Just who is this God we believe in? And how do we go about finding out?
I believe the best source of information on the topic simply has to be the book He has given us. So, we will be digging into the Holy Bible, …but, not too deeply. And, I have a couple of reasons for that. First, you can hardly read a single page without learning something about God; and there are a lot of pages! Second, I think we can learn the basic and most critical information pretty quickly by looking at just a few of God’s names.i The names God reveals in the Bible are meant to show us His true nature.
Elohim is the first name we come across. “In the beginning Elohim created the heaven and earth”. [Genesis 1:1]. The Hebrew root of this word means “strength” or “power”; and, it is in the plural form. I’m sure that “plural form” business was an interesting mystery and topic of conversation for thousands of years. It was not totally explained until the New Testament times when we learned about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Elohim is used more than 2,300 times in the old Testament; and is sometimes merged with other names. For example: Elohim Chaiyim—Living God.
YHWH is the name used by God when He first presented himself to Moses in the burning bush. At some point in time the ancient Jews stopped pronouncing the name out-loud. So we know neither the exact spelling or the exact pronunciation. The best guesstimate (and generally accepted spelling is YAHWEH). It means “I AM”, or “I AM WHO I AM”. It is usually translated as LORD. God also told Moses, “’…This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.’” [Exodus 3:15. NIV]ii YAHWEH name is also, sometimes, combined with other names. An example being: Adonai YAHWEH—Sovereign LORD (over all the hosts (powers)).
El is another name for God in the Bible and is used to define other characteristics of God. Here are some examples: El Shaddai—Almighty or all sufficient. El Olam—the Everlasting God. El HaNe’eman—God is Faithful. Elohay Selichot—God of Forgiveness. Elohay Yishi—God of my Salvation.
That is just nine names from the Old Testament. And, here are four more from the New Testament: Yeshua—Jesus. YHWH told Mary what to name her son. Jesus then claimed himself to be YHWH in John 8:56-59. And, Jesus also referred to himself as “The Son of Man” and, “The Son of God”. Then in the Book of James, written by a brother of Jesus, James refers to God as the “Father of the heavenly lights”. The entire scripture reads: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows”. [James 1:17. NIV]iii
So, what can we learn from these names? Speaking for myself, I have learned this:
There are times when I think that the only constant on this planet is “change”. But then I have to remind myself, …that is false thinking. God’s truth, God’s love, God’s faithfulness, do not change.
In fact, NO characteristic of God will ever change! Think about it. Just from this page of names we know that God is a spirit, not from this universe. Instead, He is the all powerful Creator of this Universe. We know that God is a triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We know that God is God, and there is no other like Him. We also know He is all sufficient, meaning that we need no other God. In fact our God is sovereign over ALL other powers. He is alive and will be for eternity. Best of all, He is the God of Forgiveness and Salvation; and every good and perfect gift is from Him. And, He is forever faithful.
These are some of the names of the God I not only believe in; but also trust for my salvation, and provision. By His very nature God cannot suddenly “pack-up and pull-out” leaving me alone. He literally cannot. So why on earth would I ever look for any other!
Again I approach you in fear and awe—You are so much beyond my understanding.
I know, ultimately, I had only two choices. To accept that which I will never fully understand; or, to reject it and continue as I was—which you know was an “ugly mess”, getting worse all the time, and one that would have ended in eternal death.
While I don’t fully understand your thoughts and ways Lord, I will be eternally grateful for the new life of freedom from sin you have given me. And, Lord, when in Heaven I’m perfected, maybe then I will understand. Although, just being in your presence for eternity will be quite enough, I’m sure.
Thank you, Lord. I will forever praise your name(s). Amen
i The Bible (in its original languages) provides many names for God. That’s because God called himself different names at different times. Most English translations translate YHWH, as “LORD” (Large and small capitals). Adonai is translated “Lord” (Capital and lower case). When the two names occur together, they are translated “Sovereign LORD”. Other names, which have little meaning today are typically rendered to convey the sense of the Hebrew. This is often further explained in footnotes; and is done to decrease misunderstanding, and increase clarity and readability.
ii NIV. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervon publishing House. All rights reserved.