Doctrine of God, pt 11: God’s name
Taken from a study provided by David Niednagel, Pastor and Teacher, Evansville, IN. (David uses the S.O.A.P. method in his daily study time: Study, Observe, Apply, Pray)
The English word “god” is a generic word meaning a supreme being, but it is not God’s name. The Hebrew word for God is EL, (the Arabic word Allah comes from that root) but the word normally used is Elohim, which is plural. Even so, it does not normally refer to multiple gods, but the the one true God. It is what we call a “Plural of majesty” – the way the king or queen of England sometimes refers to him/herself as “we”. The plural Elohim, does not explicitly refer to the Trinity, but it does allow for it. In Gen 1:26 Elohim said “Let us make man in our image”.
When Moses asked the God who spoke to him from the burning bush His name, He said “I AM who I AM.” (Ex 3:14). I am the real one, the God who is! All the other gods of the nations are idols, but not the Creator who made a covenant with Abraham. The KJV used Jehovah for His name, but Hebrew scholars today say it should be pronounced more like Yahweh, which comes from the Hebrew verb “to be”, the One who really IS. We are told the Jews revered God’s name so much they did not pronounce it, (but they often did not revere Him enough to obey Him!) but used a substitute word for lord or master (Adonai). So our English Bibles substitute the word LORD (all capital letters) whenever the Hebrew uses Yahweh. But most English readers don’t realize that or think about it. We refer to God as “The Lord” which He is, but we don’t think of the full significance of that word or of His name.
Even if the word Lord only meant master, we don’t think of it that way. In much of the world’s history, most people were not free to make their own choices. Most lived under the authority of Lords/Masters, who could command anything they wished, and who had complete control over the will and choices of the masses. Even most Christians (especially in America) don’t really believe God has absolute authority over everything we do. We believe it is ok to make our own decisions about the use of our time, our money, our relationships, and just about everything else. We pride ourselves in our freedom and independence. Most people in the history of the world have never enjoyed those freedoms or thought that way.
But more, Yahweh is the name of the God who made a covenant with Abraham and his descendants. It makes God personal, and in relationship, not just distant and powerful. There is a great difference in calling someone “teacher” or “professor” and becoming their friend with the permission to call him/her by his/her personal name – even first name. God is transcendent and omnipotent, and He is also close and personal, but He is not our “buddy” or “the man upstairs”, He is the sovereign LORD of the universe who has provided a way for us to come into relationship with Him. Amazing! Beyond anything any creature would ever imagine.
LORD Yahweh, Thank You for not only creating us and revealing Yourself to us, but for entering into a covenant relationship with us – plain ordinary people! Thank You that we can know You and communicate with You, knowing You care about us! As we enjoy that relationship, help me/us also think of You as the Sovereign LORD of the universe – the Creator and Master over everything. Help me think and speak of You in a way that accurately “hallows Your name” – that communicates to the world who You really are and what You are like. The more we study Your Word and learn about You the more beautiful Your Name. There is no one else like You! Hallelujah! Amen