Summary: Study of God’s Names - Elohim
Getting to Know God - Elohim
I want to ask you a question before we start. What is the purpose of life for a Christian?
Those who are a bit older may be thinking back through their catechisms for an answer …
How would you answer that simple question? What is our purpose? A simple answer would be to know God and make Him known. Simple isn’t it – to firstly develop a relationship with God – to get to know him and then shre that knowledge with others – to make him known.
It is so simple, yet it begs another question – How can we – mortal man hope to get to know God – that infinite, amorphous, being who or which can’t be described with any known words. How can we possible know about him?
The answer is simple – He has revealed himself to us through his word. Aspects of his character and his dealings with people are recorded for all and sundry to read. Included in this record are many divinely appointed names which describe God and his character.
I’m sure that many of you know that names in the ancient times were things of great significance.
It’s like the newspaper ad which read “Lost – One Dog. Brown hair with several bald spots. Right leg broken due to car accident. Rear left hip hurt. Right eye missing. Left ear bitten off in a dog fight. Answers to the name ‘Lucky’”
Names were given to express something about a person. People were named after …
• Occasions - Cain or (qayin) was named because God fulfilled his promise and Eve “gained possession” (qana) of a child.
• Events – Babel was so named because it sounded like the Hebrew for “confused”
• Circumstances – Isaac means “laughter” and was named so because his parents laughed when told that they would have a son born. Samuel means “heard by God” as a sign that God heard his mother’s prayer.
• Personal Transformations – Abram became Abraham, Saul to Paul
• Their mission – Isaiah was called “The Lord saves” which was representative of his ministry message.
Right through scripture we see names telling us important things about people and God is no different. They are an important source of knowledge of who God is and I want to begin to look at some of these names over the next months. We’ve already been exposed to YHWH through Pastor Roger’s series of Christ’s I am sayings. And I’m not going to be stealing any of his thunder I’m sure. I want to examine some of the other names we find through the Bible and consider what they teach us about God.
So let’s pray that God gives us wisdom and understanding as we begin our studies.
If you’ve got your bibles there, that is great, but I don’t think that you are going to need them for this first verse. Genesis 1:1 – do you all know it. On the count of 3 we are all going to quote it – ready …
Who created the world? – God. This is the first time we see God mentioned in the Bible – the first verse and it is the first name I want to focus on. It is the word Elohim. And is found over 2000 times through out the Bible. It is found 32 times alone in the first chapter of Genesis. It is the general term used for God, but has some specific meaning also.
Before we look at what this word means – let me ask you another question … What can you tell about God from the creation account?
We see here God as the creator of all things – the powerful one who is able to speak a word and bring stars into space, planets into being, living animals and man to life. We see a God who is awesome and creative who existed, before all else and more powerful than all his creations – we see him as Elohim.
I want to quickly touch on 3 aspects of the name Elohim tonight …
1) Elohim – A God who is mighty
Elohim is an interesting word. It’s roots are somewhat uncertain. Most scholars believe it comes from the root “el” which means “to be strong” or “to be pre-eminent” The use of “Elohim” is not limited to the Hebrew religion though. Elohim is the term used for other pagan gods (Ex 18:11), angelic beings (Job 1:6) and even monarchs (Ex 18:11). It was a term which referred to the power and greatness of its subject, but in Scripture, is overwhelmingly used of the God YHWH, a powerful God and a God above all others.
El is another name often given to God and often relates to a God of Power. Deuteronomy 10:17 we read …