An Ongoing Conversation…October 2, 2023
December DriftDecember 3, 2023
We can only know God to extent that He reveals Himself to us. And we can only worship Him, to the extent that we know Him. In the Old Testament, God revealed Himself slowly, over thousands of years. The stories of Creation, the Fall and the Flood all give us just a glimpse of God. He seems more terrifying and distant. So, people kept their distance from a God they failed to comprehend.
Then God revealed Himself to a man named Abram around 2000 BC. He made a covenant with Abram, that included requirements and promises. This agreement would provide a path for the redemption of mankind. A redemption, that they perhaps didn’t know they needed.
During these early eras of Biblical history, people only knew Him as God. EL was the common word that they used.
But there were many gods in the pantheon of man’s experience, so those who knew of THIS god, referred to Him with a title that set Him apart. He was ELOHIM, the plural form of EL. Perhaps this form of the word would magnify Him and make Him the most high God, the one true God, the Creator of all things. He was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To Abraham, He became the God who provides, to Hagar, He was the God who sees. To Jacob He was the God to contend with. To His people He was simply ELOHIM, the God of their ancestors. They found themselves, first as guests, then as slaves of the powerful Pharaoh of Egypt. This is where they grew from one extended family, into a nation of people, most of whom had forgotten the Elohim who watched over them still.
It was time for Elohim to reveal Himself further. Elohim appeared to Moses and empowered him to free his people from slavery. In a legendary moment, Elohim revealed Himself to Moses as Yahweh. It was Yahweh who sent Moses to confront Pharaoh.
“Whom shall I say has sent me?” questioned Moses.
“Tell them, I AM has sent you.” replied Elohim.
The four Hebrew letters, that we see as YHWH, speak of existence, presence, of being. It means “I AM” to us, but it meant so much more to Moses and his people. It spoke of a God who was with them, always present, ready to release them from their captivity. Not just an all-powerful and all-knowing God, but One who is ever-present as well. Elohim the Creator was now also, Yahweh the Redeemer. Not a God to be afraid of, but a God to be embraced, trusted.
Today, these two names of God are still the basis by which we know our Creator and our Redeemer. Over the centuries that followed their release from Egypt, God’s people would learn to know Him in many new ways. Kings and Prophets and ordinary people would discover and record qualities of God’s nature and character. They came to know Him as Shepherd, as Healer, as Sanctifier. He was their Banner in war and their Refuge in Peace. He became their Salvation, their Lord, and their Abba. He was YHWH Sabaoth, LORD of Heavenly Hosts. He was El Shaddai, the more intimate God, all sufficient. And yet, He was still Elohim the Creator and Judge. He was Yahweh, the ever-present Redeemer. God has revealed Himself to His people, in many wonderful ways, throughout the Old Testament account of history; an account that unfolded over several millennia. And it is the Old Covenant that explains the New Covenant that would follow. And this new testimony of God’s revelation of Himself, would completely come to fruition in but a few short decades. The First Covenant revealed God to the extent He desired for the time. It was accurate but incomplete. The New Covenant would reveal Him more fully. It would complete the revelation of who God is and how He relates to His people. In the Old Testament we see the Triune God in action and in relation to His people. In the New Testament we fully see the Father as our Abba, we see Jesus as our Savior and we see Holy Spirit as our Helper. Where the Old Testament foreshadows the Trinity, the New Testament reveals it in all its purpose and glory. In the Old Testament, God is the Shepherd over our flock. In the New, Jesus is the Good Shepherd who knows each of us by name and would seek the one who is lost. In the Old, His Spirit (RUACH) hovers over the waters. In the New, His Spirit (PNEUMA) indwells each and every believer.
We will only worship our God to the extent that we know Him. And to know Him fully, we must endeavor to experience Him fully and embrace His marvelous and wonderful nature. He is our God, and we are His people. He is Creator, Redeemer, Protector, Healer, Banner, Sanctifier. He is my Righteousness, my Refuge, my Rock, my Shepherd, my Peace. He is both Abba Father and the King of Kings. He is Lord as well as Protector. He is my Way to future glory, the Truth I live by, and the abundant Life I live here and now. He is the Light that guides me, the Bread that sustains me, the Door I enter by, the Breath I breathe, the Vine I cling to.
Now, with all that in place for a believer in Christ, how can we possibly respond?
How can we ever be grateful enough? There is but one way. Worship Him well!
This blog was inspired by material from:
- Larry Richards – Every Name of God in the Bible. Thomas Nelson Publishers
- Don Stewart at Blue Letter Bible