Posted by Anne Witton on Monday, June 26, 2023 Under: Reflections
In the last blog post in this series I looked at identity in society and culture. In this post I want to focus on God’s identity revealed to us.
The importance of names
Pause to think:
- What does your name mean?
- Is there a particular significance to your name? Did your parents choose it for a specific reason?
In Biblical culture, names (both place names and people names) were very important - you can pick up on some of that from the prominence of genealogies. Biblical names are often really significant and tell us something about the biblical character or the role that they play in the history of the people of God. (Like Jacob the grabbing deceiver and Esau the hairy!)
Just as human names are significant, the way that God refers to himself and reveals himself to his people tells us about his character, his plans and purposes.
Names of God in the Old Testament
Questions for discussion:
- Can you think of some ways that God is described in the Old Testament?
- What does that reveal about his character?
Here’s a whistle-stop tour of some of the names of God and what they reveal about his character. I encourage you to use this list to do your own exploration.
- El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty, The All Sufficient One, The God of the Mountains). Genesis 17: 1 - 3; 48: 3; 49; 25; Genesis 35: 11; Psalm 90: 2.
God is the all-sufficient source of all our blessings. He is all powerful and nothing is too big for him to handle.
- Immanuel (God With Us). Isaiah 7: 14; 8: 8 - 10; Matt 1: 23.
God is not removed from his creation. He delights in making himself known to us.
- El Elyon (The Most High God)
- Adonai (Lord, Master). Psalm 8; Isaiah 40: 3 - 5; Ezekiel 16: 8; Hab 3: 19
God is the total authority.
- Yahweh (Lord, Jehovah, “I AM”). Exodus 3: 14; Exodus 6: 2 - 4; Exodus 34: 5- 7; Psalm 102.
God never changes. His promises never fail. When we are faithless, he is faithful. We need to obey him.
- Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner)
- Jehovah-Raah (The Lord My Shepherd)
- Jehovah Rapha (The Lord Who Heals). Exodus 15: 25 - 27; Psalm 103: 3; Psalm 147: 3; 1 Peter 2: 24.
God has provided the final cure for spiritual, emotional and physical sickness in Jesus Christ.
- Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)
- Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness). Jer 23: 5 - 6; 33: 16; Ezekiel 36: 26 - 27; 2 Cor 5: 21.
Jesus is the king who would come from David’s line and is the one who imparts his righteousness to us.
- Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You)
- Jehovah Rohi (The Lord is My Shepherd). Psalm 23: 1 - 3; Isaiah 53: 6; John 10: 14 - 18; Heb 13: 20; Rev 7: 17)
The Lord protects, directs, leads, provides and cares for his people. He is a strong and patient shepherd.
- El Olam (The Everlasting God)
- Elohim (The All-powerful one, Creator). Genesis 1: 1 - 3; Deut 10: 17; Psalm 68; Mark 13: 19
God knows all, creates all and is everywhere at all times.
- El Roi (The God Who Sees Me). Genesis 16: 11 - 14; Psalm 139: 7 - 12.
Nothing escapes our Father’s awareness and care. He knows us and our troubles.
- Qanna (Jealous)
- Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide)
- Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace)
- Jehovah Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts)
We could camp out on any one of these for ages.
So who is God?
God is the creator and sustainer of the whole universe - he is all powerful. He wants to be known to his people. He is the God who reveals himself. He is the Father “from whom every family on earth derives its name”. Eph 3: 14 - 15. He is the true north - the ultimate reality.
Names of Jesus
Again, there are a number of ways that the Bible refers to Jesus, which help us to understand his identity, character, mission and relationship with us.
- Almighty (Rev 1: 8)
Jesus is the all-powerful Lord. Nothing is impossible for him.
- Messiah (Dan 9: 25; John 1: 41; 4: 25)
Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One, especially appointed by God for his plan and purpose.
- Redeemer (Job 19: 25; 1 Tim 2: 6; 1 Cor 1: 30)
Christ’s death is the payment that redeems us from the debt we owe to God’s law, ransoming our lives and guaranteeing us a place in his family.
- Saviour (Luke 1: 47 - 2: 11; John 4: 42; 1 John 4: 14)
Christ is the saviour of the world and came to deliver us from the power of death. He seeks and saves the lost.
- Son of God (Luke 1: 35; Heb 4: 14)
Christ is the only ‘natural’ Son of God in that he is fully divine. We become God’s children by adoption and inherit all creation with Christ.
- Bright Morning Star (Rev 22; 16)
Jesus is the Light of the World and we won’t lose our way in his light.
I find love the ‘I Am’ statements in John’s gospel:
What does this tell us about who Jesus is?
He is one with the Father. If we have seen him, we have seen the Father. Jesus is Emmanuel - God with us. He’s the promised Messiah that the prophets spoke about who would come to bring salvation from sin through his death on the cross and resurrection to life. He is the only way to life and we can truly have life to the full in him.
So while our cultural story may be that we’re just a clump of atoms drifting pointlessly towards oblivion on an insignificant planet, God’s story is very different. It starts with who he is and defines who we are, which is what we’ll be looking at in the next blog post.
Pause to think:
- Choose one of the names for God or Jesus to meditate on this week.
- Look up the passages where this identification occurs and see what it reveals about who God is and how we can relate to him.
In : Reflections
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