Daily Devotional – I’m Normal.™ I AM Ministries
“To promote Godly living in a culture committed to destroying it”
Monday, February 8, 2016
God’s Names – Elohim
Did you ever wonder why God has so many names? Do you ever become confused and wonder which name is appropriate for a given situation? Me too. Today’s and tomorrow’s devotionals explore His names and their origins.
God. Elohim. Yahweh. Adonai. Holy One. Father. Original Scriptural documents use these name to refer to the One we call God. We call upon His name with reverence and, by the Third Commandment, not glibly, carelessly, or in vain, as in an oath. His Name is Holy, as in “Hallowed be thy Name.” (Matthew 6:9, Luke 11:2). We must give His Name the respect it deserves. Part of honoring Him is knowing about His Name.
The first sentence in the Bible uses God as the subject, but which Name applies? The Name used is Elohim, which is also related to the roots ‘El (God) and Eloah, the singular of Elohim, which is plural. Thus, Scripture’s fifth word thrusts the concept of the Trinity into our world, emphasized later when God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” Genesis 1:26. Jesus and the Holy Spirit were with God the Father in the beginning (John 1:1-2).
These names denote a God of the highest status or rank. It carries the further implication of being a Father figure and refers to a God in the broadest sense. The root ‘El implies power, including threatening power that could harm us, one reason we should fear God (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10). ‘El also implies other qualities such as integrity (not lying – Ninth Commandment), alluding to His holiness, as well as jealousy (Second Commandment), and compassion (Nehemiah 9:31, Psalm 51:1). The core properties of might and power remain, however. ‘El appears in Scripture 238 times, mostly in Job and Psalms
Eloah is used infrequently, with only 60 occurrences, mostly in Job. The connotation refers primarily to power. Whereas this term can refer to generic gods, in Scripture it generally refers to the One True God.
Elohim usage far overshadows that of ‘El and Eloah, with 2,250 references. This name ranks second in usage, with only Yahweh (LORD) exceeding it (6,828 times). Elohim refers to deity and epitomizes what is intended by “God” or the divine. Although second in rank in terms of usage, this Name of God claims first usage of the Almighty and honors God’s superlative nature as He speaks the world into existence (Genesis 1:1).
The Name Elohim embodies the fullness of God’s power. Peter records how “Believers are shielded by God’s power.” (1 Peter 1:5). This is the same power that resurrected the barren wombs of Sarah and Rebecca (Genesis 18:10, 14; 25:21), inflicted the ten plagues that allowed the enslave Israelites to exit Egypt (Exodus 20:2), along with parting the Red Sea and providing daily manna for forty years. This is also the same power that raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 1:1-4).
Although Elohim predominates in usage, ‘El serves as a versatile compound name and suffix. ‘El Elyon appears frequently in Scripture and means God Most High. Its root implies ascending or going up, especially in spatial terms. Abraham refers to ‘El Elyon when speaking with Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20, 22), and David refers to the God Most High in Psalm 9:1. This name exalts God and implies His absolute right to Lordship.
God appears to Abraham as ‘El Shaddai, which is rendered traditionally as God Almighty, although scholarly debate exists regarding its exact connotation. Commonly this phrase is translated as God of the mountains, highlighting God’s invincible power and size, and ties back to ‘El Elyon. God appeared to Moses on Mount Sinai, where He displayed His power and glory before giving the Ten Commandments.
‘El is also used frequently as the suffix for names, many of which are important Biblical servants. Among these include Daniel (God is my judge), Ezekiel (God strengthens), Samuel (Name of God), and others. As you read through Scripture, note how many names and places end with el. For example, Bethel means house of God.
It is normal to want to understand the names associated with our Creator. Because of His complexity and size, it is natural for God to take on many names so all aspects of His character may be glorified. When you “call on the Name of God”, you have options designed to suit the context of your prayers. What a blessing He gives us simply through His name!
In His love and service,
A servant of Jesus Christ
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