THE NAMES OF GOD #1
You know, I am known by many different names. I am called Jim, Jimbo, Jimmy, and James. My wife some times calls me Sam, and even Honey. I'm called Pastor, I'm called Teacher. Most of us are know by a number of different names. The more you know about the different names that I am called by, the better you would know me. The more that we know about the individual names of God the more we are going to know about God.
Here in our text, (more of a springboard than a text), it says I didn't
let myself be known by that name. Well, there's not any of the names of
God that are unknowable to us. The more we can know about the names of
God the more we can know about God.
1. The Name Elohim.
1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. (NAS)
The first name for God that is found in the Bible in Genesis 1:1 is Elohim. We translate it God; In fact most of the Hebrew Names for God we translate God. But the Hebrew is much more descriptive and precise. Our English language is not as descriptive as the Hebrew, and when you look into the Hebrew about the word Elohim you find that it is a plural word. That is so interesting to look and find that this is plural and yet every time that the name is used as a noun, and it is always a noun, the verb that follows is always in the singular.
Now a Hebrew lesson is this. That if you have a plural noun and a singular verb, that means that which is plural is working singularly or together. It means that God is Father, Son and Spirit, and they are working as one.
Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormons, tells us that by his theology
that he doesn't know Hebrew. He said, Elohim is plural therefore there
are many Gods. Mormons have a saying "As God is we can become, as we are
so God once was." They believe we can also become gods. That's just not
right and it's based upon an incorrect and corrupt interpretation of theology.
A. What does the Name Elohim Mean Concerning God?
There are so many ways that you could talk about this but I'm just going to choose out four thoughts about what the name Elohim means.
1. Elohim means that God is a. . Creating God.
And that's what we have in English. In the beginning God created. That He is the Creator, but what does that mean to us? We know all of this is here because God created it but what does it really mean in the detail that God is Creator. Do you understand there is not anything here that He did not have a part in and that everything in our world, He was involved in the creation or set up the possibility of there being a creation.
God doesn't try to prove Himself in Genesis the first chapter. In this chapter there's thirty one times the name of God is listed, but never is there an explanation of who He is or why He is. It just says He came from nowhere. That's theologically correct and Biblically sound. That doesn't make sense but let me say more about it.
God came from nowhere because there wasn't anywhere for Him to come from. Think about that. So coming from nowhere, He stood on nothing, because there wasn't anything for Him to stand on. Then He stood on nothing, reached out to nowhere, and caught something where there was nothing to catch, and hung it on something where there was nothing to hold on to and said stay there!
Job 26:7 says. . ."He stretches out the north over empty space, and hangs the earth on nothing" (NASB). You see, we kind of think we discovered these things but when you go back and read you find Job knew about them and told us about them.
So, standing on nothing, He took the hammer of His own will and struck it on the anvil of His own omnipotence and sparks flew from it and He caught them flung them into space and decorated the heavens with stars. And nobody said a word, because there wasn't anybody around to say anything, so God said, it's good! I like that, it's good.
Heb. 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. (NASB). God first of all as Elohim is the creator.
Ronald Reagan, in one of the books he wrote, said he just loved to eat with an atheist. And have a very big gourmet meal and then after the meal ask the atheist "do you think there's a cook."
Think about that one. Friend, do you ever think about how ridiculous it is to say that there isn't a God. Sometimes when our children were with us and we were traveling along and we'd see something that is really just awesome and my children would say, "Dad, look at that!" I would say, "Yes, isn't that interesting how that all just came together all by itself?" Well, it got to be a big joke with our family and we would see something that would be all just wonderfully put together. And they knew that when they said something about it that Dad was going to say, "Isn't that wonderful how that just happened to be.
The "Big Bang Theory". Is like saying the dictionary came about because there was an explosion at a print factory. It just doesn't make sense folks. And I realize much of the Creation story I don't fully understand. How God can be there from the very beginning how He can be the Creating God that He is but friend, I'd hate to have the problems others have who don't start with God. The God of the Bible "Elohim".
Elohim means that God is a Creating God. It also secondarily and quickly a secondarily means that God is a controlling God.
2. Elohim means that God is a. . Controlling God
In Psalm 147:4 He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to everyone of them.
To a controlling God, even the stars are important. The scripture says that even a sparrow that falls is important. I don't understand how God can keep track of every sparrow. I don't understand that but it is such that God is in control.
Elohim means that God is a Creating and a Controlling God.
3. Elohim also means that God is a . . Choosing God.
Do you ever stop to think about that . That God makes choices. And he has chosen in eternity and that you and I who are Christians are one of those choices.
In Eph. 1:4 Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him, In love (NAS).
l was saved in February of 1957, but you know when God knew about that
salvation? He knew about it from eternity. It wasn't any surprise to God
that I got saved. And friend, if you've been saved, it didn't surprise
God. If you get saved today, it might surprise some family and some friends
but God knew about it all the time. He is a choosing God.
4. Elohim also means that God is a . . Covenant Making God.
The word Elohim brings this idea out that God is interested and willing to enter into a covenant with His people. He says I am God you will be my people here is what I will do for you. And here are the conditions of this covenant. We have an Old Testament which is an old covenant. We have a New Testament which is a new covenant. What's the significance difference of those two covenants? The Blood of Jesus Christ. The Blood of Jesus Christ and He is a covenant making God.
But there is also a relationship of this word Elohim and I would like
to point out just two factors of it for a man. What does it mean that God
is Elohim? That God is the creator, the controlling, the choosing, the
covenant making God. What does that mean to me? ?
B. What does the Name Elohim Mean Concerning Man?
There could be a multitude of thoughts in this division; I can choose two thoughts rapidly.
1. Elohim means God Has .. Value for Man.
Matt. 12:12 "Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath Day."
We are so valuable the God sent His Son to die on a cross for us.
You know what's wrong with a lot of religions is that you get caught up in it's religion. I'm not offended when somebody says that Christianity is a religion but I understand those who emphasis that it is not a religion so much as it is a relationship. And if you don't have a relationship with Jesus Christ, you don't have Christianity.
I like the words of a prominent theologian as he came to lecture in the United States. And they knew he was from a Christian prospective but he spoke to a rather liberal group and one of them said, "Sir, do you not believe that God is revealed Himself in some other religion than Christianity?
He replied "Young man, I don't believe that God revealed Himself in Christianity. I believe He revealed Himself only in Christ.
He has value, man has value, I have a value because God says I have value. And I like the words of Ethel Waters as she says, "God don't make no junk!" Friend you are valuable to God.
2. Elohim means God Has .. Vision for Man.
Jer. 29:11 'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
Elohim means that I have value and that God has a vision and a purpose for my life. I'm not just some person in the midst of a great big world who has no significance. I have value and God has a vision for me in that value.
That's the word Elohim as it relates to God and Mankind. The second
word is Yahweh.
2. The Name Yahweh.
A. What the Name Yahweh Means Concerning God.
1. Yahweh Is Eternal
Yahweh has more of the perspective of the self existing eternal God Not that Elohim does not include this concept but Yahweh brings in the idea of eternally. Yahweh is the personal name for God revealed to Moses--I am who I am. I always have been, and I always will be. It is a name that reveals the abiding nature of the eternal God.
"I will always be what I have continually been!" This personal name of God was ultimately considered so sacred that the Jewish people would not pronounce it. Perhaps you remember that I told you that when you go to Jerusalem that many Jews don't pronounce the name of God. They will if there are using Elohim, they will put EL with dashes and they will not put the rest of letters. They are so careful to not misuse the name of God that they do it that way.
If you ask an American, or a person in the United States, what do you believe is using God's name in vain? They'll say well that is when you take God's name and put a curse word with it. A Jewish person would say you don't really mean that. You don't really say to me that somebody would do that with the name of God. They are flabbergasted by that. You see the name is such that they wouldn't even write it out. Most of them would not even pronounce it as such. They would use some other name or some other form.
"I am," -the self-existent one. He didn't come into being. He just is.
He is existence before existence began.
Back in the sixties some off-beat theologians came up with the philosophy that God is dead. They really revived the atheistic philosopher Nietzsche's philosophy that God is dead. You know what it was? They got in their little cubby holes, their libraries, and got out their books, and their concepts, and they said we think God is dead we can't find Him on our terms.
And friend, if all God is a concept for one generation or another He is dead. But He IS NOT DEAD. He can't die He is not that kind of God. He is an eternal God.
S M Lockridge, a black pastor from San Diego, said these words when the God is dead thoughts were raging. He asked, 1). "well, if God is dead, who assassinated Him? 2). What coroner was called? 3) Who signed His death certificate? 4) Who was so well acquainted with the One pronounced dead that he could identify the deceased? 5) What obituary column did you find His name? 6) And why wasn't I notified? I'm one of the next of kin!" Those questions are valid. God doesn't die by assassination, pronouncement, or denial. He just doesn't die. He is as real today as He was when Adam and Eve walked upon this earth.
Isa. 37:15 For this says the high and exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy, "I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. God is eternal.
Can you really think for a long period of time about the deep thought of God? My mind just can not focus, can not think long on those kind of thoughts. It's like when you come into a new area on an interstate highway and there are several roads converging and all of those signs and you are going 70 miles an hour and the speed limit changes to 55 miles an hour. All these people are honking their horns and traffic is weaving in and out and you can't read the signs and you don't know what to do.
You get sensory overload. When I think about the eternal existence of
God, I get sensory
overload. I just can't figure it all out, and I don't think there's anybody that can. I am not ashamed or embarrassed about it because I don't believe that you can ever fully know everything there is about God.
If I know more about His names, I'll know a little bit more about His eternal, being. When I put my focus, my problems, my family, my needs, in the light of His eternity they become very small. I become more aware of how much His hands can be upon all of my life from not into eternity. .
2. Yahweh Is Holy.
Lev. 19:2 "Speak to all of the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, 'You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy."
It was interesting at the fourth of July community service that we had a Baptist preacher from Ava that I never heard preach before. I had just gotten some communication from him and I tossed his name out to the pastors. We first had suggested we have the superintendent of the Nazarene Church preach but he couldn't make it. So I said, "well I've got this name, what about it?" And they all agreed to it and when he preached, in the Nazarene Church, he preached on Holiness. I watched Brother Apple and he was just kept Amening him. I thought that was interesting, we got a Baptist preaching on Holiness in the Nazarene Church and the Nazarene preacher can't keep from saying amen.
Is Holiness just a doctrine of the Assemblies, or the Nazarenes or those who use the word Holiness in their name. Absolutely not, because God is Holy. You can't be any kind of a Christian whatever name you denomination uses if you aren't holy.
The Bible says ". . . without holiness, no man will see God." How do
you get holy? You do not work it up or get through a set of rules. You
aren't going to put up a bunch of rules and say, if I do these things,
I'll come out holy. It won't work. What really happens when people without
Christ puts up a bunch of lists you know what they come out as? They are
people that nobody really wants to associate with, they are legalist. When
the quality of holiness is really is at work in your life, you are Christ
like. There is something about you that they recognize that is different
than other people. Because you have a quality of holiness like God.
3. Yahweh Is A Sin Punishing God.
Ex. 20:7, "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.
Yahweh punishes sin. If you think that you can live a life of disobedience
and never be punished.
Your wrong. If anyone thinks they can be nonchalant about their Christianity, and the church,
they are mistaken. One can make a million excuses about why they are not really faithful in the church, and why they are not really serving the Lord, and then think that because judgment hasn't come immediately that you're doing all right. Let me tell you, there is a day of judgment coming.
The great sermon of R G Lee's was titled "Payday Someday." It may not be today, but God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man sows that he also reaps.
Ex. 34:7 who keeps loving-kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin, yet He will be no means leave (the guilty) unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations"
Did you ever hear someone say, "well, he's just like his father or just
like his grandfather. What happened? Sin has a way of transferring itself
from one generation to another. God says He will not let sin go unpunished.
God is a God of Punishment.
B. What the Name Yahweh Means Concerning Mankind.
1. For Mankind Yahweh Means God Is . . Consistent. Mal, 3:6
I am the Lord I do not change therefore, you O you sons of Jacob are not consumed. (NAS)
Yahweh means that God consistent. He is the same today, yesterday, and forever. Did you ever know people that says, "Well, don't go around them today. Today is not the day to go around them. There really going to blow up today. You know their moods and you've got to check out what mood their in before you get around them. God is not that way. He is the same everyday. If you are in a relationship where you are deserving the love of God, it will be received. If you are in a relationship where you deserve the judgment of God, you can expect to receive it. And it will not be that God's mood changes He is consistent.
I find it interesting, the Lord says because I am the same; you haven't
been cut down. If you'd ask me to list one virtue of God, one attribute
of God, I think is number one I would say, patience. I don't understand
how God can be as patient as He is. When I see a gay parade where they
have lifted up a sign and said Jesus was gay; If I were God I'd zap them.
Every time I think of that kind of thought, I also say I wonder how come
hasn't zapped me a time or two. Even more than two. God has patience but
He is consistent and also means that Yahweh brings in the idea of forgiveness.
2. For Mankind Yahweh Means God Is . . A Forgiving God..
In Ex. 34:7 who keeps loving-kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgressions, and sin;. . . "
You can be forgiven. But Yahweh is not a jolly old grandpa who just says that everything is all right and wonderful who could never punish you in any way. If that's your concept of God you are wrong. But if you come up with a concept of God that He is a mean old Father who will love to punish sin and you should not try to approach Him at all, you are wrong.
If you come up with a concept that the word Yahweh brings; you will have a loving and merciful God who forgives sin but He will not let the guilty go unpunished. Yahweh leads us to come up with both of these aspects of God.
It is interesting to note that Elohim speaks of a creator God, of a covenant making God,
of a choosing God, a controlling God. Yahweh brings into our concept of God the idea of a sin punishing or a sin judging God who will also forgive. What is interesting about these differences is that in the second chapter of Genesis when Satan confronted Eve, he never used the name Yahweh. He only talked about Elohim. He made no reference to a sin judging God. When Eve spoke back to the serpent, she likewise used Elohim and did not refer to a sin judging God.
I think this is further evidence of the preciseness of scripture. God's Word is the authoritative Word. It is the inspired word, it is the inerrant word and even the preciseness of the choices of words demonstrates the Inerrancy of scripture.
I heard Luis Palu, share this story. He is a noted evangelist based out on the West Coast and he is becoming very prominent. Some even predict that he might reach the prominence that Billy Graham has reached. He has had a world wide ministry and on one occasion when he went into a town for a crusade. He had a taxi driver who talked to him and became his rather regular taxi driver during that week. He said, "I want to tell you I think that I'm a Christian but I did some horrible things in Vietnam and because of those things I did, I can't forgive myself. I believe that I'm a Christian, but I just keep harboring this guilt over me. How come why does this keep coming over me. Can you give me something that will take that away?"
So Luis said, "I prayed right there in the cab, just asked the Lord." It came to my mind to share the words of Jesus on the cross. He repeated them, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." The cab driver came back and said, "but I knew some of the things that I did and that's what's hard on me. I knew some of the things that I was doing were wrong." Luis said the words of Romans 8:1 came to him "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
Luis said "son if you will repeat that scripture over and over and over again and you will begin to accept the truth of the Word of God. Don't accept my word, accept the Word of God that He will forgive you." Luis said that at the last of that week when they went out to the airport, he got out of the cab and he asked the man, "have you got peace." He said, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." How did that come about? It come about because Yahweh forgives.
Has your sin been forgiven? Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Has salvation came to you because you have acknowledged His Lordship in your life. If not, you will not set foot in heaven.
Internet Sites I used in gleaning information.