What's in a name?
Well, if you're God, quite a lot!
Our pastor is doing a series of sermons on the names of God.
And today, I was blown away by how the Holy Spirit spoke to me through his words – how the Spirit moved so powerfully in my heart when we studied this name:
The name Elohim means "strong one" in Hebrew.
So it's an apt name for the Almighty God.
But what's most interesting to me is the fact that God chooses to name Himself with this name. And it's also pretty remarkable when God chooses to introduce it.
In the beginning.
Yes, right there in the very first verse in the Bible, there is the name…
Genesis 1:1 could be translated this way:
"In the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the earth."
So today our pastor helped us *unpack* shades of meaning, blistering insights, and nuances of Truth – all held within that name.
Let me start with some facts:
1) This name for God appears over 2500 times in the Bible.
2) Elohim is the name that is translated "God" in Scripture – so when you see the upper-case name, God, it is actually the Hebrew name Elohim.
3) The name Elohim is plural and singular – thereby declaring the existence and truth of the Trinity from the very beginning.
4) Therefore, the name Elohim declares that the Trinity was involved in the process of creation. Yes, the one God in three Persons – all of them participated in this miraculous work.
So, God chooses this way of introducing Himself – by using a name that holds a treasure chest of doctrine, theology, and mighty truth.
Pause and ponder that.
But our pastor also elucidated other characteristics inherent in a Creator God.
He used these words: transcendent, outside of time, not confined by what exists, organized, intelligent, detailed, extravagant, sustaining.
Elohim is infinitely more than and substantially distinct from His creation.
In fact, creation only points us to conclude that there is Someone greater.
Now, I am a nature lover. And I live in a pretty awesome place. Surrounded by majestic mountains, and towering trees, and creatures galore. The sky is often bright blue, and the moon glows like the sun. The air is so clear at night that I can see the Milky Way and its entourage of a multitude of stars.
Some are tempted to worship these things.
But this awe and adoration is misdirected if we stop at the "stuff."
It would be like worshiping a book just because the cover is pretty and the pages smell good…without ever reading the words, or knowing the author.
And it speaks of its Creator.
Lately I've shared a lot about the difficulties this year has brought to my life. How sometimes I feel so alone in it all. Just the other night, when I once again could not fall asleep, I looked out my window in the kitchen and stared at the skies. I whispered aloud, "You know, God, that is a pretty awesome sky You've created." And in that exact moment, the biggest shooting star I have ever seen streaked across the sky!
It was if I heard God say, "I'm here."
My eyes teared up as I was once again reminded of the transcendent God of the universe who also deigns to come near.
The Creator, who is all-powerful.
Think of words that mean powerful: strong, great, mighty, awesome, commanding, authoritative, prevailing, majestic, almighty, invincible, supreme, sovereign, omnipotent.
This God is our God.
Why do we doubt Him?
Why do we struggle with trusting Him completely?
Why do we try to control our own lives, to determine our own circumstances, to manipulate our own situations, to fix our own relationships – ON OUR OWN?
I don't know why I do that.
I think I’m just a slow learner.
So, as this very powerful message was coming to an end, our pastor chose to have us focus on a very particular scene from the book of Luke.
A young woman is confronted by the angel, Gabriel. And he has a message for her:
"…behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."
I don't know about you, but if I was Mary at this moment, I probably would have uttered something really profound like:
We're not alone in those feelings. Mary was a bit confused, too. For she knew that she was a virgin, and she knew how creation worked. She could not fathom in her own mind how this prediction was ever going to come true.
But then Gabriel, who declared with his very own words that he stood in the actual presence of the One, uttered this amazing truth:
"For nothing will be impossible with God."
Listen to these words in other translations:
"For no word from God will ever fail."
"Nothing is impossible with respect to any of God's promises."
"Because nothing is difficult for God."
"For no word from God shall be void of power."
"For no promise from God will be impossible of fulfillment."
"For everything spoken by God is possible."
“For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.”
"For every promise from God shall surely come true."
I have written each of these interpretations of the Word, for I want them to burst upon your heart, as they have in mine, as a mighty refrain – chanted over and over, and building to a crescendo of truth.
And then, insert the name, and it all becomes thrilling:
"For nothing will be impossible with Elohim."
Pause and ponder that!
I finish with these words from our pastor:
All God needs is Himself, and all I need to do is trust Him.
God established at the very beginning that there is no one or nothing that we can turn to besides Him.
He is the One who made it all, who keeps it going, and holds it all together.
He is the One who made me, who keeps me going, and holds me together.
He is in control.
As we sang the last song of the day, I coupled one sentence of the lyrics with an astounding statement from our pastor – and knew that both had come directly from the Holy Spirit like an arrow to my heart.
This will be my prayer this week, the prayer that embodies and encompasses every prayer that could ever be said:
"Elohim, hold me, please hold me…"
And the answer that is The Answer:
"JUST REMEMBER MY NAME."
I will reveal my name to my people,
and they will come to know
"By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible."
(Hebrews 11:3, ESV)
"The LORD merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born. He assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs. Let the whole world fear the LORD, and let everyone stand in awe of him. For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command." (Psalm 33:6-9, NLT)
"By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth...For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm." (Psalm 33:6, 9, NIV)
"The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light." (Genesis 1:2-3, NLT)
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made."
(John 1:1-3, ESV)
"But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." (Job 12:7-10, NIV)
"'Am I a God who is only close at hand?' says the LORD. 'No, I am far away at the same time. Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?' says the LORD."
(Jeremiah 23:23-24, NLT)
"For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God..." (Deuteronomy 10:17, NASB)
"The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world."
(Psalm 19:1-4, NIV)
"This is what the Lord says,
he who appoints the sun
to shine by day,
who decrees the moon and stars
to shine by night,
who stirs up the sea
so that its waves roar –
the Lord Almighty is his name:
'Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,'
declares the Lord,
'will Israel ever cease
being a nation before me.'
This is what the Lord says:
'Only if the heavens above can be measured
and the foundations of the earth below be searched out
will I reject all the descendants of Israel…'"
(Jeremiah 31:35-37, NIV)
"For in him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28, NIV)
What does it mean to you that we have a relationship with the Almighty Creator of the universe, the One and Only Elohim?
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