What's in a Name?
John 17:26 [Jesus said] I made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love you have loved me with may be in them and I may be in them.”
Where do the names of God come from?
As you begin to read the Bible, looking specifically for God’s names, you find that He reveals His names to His people in specific circumstances. The names of God come from God Himself and also from those He interacts with. In our English Bible versions, we don’t generally see these names written as the original Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic languages. Bible translators will usually identify the names by the typography used or by the attributes they describe.
For example, the first name of God we come across in the Bible is Elohim. We find this name of God in the first verse of Genesis, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” When we read God (capital G, lowercase o and d), we know that the Bible is referring to Elohim, the Strong Creator God.
When we read LORD (all caps), we know that the Bible is referring to Yahweh (Jehovah), the Relational God we first recognize in Exodus 3:14-15 God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the Israelites: The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is my name forever; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation.” He is telling Abraham here, that He is all-sufficient within Himself. He has no needs outside of Himself, yet He chose to create a world, and people in it, to interact with, to love, to be in relationship with.
We discover Lord (capital L, lowercase o, r, and d) over 400 times in the Bible, but first when the Lord reveals himself as Master of Abram’s life: Genesis 15:1-2 After these events, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield; your reward will be very great. But Abram said, “Lord God, what can you give me, since I am childless and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” This version of God’s name is Adonai, also known as the God Who Rules. Here, Abram is placing himself as servant to God, acknowledging God as his master.
Many people believe in a Creator. They are willing to acknowledge Elohim. Some even go so far as to say that they see where that Creator God wants to be in a relationship with us - that He is Jehovah. But to fully know God and have the closeness that our soul yearns for, we have to recognize Him as Adonai - the Master in our lives.
What do the names of God tell us?
The names of God tell us who God is. They introduce us to the God who 1. Created us, 2. Wants a relationship with us, and 3. Is in control of our lives. The fact that the Bible reveals to His people, in small increments who God is, is testament to the fact that God did not create the earth and its people, set it in motion, and then leave it to spin out of control. No, God very clearly reveals Himself and His desire for a relationship with His creation as He reveals His names to us in His Word.
Why do we want to learn about them?
When we learn the names of God and where they came from, we learn to trust God. When we learn to trust God, we lean more on His understanding. We follow those nudges of the Holy Spirit. According to Pastor Tony Evans, “To know God’s names is to experience His nature, and that level of intimacy is reserved for those who humbly depend on Him.”
What are you missing in life? Worried about finances? You can ask Jehovah Jireh – The LORD our Provider. (Genesis 22:14) Facing a battle? You can ask Jehovah Tsaba – The LORD our Warrior. (1 Samuel 17:45) In the midst of turmoil? You can ask Jehovah Shalom – The LORD is Peace. (Judges 6:24) Feeling lost? Call on Johovah Rohi – The LORD my Shepherd. (Psalm 23:1) Feeling defeated? Tired of fighting? Stand under Jehovah Nissi – The LORD is My Banner. (Exodus 17:15) Striving for perfection and falling short? Rely on Jehovah Mekoddishkem – The LORD who Sanctifies. (Exodus 31:13) Aching from injury – physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual? See Jehovah Rapha – The LORD who Heals. (Exodus 15:26) Falling under attack from the enemies reminders of the past, under condemnation? Rest in Jehovah Tsidkenu – The LORD my Righteousness. (Jeremiah 23:6) Don’t know where to look? Is all feeling hopeless? – Look to El Elyon – The Most High God. (Genesis 14:18) Are you lacking trust in God? Do you feel as though all that you’ve been through have been too much and you are not enough? Know God as El Shaddai – Lord God Almighty. (Genesis 17:1) Alone? Desperate? Knowing that you need God? Seek Immanuel – God with us. (Matthew 1:23)
“The bad news is that life has problems. But the good news is that God has a name for each and every one of them. Regardless of the crises we face, the names of God remind us that He is able to see us through.” Doctor Tony Evans, The Power of God’s Names
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