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Elohim – “The strong one”

12 Jun

In his book, The Knowledge of the Holy, pastor and author A. W. Tozer made this statement, “What comes into your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.” I tend to agree with Tozer. The most important thing about you is what you believe about God, because what you believe about God determines what you believe about everything else.

Many of us, even as Christ followers, have a faulty view of God. We tend to view God as a …

  • Policeman – he exists to produce guilt and punish sin. If it rains on my picnic … I’m late for work … I have a car accident … I get passed over for a promotion … I get cancer … It means God is punishing me.
  • Kindly grandfather – he will give me anything I want at any time. He’s kind of like a cosmic ATM machine.
  • Meek & mild – he is gentle and kind. I can go to him for comfort. I can cry on his shoulder. But he is impotent and powerless to help me.
  • Clockmaker – he created the universe and then walked away. It is winding down and out of control, and he doesn’t know how to fix it. He is impersonal and doesn’t have time for me.
  • Trickster who hides his will – You cannot know or do his will. It is too hard to figure out or understand.

Because of our misconceptions, we don’t know God very well and we tend to live defeated, joyless lives. Consequently, we have missed the goal of life—knowing God.

John 17:3 – And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

Philippians 3:10 – that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

If the goal of life is to know God, and we have a faulty view of God, then the question we have to wrestle with is, how can we get to know God?

During the summer, we are going to do a study of the names of God, because his name always reveals his character. For me personally, this study has done more to change how I pray than anything else.

There are three primary names of God, and several compound names.

Elohim

The strong one

Adonai

Lord

Yahweh

The self-existent one

El Shaddai

God Almighty

 

Jehovah Jireh

The Lord will provide

El Elyon

God Most High

 

Jehovah Sabbaoth

The Lord of Hosts

El Olam

The Everlasting God

 

Jehovah Shalom

The Lord is Peace

El Roi

The God who sees me

 

Jehovah Rohi

The Lord my Shepherd

El Qanna

The Jealous God

 

Jehovah Shammah

The Lord who is There

   

Jehovah Rapha

The Lord who heals you

   

Jehovah M’Kaddesh

The Lord our Righteousness

   

Jehovah Tsidkenu

The Lord who sancitifes

   

Jehovah Nissi

The Lord our banner

PowerPoint Presentation There are many benefits that come from knowing God better.

  • Spiritual power (Daniel 11:32b)
  • Honor for God (Exodus 20:7; Matthew 6:9)
  • More effective praise and worship (Psalm 8:1-9; 48:10)
  • Security and protection (Proverbs 18:10)
  • A more consistent walk with God (Psalm 86:11)

There are several key principles that help guide this study. (1) The names were revealed by God himself. They are not manmade creations. (2) By revealing his names, God demonstrates his desire to know and to be known by us. (3) Many of the names were revealed during times of crisis. They demonstrate that God meets us at our point of need.

The first name of God is found in Genesis 1:1. It is the name, “Elohim,” which means “the strong one.” Elohim comes from two possible root words. “El” means mighty, strong, or prominent. Some scholars believe the name is also linked to “Alyah” which means to declare or swear, and implies faithfulness. Both words emphasize strength and power. With the second root, Alyah, to make a covenant means you have the power to enforce it.

The name, Elohim, appears 35 times in Genesis 1:1-2:4. It teaches us several key truths about God.

  • Elohim is not bound by time and space. He existed before creation.
  • Elohim is transcendent. He is distinct from his creation.
  • Elohim is immanent. He fills the heavens and earth and is present in them.
  • Elohim is personal. Genesis 1:3-5 describes God’s activity in personal terms. “Then God said … God saw … God separated … God called …” God is not an impersonal force. He personally interacts with creation.
  • Elohim is plural. Elohim is the plural form of the word El. As such, it hints at the Trinity—“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image …’” (Genesis 1:26-27).

Elohim is the strong, powerful Creator. God spoke the world into being. He created the heavens and earth from nothing. God created men and women with a divine design and purpose (Genesis 1:27-28).

Elohim is the Restorer. Sometime between Genesis 1:1 & 1:2, the earth was messed up. The terms, “without form and void” (2) means “a waste, or garbage dump.” This happened when Satan fell. With this in mind, in one sense Genesis 1:1 refers to creation while 1:2-31 refers to renovation and restoration. It demonstrates that Elohim has the power to take what the devil has messed up and make it right again.

If you trace Elohim throughout the Old Testament, you will discover the name is often used in relation to God’s greatness and mighty acts:

  • Sovereignty (Deuteronomy 10:17; Isaiah 54:5; Jeremiah 32:27)
  • Work of creation (Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 45:18; Jonah 1:9)
  • Judging (Psalm 50:6; 58:11)
  • Mighty works on behalf of Israel (Deuteronomy 5:23-24; Psalm 68:7)
  • Establishing and keeping a covenant relationship (Genesis 6:18; 9:15-16; 17:7-8; 50:24)

As Elohim, the strong one, God has the power to create, restore, and keep his promises. God created us with a design and purpose. He created us for a relationship. God can bring order out of chaos. We can rely on his power to face life’s difficulties. God has the power to keep his promises. He can be trusted.

This is the synopsis of a sermon preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on June 12, 2016. It is the opening message in a series on The Names of God. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

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