By studying the different names of God we gain a deeper insight not only into his nature and attributes, but we discover how God provides for all our needs. Our faith grows and we come to trust Him in all our situations, even though sometimes they seem hopeless and more than we can bear. His names are given to reveal the many facets of His perfect nature and characteristics. They are in fact an extension of himself, to help us understand who He is and what He can do through us.
The texts in the Old Testament were written mainly in classical Hebrew, an archaic form of the Hebrew language. (only Daniel and Ezra were written in classical Aramaic). In Old Testament times a name was of utmost importance. Your name not only identified you, but was your identity; names were bestowed upon babies as a hope that they would grow up to display the characteristics that the name encapsulated.
In translation some meaning of the Hebrew names lose the original import of the original meaning, so it is helpful to dissect some of the names used to describe our God.
For instance, in 1 Samuel 26:25 Nabel, whose name means “fool”, is the subject of Abigail’s explanation to David: “for as his name is so is he. Nabel is his name, and folly is with him…”
Another example is Naomi, who named her sons Mahlon (meaning sickly) and Kilion (meaning poorly). They both died young.
God reveals Himself to us through His names throughout scripture. The meaning of God’s names helps us to better understand who He really is.
1. EL SHADDAI (Lord God Almighty), the all-sufficient one. In Genesis 17:1 we read: “When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him and said “I am God the Almighty”, walk before me and be blameless”.
El Shaddai literally means “God of the mountains”. Mountains almost always refer to nations in the Bible. Not only is He the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob but of the whole world; ALL the nations.
In Genesis 17 1:7, when Abraham and Sarah were past child bearing age, the Lord said …. “I AM Almighty God” ( el Shaddai), the God of the nations, and through Abraham all the nations would be blessed.
Psalm 91:1: “Those who dwell in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty”( El Shaddai).
El Shaddai is sovereign over all things, over the universe, in heaven which includes Angels, the earth and all that is in it, over things under the earth, over Satan and his demons.
Other scriptures referring to God Almighty are found in Genesis 28:3, 43:14, 48:3.
2. EL ELYON (The God Most High). Genesis 14:18:
“Then Melchizedek King of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High and he blessed Abram saying: ” Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth”.
3. ADONAI (Lord Master). In Exodus 6:3 we read: “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD (Almighty) I did not make Myself known to them”.
Adonai describes the Lordship of God over us as individuals.
Jesus said whoever you obey is your Lord. Either Jesus is Lord of all of our lives or He is not Lord at all; we can’t give Him a room, He wants to live in the whole house!
How often do we declare with our lips that God is our Adonai, the boss, the king and the ruler of our lives, yet by our actions we convey something very different!
4. YAHWEH (Lord Jehovah). Gen.2:4: “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens…”.
Yahweh places His name in scripture nearly 7,000 times. It’s interesting that 7,000 bible translators substitute it with a generic title such as “Lord” or “God”. The reality is that Yahweh is the 7th most commonly used word in the Hebrew Scriptures.
5. JEHOVAH NISSI (The Lord my banner) (the Lord my miracle). Exodus 17:15: “Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. He said ” For hands were lifted up to the throne of the Lord. The Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation”.
Moses erected an Altar after a great battle was won. After the Israelites miraculously crossed the Red Sea, Amalek came up against them at Rephidim. In Exodus 17:8-16 Moses tells Joshua to lead the Israelites into battle. Moses stations himself on top of a hill to pray. As Moses lifted up his hands and prayed the Israelites prevailed, but when he let his hands down Amalek prevailed. Aaron and Hur held up Moses’s hands until the battle was won.
If we look at the Olympic Games at the opening ceremony the athletes come onto the field under the banner of their country and march around the field.
Do we realise that God is our Banner, that we have victory in Him over all our circumstances as we remain under His Banner and walk in believing faith? Indeed His Banner over us is Love!
6. JEHOVAH RAUAH (the Lord my Shepherd) Ps.23
Jesus speaks much about being the good shepherd. In John 10:14-16 Jesus says: “I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep”.
We can trust our Shepherd to keep us safe, to walk with us each day of our lives, to guide us and lead us.
7. JEHOVAH RAPHA (The Lord that heals).
Ex.15:26: He said ” if you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord who heals you”.
Jahovah Rapha, the God who heals us, longs to heal us not only of our physical ailments, but of our resentment and bitterness, of our emotional pain, of our disappointments and regrets.
Will we give Him the time to reveal to us those things that are hindering us from receiving full healing, repent of them and allow the wonderful work of restorative healing to take place in our lives?
Jesus healed all who came to Him, demonstrating clearly that it is the Father’s will for us to live full and effective lives for His Kingdom.
8. JEHOVAH SHAMMAH (The Lord is there). Ezekiel.48:35: “And the name of the city (Jerusalem) from that time on will be THE LORD IS THERE”.
We so often live our lives looking ahead to some event, some looming event or disaster: a doctor’s appointment, a court date, divorce, moving house, losing a job and many other concerns. This leaves us feeling anxious and stressed.
Jehovah Shammah THE LORD IS THERE. Our God is already in our tomorrows. He already knows what our future looks like, and He has complete control over it. In Jeremiah 29:11 Jehovah Shammah said: “For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, they are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a hope and a future”.
God is there in our tomorrows. He asks only that we trust Him.
9. JEHOVAH TSIDKENU (The Lord our Righteousness ). Jer.23:6: “In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called The Lord our Righteousness”.
Jesus Christ is our righteousness. 1.Corinthians: 1:30: “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption…”.
2 Corinthians 5:21: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”.
Romans 5:21: “so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”.
Philippians 3:8b-9: “I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith”.
Knowing God as our Righteousness is not only good news for the unbeliever who turns to God through faith in Christ Jesus, but also for us as believers, for we too like the Israelites, can find ourselves wandering from the One who loves us. Jehovah Tsidkenu remains our righteousness even when we behave badly and sin. He changes the desires of our hearts to be righteous, reminding us that our righteousness came at huge cost and stems from His love for us.
10. JEHOVAH JIREH (The Lord will provide).
Gen.22:14: “So Abraham called that place “The Lord will provide, as to this day it is said: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided”.
God provides the perfect sacrifice. In Gen. 22:10 we read that an angel stopped the knife in Abraham’s hand and provided the ram in the thicket. On the same mountain that Abraham sacrificed Isaac, God sacrificed His only begotten son as the lamb that was slain for us. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ opens the way for us to be in right relationship with God.
Gen 22:4-8 points to the crucifixion of Jesus on our behalf. This is why this is one of the most powerful names of God that He gives us, revealing not only his redemptive plan for us but His incredible provision and love for us.
JEHOVAH SHALOM (the Lord is Peace).
Judges 6:24: “So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it ” The Lord is Peace”.
The Shalom of God is an important aspect of our relationship with Him. In the King James translation of the bible the word “peace” is found 369 times. It appears 282 times in the Old Testament alone. God’s peace can be described as peace in the midst – in the midst of whatever situations we find ourselves. Peace comes because He is there, not because of the circumstances.
Jer.29:11 says: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. If we believe this promise we can be at peace, knowing he knows all things and holds our future in his hands.
Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
John 14:27: “Peace I leave you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”.
John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world”.
These are some of the names of God; there are many more. I invite you to ponder on each name. Spend time with Him and allow Him to draw you closer, to reveal Himself to you through His names.
Can you think of another name where God has met with you?
I have been meditating on the God who plans ahead, looking back (remembering) and seeing how He planned ahead, looking at the present and seeing how His plans are unfolding, exercising believing faith in His plans that lie ahead.
BE BLESSED on your journey of faith.