God is not revealed to us in the Bible as being called just God. He is referred to by other names, each which reveal a certain aspect of His character.
In the Old Testament, names held significance as they did not only fulfill the purpose of identity, they explained characteristics and even occupations.
Therefore, God reveals not only who He is by His many names, but also who He is to us as we learn more about the different aspects of His nature.
Though most of these names may have been revealed to God's people in the Old Testament, the meaning behind them denotes God's power, love, and mercy that is just as relevant for us today as it was for believers of the ancient world.
Here are nine of the most well-known names of God and what they mean.
Meaning: The Lord, God
"These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created. In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the
heavens" Genesis 2:4.
Yahweh is found in the Hebrew Bible and holds particular significance in Jewish tradition as a covenant name of God, the holiest of names, and it is held in the highest esteem. In fact, it is considered to be too holy to be even spoken aloud (Exodus 20:7 NRSV). It is derived from the Hebrew word "I am."
With that in mind, Yahweh first appears in Genesis 2:4. However, God first revealed His covenant name to humans, Moses specifically, in Exodus 3:14-15, when Moses was commanded to tell the Israelites the name of the One who had sent him to lead God's people out of Egypt. On recognizing the ultimate power and authority behind the name Yahweh, the Israelites would know immediately that Moses had the blessings and strength of God behind him.
The spelling of Yahweh is modern, as it includes vowels to aid with its pronunciation. Yahweh is actually the transliteration of the Hebrew word YHWH, which is known as the Tetragrammaton, meaning 4 letters.
The word Adonai (Lord) is sometimes used as a substitute for YHWH. As a consequence, early English translations of the Bible have amalgamated the two words into Jehovah, which is in common usage even today.
Meaning: Lord God, Master
"Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel" Exodus 34:23.
Adonai comes from the plural form of adon (Lord). Hence, Adonai is a reference to the Trinity, as well as a reference to God. When the singular form adon is used, it is usually referring to humans in a position of power, such as King David (2 Samuel 3:21) or the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 2:19).
As a remnant of their tradition of esteemed reverence for the covenant name Yahweh, modern Jewish believers will substitute the word Adonai when reading the scriptures aloud. For that reason, most English versions of the Bible might translate YHWH as Lord.
Meaning: Father God / God the Creator
"In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth," Genesis 1:1.
Elohim reflects the sovereignty and absolute power of God. He is the God who created heaven and earth, He is the Almighty and ruler of all. He omnipotent decree is declared in the first verse of the Bible and occurs a total of 2000 times in the scriptures.
The name Elohim is a glorification of the awesome power of God that is displayed through nature. He is mightier than any other gods or false idols that govern the world today, such as consumerism and self-advancement. He is the one true God under which every star, animal, rock, and human must bow to.
So, the next time you watch a sunset or even see a beautiful flower in full bloom, remember the One who created all things.
"He said, 'Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want'" Mark 14:36.
The name Abba was vocalized by both Jesus and Paul in Aramaic in the New Testament, which reflected their deep and personal relationships with God. It is actually mentioned only three times in the Bible - by Paul in Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6 as well as by Jesus in Mark 14:36 in the garden of Gethsemane on the eve of His crucifixion.
However, despite its minimal representation in the scriptures, the name Abba is widely acknowledged as being one of the most intimate names for God.
Through this name, we can see how God cares for us as a father cares for a small child. It is a name that we can call upon when we are in need of assurance, comfort, and protection, knowing in childlike faith that our Father will hear us and look after us.
5. Jehovah Jireh
Meaning: The Lord will provide
"So Abraham called that place 'The Lord will provide'; as it is said to this day, 'On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided'" Genesis 22:14.
The name Jehovah Jireh is only found once in the Bible--in the Book of Genesis. It is used by Abraham to name the place on Mount Moriah where God provided him with a ram to sacrifice as a replacement for his son, Isaac.
This is a beautiful name for God because it reflects His faithfulness and how He keeps His promise that all things will work out for His good (Romans 8:28).
God knows exactly what is going on in our lives - the good and the bad. As in Abraham's case, He will never fail us nor forsake us when we are in need (Hebrews 13:5-6). His help comes with perfect timing.
6. Jehovah Rapha
Meaning: The God who heals
"He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds" Psalm 147:3.
The name Jehovah Rapha is a particular favorite of mine and one which l call upon when l need God's hand of healing over my life.
It is a name that not only reveals the power of God to heal, repair, and rejuvenate the areas of our lives that are not working in His perfect timing, calling upon the name Jehovah Rapha gives incredible comfort in the knowledge that it is God's intent to make us whole.
Therefore, if you are waiting on healing, call upon the name of Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals, in your quiet time with the Lord, today.
7. Jehovah Nissi
Meaning: The Lord is my banner
"And Moses built an altar and called it, The Lord is my banner" Exodus 17:15.
There are numerous instances where God spread His hand of protection over His people and kept them safe from their enemies:
In Exodus 14:26-29 when God caused the parted waters of the Red Sea to return and drown the armies of Pharaoh, however, the Israelites crossed over safely on a dry river bed. In Judges 7:16-23 God kept Gideon and his 300 men safe, who were armed only with trumpets and torches inside empty pitchers, as they attacked the Midianite camp numbering 135,000 men.
In 1 Samuel 17:37 God protects David, a shepherd boy, from the prowess of the giant Goliath of Gath, who is a seasoned warrior and the fear of the entire Israelite army.
Jehovah Nissi is a name that proclaims God's declaration and promise to always protect His children and to deliver them from their foes.
In 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, it states that our adversities do not come in the form of flesh and blood but are spiritual.
That means, the issues that rise against us today, such as financial lack, health, and relationship issues all have spiritual roots that can be addressed by calling out to God in prayer and declaring Him as our protector and deliverer, our Jehovah Nissi.
8. Jehovah Shalom
Meaning: The Lord is peace
"Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord, and called it, The Lord is peace" Judges 6:24.
Gideon, a Judge from the Old Testament, learned a lot about being in the peace of God as he led a military campaign of 300 hundred faith-filled Israelites against a Midianite army of 135,000 soldiers with no military experience.
The name Jehovah Shalom appears only once in the Bible in Judges 6:24. And yet, this characteristic of God is both powerful and essential to our daily existence.
Where the world is urging us to hurry, as we set our routine to the rhythm of alarm clocks, deadlines, and 40+ hour work weeks, it is important to know that God is not only peace, He has already given us this peace through Jesus Christ.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid" John 14:27.
"For you shall worship no other god, because the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God" Exodus 34:14.
It's incomprehensible for us to think that God could get jealous, right? But He does! He is the One who breathed life into us and who promises to never fail us, nor forsake us, neither loosen His hold on us (Hebrews13:5-6).
Whereas we see jealousy as a negative characteristic, God's jealousy for us is based purely on His encompassing love for us. He sees the broken world in which we live in and knows that there are forces at work to distract us and lead us away from His love and protection.
For that reason, God sent His only son to pay the bond price for our sins in order that we may be reunited with Him and be in eternal fellowship with Him.
Considering all that God has done for you in your life up until this point, isn't it understandable that He gets jealous? Doesn't He deserve our praise and adoration?
God's propensity to love us is addressed by many names. He really is everything we need - His many names prove that.
Whatever you are going through in your life today, l recommend that you call upon the name of the Lord in supplication: Jehovah Rapha if you are waiting on healing, Jehovah Shalom if you are desperately needing peace over a situation.
Though the names that God is known by may be different, they all explain one thing: God is always powerful, always unchanging, and always good. His presence is an unwavering banner in a world that is constantly bowing down to ephemeral trends, transient movements, and shifting expectations. For greater is He that is in us, than He that is in the world (1 John 4:4).
God and His name - all of His names - and what they stand for, are as relevant for us today than ever before. And thank goodness for that, for what would we be without Him?
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" Hebrews 13:8.
Copyright 2019 Madeline
Editor's note: Thank you, Madeline, for sharing this wonderful article on the names of God. To read more articles by Madeline, visit Jacob's Ladder Blog.
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