesus, but think about it. What if your spouse called you by a name that was not yours? What if they had come to know you by a different name and when you tried to correct them, they refused to acknowledge your real name? Wouldn’t it hurt you…even just a tiny bit? Wouldn’t you wonder why they refused to call you by your real name? Wouldn’t you wonder if they loved the image of you they had created rather than loving you for the real you?
The same is true of Yeshua. He wants to be loved for Who He really is and not the image of Him that we have created.
As I continued to learn more about Hebraic Roots and grow in my relationship with YHVH, I also had to face some tough realities about my Christian beliefs.
You see, many of the “Christian” and “church” traditions and teachings did not come from Yeshua or the Bible. They actually came from Greek and Roman paganism. If you’ve read any of my blog posts on Christmas or Easter in particular, this is what I’m talking about. Basically, most of the modern Church doctrine came about when Nazarene beliefs (those who believed in Torah AND Yeshua) were mixed with the pagan way of life around the 4th century when Constantine ruled the Roman Empire.
One of the many things that were changed in this mixing of religions was the name of the Messiah. You see, the Greeks and Romans worshiped Zeus (among MANY other gods). Part of the compromise that was made by Constantine in his new religion, was to change the name of Yeshua to Iesus (there are many variations of the spelling so if you look it up don’t be confused by the differences).
The reason for this mixing was because the Jews/Nazarenes (the early Jewish believers in Yeshua) were fighting with the pagan Romans who were ruling over Jerusalem at the time. So in order to make peace, Constantine hoped the two groups would be able to come together if they had a god that unified them instead of fighting over whose god was superior. And so Yeshua became Iesus. Eventually, Iesus evolved into the name we now know as Jesus.
So that’s the problem with calling Him a different name than was actually His…we don’t even realize that we are not actually calling on His real name but on the diluted name of a pagan god! The Bible says that “even the demons know His name;” and I fully believe that they know His name is Yeshua and not Jesus. When the truth of that verse hit me, it broke my heart.
I was supposed to love Him. I was supposed to be willing to die for my belief in Him. I had given my entire life to follow Him. And yet…I didn’t even know His name. Meanwhile, the demons, the enemies of my soul and everything He stands for, know who He really is. From that day on, I never used the name Jesus again…only Yeshua.
But even more than changing His name and placing that barrier between Him and us, the lie that we all serve the same god was perpetuated and is still spread today.
You see, the Muslims believe in Jesus too. It’s true. Only…not in the way you’re probably thinking. You see, the Muslims believe that Isa (the Arabic name for Jesus) was a man who lived and did good things. They believe Jesus was another prophet of All-h but that he was not the Messiah or the son of God.
They also believe that Jesus will indeed return one day to the earth. Again, don’t get too excited. They believe that when he returns he will tell the world that they have it all wrong and that he was never meant to be the Messiah and that he is not the son of God. “Jesus” will then perform many wonders and miracles in order to prove to the world that he is the Jesus they think they know. He will then point the entire world to the Mahdi (the Muslim messiah, our anti-Messiah) and say that he is the one they should follow instead of him.
I believe the verses in Matthew 7 are a warning from Yeshua that it is imperative that His believers follow and obey Torah because Torah always points us to Him and His truth.
“Enter in through the narrow gate! Because the gate is wide – and the way is broad – that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter in through it. Because the gate is narrow and the way is hard pressed which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
“But beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are savage wolves. By their fruits you shall know them. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? So every good tree yields good fruit, but a rotten tree yields wicked fruit. A good tree is unable to yield wicked fruit, and a rotten tree to yield good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, by their fruits you shall know them –
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Master, Master,’ shall enter into the reign of the heavens, but he who is doing the desire of My Father in the heavens. Many shall say to Me in that day, ‘Master, Master, have we not prophesied in Your Name, and cast out demons in Your Name, and done many mighty works in Your Name?’ And then I shall declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from Me, you who work lawlessness!’
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does them, shall be like a wise man who built his house on the rock, and the rain came down, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not do them, shall be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand, and the rain came down, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat on that house, and it fell, and great was its fall.” Matthew 7:13-27
Yeshua was trying to warn us that we need to be aware and resist the people who try to masquerade as Him and try to take His people away from Torah because in the end, if we have turned aside from the real Him and His Torah, He will tell us, “I never knew you, depart from Me, you who work lawlessness!” The word “lawless” literally means “Torah-less” or “without Torah.”
You see, one of the criteria for Israel to distinguish a false prophet or a wolf in sheep’s clothing was to give him the “Torah test” as I call it. If the prophet preached a return to Torah, he was from YHVH. If the prophet taught something that would take the people away from Torah, he was a false prophet.Therefore, the people would know a false prophet by the fruit of his words. The people hearing Yeshua speaking the words in Matthew would have understood that.
From the time of Constantine, believers in Jesus have been taught to not follow Torah. Unfortunately, that lie is one that has been promulgated for generations and passed down to us as well.
So as you can see, many have come and will come “in His name” but they will not really be from Him. In my opinion, this is one of the most important reasons to call Him by His real name Yeshua. Besides not being able to be so easily deceived, it proves you really know Him and not just a version of Him. Think about it, if you really know someone and are close to them, you will know them by their real name.
For so long, we have known Yeshua by a different name, but it wasn’t His real name. Now don’t get me wrong…He knows we didn’t know any better. He’s not going to hold it against us that we called Him a different name and that we came to know Him by Jesus. That was all we knew and were taught. But once you know the truth, that’s a different matter. At that point, we become responsible for what we know.
I know that I love my Lord and Savior and I want to know Him more and more. I know that I desire Him and His truth more than anything else; even more than the image of Him that I have been taught. I don’t want just part of Him…I want all of Him. I don’t want just want a shadow of Him…I want the real Him.
And that is why I choose to call on the name of Yeshua!