The Names of God – Pt 1
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1, NASB95)
In the original language of the Bible are certain different names of God. They reveal God’s character and teach us more about Him. How fitting to choose Genesis 1:1 to find the first word for us to study which is translated into the English word “God.”
Elohim – אֱלֹהִים [ʾelohiym /el·o·heem/]
Elohim is a Hebrew word that comes from the root “EL.” The root EL tells us God is great and powerful, and describes His sovereignty and glory. Elohim adds to the power of God as the God who creates. Elohim then shows us God as the all powerful creator. “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” (Hebrews 11:3, NASB95)
Let’s talk a bit about the difference in the words make and create. To make something, you start with something and change it (i.e. “make” it) into something else. This is what man does. Man cannot create anything, he can only make something. We take trees and make them into lumber. Then, we take lumber and make it into a house. Do you see? We change something that already exists into something else. We don’t create houses, we make them. To create, means to start with nothing and create something out of it. Only God can do this. God started with nothing, then He said, “let there be light,” and there was light. Elohim is the God who creates something out of nothing.
“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.” (Colossians 1:16, NASB95) Elohim is more powerful than any person or thing that exists. “I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper And from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.” (Psalm 91:2–4, NASB95) Place your trust in Elohim the powerful creator. He is there for you.
Jehovah – [Yâhovah /yeh·ho·vaw/]
Jehovah is the proper name of the one true God of Israel. It means the existing one. “God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord;” (Exodus 6:2, NASB95) This is translated as, “Elohim spoke further to Moses and said to him, I am Jehovah.” Before 1520 A.D. Jehovah traditionally was not pronounced out of respect, and was written without vowels as, “YHWH” (Yahweh). “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”” (Exodus 3:14, NASB95) The “I am” here is Jehovah or YHWH; the one who is; the absolute and unchangeable one. The one who was, who is, and who always will be. “saying, “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.” (Revelation 11:17, NASB95)
Jehovah is most often translated into English as the word “LORD.” “Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.”” (Genesis 4:1, NASB95) “For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God,” (Psalm 18:31, NASB95) Jehovah is sometimes compounded with another word to describe the character of the lord in greater detail. We see Jehovah as our redeemer, the holiness and righteousness of God.
El Shaddai –
El Shaddai is a compound word made from the root El (the mighty one with strength and power) and Shaddai (the almighty). Together, they mean the one who is more than enough, the all-sufficient one. God is more than enough to meet our needs. “Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless.” (Genesis 17:1, NASB95) El Shaddai is usually translated as “God Almighty” signifying that He could fulfill His promises. The name El Shaddai is used 48 times in the Bible, but 30 of those are found in the book of Job. Even though Job’s life was a mess, Job knew God as El Shaddai. Your life could seem like a disaster too, but God is El Shaddai. He will do what He promised, just remember His name, El Shaddai.
Adonai – [ʾAdonay /ad·o·noy/]
Adonai means master, owner, or lord. It implies ownership, and is a title used in place of Yahweh (YHWH) in Jewish display of reverence. Adonai literally means, “My Lord.” It shows God’s supreme authority and power. We are like bondslaves to Adonai. A bondslave becomes a slave of his own choice. Sometimes a bondslave entered a term of slavery to pay off a debt. We are willing slaves and Adonai has total responsibility for us. He protects, provides for, and directs us. “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:5–7, NASB95)
Will you let God be Adonai over your life? Stop trying to guide your own path and give Him full control. “Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the Lord our God, Until He is gracious to us.” (Psalm 123:2, NASB95) “Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called.” (1 Corinthians 7:21–24, NASB95)
El Elyon – [ʾelyown /el·yone/]
Here we have another compound word with the root El. We know what El means. Elyon means the most high, or the highest. “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” He gave him a tenth of all.” (Genesis 14:18–20, NASB95) Elyon comes from the root word “alah” and means to go up, ascend, climb, or exalt. Elyon is saying there is nothing higher than the most high God.
God created this universe and all that is in it belongs to Him. His name is so high, so exalted, so marvelous, that there is no other name to compare with this name. This name is so majestic that it is the name above all names that satan coveted for himself. ““But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’” (Isaiah 14:13–14, NASB95)
El Elyon is the God that is higher than our problems, higher than our diseases, higher than our lack. God is bigger than war, and bigger than terrorists. El Elyon was bigger than the giant Goliath. We need to see that God is higher and bigger than our life and the things that are holding us down. “The Lord also thundered in the heavens, And the Most High uttered His voice, Hailstones and coals of fire. He sent out His arrows, and scattered them, And lightning flashes in abundance, and routed them. Then the channels of water appeared, And the foundations of the world were laid bare At Your rebuke, O Lord, At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils. He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, And from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.” (Psalm 18:13–17, NASB95) El Elyon is our victory and our security. Amen!
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