Our society is in serious trouble. Over the past fifty years there has been a dramatic decline in the quality of our education and morals, and an equally dramatic rise in crime, murder, suicide, abortion, drugs, sexual promiscuity, divorce, debt, blasphemy, and other societal ills. Is the reason for this decline due to economics? Is big business to blame? The unfair distribution of wealth? Is it the fault of special interest groups? Lobbyists? Is it caused by the Republicans? The Democrats? Both parties? Hollywood? The mainstream media?
Before this dramatic decline began, A.W. Tozer concluded that almost everything wrong with the society of his day was due to the fact that as a nation, we had been losing the knowledge of God. He stated that almost all of life’s problems and their solutions are theological. The person who comes to a right belief about God will relieve himself of many other problems in life. The person who has a wrong concept about God will add many other problems to his life. There is hardly a problem in society that can’t be traced back to faulty ideas about God. It is impossible for an individual to keep their moral practices sound or a society to keep their values right when their ideas about God are inadequate or erroneous.
Tozer reasoned that if this decline of the knowledge of God brought on many of our troubles, then the rediscovery of the knowledge of God would go a long way toward curing them. If we would bring back true spiritual power to our lives and health to our nation, we must think about God as He really is – not as we assume He is. Tozer believed that one of the most important responsibilities for Messiah’s Holy Community of Jews and Gentiles – the Church, was to purify our concept of God until it was once more true and accurate and worthy of God.
Tozer was right about society in his day and his advice is even more applicable to our society today. We have fallen much farther from the knowledge of God. One way to enrich our knowledge of God is by studying the names, titles and metaphors used to describe Him in the Holy Scriptures. In the Divinely Inspired Writings, a person’s name often tells us about his character, his nature, his essential qualities. Sometimes a person’s name tells us about the purpose that the Lord has for him to accomplish. God’s names, titles and the metaphors used to describe Him tell us much about who He is and what He wants to accomplish.
Elohim is the first name for God found in the Tenach (Old Testament). It is in Genesis 1:1 and is the third word of the Hebrew Scriptures: In the beginning “Elohim” – “God”. Elohim is the most common name that is translated as “God”. It comes from a root that means “strength, might, power”. It is used over 2,300 times in the Scriptures to refer to the God of Israel. Elohim is unusual since it is plural. It can also be translated as “gods”. Exodus 12:12 refers to “all the elohim (gods) of Egypt”. This plural name that is used for the One God opens the door for the revelation of the plural yet single nature of God that is more fully revealed in the rest of the Scriptures. When Elohim is combined with other words, different attributes of God are emphasized.
God Of The Beginning (Deuteronomy 33:27): The Powerful One always existed. He is the First One, before all things in time and priority. He must be before all else in our affections, and come first in our admiration.
God Of Hosts, or God Of Armies (2 Samuel 5:10): The Strong One is a mighty warrior and is the Commander-In-Chief of the armies of Heaven and His people on Earth.
God Of Justice (Isaiah 30:18): The Powerful One is perfectly just and will bring complete justice and righteousness to the world.
God Of Heights (Micah 6:6): The expression “Heights” signifies supremacy of power and position. The Strongest One is supremely exalted.
God Who Is Near (Jeremiah 23:23): The Mighty One is not distant. He is close to His creation – even nearer than our breath; so near that in Him we live and move and have our being. Yeshua’s incarnation supremely expresses this truth.
God Of My Kindness (Psalm 59:11): The Strong One is kind and He works to make us kind. Yeshua’s life and sacrifice is the supreme example of God’s kindness.
God Of My Strength (Psalm 43:2): The Strongest One desires to make us strong. When we realize that we are weak and learn to rely on Him, then He is able to make us strong.
God Of My Praise (Psalm 109:1): God is supremely worthy of our praise. He desires to be the main subject of our accolades as well as what we talk and think about. He enables us to do the things that will add to His praise. Whatever praiseworthy things we ever do are ultimately due to Him.
God Of My Salvation (Psalm 18:47, 25:5): Humans beings are estranged from God, and alienated from the Source of Life. God’s nature and will is to rescue, redeem, deliver, help and restore. Salvation must be personal for each human being. The Mighty One must become the God of my Salvation. Salvation is found in being in a right relationship to a Person – Yeshua, not by having a mere belief system or good works.
God Of Gods (Deuteronomy 10:17): There are other so-called “gods” and “higher powers”, but the Strongest One is mightier than all. Even they acknowledge Him as the Most Powerful, and compared to His infinite power, they are powerless.
God Of The Rock Of My Salvation (2 Samuel 22:47): Rock is strong, solid, dependable and enduring. It is useful as a weapon or for defense. We can completely depend on the Most Powerful One to give us eternal salvation.
God Of All Flesh (Jeremiah 32:27): The Mighty One created all living things on Earth, and rightly demands that they conform to His plans for them.
God Of The Spirits Of All Flesh (Numbers 16:22): God created us with both a physical and spiritual dimension. He claims lordship over body and soul, flesh and spirit. The One who made every human being is able to see into our innermost being, and distinguish between the innocent and the guilty, between those who really love Him and those who are religious hypocrites.
Holy God (Leviticus 19:2): The Mightiest One is unique, incomparable, one of a kind. There is no one and nothing like Him, and there never will be. He is distinct from everyone and everything else that exists. He is infinitely pure and free from anything that is wrong.
Living God (Jeremiah 10:10): The Strongest One has life in Himself. He gives life to everything else that exists. He desires to give us life that is eternal and abundant.
God Of Forgiveness (Nehemiah 9:17): Men might be slow to forgive, but it is the Mighty One’s nature to forgive. God’s desire is to forgive all of our sins and reconcile us to Himself, if only we will come to Him on His terms.
El comes from the same root as Elohim, is translated “God” and is used 200 times in the Scriptures. El is also combined with words that emphasize different attributes of God.
The Faithful God (Deuteronomy 7:9): Everything the Mightiest One says and does is 100% reliable. He is completely trustworthy.
The Great God (Deuteronomy 10:17): He is great in all ways: His size (Heaven and the Highest Heavens can’t contain Him), His stature, His attributes and His deeds.
The Holy God (Isaiah 5:16): The Strong One is unique. There is no one and nothing like Him. He is incomparable – distinct from everything else that exists.
The God Of Israel (Psalm 68:35): The Powerful One chose the Jewish Nation and is forever uniquely connected to His Chosen People.
The God Of The Heavens (Psalm 136:26): The All-Powerful One created the Heavens – the sun, the moon, the planets, and the multiplied trillions of stars. His throne is in Heaven, where He rules over the heavenly hosts.
God Of My Rock (Psalm 42:10): The Mighty One is strong, enduring, and my defender, my stronghold and my protection from all attacks.
God The Joy Of My Exaltation (Psalm 43:4): The Strongest is the source of tremendous joy to me, as He raises me up in position and honor.
The God Who Sees (Genesis 16:13): The Most Powerful One sees and knows all. Nothing is beyond His sight.
The God Of Glory (Psalm 29:3): God Himself is beautiful. He is the source of all beauty and creativity. He is to be supremely honored.
The God Of Knowledge (1 Samuel 2:3): The Mighty One is all-knowing and is the source of all wisdom and understanding. Whatever knowledge man has comes from Him.
The God Of Eternity or The God Of The Universe (Genesis 21:33): The Strongest One is eternal – without beginning and without end. He is the Maker of time, eternity, and the universe.
The God Of Truth (Psalm 31:6): The Powerful One is the source of ultimate reality. Everything connected with Him is true and real. Likewise, the lives of His children are to be characterized by honesty and truth.
The Faithful God (Deuteronomy 32:4): The Strong One is completely reliable. You can trust Him completely in this life, and you can entrust your eternal destiny to Him.
The God Of My Salvation (Isaiah 12:2): God Himself is the source of our help. He alone can deliver us from the consequences of sin and death. He wants all human beings to be saved, but each individual must personally know Him as the God of my Salvation.
The God Of My Life (Psalm 42:9): The Strong One is the source of all life. He is the One who gives life to each human being, and He gives eternal life to those who find Messiah Yeshua.
The One God (Malachi 2:10): There is only one true God, who eternally exists as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The God Of Compassion (Deuteronomy 4:31): The nature of the Powerful One is one of kindness. He is full of compassion and feeling for people. He is completely free of any cruelty or meanness.
The Gracious God (Jonah 4:2): His nature is gracious, giving and generous, even when we don’t deserve it.
The Jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:24): His very name and character is Jealous (see Exodus 34:14). The Mighty One is extremely protective towards His people and doesn’t want to share our affections with any other “gods”.
The Righteous God (Isaiah 45:21): Everything The Powerful One does and says is right. He is incapable of even the slightest iniquity. Although there is much unrighteousness in the world, He is completely fair and just in all His doings. Eventually He will make everything right.
God The All-Sufficient (Genesis 17:1): Like a nursing mother, El Shaddai completely nourishes and satisfies His people and takes care of all their needs.
The Most High God (Genesis 14:18): Height signifies power and position. The Powerful One is supremely exalted, and should be highest in our thoughts and affections.
The God Of Yeshurun (Deuteronomy 33:26): Yeshurun means “Upright One” and is another name for Israel. The Mighty One is forever and uniquely connected to Israel. He is righteous and will make Israel, and all those who are grafted into Israel, completely righteous.
The Mighty God (Isaiah 9:6): Yeshua, the Son of God, is fully Man and yet fully God. He is the mightiest warrior and the strongest force in the universe.
Elohim and El reminds us that God is the Strongest One in the universe and the source of all power, might and strength. No one is more powerful than He. We can go to the Mighty One, the Powerful One, the Strong One, who will infuse us with strength, and empower us to do all that He calls us to be and do.
Elah is another name that is translated as “God”. It is used 70 times in the Holy Scriptures. Like Elohim, it comes from a root that means strength, might or power. It can be combined with other words so that different attributes of God are emphasized.
God Of Jerusalem (Ezra 7:19): Elah is uniquely associated with one city – Jerusalem, the City of Peace. The Mightiest One is forever connected to the capital of Israel. It is the place that He chose for the Temple, where He manifested His presence on Earth, and enabled atonement to be made. It is the place where the Son of God offered His ultimate sacrifice, which brought final atonement. It is the place where King Messiah will rule for 1,000 years when He returns to the Earth. At the beginning of eternity, the New Jerusalem will descend from Heaven to the New Earth, and it will be the eternal dwelling place of God and mankind, and the capital of the New Heavens and the New Earth.
A note about witnessing to Moslems: I have heard it repeatedly taught that Moslems don’t pray to the same God as Christians do; that Allah was an ancient moon god and so, when Moslems pray to Allah, they are not praying to God. I find this argument shallow. It is my understanding that the Biblical name Elah and the Arabic word “Allah” are virtually identical. When Moslems pray to Allah, they know they are praying to the Creator of the universe. Christians should not tell them that they are praying to a false god. The situation is similar to the Jewish people who have a zeal for God, but are not praying to Him with sufficient knowledge. It is similar to the situation with the Samaritans. Messiah informed the Samaritan woman that her people worshiped what they didn’t know. The Samaritans had some knowledge about God. They had the Torah. In spite of this, their knowledge about God was insufficient. We don’t witness to Moslems by telling them that they are worshiping a false god, but rather that their knowledge about God is insufficient.
God Of Israel (Ezra 5:1): God has a special connection with the Land and the People of Israel.
God Of Heaven (Ezra 7:23): The Strongest One created Heaven, which is a real place where He and the good angels dwell. He also created the Heavens – the sun, moon, stars and planets. God’s throne is in Heaven, where He rules over its heavenly inhabitants and everything else that exists.
God Of Heaven And Earth (Ezra 5:11): The Mighty One rules over the entire universe. There is no one and nothing that is not under His power.
Eloah is the singular of Elohim, so it too comes from a root that means strength, might or power. It is used 50 times in the Bible. It too is translated as “God”.
YHVH is a name that is generally translated “Lord”. It is used approximately 7000 times in the Tenach (Hebrew Scriptures), more than any other name for God. It is also referred to as the “Tetragrammaton”, which means “The Four Letters”, because it comes from four Hebrew letters: Yud, Hay, Vav, Hay. This name comes from the Hebrew verb which means “to be”. YHVH emphasizes God’s absolute being. He has life and being inherent in Himself. Everything else derives its being from Him. The Lord is the source of all being, all existence and all reality. He is without beginning and without end because He always was, He is, and He always will be.
Even though YHVH appears in Genesis 2, God didn’t reveal Himself as YHVH until Exodus 3 in conjunction with the creation of Israel. This is the special memorial-name that God revealed to Moses at the burning bush. “And God said to Moses, “I Am Who I Am; and He said, thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I Am has sent me to you… this is My eternal name, and this is how I am to be recalled for all generations” (Exodus 3:14-15).
Although some pronounce YHVH as Jehovah or Yaweh, those are only guesses, since we no longer know for sure the proper pronunciation. The Jewish people stopped saying this name by the third century AD out of fear of violating the commandment, “You shall not take the name of YHVH your God in vain” (Exodus 20:7), and we lost the knowledge of its proper pronunciati