The Names of God
Psalm 113:3 says: From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD'S name is to be praised
Many times in Scripture we are commanded to praise the NAME of the Lord.
Psalm 8:1: O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.
Psalm 29:2 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name;
Psalm 7:17 I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.
Psalm 66:2 Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious.
Psalm 100:4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
Psalm 103:1 Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Psalm 135:3 Praise the LORD; for the LORD is good: sing praises unto his name; for it is pleasant.
Psalm 145:21 My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.
Psalm 148:13 Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.
Now why are we told to praise His Name? Why not simply "Praise the Lord?" Well, of course, we are commanded many times to praise the Lord. But God wants us to focus on His Name, because He has chosen to reveal things we need to know about Him through His Name.
In Bible times a name was often not just a label you hung on somebody to keep from confusing him with someone else. A name expressed the kind of person they were, or the kind of person someone hoped that they would become. That's why God sometimes changed a man's name. He intended for the person's character to be reflected in his name.
So when Jesus changed Simon's name to Peter, perhaps He was saying, in effect, "Don't see yourself as undependable (which could have easily happened after he denied Jesus). I'm going to make you dependable. You are a rock, a stone, firmly attached to the foundation stone (which is Christ)." Saul, "the asked for one" (whose flesh tended toward pride) was humbled to Paul--"Little one" Jacob "the supplanter" became Israel "who strives with God"
So, in the case of God Himself, He gives Himself names that are really extensions of Himself. His names reveal His nature and His character.
We will focus here on the compound names God has given himself, but first I want to briefly touch on four of the general names He has given Himself.
These are all Hebrew words, of course.
The first name we find of God in the Bible is Elohim. (Genesis 1:1). It is used over 2700 times in the Bible. The prefix "El" signifies "one who is great, mighty, dreadful." It is also a plural word that suggests the fact that God is a Holy Trinity--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Some say that the word is related to the Hebrew word meaning "to swear" and implies the covenant nature of God. So the word Elohim might have meant to the Hebrews, "The great mighty three-in-one God who establishes and keeps covenant forever."
El Shaddai (remember the song?) is another name for God. It is used 48 times in Scripture. It is always translated "The Almighty." The first time this name is used is in Genesis 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
This was when God changed Abram's name to Abraham and promised that he would be the father of many nations. God was letting Abraham know that He was El Shaddai and that He had the power to accomplish the seemingly impossible thing He was promising.
A 3rd name that God uses for Himself is Adonai. It occurs about 300 times in the O.T. This name suggests Lordship and ownership. When God calls Himself by this name, Adonai, He is saying, "I am the One who owns and rules over everthing that exists."
This is the name that Isaiah used in Chapter 6:1 when he wrote "In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple."
His focus was on the truth that God owns and rules over all that exists.
But the most frequently used name for God is NOT Elohim, El Shaddai, or Adonai.
The most frequently used name for God is YAHWEH in Hebrew, which has been transliterated in English into Jehovah.
That Name occurs more than 6800 times in the Bible.
The greatest Jewish commentator on the Old Testament of the Middle Ages, Moses Maimonides, said this about the name Jehovah (and I believe that it is true), "All the names for God that occur in the Scriptures are derived from His works, except one, and that is Jehovah. And this is called the plain name because it teaches plainly and unequivocally of the substance of God."
The Word literally means "I Am." It comes from the verb which means "to be" or "to exist."
In Exodus 3:14, when Moses asked God what His name was so he could tell the Israelites who had sent him, we read, "And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM [Yahweh, or Jehovah]: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you."
Jehovah--The Eternal One. The Ever-Living One. The Self-Existent One.
He self-exists from Eternity past to Eternity future. And everything else that lives gets its life from Him.
The rest of the names I want us to consider are used in conjunction with this name Jehovah. They are compound names. You many wish to make a chain of these verses in your Bible with His name and it's meaning written in the margin.
We'll consider them in Biblical order, except for one, that I'll save for last.
The first one, Jehovah-Jireh is found in Genesis 22:14. It literally means "the Lord Provides." When God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac his son on Mount Moriah, Abraham immediately set out to obey. Abraham understood his covenant relationship with El Shaddai. He asks no questions. He simply proceeds to obey.
When Isaac asked, "Where is the sacrifice?" Abraham answered, "God will provide."He totally trusted God, even though it's certainly reasonable that he may have felt some confusion and bewilderment.
Then, just as he raised the knife, the angel intervened. Abraham is shown a ram caught in a nearby thicket. And he cries out, "We will call the name of this place Jehovah Jireh!"
I think we can probably catch a little bit of the incredible emotion of that moment!
My God provides for me! And we must remember that we will never have a need that the Eternal God does not know about and that he will not take care of. So He has called Himself, Jehovah-Jireh, The Eternal God our Provider!
Next time you have a need, why not call out to Him by His name, "Jehovah-Jireh! God, my Provider, I have a need!" We used to sing a little song that said, "Jehovah-Jireh, my Provider, His grace is sufficient for me. My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in Glory. He gives His angels charge over me, Jehovah Jireh cares for me."
The Second compound name we come upon is Jehovah-Rophe. It is in Exodus 15:26. It means "The Lord who Heals" In Exodus 15:26 God said, "If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee."
The word Rophe means to heal, restore, or cure. And God doesn't just heal, God IS healing. He is constantly healing us, and really, all His creation.
Sometimes He heals dramatically and immediately. Sometimes He heals more slowly using doctors or medicine. In all cases, He heals us completely at the resurrection! But the healing process is a wonderful gift from our God, Jehovah-Rophe.
So the next time you are physically, or emotionally, or spiritually sick, Why not call out to Jehovah-Rophe? Begin to praise Him because He is God, your Healer.
Then there is Jehovah-Nissi. This is found in Exodus 17:15. It literally means "God, my Banner, or God my Standard of Victory." In Exodus 17:15 we read, "And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-Nissi.")
Here is the background. The Amalekites had refused to allow the Israelites to pass through their land, so they had to fight. Moses sent Joshua into the valley to fight the battle, while Moses stood on the mountain to hold high the rod of God. The rod was their "standard." Actually, throughout history, it has been common to use a standard during a battle to give a sense of identity and a gathering point. It could be a flag, or a banner, or a high pole. But all the soldiers could see it. It represented victory.
So the next time that you are in heated spiritual warfare, remember that God is Jehovah-Nissi. He is The Eternal God, your banner of Victory. We can praise Him with words like, "Thank you Jehovah-Nissi, that You always give the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Next, in Leviticus 20:8, we find the compound name, Jehovah-M'Kaddesh.
"And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the LORD who sanctifies you." "I am Jehovah-M'Kaddesh."
Literally, "I am the Lord Who makes you Holy." Or "I am the Lord Who sets you apart for My Use."
The second part of this name, "M'kaddesh" was used to refer to the various parts of the temple which were sanctified, or set apart, for the worship of God.
Now in New Testament times, where is the temple of God? WE are God's temples. And He is to us Jehovah-McKaddesh. He himself makes us holy--separates us apart for His use. He Sanctifies us.
So, the next time you feel unworthy to be used by God or unfit for service, remember it is not you who makes yourself worthy or fit to serve, it is Jehovah-M'kaddesh! God, our Holiness!
The next name is found in Judges 6:24.
Here is the context. Israel was being oppressed by the Midianites. An Angel was sent from God to Gideon to remind him that the Lord was with him and that God was going to use Gideon to deliver Israel. At first, Gideon did not recognize the angel for who he was. And at first he argued with him.
When he finally did realize that he had been in the presence of an angel of God, he was terrified. He thought he might die. You and I would undoubtedly react the same way.
But God spoke peace to him in verse 23. And in verse 24 Gideon built an altar to the Lord and named it after this name of God, "Jehovah Shalom." "God is Peace!"
"And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord GOD! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face. And the LORD said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die. Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovah-Shalom. (Judges 6:22-24)
The Nation was at war with the Midianites--but Gideon learned that not only does God give peace, But God IS our peace.
And the next time you are in a time of stress, turmoil, fear, anxiety, tension, or worry, try praising Jehovah-Shalom, God your Peace.
(Heads up if you are making a chain as we work through the compound names! At this point, I'm skipping over one in Psalms. We'll come back to it in a minute. So if you want to keep the chain in Biblical order, you may want to wait to write the rest in your Bible until later.)
Now let's look at Jeremiah 23.
The background here is tragic. Josiah had instituted reforms and revival had come, but wickedness was still deeply entrenched. And spiritual leaders had lied to the people and scattered the flocks of God. But in verses 5 and 6 God promises a better day is coming. This is a prophecy of the coming Messiah.
"Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is His name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." (Jeremiah 23:5-6)
In the Hebrew, The Lord Our Righteousness is Jehovah-Tsidkenu.
God is totally righteous. He demands righteousness in us. And He tells us in this verse that what He requires of us, He becomes to us.
In 1 Corinthians 1:30, we are told that Christ Jesus has become to us righteousness. And in Him we are declared to be righteous.
In 2 Corinthians 5:21 we read, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
This is so important. Satan wins many victories when we do not realize that our God is Jehovah-Tsidkenu.
When we have failed, when we have stumbled, when we have sinned against God, Satan will try to tell us that we are so unworthy and so weak and so guilty that we are inadequate and insufficient to do anything worthwhile in God's service.
We must learn to repent and confess our sin to God, and then to gladly accept that He is Jehovah-Tsidkenu, God our Righteousness. He has declared us to be righteous. It is His gift. And we can go on boldly--not in our own righteousness, but in His righteousness.
Now we go to the last verse in the book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel 48:35.
The last part of the vision of Ezekiel was of a new city, with a new temple. It was to be glorious. And the last words of this verse tell us the name of the city. In Hebrew is is named a compound name of God: Jehovah-Shammah. It tells us that He is "The Eternal God who is There."
Now where is God today? He is HERE! He is the God who is with us.
The fire that left the temple in Ezekiel's day returned on the day of Pentecost and rested on the heads of men and women who had just become temples of God.
And now, God is here in all of us who are trusting Jesus. He has promised never to leave us. So the next time you feel all alone, remember who He is and praise Him as Jehovah-Shammah--The Eternal God who is here.
Now let's go back to the one I skipped. It's in the 23rd Psalm. And you'll understand why I saved it for last.
The 23rd Psalm is an amazing Psalm. It is the favorite of many many people. And it begins with the words, "The Lord is my Shepherd." In the Hebrew it is "Jehovah-Rohi." The Eternal God is my shepherd.
He is our guide. He leads us. He feeds us. He comforts us. No other name of God carries the tenderness and intimacy of Jehovah-Rohi.
When we need to be reminded that the Lord is taking care of us, we can come to the 23rd Psalm and praise Him as Jehovah-Rohi.
But look closely at this brief Psalm.
The LORD is my shepherd [He is Jehovah-Rohi--our shepherd]; I shall not want. [What name does that remind you of? Jehovah-Jireh--our provider!] 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters [Jehovah-Shalom-our peace!]. 3 He restoreth my soul [Jehovah-Rophe--our Healer!]: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake [Jehovah-Tsidkenu--our righteousness!]. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me [Jehovah-Shammah--He is There!]; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies [Jehovah-Nissi--our Standard of Victory]: thou anointest my head with oil [Jehovah-M'Kaddesh--our Holiness; our sanctification]; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
What a wonderful, amazing God we serve! He has given us all these names, to remind us of His character--of Who He is.
So I'd like to encourage and challenge you to learn these names of God. And use them when you are alone with Him as an expression of praise to Him. You will find that using these awesome names of God will draw you into closer and more intimate fellowship with our wonderful, all-loving, all-wise, all-powerful heavenly Father.
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