The Names of God
Do you want to know God? It is by His name that God reveals Himself to us. God told Moses, “I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, Lord, I did not make Myself known to them” (Exodus 6:3 NASB). God makes Himself known to His people by making known and proclaiming His name. It should be the desire of every believer to know God intimately. Paul said, “That I may know Him” (Philippians 3:10 NASB). This is what eternal life in Him is all about. Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3 NASB). Let’s make it our passion to know Him!
Let’s set our heart on studying, understanding and knowing God through His name. As we do we will grow to know Him better and better. There is also a wealth of benefits through the knowledge of His names. The Psalmist said, “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With a long life I will satisfy him And let him see My salvation” (Psalms 91:14-16 NASB). Notice in verse 14 it says, “Because he has known My name.” There are a number of things God says He will do for those who know His name:
- “I will deliver him.”
- “I will set him securely on high.”
- “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him.”
- “I will be with him in trouble.”
- “I will rescue him and honor him.”
- “With a long life I will satisfy him.”
- “I will let him see My salvation.”
Elohim. El is singular and is used 238 times in the Bible. Elohim is translated “God” 2,600 times. This is not His personal name as Lord found in Exodus 6:3, but His title. The President is not our President’s name but His title. Even so, Elohim is God’s official title. Elohim is the plural for God and foreshadows the Trinity or Godhead (Romans 1:20 and Colossians 2:9). Thus, we see “In the beginning God” (Genesis 1:1 NASB) and “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;” and…..”God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him” (Genesis 1:26-27 NASB). Moses said, “The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:4 KJV). See The Trinity: The Unity and Oneness of God, The Trinity: One God, Three Persons and The Trinity: Illustrations and Examples.
Elohim means “The putter forth of Power.” Being plural it signifies fullness of power. It suggests creative power as in Genesis 1:1. Jeremiah said, “Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee” (Jeremiah 32:17 KJV). Speaking of His creative power, Jeremiah was telling us if God created the heavens and earth He can handle anything. God is powerful and there is nothing in your life or that you might be facing that is to hard for Him. In the midst of all His trouble Job said, “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You” (Job 42:2 NKJV).
God is all powerful and we must grasp and understand none has any power but what God has given. Jesus said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 NASB). The Psalmist said, “Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it” (Psalms 127:1 NASB). We must lean and depend on the power He has given us. “According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3-4 KJV). Thank God you “Receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1:8 KJV). “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NJKV).
YHWH (Yahweh). YHWH is without vowels and is best pronounced Yahweh. It is usually translated LORD and sometimes Jehovah. God said to Moses that He was “The LORD (YHWH or Yahweh) God of your fathers” (Exodus 3:15 KJV). “I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them” (Exodus 6:3 KJV). “I am the Lord (YHWH or Yahweh) thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2 KJV). He is Yahweh, the Everlasting God (Exodus 3:15)! Yahweh means redeemer/deliverer (2 Chronicles 18:31). This name is always related to His own people in a redemptive way, but to His creatures (the unregenerate) He is Elohim.
This is the personal name for God. There are many gods but only one Yahweh. He said, “I am the Lord your God……You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:2-3 NASB). Israel had been engulfed in idolatry under the reign of Ahab. God spoke to Elijah to confront him. Elijah told him that because of Israel’s Idolatry it would not rain in Israel until he said. When He returned three and a half years later he told the king to gather the 450 prophets of Baal and meet him at Mount Carmel. Upon their arrival he said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him” (1 Kings 18:21 NASB). He then commanded wood and two oxen to be brought, one for the false prophets and one for him, but no fire was allowed. He then said to them, “You call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord (Yahweh), and the God who answers by fire, He is God” (1 Kings 18:24 NASB).
The contest was to see which was the real God (Elohim) Baal or Jehovah (Yahweh). “They took the ox which was given them and they prepared it and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon saying, O Baal, answer us. But there was no voice and no one answered” (1 Kings 18:26 NASB). Elijah mocked them and they cried out to Baal more and more, even cutting themselves trying to get their god’s attention – to no avail. Finally, Elijah called all the people to himself, rebuilt the alter of the Lord, twice had four pitchers of water pour on the wood and sacrifice. He then called on the Lord and the “fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God” (1 Kings 18:38-39 NASB). Thus, Jehovah (Yahweh) proved Himself to be the the true and living God.
Then “Elijah said to them, Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape. So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there” (1 Kings 18:40 NASB). Above all God hates idolatry. John commanded, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21 KJV). God said, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3 NASB). Paul commended the Thessalonians, “How you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9 NASB). Paul rebuked Athens saying, “The times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30 KJV). We must put the Lord first in all things or we too may fall prey to His rebuke.
Jah (Yah). This is probably an abbreviation of Jehovah. It is used 48 times in scripture. The meaning is the same – redeemer/deliverer – and is always connected with praise. After being delivered through the Red Sea they worshiped saying, “The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will extol Him” (Exodus 15:2 NASB). The Psalmist said, “Sing to God, sing praises to His name; Lift up a song for Him who rides through the deserts, Whose name is the Lord, and exult before Him” (Psalms 68:4 NASB). When we’ve been redeemed/delivered praise should be automatic. You can usually look out in a worship service and tell who’s been redeemed and delivered. We see this demonstrated in the heavenly scene (Revelation 5:11-14). It should be demonstrated by all God’s people. Have you been redeemed/delivered from the hand of the enemy? “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy” (Psalms 107:2 KJV). Praise also initiates God’s deliverance (2 Chronicles 20:20-23). See also John 4:23.
Adonai. In most translations Adonai is rendered Lord, whereas Yahweh is rendered LORD. It is used 439 times in the Bible. Adonai (Lord) means master or owner and is a title expressing dependence and submission as a servant to his master. It is used in Abraham’s prayer to the Lord, “Then Abraham answered and said, “I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord (Adonai), which am but dust and ashes” (Genesis 18:27 KJV). Also in Exodus 15:17 (KJV) “In the Sanctuary, O Lord (Adonai),” and “Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord (Adonai) God” (Exodus 23:17 KJV).
The point is He wants to be our Master. We are to be His bond slave (Exodus 21:1-6). Jesus said, “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am” (John 13:13 KJV). On the day of Pentecost Peter said, “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36 NKJV). That is indeed the full gospel when we make Jesus both Lord and Christ (Savior). He doesn’t want to be just Savior, He demands to be Lord as well. “God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11 NASB). Read also Luke 17:1-10.
El Elyon (Most High God). “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High” (Genesis 14:18 NASB). It means one with all power or all powerful one. He is the all powerful one. Abraham went to battle against the kings and rescued his nephew Lot in the power and authority of God Most High. We too are to go forth and see people rescued from the god of this world in the power and authority of the Most Hight God (Colossians 1:13). Jesus said, “All power (authority) is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 2:18-19 KJV).
El Olam (The Everlasting God). “Abraham….called on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God” (Genesis 21:33 NASB). He is eternal one. “Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Psalms 90:2 NASB). “Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting” (Psalms 93:2 NASB). Paul said, “But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God” (Romans 16:26 KJV). It was said of Jesus, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2 KJV). His origin was from everlasting. Jesus had no beginning. He is The Everlasting God!
El Shaddai (Almighty God). “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, I am Almighty God” (Genesis 17:1 NKJV). This is one of the most cherished of God’s names by Bible students everywhere. El Shaddai means “Strong One.” El is strong and Shaddai comes from shad meaning “breast.” “To whom would He teach knowledge, And to whom would He interpret the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just taken from the breast” (Isaiah 28:9 NASB)? It means the breasts of God – nourisher, strength giver, satisfier, the God who enough and who is able. He is the strong one, strength giver, satisfier, the God who enough and who is able. “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25 KJV). “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV). Read also Jeremiah 32:17 and Job 42:2.
Jehovah-Jireh (The Lord will provide). When Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, the Lord provided a ram to sacrifice instead and he “Called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh” (Genesis 22:14 KJV). God wants to be Jehovah-Jireh on your behalf. As in Abraham’s case, it may get down to the wire, but at the last minute He will become your Jehovah-Jireh. This is promised throughout the scripture. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things” (Romans 8:32 KJV)? “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 KJV). “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8 NKJV). It significant that these promises were in the context of giving.
Jehovah-Rapha (The Lord who heals you). “I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you” (Exodus 15:26 NKJV). This is promised to all His people. We see this prophesied in Isaiah, “Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5 NKJV). Verse five is also quoted in 1 Peter 2:24. In this is included spiritual, emotional, mental and physical healing. Complete healing is the right of all who have trust Jesus.
The Psalmist declares healing as a benefit which ignites praise in us (Psalms 103:1-5). We are in a fallen state and there is still a law of sin and death working in our members. We are still awaiting the full redemption of the body (Romans 8:23). When we encounter illness we must follow the prescription in scripture. “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:13-15 NKJV). Also read/claim Romans 8:11.
Jehovah-Nissi (The Lord our banner). “And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-Nissi” (Exodus 17:15 KJV). In context, Israel was fighting against Amalek. Moses went to the top of the hill while Joshua fought Amalek. As long as Moses held his hand up Joshua was victorious, but when he lowered it Amalek prevailed. When Moses wearied Aaron and Hur held his hand up and as a result Joshua and Israel defeated Amalek. In response to the victory, Moses built an alter to the Lord and called it Jehovah-Nissi (The Lord our Banner). There are a few things we can learn from this:
- Praise initiates victory. We see this here and from Jehoshaphat’s battle in 2 Chronicles 20 as well. We have diminished the value of praise through uplifted hands (Psalms 63:4 and 1 Timothy 2:8). In this case praise, with an uplifted hand, was what brought victory for those in the battle.
- We often become weary in the midst of the battle, especially men of God. Every man of God needs those who will come to his aid and hold up his hand when he becomes weary.
- Hold the Lord’s banner high and unashamed for all to see. Especially when He has brought us victories. This can be done through an alter experience, worship or testimony (Revelation 12:11).
Jehovah-Qadash (The Lord who sanctifies). “That you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you” (Exodus 31:13 NASB). God is our sanctifier. Sanctification is the will of God (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Too frequently we think it’s up to us to straighten people out and help them get their act together in the Lord. We can’t do it! When we try, it usually causes more trouble than good. It’s God who does the sanctifying not us. We can’t even sanctify ourselves. The only thing we can do to assist the process of sanctification is to get in the presence of the sanctifier (God) and His Word.
The Word of God will take us further in the sanctification process than anything. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17 KJV). “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32 KJV). If we would diligently study, meditate on, memorize, and listen to the Word of God preached and taught, we’d find ourselves set free from all that holds us in its grip. All too often we trust other things (self help systems and gurus) to straighten our lives out. If we would spend as much time committed to God’s Word, as these man made things, we’d see God work wonders.
Jehovah-Shalom (The Lord our peace). “Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovah-Shalom” (Judges 6:24 KJV). Gideon faced off in battle with Midian with only 300 men. The battle and odds were insurmountable in the natural. This would have caused anxiety in the heart and soul of anyone. Gideon found that the Lord, Jehovah-Shalom, was his source of peace in midst of his greatest challenge. The Bible says, “He Himself (Jesus) is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14 NASB). Whatever you are facing, set your heart on Him. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3 NKJV).
Peace is His promise to His People. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27 NKJV). “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NKJV). Paul said, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV). There is a tremendous prescription for peace found here.
- Prayer. We must take everything to God in prayer (1 Peter 5:7). However, we must not stop there. All too often we are fixed on prayer for the negatives in life, but this focuses on that which produces anxiety.
- Thanks. Prayer focuses on the negative whereas praise focuses on the solution. Thanksgiving is essential to peace.
- Dwell on the positive. Paul went on in verse eight challenging us to focus on the positive, “Meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8 NKJV).
Jehovah-Tsidkenu (The Lord our righteousness). “This is His name by which He will be called, The Lord our righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6 NASB). He is our righteousness. We have no righteousness in ourselves. “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6 KJV). Our righteousness is found in Him alone. Paul, after listing all his accomplishments in Judaism, said, “What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ……that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Philippians 3:7-9 NKJV). “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” (2 Corinthians 5:21 KJV). We are to seek Him and His righteousness alone (Matthew 6:33). Anything else inevitably comes up short. Study also Romans 10:3-5 and Matthew 5:20.
Jehovah-Shammah (The Lord is present). “The name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35 NASB). We know God is omnipresent (His presence is everywhere). See The Non-Moral Attributes of God. Jesus promised, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 NASB). “For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 NKJV). God is always present everywhere, and also promises His presence will be especially with His people. There are situations where God’s presence promises to be manifest in specific and special ways. For how to experience God’s presence in a tangible way see: A Believer’s Responsibilities Under the New Covenant on “we must draw near.” There will come a day when we who trust Christ will experience God’s presence in His full essence when we meet Him face to face.
Jehovah-Raah (The Lord is my shepherd). “The Lord is my shepherd” (Psalms 23:1). A shepherd cared for his sheep. He protected, fed and provided for them, looked after them, and went after them when they strayed. (A lesson Pastors need to learn.) Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11). Shepherds have a heart of compassion for the sheep. Jesus “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36 NASB). He cared about them – everything they were feeling and going through physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. His heart went out to them and their needs.
We have all, at one time or another, strayed from Him. “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6 NKJV). Jesus went to the cross in payment for our sins to bring (purchase) us back to Himself. That’s how much He loves us. He is even now waiting for many lost souls (sheep) to return to Him. He gave up everything and went after us as the Good Shepherd. “For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25 NASB). He has done His part – will you return to Him today?