I have the wonderful privilege of teaching our women’s Bible Study at church and stepping into this holiday season (and our building expansion is in full swing) we are doing Bible study HERE (in cyberland) for the next few weeks. It is good God stuff, and excellent for all. We are looking at the Names of God.
The very 1st appearance of God’s name “In the beginning God...” (Gen. 1:1) in the Hebrew is ‘Elohim’ (El-o-HEEM). It contains the idea of God’s creative power, His authority, and sovereignty. It is used well over 2,500 times from Genesis to Malachi, occurring 32 times in the first chapter alone. Elohim is the plural form of ‘El’ which means mighty or strong. Being in the plural form, Elohim is always used as a singular designation for God and does not imply polytheism, (worship of many gods, as was the custom of surrounding nations). God was very direct when telling Moses to tell the Israelites, “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God [Elohim], the LORD is one.” (Deut. 6:4) Remember at creation, day 6 – “God [Elohim] said, “Let US make man in OUR image…” (1:26, emphasis mine). Elohim reveals the triune nature of God, the ‘ontological equality’ (throw those words out at Thanksgiving dinner) of the Trinity. God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit – all are equal in value but different in function. The Father planned redemption, Jesus accomplished it and Holy Spirit applies it. We actually see all three of the Trinity at the same time in the baptism of Jesus found in Matthew 3:13-17.
King David writes, “Create in me a clean heart, O God [Elohim] and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10) David understands this ‘create.’ He knows that what he wants in his heart can ONLY be placed there by his God. Create, ‘bara’ is the Hebrew verb used exclusively of God. Sovereignty bringing into existence what wasn’t and now is – creating out of nothing. ‘Bara’ does not work like that of a recipe, taking ingredients and placing them together to form something, like that of a cake. It is new materials, new results. David knew he didn’t have within himself what it took to have a clean, a pure heart. May we too cry out “CREATE! O God!” Bring stuff into our heart, good God stuff, YOUR stuff, give us qualities exclusively of YOU! Elohim, our creative and sovereign God.
Going forward we will look at the names of God, noting that these different names highlight the many amazing aspects of His character.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
I am known by many names depending on who is using it. To my parents I am Diana, to my sons, Mom. Hopefully when my granddaughter begins to address me besides the cute smile, it will be Gramma. When the Tele-marketers call, I am Ms Moravik (click). To my mentor, I am her Timothy. Some use endearing names such as Geek, friend and even Sweetie. But to most, I am DeDe.
Our name can define relationship, title, personality and even our character, (ok, so I ‘am’ a silly geek). Take a moment and think about how we address others. It really is sad when we don’t know someones name, and it comes out “Heh You!” So extremely impersonal. Or they impact our life even in some small way and our response is, “Um, I didn’t catch your name.”
Have you noticed the many names used referring to God these days? I have heard ‘Big Guy in the sky’, or ‘Dude with the rules.’ God is sure to love THAT one. For some, using these lessens the impact. Or so they think. I am going to be extremely blunt. Jesus is offensive. Just the mere fact of Who He is and saying His name, offends many. He is the Son of the Most High God, Creator of all things. In light of that statement, we are SMALL, so very very small in comparison, and most don’t like that. Let’s face it, the mere mention of Jesus can invoke action from the heavenly realm, so we better be oh so careful of its use. I was once in a restaurant and a gentleman used Jesus’ full name (if you will) in a rather harsh way. Being bold I calmly said, “I don’t really think He is going to respond when you talk to Him like that.” The meal, $10.95, the look on his face, priceless!
Before answering, here’s a run-through-grab-a bible study snack. God’s name. Each time in the Old Testament when we see LORD (all caps) this is known as the Tetragrammaton. Greek for ‘four letters.’ In brief, this is The Name, (Ha-Shem) YHWH, ‘Yahweh,’ meaning ‘to be’. Eyes glazed over yet? Stick with me, this is good. It is known by the Hebrew people to be so extremely holy as not to even say it … while the world curses using it, (I might add). It is the response God gave when Moses asked, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and they ask … ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” Remember the burning bush? God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” Yahweh. Is that not the most beautiful name, Yahweh. Then there is Adonai (my Lord, master) and Elohim (God) they often appear together “My Lord, God” – remember what Thomas said when he encountered Jesus after His resurrection, “My Lord and my God!” Oh, that that would be my continuous response to Jesus!
Often, names were given in response to God’s interaction with man and most assuredly is a progressive revelation of … Who He is. In Scripture, the names of God are like miniature portraits. Yahweh or Jehovah Roi, ‘The God Who sees me,” Hagar in the desert (Gen. 16:13) Jehovah Jireh, ‘The LORD will provide,’ Abraham’s response when God provided a ram in place of his beloved Isaac. (Gen. 22:14). Exodus 15:25-26, God declares He is, Jehovah Rophe,’ The LORD who heals,’ in the wilderness, God heals the bitter water for drinking, and vows not to bring disease on them. A most strong name, Jehovah Nissi, “The LORD is my Banner” when hands were lifted to God, the battle was won, (Ex. 17:15-16). Jehovah Shalom, “The LORD is Peace”, Gideon on the brink of becoming ‘mighty warrior’ finds in his God, Peace. And for the gentleman in the restaurant, here’s one you might want to consider, saying with reverence, El Shaddai “God Almighty”, All-Sufficient One, overpowering strength. (Ex. 6:1-5) Pharaoh WILL let my people go, “I am the LORD… God Almighty.”
How do we refer to our God? In conversation with others, in the most intimate prayer times, or just our perspective of Him. For some it is Father, for others we don’t dare share such an intimate expression for THE God. Beloved, might I ask, WHO do you need right now? Same God, different character expressions. Is there some provision you need? He is Provider. Do you need healing? He is Healer. Do you need some overpowering strength? He is God Almighty. Do you have a tremendous battle you are fighting? Raise your hands, the battle will be won. He is.
Through out the day, there are moments when all I can say is “Jesus,” knowing full well the power, the authority, the grace. At times with my understanding, “Oh, God!” has been the only escape from my lips.
Remember it is in Jesus name that we pray, however, whether we use biblical names or reference God in our own way, make it personal, make it real, make it honest. NEVER step away from an encounter with God Most High stating, “Um, I didn’t catch your name.”
Phillips, Craig & Dean worship singing, ‘Your Name’ – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzviEHyIggI
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)
I recommend a wonderful devotional, “Praying the Names of God” by Ann Spangler.