Names of God – Elohim
Have you ever noticed all the different names for God in the Bible? If you’re old enough to remember Amy Grant’s song, El Shaddai, you might remember that that song alone used several of His names; El Shaddai, El Elyon, Adonai. We’ve probably all heard the name Yahweh, that’s the name that the Jewish people called the unspeakable name and would write it with no vowels.
Looking at the Hebrew language in the Bible, we see that there are many different names for God. Of course, they are all talking about the same God…the one true God, but each of these names describes a different attribute of Him. This isn’t an unusual phenomenon, we do it all the time. My parents call me son, my sons call me dad, in high school I was called “Little Moose”…I don’t want to talk about it, my wife calls me honey, and the guy behind me on the freeway giving me the one-way sign calls me…well, you get the idea. The point is, we all, no matter what our culture or language, use names that describe a person. God is no different, and He has so many truly awesome attributes that we need a lot of names to describe Him. Today I want to start looking at the names the Hebrews used for God and what they mean.
The first name we want to look at is Elohim which simply means God. This is the most commonly used names of God because it just means God. It’s used 200 times in the book of Genesis alone. In fact, the first time it is used is in the first verse in the Bible, Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth.” If we break down the word to its origin we find that it comes from words that mean “Power” and “Might”. It is a name of power, a name of majesty.
There is a great song from the late 70’s, written by Rich Mullins called “Awesome God”. The song says:
When He rolls up His sleeves
He ain’t just putting on the Ritz (Our God Is An Awesome God)
There’s thunder in His footsteps
And lightning in His fists (Our God Is An Awesome God)
The Lord wasn’t joking
When He kicked ’em out of Eden
It wasn’t for no reason
That He shed His blood
His return is very close
And so you better be believing that
Our God is an awesome God
There are songs all through the history of the Church that expresses the power and majesty of God. Songs like, “How Great Thou Art”, and “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”, as well as new worship songs like, “How Great is Our God”, and “Whom Shall I Fear”.
What’s interesting about the name Elohim is that, with this one word, God describes the Trinity. You see, Elohim is a plural word used as a singular word, and in the Hebrew language, plural means 3 or more, unlike English where plural, of course, means 2 or more. This is obviously a case of Moses trying to emphasize the Trinity. Rabbi Simeon ben Joachi had this to say about the name Elohim: “Come and see the mystery of the word Elohim; there are three degrees, and each degree by itself alone, and yet notwithstanding they are all one, and joined together in one, and are not divided from each other.” Clarke adds: “He must be strangely prejudiced indeed who cannot see that the doctrine of a Trinity, and of a Trinity in unity, is expressed in the above words.” Leupold quoting Luther on Elohim said: “But we have clear testimony that Moses aimed to indicate the Trinity or the three persons in the one divine nature.” Interestingly, it is never used in this way when speaking of heathen gods. It will talk about a group of them plurally, or one of them singularly, but never one of them plurally.
You don’t see the singular form of the word, Eloah, very much. It’s almost exclusively used in poetry and poetic expression. Interestingly, we see it most frequently used in the book of Job, which is believed to be the oldest book, chronologically.
Another root word of Elohim is El, and as with Eloah, it is mostly found in Job and the Psalms. The name El means “to be strong” or “to be in front”, and it is often combined with nouns or adjectives to other names for God that refer to some of His various attributes. We see this in names like El Shaddai and El Elyon.
Over the next few installments, we are going to look at many different names for God. I have compiled a list of 18 names, which isn’t by any means an exhaustive list, but it gives a good understanding of the attributes of God. The idea of this is not to be a fact dump, but to help us all understand who God really is. You see, the world has a different idea of who God is. If you doubt that, just watch a night of TV. The world sees Him as angry and they see us as ignorant, and that’s on us. We Must portray Him in the right way, and we must portray his Church in the right way. We have allowed this perception to go on for far too long. Sadly, we have allowed others, claiming the name of Christ, to perpetuate it. We’ve all seen them holding a sign on the street corner, but here’s the thing…God doesn’t hate anyone. Don’t get me wrong, God does hate the sin, but He loves every sinner. The Apostle Paul called himself the worst of all sinners, but Christ died for him, just like He died for you and me.
But, you see, the early church wasn’t looked at as stupid or ignorant, they were a force to be reckoned with. Just look at Acts 4:13, “The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.” They realized that they were uneducated, but didn’t look at them as being stupid, they were amazed at their boldness and could tell that they had been with Jesus. That’s how we need to be. Ask yourself, “When people see me, can they see that I’ve been with Jesus?
Names of God – Jehovah
When you hear the name Jehovah, what do you think of? I know, the guys in the white shirts and tie going door to door in your neighborhood. Well, Jehovah is actually another of the Hebrew names used in the Old Testament, a different name for the same God.
Jehovah simply means I Am. In the Bible, Jehovah is usually translated as Lord and appears 6519 times, but its root word is the Hebrew word Hayah which means “I am”. When Moses was talking to God at the burning bush and he asked God in Exodus 3:13, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?” God’s answer was to tell them “Hayah Hayah”, or “Jehovah, Jehovah”, “I am who I am”.
Okay…I am what? As we’ll see in upcoming posts, He is our provider, He is our banner, He is our shield, He is our everything. Jehovah, our Lord, is the I Am. He is everything, He is our Creator, our Father, He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, He is the way, the truth, and the life. He is GOD!
The Hebrew people of the Old Testament believed this name to be so holy that it was not allowed to be spoken. In fact, the only one who was permitted to speak the name Jehovah was the high priest, and only on the Great Day of Atonement when he entered the holy of holies. Even when they were reading the scripture, any time they would come to the name Jehovah, they would pronounce it “Adonai”, and this is something the Jewish people still do to this day. During the “Burning Bush” incident, in the very next verse Exodus 3:14, “God replied to Moses, “I am who I am. Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.” Jehovah has sent you! Through this one name, He is proclaiming that He is the unchanging, eternal, self-existent God, the “I am that I am”.
John 14:6 “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Did you see what Jesus, Himself said? I AM The Way. There are so many people out there, who claim the name of Christ, and go around saying, “there are many different roads that lead to God.” What are these people doing with this verse and so many others? Christ didn’t say, I am a way, He didn’t even say, I am one of the ways. He said, “I am THE Way, THE Truth, THE life.” And, if that wasn’t clear enough, He said, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” It doesn’t get any clearer than that. There are not many paths to the same place. God made eternal life very simple. He made one way so it won’t be confusing, He made one truth, so we know what to believe, and He made one life, so we know where we are going.
If you haven’t found the One Way, take care of it before you close this blog. Christ died so we don’t have to experience death. All you need to do is, first realize that you, like all of us, are a sinner and in need of salvation, Romans 3:23 “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Next, you must realize that there is a price for sin that must be paid, Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Did you catch that last part? God doesn’t leave us destitute, He always provides a way. The free gift of God Is eternal life, through who? Through The Way, Jesus Christ. So, What’s the way out? Romans 5:8, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Christ died for us. The price for sin is death, but Christ paid that price for us on the cross so that we don’t have to. So how do you accept this gift? I’m glad you asked. Romans 10:9-10 “9 If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” It’s just that simple. So many people ask, “How can a loving God send people to hell?” The answer is…He doesn’t. He made the way out so simple that even a child can do it. In fact, He said we must come to Him as a child in Matthew 18:3, “Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” How do you know it will work? He says in Romans 10:13, For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” He says it, and remember, He is THE Truth!
Names of God – Jehovah Shammah
I mentioned in the last post how we will continue to see the name Jehovah used in other names to describe different attributes of God. Here is one of them, Jehovah Shammah. This name isn’t as commonly used as many of the others, in fact, we first find it in Ezekiel 48:35 “The distance around the entire city will be 6 miles. And from that day the name of the city will be ‘The Lord Is There.’” They named the city, Jehovah Shammah, The Lord Is There, or more literally, I Am There.
Through this name, God wants to remind us that He is here…wherever here is. In Hebrews 13:5-6 it says, “5 Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” 6 So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” First, He says He will never fail us or abandon us…He is there, then He says, so don’t be afraid. Listen to this, WE HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR! The world goes around with their “No Fear” gear, but we really have nothing to fear. God will never fail us and He will always be there.
When Jesus was leaving the disciples to ascend to heaven, they were worried. We see this story in John chapter 14. In verse 12 Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” He said that we will be able to do greater works than he did because He went to be with the Father. Then He went on to tell us how in verse 16 when He said, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.” Christ told the disciples that He had to leave so that He could send another Advocate, or as some translations say another Comforter. You see, even though Jesus was 100% God, He was also 100% man. When He chose to take on flesh to redeem the world, He put some limitations on Himself. In the flesh, He could only be in one place at a time, but when the Holy Spirit came, He could be in all believers at the same time. This is the very definition of “The Lord is Here.”
What does this mean? Well, we all know the 23rd Psalm. Look at verse 4, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” God protects us and guides us throughout our lives, Psalm 48:14 says, “For that is what God is like. He is our God forever and ever, and he will guide us until we die.” He lives in us and works through us. He speaks to us in many ways; sometimes through His word, Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” Sometimes He speaks to us through a whisper. 1 Kings 19:12, “And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.”
In my lifetime, God has spoken to me in many ways. Sometimes through answered prayer, like when we were driving back to Indiana from my father’s funeral in Florida. The next week we were supposed to move to Ohio where I was going to be a Youth Pastor. The only problem was, we had spent every dime we had to go to my father’s funeral. So as a family, we prayed that, if God wanted us to take this position, He would provide a way. We prayed the whole 25-hour drive. When we got home there was a message on our answering machine, yes, we had one of those back then. The message was from the man we would be renting the house from in Ohio. He said that he just wanted to let us know that someone had paid our first month’s rent and security deposit for us. God spoke.
Other times God has spoken to me through His word. In fact, I’d have to say that has been most of the time. Sometimes in my Bible reading, I will find the answer I had been looking for, and other times He would bring a passage to mind that I had memorized years before. This is one reason it is so important to memorize the Bible. He will always bring those verses back right when you need them, whether it is something you have been praying about, or when you are speaking to someone and they have a question about the Bible.
And yes, God has spoken to me in an audible whisper…once. I had quit serving as a Youth and Music Pastor and was a crew foreman for a large lawn service in Indiana. I wasn’t running from God, rather, I was waiting to see what He had for me next. One day I was running a mower in an apartment complex. This one took me 6 hours to mow. I made mowing my prayer time, so for that six hours, I would pray. This day I was praying about where God wanted me, and over the drone of the mower, I heard an audible voice in my head telling me it was time to start perusing full-time service again. And, yes…that’s when I found the job in Ohio. I don’t believe God talks to us like that often, but He knows when we need it. In fact, there were many things like that leading up to starting that position in Ohio, and later I would realize just why. The next year at that church was the hardest year I have ever experienced, but I never questioned whether God wanted me there or not, so I kept on my course because God was there.
Jehovah Shamma will always be there for us. The problem is we get so busy in our lives that we often don’t notice Him. Just remember that no matter what you are going through…God is There!
Names of God – Jehovah Jireh
One of the songs we sang a lot back in the 90s was one that said, “Jehovah Jireh, my provider your grace is sufficient for me.” Jehovah Jireh, The Lord is My Provider.
Remember the story of Abraham, when he had to sacrifice his only son Isaac to God? At the last minute, God provided a ram as a replacement sacrifice. Abraham named that place Jehovah Jireh, Genesis 22:14 “Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
God’s provision didn’t stop with Abraham. Paul told the church at Philippi in Philippians 4:19, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” God will provide. Throughout scripture, we see example after example of God providing for His people. Whether He was providing Angels to fight a battle for them, making water come out of a rock, making manna fall from heaven, or having ravens bring them food, He always provides. Deuteronomy 31:6, “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Did you get that? God will personally go ahead of you…personally! Also in Exodus 14:14, “The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Stop and think about this for a minute. The God of the universe will personally go ahead of you, He will fight for you. It doesn’t say He will send an angel to go ahead of you or fight for you, it says He will do it Himself. That’s huge! It goes on to say, “He will never fail you nor abandon you.” He provides for us in any situation. He will never fail us and He will never abandon us. Keep calm and trust God.
When we look at Matthew chapter 6, starting at verse 25 and going through the rest of the chapter, we see instructions on how to handle anxiety. First, is worry a sin? In this passage, it says that it is a sign that you don’t have enough faith in God. It also says in verse 32 that these are the things that “dominate the thoughts of unbelievers.” So yes, it is a sin not to trust God. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, how can we not worry? This passage compares us to birds and wildflowers. Christ is telling us that God takes such good care of these insignificant things, there is no doubt that He will take care of us. He provides for birds, He provides for wildflowers. He will provide for us…but there are conditions. It says, at the end of verse 32 that He already knows what we need, but remember, He tells us in James 2:14-26 that faith without works is dead. So, we must have faith. The next verse says, Matthew 6:33, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” God will not take second, or third, or fourth place in our lives. He is a jealous God, as we will see in a future post. We must seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and we must live righteously, that’s the works that are behind our faith. In Micah 6:8 we read, “No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” A lot of people treat salvation as a “get out of Hell free card”, but the Bible makes it clear, repeatedly, that salvation is a changed life. God expects his people to do what is right, He expects us to love mercy, He expects us to be an example to the world, Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Then, and only then, will He provide for us.
We are not saved by our good works, the Bible makes that very clear as well (see Ephesians 2:8-9). But, we are required to do good works so that God will be glorified. Glorifying God is our job as Christ followers, Isaiah 43:7 says, “Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.’” You see, that is why we were created, for His glory. Besides, if we truly love someone, we want to please them, So, if you truly love God, you will want to spend time with Him and others who love Him and you will want to please Him. That’s just human nature.
So, glorify God, do justice, love mercy, seek God’s Kingdom above all else, and live righteously, and He will be your provider and you will have nothing to worry about.
Names of God – Jehovah Nissi
Jehovah Nissi means, “The Lord is My Banner.” We first see it used after the Hebrew people defeated the Amalekites in Exodus 17:14-16 “14 After the victory, the Lord instructed Moses, “Write this down on a scroll as a permanent reminder, and read it aloud to Joshua: I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 Moses built an altar there and named it Yahweh-Nissi (which means “the Lord is my banner”).16 He said, “They have raised their fist against the Lord’s throne, so now the Lord will be at war with Amalek generation after generation.” So…what does that mean?
When we think banner today, we think advertisement, right. Those pop-up banners on the internet that are always in the way. Well, in the Old Testament times, before the internet, banners had a different significance altogether. In fact, they had several different meanings.
First, they identified you. In the first 2 chapters of Numbers, God had each tribe of Israel put up a banner that identified which tribe they were. Numbers 2:2, “When the Israelites set up camp, each tribe will be assigned its own area. The tribal divisions will camp beneath their family banners on all four sides of the Tabernacle, but at some distance from it.”
Second, the banner was to call them to come together. Psalm 60:4 says, “But you have raised a banner for those who fear you—a rallying point in the face of attack.” When the soldiers were under attack, it could get chaotic and they didn’t have 2-way radios or satellite tracking…or satellites for that matter. So, they would raise a banner to regroup the troops. Later, in Isaiah 11:10-12, the profit prophecies about the second coming of Christ, and Him being a banner (Jehovah Nissi) to gather the saved, “10In that day the heir to David’s throne will be a banner of salvation to all the world. The nations will rally to him, and the land where he lives will be a glorious place. 11 In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to bring back the remnant of his people—those who remain in Assyria and northern Egypt; in southern Egypt, Ethiopia, and Elam; in Babylonia, Hamath, and all the distant coastlands. 12 He will raise a flag among the nations and assemble the exiles of Israel. He will gather the scattered people of Judah from the ends of the earth.” This goes back to what I keep saying. One of the key messages of the New Testament is the unity of the body of Christ. If the Lord calls us together, then why do we keep dividing ourselves with denominations? Now, in case you missed my earlier blogs, I’m not talking about the dread “ecumenicalism”, where, as some believe, everyone sets aside their beliefs and comes together, I’m talking about seeking God. For more depth on this subjects, you will need to go back to previous posts, but to put it in a nut shell, if we quit trying to interpret scripture and just believe it literally, in context, as a whole, we won’t need these divisions. The Lord is Our Banner, He wants to call us together.
Third, the banner would guide them through the battle. Depending on which banner was raised, the soldiers would know exactly where to go, where to stand when they got there, when to attack, and even when to retreat. Jeremiah 4:6 says, “Raise a signal flag as a warning for Jerusalem: ‘Flee now! Do not delay!’ For I am bringing terrible destruction upon you from the north.” So, God positions us where He needs us. And, He may reposition us on occasion. God has repositioned our family many times. Throughout the early years of our marriage, Michelle and I sang an old hymn by David Livingston, called “Lord, Send Me Anywhere”, and He did. Over the last 32 years of marriage we have moved more times than I want to count and lived in 7 different states, and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. Let the Lord position you where He wants you. It will probably be difficult, but it will never be boring.
Fourth, banners kept the truth in front of them. Whether in battle, where they could always see what was happening or in the tabernacle, where the banners would focus them on the provision of God. But here’s the thing, banners don’t have to be literal banners either. In the first example, Moses built an altar; that was a type of banner in and of itself. Banners, proclaim the truth and remind us of it. And, remember what we learned in a previous post, the Lord is truth. He doesn’t just show us the truth, He is truth.
Lastly, banners proclaimed victory. As soon as they knew they had won the battle, they would raise their banner. We even saw this as recently as 1969 when Neil Armstrong planted the American flag on the moon. That act was signifying that we won the space race to the moon…it was a Victory Banner. Psalm 20:5 says, “May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God. May the Lord answer all your prayers.” And, in Christ we have the victory, 1 Corinthians 15:57 “But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 8:37 “No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” 1 John 4:4 “But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”
So, Jehovah Nissi has a lot of meanings. It doesn’t mean He’s our pop-up ad, and it doesn’t mean He’s a long narrow sign. What it does mean is, that the Lord is who identifies us, the Lord calls us together, the Lord guides us through battles and through life, the Lord keeps truth in front of us, and the Lord is our victory…that is truly awesome!
Names of God – Jehovah Rapha
Jehovah Rapha, this is a name that all of us have had to cry out to, many times in our lives. In fact, many unbelievers cry out to this name in desperation. In fact, I cried out to that name just this morning on behalf of my nephew and his family. This name means, “The Lord Who Heals You.” I love that, the Lord who heals you. He is our healer! He heals us physically and spiritually. In the New Testament, Jesus is shown as the Great Physician for this very reason. We saw Him heal people in both ways in His ministry here on earth. Through His word, we got to witness the blind regain their sight, the lame walk again, lepers cleansed, as well as demons cast out and sins forgiven. Christ is, indeed, the great physician.
People have asked me if I believe in “faith healers”. The answer is, no. Do I believe that Christ still miraculously heals people today? Do I believe that He uses people as a conduit of His healing? Of course, I do, I have seen miraculous healings in my ministry, and I have been blessed to be part of some of them, but I don’t put my faith in any man. In 2011, my family drove 400 miles to pray over a 16-year-old boy who had been in a car accident and was in a coma for several months. We laid hands on him, anointed him with oil, and prayed over him. The next morning, he spoke his first words, and today, he is married with a daughter of his own. Here’s the thing, my family didn’t heal that young man. It wasn’t our hands, it wasn’t the oil, it wasn’t that we prayed just the right words. We were just acting in obedience. God told us to do it, so we did. He used us to show His power. It was God alone who healed Jessie.
So many times, throughout history, those with the spiritual gift of healing have made it all about themselves. I’ve heard some of these guys say things like, “you weren’t healed because your faith wasn’t strong enough.” When people were healed when Peter’s shadow fell on them, do you think it was about their faith? When Jesus cast the demons out of the maniac, was his faith in Christ all that strong? No, here’s what’s up, God heals who He wants to heal, it’s that simple. I know that some of you are thinking, God wouldn’t refuse to heal someone who sincerely asked. Let’s look at Paul. He prayed three times to be relieved of his physical affliction, and every time God answered no. God told him in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” God wanted to keep Paul humble. He wanted to make sure that Paul never made it about himself, so instead of boasting in himself, Paul boasted in his weaknesses so that the power of Christ could work through him. He went on to say, in verse 10, “That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Today, Christians have some convoluted belief that God is some kind of magic genie. That He is just sitting around waiting for you to rub His lamp and say the magic words and He will make your life perfect. So many believe that, when you follow Christ, your life will be easy. Let’s see what the Bible says about that. Jesus, Himself, made it very clear in John 16:33 when He said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Notice He doesn’t say He will take away our troubles, He just tells us not to worry, because He’s got this. We also see in 2 Timothy 3:12 “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Notice it says here that you WILL suffer persecution, not might, or could, but will. Simply put, if you are living an easy life, you are not living a godly life in Christ. You see, it’s not a bad thing to suffer a little. James 1:2-4 tells us, “2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” From this trouble, we learn endurance, which makes us perfect and complete. And, at the end of the trouble, we have the Jehovah Rapha, the Great Physician, to heal us and comfort us.
So, if you are facing trouble, if you are sick, or if you need spiritual healing, run to Jehovah Rapha, The Lord Who Heals You…He is waiting.
Names of God – Jehovah Shalom
Jehovah Shalom, the Lord is Peace. Most of us had a good idea what this name meant when we saw it because we know that the Hebrew word, shalom, means peace, but it goes so much further than that. In fact, the Jewish people use this word, shalom, to say hello and goodbye.
As soon as we hear the word peace, we automatically think of the peace sign, holding up two fingers, peace demonstrations. But, the word shalom conveys so much more than that. It means complete peace, a feeling of contentment, being whole, being complete, it puts across a wish of well-being and harmony. The definition of shalom in the Strong’s Concordance is, “7965 Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. Shalom comes from the root verb Shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full. In modern Hebrew, the obviously related word Shelem means to pay for, and Shulam means to be fully paid.”
I know this is starting with a lot of facts, but I wanted to dispel any preconceived notions of what peace is before we get started. The name Jehovah Shalom is only used once in the Bible, but the picture of the God of peace is throughout. Gideon used this name when he built an altar after the angel appeared to him in Ophrah, Judges 6:24 “And Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and named it Yahweh-Shalom (which means “the Lord is peace”). The altar remains in Ophrah in the land of the clan of Abiezer to this day.”
We’ve seen the definition of Shalom, so what exactly does Jehovah Shalom imply? First, notice that Jehovah Shalom does not mean the Lord brings peace, it doesn’t mean the Lord gives peace, it means the Lord IS peace. The Lord is the very embodiment of peace, and when the Holy Spirit lives in you, you have perfect peace living in you. You have contentment, completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, and the absence of agitation or discord, living in you. In fact, in John 14:16 Jesus told His disciples, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.” Christ was talking about giving us the Holy Spirit in this verse, and the word He used here that is translated as “advocate” is the Greek word “Parakletos” which also means, comforter, encourager, or counselor. So, what all of this is saying is, when you have the Holy Spirit living in you, you are complete.
We find the word peace 362 times in the Bible, that’s almost one time for every day of the year. We see it used by the angels when they were announcing the birth of the Christ, in Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” We see over and over throughout the gospels Jesus telling people, after He heals them, to go in peace. On Christ’s “Triumphant Entry” into Jerusalem, just before He was crucified, He said this about the city, Luke 19:42 “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes.” You see, the way to peace is only through Christ. He said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Okay, I’m going to be controversial again. People today, even some who claim the name of Christ, say we are all worshiping the same God. That is not the truth. The problem is that we have redefined what “tolerance” means. Tolerance does not mean to give validity to everything others believe, that is lunacy. Tolerance means to tolerate what others believe, even if it is wrong. We can’t hate people for having other beliefs, in fact, the Bible tells us to love them and pray for them. But, we have a responsibility to share the truth with them, and that is that Christ is the ONLY way to the Father and the ONLY way to true peace…because “They don’t know where to find peace.” Romans 3:17.
Peace is a gift from God. Jesus said in John 14:27, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” In John chapter 16, Christ is telling us about the work the Holy Spirit will do in our lives. He starts telling His disciples how He will be leaving them, but that their sadness will be turned to joy when the Holy Spirit comes upon them. Then He ends it all in verse 33 by saying, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” We can have true peace in Christ. Notice again, He doesn’t say that our lives will be easy, He says that we will have many trials and sorrows in this world, but He doesn’t end with that, He says “But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” There’s that perfect peace. We can rest assured that, as my son, Caleb likes to say, “God’s got this.”
I won’t go over every verse on peace, but I encourage you to do a study on the subject, keeping in mind the true meaning of the word. The world today is searching for peace. The problem is they are looking in all the wrong places. They think they will find peace by redefining tolerance, they think they will find peace by marching and demonstrating, they think they will find peace by seeking the pleasures the world offers. But, we have the truth. We have true peace and the only source of it.
If you are a Christ follower, it is your duty, both to God and your fellow man, to bring them true peace. If they reject it, that’s on them. Ezekiel 33:7-9 7 “Now, son of man, I am making you a watchman for the people of Israel. Therefore, listen to what I say and warn them for me. 8 If I announce that some wicked people are sure to die and you fail to tell them to change their ways, then they will die in their sins, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. 9 But if you warn them to repent and they don’t repent, they will die in their sins, but you will have saved yourself.” So, as Christ said right before He ascended to heaven, go and make disciples.
Names of God – Jehovah Ra’ah
If you grew up in church, pretty much any denomination, you memorized the 23 Psalm at some point in your life. It starts out, Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” The Hebrew word for “The Lord is my shepherd” is “Jehovah Ra’ah”.
So, what does it mean to be our shepherd? I mean, all throughout the Bible, it refers to Christ as our shepherd. Why does He call Himself our shepherd? Let’s start by looking at this short psalm about how He is our shepherd, and what that looks like.
The first thing he says in this verse is, “I have all that I need.” This doesn’t mean that Christ will give us everything we want, it means that, when we have the good shepherd, He is all we need. When you have a good shepherd you have food, you have shelter, you have protection.
The very next verse says, Psalm 23:2 “He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.” So, the first thing it says is that our Shepherd keeps us safe and makes sure we have food and water. Being in an open meadow, we know that the shepherd can watch for any predators that might be coming. So, the meadow provides a place where He can protect us, as well as an ample source of food and water. When you have the good shepherd, you have rest.
He goes on to say, Psalm 23:3 “He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.” He renews my strength… Isaiah 40:31 “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Also, in Galatians 6:9 it says, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Our shepherd gives us that strength…that perseverance to keep going so that in the end, we can receive the blessing from Him. This verse goes on to say that He guides us along the right paths, which brings honor to Him. Let’s not forget that our only purpose is to glorify Him, Isaiah 43:7 “Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.” So, He guides us for His glory. Michelle and I claimed Psalm 48:14 as our wedding verse, “For that is what God is like. He is our God forever and ever, and he will guide us until we die.” And He has, through more moves than I care to count in seven different states, and He has been our guide every step of the way. Let me tell you, whoever says the Christian life is boring, has never tried it. When you have the good shepherd, you have strength.
Then he says, Psalm 23:4, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” Because the Lord is our shepherd, we don’t have to fear anything. Everywhere you look today you see the No Fear gear. It’s on clothes and on car windows. But, as Christ followers, we truly have nothing to fear, because His rod and staff protect and comfort us. In fact, the Bible says, “Do not fear” 365 times, I think that’s something we need to listen to. When you have the good shepherd, you have true peace, as we saw in the last post, Jehovah Shalom.
The next verse says Psalm 23:5 “You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.” This first part is another picture of His protection. We can feel so safe with our shepherd, that we can sit down and feast, even when surrounded by our enemy. David Guzik said this about this passage, “David gives a beautiful picture: “table” suggests bounty; “prepare” suggests foresight and care; “before me” suggests the personal connection.” He is our shepherd. A shepherd cares for and loves his sheep…it is personal! He then says, “You anoint my head with oil.” In the Bible, the anointing of oil is always a sign of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, so the shepherd gives us the Holy Spirit. He ends this verse by saying, “My cup overflows with blessings.” When you have the good shepherd, you are blessed beyond comprehension. In Ephesians 1:3 says, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.” The good shepherd blesses us with EVERY SPIRITUAL blessing in the heavenly realms! And, spiritual blessings are always better than physical blessings. Charles Spurgeon said this, “Our thanks are due to God for all temporal blessings; they are more than we deserve. But our thanks ought to go to God in thunders of hallelujahs for spiritual blessings. A new heart is better than a new coat. To feed on Christ is better than to have the best earthly food. To be an heir of God is better than being the heir of the greatest nobleman. To have God for our portion is blessed, infinitely more blessed than to own broad acres of land. God hath blessed us with spiritual blessings. These are the rarest, the richest, the most enduring of all blessings; they are priceless in value.”
The last verse in this passage says, Psalm 23:6 “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Okay, check this out. He says that “Surely” …not maybe…goodness and unfailing love, that love we talked about in the blog titled “A More Perfect Way”, will pursue me. Did you get that? He’s not saying you’ll stumble upon it, he’s not saying you’ll find it, he’s saying that His goodness and Agape love will pursue you…wow! The last thing he says is, “and I will live in the house of the Lord forever”. This isn’t talking about when we get to heaven. Forever starts now! When you are with the good shepherd, you are in the house of the Lord, no matter where you are. When you have the good shepherd, you have goodness, you have unfailing love, and you have a home.
Names of God – Jehovah Sabaoth
This one is definitely, one of my favorite of the names of God. But, it didn’t become my favorite until about 10 years ago. You see I grew up reading the KJV which translates it as “the Lord of hosts”. Now, that isn’t a wrong translation, but in today’s language, it didn’t really mean anything to me. Then, one day I read it in the NLT which translates it as “the Lord of Heaven’s armies”, or “the Lord of angel armies” and that changed everything.
We find this name used 269 times in the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments and this name is important because it, once again, speaks of His protection…He is the Lord of Heaven’s armies. Let’s look at just what that means. There is an old hymn that says, “He could have called Ten Thousand Angels.” That is a lot, but it isn’t quite accurate. You see, this song was taken from Matthew 26:53, which says, “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” So, how many are twelve legions? One legion is equal to six thousand troops, so twelve legions are 72,000 troops. Each troop was roughly a horseman and 10 footmen. So, when Jesus told His disciples that His Father would have sent twelve legions of angels, He was basically saying that it would be more than you could count. This is Heaven’s armies! So, what exactly are you afraid of? There is a great worship song by Chris Tomlin titled, “Whom Shall I Fear” and the chorus says:
“Whom shall I fear
Whom shall I fear
I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side”
The God of Angel Armies is always by my side, isn’t that an awesome thought? Have you noticed a common theme in many of these names of God? Jehovah Shalom, The Lord is Peace; Jehovah Ra’ah, The Lord is my Shepherd; Jehovah Sabaoth, The Lord of Angel Armies; they are all talking about His protection of His children. He is the Lord of Peace, so we can have perfect peace and contentment. He is our Shepherd, so we can lie down in those green pastures and feast before our enemies because He is watching over us. And, He is the commander in chief of Heaven’s armies…again, God’s got this!
Don’t you think it matters to God when you are cheated out of something? Check out James 5:4, “For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” He’s listening to your cries, and He’s there for you.
We are His adopted children, He chose us. Malachi 3:17 says, “’They will be my people,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child.” Here’s the thing, none of us deserve His favored. I hear people everywhere, both Christian and non-Christian, saying, “You deserve this,” “You’re worth it”. We deserve nothing but punishment, but through His grace and mercy, He has forgiven those of us who have asked for it. My wife wrote this on Facebook recently, and I couldn’t agree more, “So many Christians have gotten on the bandwagon of telling themselves and others “you are worthy”. Where does the Word of God say so? The Bible does point out over and over our unworthiness, though, in order to highlight God’s love and grace – His UN-merited favor. So, please, don’t tell me I am worthy … I know I am unworthy… but, I also know that Christ is worthy and that His Gift has made me worthy … nothing else … And, that I am loved.
When one focuses on whether they are worthy or not, they are not focusing on God, His love, His Mercy, and His grace … the story we are here to tell. Not to tell others they are worthy! In fact, we can never have this gift unless we admit our sin and unworthiness, and give ourselves to Him to live in exchange for His Gift of Grace.” Romans 3:23 “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Amen!
So, know that, although you are not worthy, you are loved. You are loved by Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of Heavens Armies…therefore, whom shall I fear?
Names of God – Jehovah Mekoddishkem
This name of God is only found twice in the entire Bible, and they are both in Exodus chapter 31. This name means The Lord Who Sanctifies You, or The Lord Who Makes You Holy. But, like some of the other names we have looked at, although it only appears twice as a name of God, it is illustrated throughout Scripture.
So, what does it mean to be sanctified, or holy? I mean, we hear these words a lot, especially holy. We hear about how God is holy, the Holy Bible and, of course, songs like Holy, Holy, Holy. But, did you know that you are supposed to be holy just like God is holy? So, what does that look like? The Hebrew word for sanctify or holy is Qadash and it means, to be set apart. We, as Christ followers, are called to be set apart. The apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:15-16, “15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” Notice he says, “For the Scriptures say,” he is quoting Old Testament Scripture here; specifically Leviticus 11:44-45, 19:2, and 20:7. Then, he goes on, just a little later in the same letter to say, 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” Let’s look at what this verse is saying. First, he says we are a chosen people. I’ve said it before. The Bible often refers to us as being adopted, that means we were chosen. We weren’t thrust upon God…He chose us! The next thing it says is that we are royal priests. David Guzik had this to say about that phrase, “The offices of royalty and priesthood were jealously separated in Israel, but Jesus, who is our King and Priest, has brought them together for His people.” So, in Christ, we are both royalty, and priests. After that he says that we are a holy, or set apart, nation. As believers, we must be set apart from the world. Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” See what it says? “Let God transform you…by changing the way you think.” Don’t be like the world, be transformed, be a holy nation! But Peter wasn’t finished there, he went on to say that we are to be God’s very own possession. The KJV says, “a peculiar people”. So, don’t be like the world…be peculiar, be set apart, be God’s very own possession. Peter ends that verse by saying, as a result of being these things, we can show others the goodness of God, because He has called us out of the darkness they are in and into His perfect light.
Once we are holy and set apart, and in His perfect light, we must show the world that light. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He said this, Matthew 5:14-16 14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” We are the light of the world! So many people today that claim the name of Christ think they are the judges of the world, and that their job is to stand on a street corner and hold signs to condemn people of their sins. News Flash, sinners will sin! It’s not our job to point that out, it’s our job to be a light. Once we have shined God’s light, His light will expose their sins. Look at the Parable of the Great Feast in Luke 14. After he was rejected by the first people he invited, he sent his servants out to bring in the homeless and outcasts. Read that account carefully, did he say to clean them up and then bring them in? No, he said, 21 “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ 23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. 24 For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.’”
So, keep in mind that our job is to be holy like He is holy and to be salt and light to the world. Earnest Humphries, the pastor I grew up under, used to always say, “Your life may be the only Bible that some will ever open.” If you proclaim the name of Christ, the world will be watching. So stop judging and start shining!