What’s in a name?

21 Aug

The great poet William Shakespeare once posed this question:

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.

Romeo and Juliet (Act II, Scene II)

Most people would probably agree. Rather than placing an emphasis on the significance or meaning of a name, many parents pick a name because it is creative or “sounds good.”

Here are some of the more creative names (of real people) I’ve collected over the years. April Schauer, Dusty Sandmann, Ima Hogg (daughter of governor of Texas), Rex Easley (taught traffic safety at Kamiakin High School in Kennewick, WA), Shanda Lear (daughter of “Bill” Lear who designed the Lear Jet), and Will Wynn (two-term mayor of Austin, TX). In the medical profession, there is Dr. Bender (chiropractor in FL), Dr. & Dr. Doctor (married doctors in Norwalk, CT), Dr. Hurt (pediatrician in MI), Dr. Look (ophthalmologist in HI), Dr. Payne (plastic surgeon in OH), and Dr. Stonebreaker (dentist in CA).

Over the course of the summer, our church has been studying the names of God. When we began the study, I explained the guiding principles—(1) The names were revealed by God himself; (2) God demonstrates his desire to know and to be known by us; and (3) God meets us at our point of need.

Here are 16 of God’s names in the order they are revealed in the Old Testament. (We studied ten of them during our series.) Each name gives us a new perspective of God’s character and attributes. Added together, they function like the facets of a diamond to give us a brilliant view of the majesty of God.

  1. Elohim – “The Strong One” (Genesis 1:1). Elohim has the power to create, restore, and keep his promises.
  2. El Elyon – “God Most High” (Genesis 14:19-20). Rather than turn to lesser gods, El Elyon deserves our wholehearted worship and allegiance.
  3. El Roi – “The God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13). El Roi sees us at our point of need and steps in to meet our needs.
  4. El Shaddai – “God Almighty” (Genesis 17:1-2). El Shaddai is all powerful and all sufficient. His strength is best seen in our weakness.
  5. El Olam – “The everlasting God” (Genesis 21:33). The everlasting God is always and eternally available to us.
  6. Jehovah Jireh – “The Lord will provide” (Genesis 22:14). Jehovah Jireh provides all we need and more besides.
  7. Yahweh – “The self-existent one” (Exodus 3:13-14). Yahweh is present, gracious, and keeps his promises.
  8. Adonai – “Lord” (Exodus 4:10-16; Isaiah 6:1-8). Since God is Lord over all, we should obey, serve, and worship him.
  9. Jehovah Rapha – “The Lord who heals you” (Exodus 15:22-27). Jehovah Rapha reminds us that health and healing are linked to obedience.
  10. Jehovah Nissi – “The Lord is our banner” (Exodus 17:8-16). The banner of the Lord leads us to victory.
  11. Jehovah M’kadesh – “The Lord who sanctifies you” (Leviticus 20:7-8). Jehovah M’kadesh sets us apart for himself and calls us to live holy lives.
  12. Jehovah Shalom – “The Lord is Peace” (Judges 6:24). A mind set on God’s presence brings life and peace, shalom.
  13. Jehovah Sabaoth – “The Lord of Hosts” (1 Samuel 1:10-11; 17:45-46). The Lord of Hosts fights for his people.
  14. Jehovah Rohi – “The Lord my shepherd” (Psalm 23). Because the Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need.
  15. Jehovah Tsidkenu – “The Lord our righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:5-6). As a righteous God, God cannot overlook sin. God allowed Jesus to take our punishment, and through his death, we are declared righteous.
  16. Jehovah Shammah – “The Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35). Jehovah Shammah is present among his people.

A deeper and more accurate understanding of God’s names does more than give us background to win a Bible trivia game. Scripture tells us that knowing God has great benefit for us personally. A more accurate understanding of God results in …

  • Spiritual power (Daniel 11:32b).
  • Honor for God (Exodus 20:7; Matthew 6:9).
  • More effective praise and worship (Psalm 8:1, 9).
  • Security and protection (Proverbs 18:10).
  • A more consistent walk with God (Psalm 86:11).
  • More effective prayer (John 14:13-14).

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

The Knowledge of the Holy, by A.W. Tozer

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church on August 21, 2016. It is the final 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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