I. THE NAMES AND TITLES OF GOD
The name of a person, place, or thing is that by which it is known. The names of God are those by which He is known. They denote His character. Yes, the names of the Lord are those by which He is known to His people; “Save me, 0 God, by thy name” (Ps. 54: la); “They that know thy name will put their trust in thee” (Ps: 9: 10).
The King James Version distinguishes the names of God by the use of printer’s type. Thus, when you read in the Bible the word “God,” you know that it is translated from the Hebrew word Elohim; the words “LORD,” “GOD,” “LORD GOD,” “LORD God” are from the Hebrew word Jehovah; and the word “lord” is from the word Adonai. Each of these words, Elohim, Jehovah and Adonai, describes the character of God and of His actions toward mankind, distinguishing between the saint and the sinner.
A. Elohim. The word Elohim, which is translated as “God,” is found more than twenty-three hundred times in Scripture. Yet this is not a personal name of God, but it is God’s official title — what He is, God! — Elohim! The word Elohim is not only used for God, but for men (“I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High” — Ps. 82:6 with John 10:34, 35) and for idols (“Thou shalt make thee no molten gods” — Ex. 34:17). It is the title of God just as the word “president” is the title of an office. The President is the official title of the chief executive of the United States. It is not his name, but his title. And likewise, there are many kinds of presidents: of companies, missionary societies, etc. God’s official name is Elohim — His office.
Elohim is a plural noun. At once we say plural means two or more. This is true in English, but not so in the Hebrew language. We have two numbers in English: singular, meaning one; plural, two or more. In the Hebrew, however, we have three numbers: singular, meaning one; dual, equaling two; plural, denoting three or more. Thus, Elohim is a plural noun — three or more. Genesis 1:1 states: “In the beginning God [three or more] created the heaven and the earth.” Another suggestion of the Trinity is found in Genesis 1:26, 27: “And God [Elohim] said, “Let us make man in our image.”
The literal meaning of Elohim is The Putter-forth of Power, The Strong One. And in the first chapter of Genesis, Elohim is described as putting forth His power in these ten words: created, made (fashioned), moved, said, saw, called, divided, set, ended and blessed.
No creature has power but that which God has given him. Power belongeth unto God. Man has to work for his power in all phases of life; God only has to speak, and it is done. God not only creates, but keeps what He brings forth out of nothing.
Elohim (God) has power in government. Daniel pointed this out, and Nebuchadnezzar had to experience it “that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men” (Dan. 4:17). With pride filling his heart, Nebuchadnezzar was struck with madness until he acknowledged that the Most High did rule. Then only did his reason return unto him, and he became a firm believer in this truth.
Elohim (God) has power in judgment, whether upon man or nation. When He smites, none can resist Him.
El is the singular form of Elohim. It is found two hundred and fifty times in Scripture. It is used in the proper names of men, such as Samuel (asked of God) and Elijah (Jehovah is my God).
Remember, the words GOD and LORD (all capital letters) in the King James version are best translated Jehovah. Jehovah is the personal name of God. It is that Name which is above every other name. The meaning of the word is Redeemer. Every time it is used in the Scriptures it is connected with deliverance by God: “And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, It is the king of Israel. Therefore they compassed about him to fight: but Jehoshaphat cried out and the LORD [Jehovah] helped him; and God moved them to depart from him” (II Chron. 18:31).
While the personal name of God, Jehovah, was written, it was never pronounced. The Jews considered that name too sacred to be spoken by human lips. It is a possibility that this pronunciation is not correct even today, for the Hebrew language is written without any vowels. The name Jehovah, in the Hebrew, is spelled JHVH. We trust that we are pronouncing it correctly: It could be pronounced Jeheveh, or Jihivih, or Jahavah, or many other different ways. When the scribes came to this name Jehovah to copy, they washed their bodies, and the pens with which they spelled this name were cleansed. Even in public, when readers of sacred Scriptures came to this word they would not pronounce it, fearing they would take it in vain, but would substitute the word Elohim or Adonai in its place. One reason why the word Jehovah was suppressed was to impress its sacredness upon the minds of the people.
When the LORD [Jehovah] appeared unto Moses in the burning bush, and commissioned him to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt into the Promised Land, Moses asked, “When I come unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?” God said unto him, “I AM THAT I AM … I AM hath sent me unto you” (Ex. 3:13, 14). Jehovah is the eternal I AM. There is no past nor future with Jehovah; He is the Eternal Present, the self-existent One — One that made Himself known.
In Exodus 20:2 we read: “I am the LORD thy God…” “I am Jehovah thy Elohim.” There were many different Elohims, but there was only one Jehovah. You read in the Word, the “Elohim of Israel”; but never, the “Jehovah of Israel”; for there were no more Jehovahs.
When Elijah and the prophets of Baal had a contest, it was to determine which was Elohim (God), Jehovah or Baal.
Yes, Jehovah was always related in a redemptive way with his own people, but His relationship to His creatures (this includes unregenerate men) was always as Elohim. The same today. God is God of all the unsaved, but He is Jehovah, the Father, of all who are saved. The Book of Jonah illustrates this. In chapters three and four the people called upon Elohim, but Jonah called upon Jehovah! They were lost; he was saved. They became saved, and could, after their salvation, call God Jehovah. See other Scriptures: Judges 7:14, 15; II Chronicles 19:6-9; Genesis 7:16; I Samuel 17:46.
We have another name for God, and that is JAH. It is found only once in the King James version, but it occurs forty-eight other times in the corrected translations. Some Bible scholars believe that JAH is an abbreviation of Jehovah. The meaning is the same. “Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him” (Ps. 68:4). The name JAH is always connected with praise, and is first found in Exodus 15:2.
We believe that the word “God” (Elohim), being plural in Genesis 1:1, definitely suggests that the Trinity created the heavens and the earth. Yet we find that modern thought interprets this differently. Modern thought says that this portion of the Word should read, “In the beginning Gods created the heavens and the earth.” And the reason for this, they say, is that Israel, to begin with, believed in many gods, but that their religion evolved into monotheism. This form of reasoning has proved difficult to many college students. Is there any Scripture which will refute this? Absolutely. Turn to Deuteronomy 6:4 — “Hear, 0 Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord.” Now, put the correct words of Elohim and Jehovah in this passage and you will see that the Word plainly reveals the Trinity of Genesis 1:1: “Hear, 0 Israel, JEHOVAH our ELOHIM [three or more persons] is one JEHOVAH.’ Therefore, man began with a belief in one God and later degenerated into the depths “and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (Rom. 1:23).
The term Adonai really means master, or owner; one who owns, one who rules, one who blessed his own. It is found first in Genesis 15:1, 2: “After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?”
Adonai can always be known by the word “Lord,” or “lord” in the Old Testament of the King James Version. There are two different forms of this word: Adon, which is singular, and Adonai, which is plural.
Adonai is used two ways in the Scriptures when related to man and his earthly relationships: As a master of his slaves — “And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter. And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master…” (Gen. 24:9, l0a); and as a husband to his wife — “Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord [Adonai]…” (I Peter 3:6a). See also Genesis 18:12.
A Hebrew could sell himself to another Hebrew, who became his master. But he could not sell himself forever; for at the Sabbatical Year, or the Year of Jubilee, all slaves were freed. Yet, there was a way by which a slave could become a slave forever, and that was by choice: “And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever” (Ex. 21:5, 6). Paul said that he was a bond slave (servant) of Jesus Christ, bought by blood and bound by Love! Every time you use the name Lord Jesus Christ, you say, “He is my Master.” “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am” (John 13:13).
D. Jehovistic Combinations.
1. Jehovah-jireh — “the Lord will provide.” “Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen” (Gen. 22:14). This was the occasion when Abraham led his son, his only begotten son, Isaac, to the mount. Isaac carried the wood; Abraham carried the knife and the fire. His son asked the whereabouts of the sacrifice. To this Father Abraham replied, “God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt-offering.” And God did! Before Abraham could kill his son as a sacrifice demanded by God, the angel of the LORD stayed his hand; his eyes looked upon the thicket and saw the ram which the LORD had provided. Nearly two thousand years ago the Son of God carried, Himself, a wooden burden, the Cross; and the Father held the fire (which speaks of judgment), and the knife (which speaks of death), and God did provide Himself a Sacrifice for our sins — His Son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Have you found Him to be your Jehovah jireh? Whatever may come, remember, He is Jehovah-jireh — “the LORD will provide.”
2. Jehovah-Rapha — “the Lord that healeth.” [“The LORD] 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 [Jehovah Rapha] that healeth thee” (Ex. 15:26). He is LORD, The Physician. The way this is used is not, “I will cure your diseases”; but, “I won’t put sickness upon you.”
The world is called the “sick world”; Livingstone called Africa the “open sore”; and the reason for this is the deep wound of sin! The word “heal” is an interesting word and means to repair, mend, cure. And there is perfect cure in Jehovah-Rapha, for “by his stripes we are healed” (I Peter 2:24). See also Psalm 41:4.
3. Jehovah-nissi — “the Lord our Banner.” “Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi” (Ex. 17:15). The LORD is our Victory. Christ crucified is our Banner of Victory!
4. Jehovah-Qadash — “the LORD that doth sanctify.” “Ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the LORD [Jehovah-Qadash] which sanctify you” (Lev. 20:8). And God is the same LORD of the Christian as of the Hebrew: “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, 0 God. . . . By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:9, 10). See also Hebrews 10:14, and Exodus 31:13.
5. Jehovah-shalom — “the LORD our Peace.” “Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovah- shalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites” (Judg. 6:24). There is only one way to secure peace today, and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our Peace: “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” (Eph. 2:14). See also Romans 5:1.
6. Jehovah-Tsidkenu — “the LORD our Righteousness.” “In his days Judah shall he saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jer. 23:6). Israel shall be restored to the Land of Promise once again, and during the Millennium Jehovah shall be called Jehovah-Tsidkenu — “the LORD our Righteousness.” The LORD did come, the only righteous one, yet they crucified Him. But one day He shall come the second time, and Israel shall claim the Lord Jesus Christ as their own Righteousness. Christ Jesus is the only Righteousness that any can claim.
7. Jehovah-Shammah — “the LORD is There.” “It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD [Jehovah-Shammah] is there” (Ezek. 48:35). When Israel is restored to the land, and the earth shall be full of knowledge of the LORD, Jerusalem shall be called Jehovah-Shammah — “the LORD is There.”
8. Jehovah-Sabaoth — the LORD of Host.” “This man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts [Jehovah-Sabaoth] in Shiloh” (I Sam. 1: 3a). Israel is the Host; the LORD is the LORD of Hosts. See also Exodus 12:41; II Kings 6:14-23; Romans 9:29; James 5:4.
9. Jehovah Ra-ah — “the LORD my Shepherd.” “The LORD [Jehovah Ra-ah] is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (Ps. 23:1). One time a little girl was quoting this verse, and this is the way she said it: “The LORD is my Shepherd, why should I worry?” Have you found that Source of Strength? Have you found perfect peace by following the Saviour wherever He leads? Fears will not annoy; darkness cannot distress; poverty is not able to destroy if Jesus is your Jehovah Ra-ah — your Shepherd.
E. Eloistic Combinations.
As there are the Jehovistic combinations, so are there the Eloistic combinations.
El Elyon — “Most High God.” “Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God [El Elyon]” (Gen. 14:18). Here in the King James Version the name is translated “most high God.” Elyon means highest; with El it means the most high God. See also Deuteronomy 32:8; Daniel 4:34, 35. Jesus Christ is our El Elyon — “All power [authority] is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18b).
El Olam —“Everlasting God.” “Abraham planted a grove in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting [El Olam] God” (Gen. 21:33). Yes, God is the “Everlasting God” — “the God of All Ages.”
El Shaddai — “Almighty God.” This is first found in Genesis 17:1: “When Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God [El Shaddai]; walk before me, and be thou perfect.” “El” means the Strong One. Shaddai comes from the word shad, meaning a breast, a woman’s breast. This is illustrated by that portion found in Isaiah 28:9. El Shaddai, therefore, means the Breast of God, the Nourisher, Strength-giver, the Satisfier.
One of the most cherished names of God held by Bible students everywhere is this one — the Breast of God, the Strength-giver, the All-Sufficient God, the All-Bountiful God, the God Who is Enough! the God Who is Able. “He is able also to save them to the uttermost” (Heb. 7:25). Why? Because Jesus Christ our Lord is our El Shaddai — “The God Who is Able.”