John 4:22 — “ye worship ye know not what”
These words of our Lord Jesus Christ to the woman at the well of Samaria could be directed to the ordinary “Bible-believing” Christian of today. There is a deficiency in awareness of the fundamental teachings of the Christian faith among believers. One of the main causes of confusion and misunderstanding revolves around the knowledge of God and this knowledge will shine on us when we study Him from His word. We must strive to get an accurate understanding of the God of the Bible, from the Bible. So, let us begin with His names and titles which will reveal His character and nature.
NAMES AND TITLES OF GOD
What follows are some leading facts about the Deity. One way to better understand the nature of the God we worship is to explore His titles – His names.
The first title of the Deity is EL(אל). This Hebrew title means ‘strong’ or ‘first’. It occurs about 250 times in the Old Testament, often in association with another descriptive title such as:
Genesis 17:1 — When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless…”
Genesis 21:33 — Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and called there on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God.
Exodus 20:5 — You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,
Joshua 3:10 — And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites.
EL SHADDAI (אֵל שַׁדַּי)
It means “Almighty God” or “the All-Sufficient Mighty One”
Genesis 35:11 — And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body.
“The Persons of the Godhead are Three—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; but in nature and essence, God is One. Each attribute of God is infinite. One infinite eternal Love, one infinite eternal Power and so on; hence the attributes are connected generally with the singular name for God, El.” [Newberry].
A similar title used of God is,
Job 3:23 — Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God (Eloah )has hedged in?
Daniel 6:7 — All the presidents of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.
These occur over 50 times and places God as One worthy of praise and worship.
The other references associated with ELAH are,
ELAH YISRAEL – GOD OF ISRAEL
Ezra 5:1 — Then the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo prophesied concerning the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel who was over them.
ELAH YERUSHELEM – GOD OF JERUSALEM
Ezra 7:19 — Deliver to the God of Jerusalem the vessels that are given to you for the service of the temple of your God.
ELAH SHEMAYA – GOD OF HEAVEN
Ezra 7:23 — Everything that the God of heaven has required should be precisely done for the temple of the God of heaven. Why should there be wrath against the empire of the king and his sons?
ELAH AVAHATI – GOD OF MY FATHERS
Daniel 2:23 — O God of my fathers, I acknowledge and glorify you, for you have bestowed wisdom and power on me. Now you have enabled me to understand what I requested from you. For you have enabled me to understand the king’s dilemma.”
ELAH ELAHIN – GOD OF GODS
Daniel 2:47 — The king replied to Daniel, “Certainly your God is a God of gods and Lord of kings and revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery!”
This is the plural of Eloah which occurs about 2500 times in Scripture. The first reference to it is in,
Genesis 1:1 — “In the beginning Elohim created the heaven and the earth.”
The plural name here connected with a singular verb denotes the Trinity acting in unity.
This name is used to express God as “Lord, Master, Possessor or Proprietor.” It occurs about 30 times as in,
Exodus 23:17 — Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord GOD.
Two related titles are,
ADONI (“my Lord”) and ADONAI (אֲדוֹנָי); Lord, plural), occur about 290 times.
Genesis 15:2 — But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”
Genesis 15:8 — But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?”
‘EHYEH ASHER EHYEH’
This means, “I AM WHO I AM,” or also, I CAUSE TO EXIST BECAUSE I CAUSE TO EXIST, explains God’s distinct character as revealed to Moses in the burning bush.
Exodus 3:14 — God said to Moses, “I AM that I AM.” And he said, “You must say this to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
TZEVAOT – TSEBAOTH – SABAOTH (צבאות(
In the First Book of Samuel, David uses the name YHWH Tzavaot and immediately glosses it as “the God of the armies of Israel”
1 Samuel 17:45 — Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
The same name appears in the prophets along with, “YHWH ELOHE TZEVAOT”, “ELOHEY TZEVAOT”, and “ADONAI YHWH TZEVAOT”. These are usually translated in the King James Version as the “Lord of Hosts” or “Lord God of Hosts”. In its later uses, however, it often denotes God in His role as leader of the heavenly hosts.
In the Book of Genesis, Hagar is said to use this name for God who spoke to her through his angel. In Hebrew, her phrase “El Roi” is taken as an epithet of God (“God of Seeing”) although the King James Version translates it as a statement: “Thou God seest me.”
Genesis 16:13 — So Hagar named the LORD who spoke to her, “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “Here I have seen one who sees me!”
This title of God occurs in combination with El, YHWH, Elohim and alone. It appears chiefly in poetic and later Biblical passages. The modern Hebrew adjective “`Elyon” means “supreme” (as in “Supreme Court”) or “Most High.” El Elyon has been traditionally translated into English as ‘God Most High.’
In the upcoming articles, we will look at the names and titles of God from the Old and the New Testament.