A hen and a pig approached a church and read the advertised sermon topic: “What can we do to help the poor?” Immediately the hen suggested they feed them bacon and eggs. The pig wasn’t so sure, though. “For you it requires only a contribution, but for me it means total commitment!” That’s how it is in our relationship with God as well. Some are willing to make a contribution, but only a few make a total commitment. The name we are looking at now implies total submission.
The name ‘Lord,’ (Adonai in the Hebrew Old Testament, Kurios in the Greek New Testament) literally means “lord, master, owner.” It is similar to the word ‘baal’ which pagans used of their false gods, so God never used that of Himself. He used Adonai instead. This applied to others who were given the title ‘lord’ or ‘master’ – Abraham (Genesis 18:12; 19:2; 24), Pharaoh (Genesis 40:1), Joseph (Genesis 42:10), Boaz (Ruth 2:13), Saul (1 Samuel 16:16) and Eli (1 Samuel 1:15). The other 400+ times it is used of God.
‘Lord’ speaks of a relationship – servant/slave to master/owner. Each has a responsibility in this relationship. The master is to provide loving direction. The English word ‘lord’ comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word ‘llafford,’ meaning ‘to sustain, to keep.’ It was the term applied to the lord over an area in the feudal system in Europe. He dwelt in a castle and owned the land the serfs farmed. His duty was to protect, guide, lead and supply their needs. That is what God does for us as well.
The duty of the serfs, the servant/slave, is to submit and obey the master. When we call God ‘lord’ we are recognizing His sovereign rule over us and that we are to obey and serve Him in all things. Yet often that isn’t the case. Moses called God ‘Lord’ but in the same breath refused to obey when God told him to return to lead the people out of Egypt (Exodus 4:13). Likewise Saul called God ‘Lord’ but kept back animals from the Amaleites when God told him to destroy them all (1 Samuel 15:22). Joshua, however, asked the Lord what he should do to conquer Jericho and then followed God’s strange directions as told (Joshua 5:13-15). Isaiah, too, called God ‘Lord’ and immediately submitted to His leadership (Isaiah 6:1-9).
We, too, need to make sure we obey and serve Him for He truly is our Lord. We muse that name often in conversation, prayer, sons, and other ways. But we often just use it as another title when really it is a statement of commitment. It means we aren’t just making a contribution, we are making a total commitment!
Make a conscious effort to call God ‘Lord’ today. Use it each time you need His direction, guidance, provision or care. Also use it each time you need to trust and obey Him. Use it being aware of the implications of what it means to call Him Lord and Master and Owner.
BIBLE STUDY ASSIGNMENT
The differences between the 2 main names of God, “God” (Elohim) and “Lord” (YHWH) are obvious in these passages. God (Elohim) is a common title used by all nations while LORD (YHWH) is a proper name used only by Israel. Elohim speaks of the God of nature, creation and preservation. YHWH refers to His personal relationship with His people as redeemer and sustainer.
Exodus 3:13-14 Moses said to God (Elohim), “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God (Elohim) of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” 14 God (Elohim) said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM (YHWH) has sent me to you.'”
Exodus 6:1-3 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.” 2 God also said to Moses, “I am the Lord (YHWH). 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty (El Shaddai), but by my name the Lord (YHWH) I did not make myself known to them.
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 hear, O Israel: The Lord (YHWH) our God (Elohim), the Lord (YHWH) is one. 5 Love the Lord (YHWH) your God (Elohim) with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Why did God use a new name when He was calling the Jews out of Egypt as a nation to follow Him? God appeared to Abraham as El Shaddai (God Almighty) but now a new aspect of His character is being revealed as He brings them out of Egypt. What new work of God is being revealed?
Can a person call Him ‘God’ but not ‘LORD’? What is the difference? What does it take for someone to call Him ‘LORD’? How can you tell if He really is LORD and not just God in someone’s life? Is He God in your life? _____ When did He become God to you? Is He LORD in your life? _____ When did He become LORD to you?
(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.)