Summary: Study of the Names of God - El Elyon - The Most High
Getting to Know God – Elyon – The Most High
I don’t know how many of you watched any of the Queen’s Jubilee concerts in the last couple of weeks. The whole nation of England has been a-buzz with celebrations of the 50 year reign of our Queen. And although the English monarchy is now little more than a symbolic head of state with little real power, there is something still majestic and mighty about it.
Deanna and I have just returned from Europe and England and as we toured through the many castles and palaces, it was clear that in days gone past, kings and queens did hold significant power. What they said, went. They were the rulers and their everyone looked up to them as the powerful monarchs that they were.
Sometimes the power of their positions went to their heads and they became so convinced of their power and importance that they pushed the boundaries too far only to end up fighting for their own survival. Too often the kings and queens of human history came to believe sincerely that they were in control of their destiny. They lost sight of the fact that God is sovereign over all that happens. And as we continue to look at the names of God and the characteristics that they show us I want to focus this evening on the name Elyon which means the Most High. It is a name which indicates that God is a sovereign God and above all else.
The book of Daniel recounts the story of King Nebuchadnezzar – a monarch who was full of himself. Tonight as we look at God as Elyon, I want to spend some time looking at a lesson Nebuchadnezzar had to learn the hard way. The lesson that “The Most High Rules in the Kingdoms of Men.”
So turn your bibles to Daniel Chapter 4 and follow with me as we dissect this story of God dealing with King Nebuchadnezzar.
DA 4:1 King Nebuchadnezzar, To the peoples, nations and men of every language, who live in all the world: May you prosper greatly!
This first verse sets the context for us. This is an interesting chapter because it the only chapter in the Bible which is composed under the authority of a pagan. It is a proclamation by King Nebuchadnezzar and is addressed to the people everywhere which again was fitting - for the Babylonian empire was the greatest of the day and Nebuchadnezzar was the greatest ruler of his day – ruling over most of the known world.
DA 4:2 It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me. 3 How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation.
Written with hindsight, Nebuchadnezzar recognizes that he is not all powerful. There is one that is higher than he is – There is a Most High God – Elyon who he was dependant upon for his reason, power and very life. The word that is used in Daniel is actually Illhee which is a chaldean word. It comes from the same root as the Hebrew word Elyon. They both mean the same thing. They are both titles given to the Supreme one. The One that is most high, that is higher than any other.
Now Nebuchadnezzar had had several dealings with this Most high leading upto the events in this chapter. In ch 2, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of a statue. Only Daniel was able to tell him what the dream was and what it meant. Nebuchadnezzar learnt that the God of the Hebrews was all powerful and all wise and could reveal mysteries no other god could make known. In chapter 3, the deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the fiery furnace showed him that the God of the Hebrews was not just one who could reveal the mysteries of the future, but was also powerful beyond comprehension. After these events he confesses that Yahweh is the Most High God. But this is quickly forgotten by Nebuchadnezzar for in 4:4 he writes
DA 4:4 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous.
Act 1 opens with Nebuchadnezzar in his palace – comfortable, content and without a care in the world. He had no need for anything – he was the all powerful king with everything at his beck and call. He was proud of all he had and had no need for the Most High God or anything else for that matter. Or so he thought.
5 I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in my bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. 6 So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me. 7 When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me. 8 Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)