Summary: The name Adonai expresses a personal relationship between master and slave.
A. THE THIRD NAME OF GOD
1. Three primary or major names of God: God (Elohim); LORD (Jehovah); Lord/Master (Adonai).
2. Adonai means Master/Lord (small letters).
3. The name Lord (Adonai) occurs 340 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. It is the name the rabbis used as a substitute for Jehovah, the name that was too holy to speak or write.
4. Adonai is from the word Adon (singular), which was used for men who were masters of slaves, or to denote a husband’s relationship with his wife.
5. Adonai (plural) implies the Trinity and is used to refer to deity.
6. The name Adonai expresses a personal relationship between master and slave.
a. For the master this implies:
(1) Authority (control) by the master
(2) Lordship (ownership) over possessions
(3) Necessity of provision and direction for slaves
b. For the slave this implies:
(1) Direction and decision
(2) Care for his needs
(3) Responsibility for him
7. Relationship was one of love and allegiance, not an “Uncle
Tom’s Cabin” relationship.
a. A slave could participate in Temple sacrifices and was a member of the household.
b. Hired help was excluded from the privileges enjoyed by a slave.
B. THE MASTER RELATIONSHIP
1. The Christian is unique because he or she acknowledges a relationship with God. The world in practice denies it.
2. Adonai is a title that assures believers:
a. The Master has resources and the ability to care for them;
b. Help is available to assist them to carry out their tasks or duties as a servant of God;
c. They must call on the relationship to the Master to get the assistance needed.
3. Bible people who called upon the Master relationship.
a. Abram—when childless (Gen. 15:2).
(1) His two burdens: A seed and an inheritance promised him (13:14-17). At this time he had neither.
(2) He prayed again, “Lord [Adonai] GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?” (15:8). Abram goes to his Master for resources to carry out God’s plans.
b. Moses—to carry out the task his Master (Jehovah) had given him. “O my Lord [Adonai], I am not eloquent” (Ex. 4:10; 3:6-10).
c. Joshua—who led Israel into the Promised Land, prayed as a slave to his Master for help when Israel was defeated at Ai. “O Lord [Adonai], what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies?” (Josh. 7:1-8).
d. Gideon—who was fearful and with low self-esteem, prayed to God in a servant/master relationship. He asked for the assurance of victory in leading Israel against the Midianites (Judg. 6:11-15).
e. Isaiah—who saw the Lord [Adonai] sitting on a throne after his hero King Uzziah died, needed to renew his relationship to Master/Adonai (Isa. 6:1-10).
(1) Vision of God (v. 1).
(2) Cleansed to speak (v. 6).
(3) Commissioned for service (vv. 8-9).
f. Jeremiah—a weak person who needed to be encouraged when he was called to be a servant of Adonai. “Ah, Lord (Adonai) GOD! Behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child” (Jer. 1:6).
(1) God encouraged him (vv. 7-8).
(2) God commissioned him (vv. 7, 9).
(3) God promised him success (vv. 9-10).
C. OUR MASTER RELATIONSHIP
1. The Old Testament Hebrew Adonai (Master) is the counterpart for the New Testament Greek kurios (Lord) (John 13:13).
2. As servants we are to submit to our Master (Matt. 10:24-25).
3. Our Master wants to ultimately make us masters (25:21).
4. The title Adonai gives believers the privilege of having God as their Master who will care for them (Matt. 6:1 1; Rom 12:2-8).
1. What is the contemporary meaning of the name master?
2. What can God do for us as our Master?
3. How can we get God as our Master to help us?
If you have never really accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, would you do it right now? Do not delay or put it off. If you would like to receive Christ by faith, pray this simple prayer in your heart:
Dear Lord, I acknowledge that I am a sinner. I believe Jesus died for my sins on the cross, and rose again the third day. I repent of my sins. By faith I receive the Lord Jesus as my Savior. You promised to save me, and I believe You, because You are God and cannot lie. I believe right now that the Lord Jesus is my personal Savior, and that all my sins are forgiven through His precious blood. I thank You, dear Lord, for saving me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you prayed that prayer, God heard you and saved you. I personally want to welcome you to the family of God and rejoice with you.
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Dr. Towns' email is ELTowns@liberty.edu