Summary: Turn with me to Genesis 1 and follow along as I read the opening verses. I’ll insert this Hebrew name as I read: “In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth.
Because I have three first names, people often don’t know what to call me. I can see the hesitation on their faces. Is his name Brian or is it Bill? My middle name is John so I like to say when you use my full name three guys come running! I’ve gone by many names in my life…
Ibam – This is what one of my little sisters called me when she couldn’t pronounce my name. Unfortunately, all my sisters still call me this today…
Brian John Bill – This was my mom’s favorite name for me when I did something to make one of my sisters cry.
Buckshot – I loved it when my dad would call me this name, particularly after I shot my first buck when I was 12.
Billsy – This is what I was known by in high school.
Billsky – This is what people would call me when I would do something dumb.
Mr. Bill – When people use this name, they inevitably follow it up with “Oh, no!”
Cheesehead – When individuals call me this, they’re really wishing that they too could be from the other side of the Cheddar Curtain.
Pastor Brian – This name reminds me that I am a shepherd of God’s flock.
Reverend – My girls like to call me this when I share a sermon idea with them. It’s not usually used as a compliment, “Thanks for sharing that, Reverend.”
Bri – I love it when Beth calls me this.
Daddy – This name is reserved for my four daughters and when they use it, I melt.
I’ve been called other names that I can’t repeat here, and I’m sure I’ve been given some monikers behind my back as well. While I can’t always control how people refer to me, I do love it when someone asks, “What do you want to be called?” Most of the time, I just give my first name: “Feel free to call me Brian.”
In an even greater way, God has given us some names to use when we refer to Him. Last week we learned that God loves it when we call on His name. And today we’re going to look at His very first name as found in the very first verse in the very first book of the Bible. It’s the name “Elohim.” Turn with me to Genesis 1 and follow along as I read the opening verses. I’ll insert this Hebrew name as I read: “In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of Elohim was hovering over the waters. And Elohim said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. Elohim saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. Elohim called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’”
This first name for God is used more than 2,500 times in the Bible, 32 times in the first chapter of Genesis alone. Most scholars believe Elohim derives from the word El, which in turn comes from the word for “strong.” Specifically, this name means that He is the strong Creator God. When we pray to Elohim we remember that He is the One who is creatively powerful, completely sovereign, and gloriously great.
Four Forceful Facts
The Book of Genesis gets its name from the Hebrew – It’s the book of “beginnings.” This book is also a battleground today because many in our culture reject its clear teachings. We don’t have time this morning to dig into its depths but suffice it say that you have a choice. You can either believe what the Bible teaches, and swim against the current of our culture; or you can follow the crowds, and be at odds with Elohim. Because God calls Himself Elohim, there are at least four foundational facts about this name that will fortify our faith.
1. Elohim is Eternal (Genesis 1:1a). Some men were trying to answer the question, “Where did the earth come from?” After compiling their data and feeding it into a sophisticated supercomputer, they pushed the answer button with great anticipation. Lights flashed, buzzers sounded, and finally the computer spit out the answer: “See Genesis 1:1.” Let’s do that right now. Look again at the first four words: “In the beginning God [Elohim]…” By the way, this is the first instance of baseball in the Bible – “in the big inning.” This is a declaration that God has always been; He’s had no beginning and He will have no end. This is stated strongly in Deuteronomy 33:27: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Augustine was once asked what God was doing before He created the world. He thought for a moment and replied, “He was creating it for people who ask questions like that.”