Art Linkletter tells of the time he was a small boy drawing a picture. “What are you drawing?” he asked. “I’m drawing a picture of God,” the boy replied. “No one knows what God looks like,” Art said. To which the boy confidently responded, “They will when I get through.”
It is my desire that when this series on the names of God is completed you will know better what God looks like. Often ‘God’ is vague and impersonal to us, distant and not clearly understand. Jesus we can understand through His live on earth, even the Holy Spirit is a bit easier to comprehend for we sense how He works within us. But often our concept of God is quite lacking, and certainly not the personal love relationship it should be. There is no better way to get to know Him than through His names, for they reveal his character, He real inner essence.
The first and most common name for Him is simply ‘God.’ In the Old Testament Hebrew it is ‘El,’ the New Testament Greek equivalent is ‘Theos,’ and in Latin it is Deus. It is a term everyone uses in one way or another, but understanding the God of the Bible requires deeper insight into this name.
While the pagan gods around the Jews also used this name for their gods, it is clear the God of the Jews is far above them. That is why He is often called the “God of gods” (Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 136:2; Daniel 2:47; 11:36). He is the “living” God, compared ot all others who are not alive (Joshua 3:10).
This name for God was so special to the Jews they often incorporated it in their names: SmauEL (asked of God), IsraEL (prince of God), BethEL (house of God), DaniEL (God is my judge), JoEL (Jehovah is God) and EzekiEL (God is strong). El is used at the start of many names as well: Eli (God is my God), ELiel (God is God), Elisha (God is savior) and ELiezer (God is my help). These names express the faith of parents who so identified their children. Look for them when you read the Bible.
El often has another form in the Old Testament = Elohim. In English we use ‘s’ to show something in the plural form, but in Hebrew they used ‘im.’ Elohim is used 2,700+ times for God in the Bible, literally meaning ‘Gods.” Not only does this include the 3 members of the trinity (see Genesis 1:26), but in Hebrew it intensifies the meaning of the word. Thus Elohim is a plural of majesty, emphasizing God’s greatness. Genesis 1 uses this name 32 times for our creator God.
As creator God has formed a universe so vast we cannot comprehend it. It would take 1,300,000 earths to equal the size of our sun, yet our son is one of the smaller stars in the sky. Antares is 90,000,000 times larger than out son. If the distance between he earth and the sun, 93,000,000 miles, were scaled down to the thickness of a piece of paper, the closest star to us would be 71 feet away! Our galaxy would be 310 miles wide – it would take a 31,000,000 million mile stack of paper to represent t the distance to the edge of the universe. Yet our galaxy is only one of billions. Truly “the heavens declare the glory of Elohim” as the Psalmist says (Pslam 19:1).
Not only is God’s greaness seen in the vastness of His creation, but also in the minutiae. One ounce of pure uranium holds 1 sextillion atoms. That means if you would back in 1 million atoms a second it would still take 32 billion years to get them all in – yet Elohim did it with a single word. We could go on by looking at the intricacy of the human body, animals, nature – everything around us shows the greatness of Elohim (Psalm 139:14).
Elohim speaks of God as creator, and also as sustainer of all things He created. David puts his faith in Elohim to protect him from the attacks of others (Psalm 56:4). Solomon speaks of the respect and reverence that is due Elohim (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). Daniel turns to Elohim when he and the Jews need protection (Daniel 9:19).
Foundational to our understanding of God is seeing Him as Elohim – creator and sustainer of all things. Not only does that show something of his awesome power, but it also reveals His heart. Why would such a marvelous God choose to create man, then come to earth to die for Him????? Why bother? Why descend to such a thing? Why go through such pain? Why put up with mankind and his sin and rebellion now? The answer could only be something a great as His power – and that is His love! There is no other reason. As great as His unlimited power, so is His unlimited love. And when both are focused on our behalf, what a winning combination that is!
Have you recently thought God doesn’t know or care about you, that He isn’t able to help you or want to get involved with you? Rethink that in light of Elohim’s great power and love. Think about Him as Elohim today. Address Him by that title when you talk to Him. Think about the implications of His great might as well as His great love for you.
BIBLE STUDY ASSIGNMENT
Look at the name “God (Elohim) Almighty” in the first and last books of the Bible. What is the significance of using this particular name in these books? Read the verses and ask yourself what power of God was needed in each situation. For example, in Genesis 17:1 God is going to confirm His covenant that Abraham, although 99 and childless, will have descendants beyond number. God’s might to create life from death is in focus here. Try some of the others and see what you come up with. Genesis 17:1; 28:3; and 48:3. Revelation 11:17; 16:7; 19:6, 15; and 21:22.
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)