God’s Character as revealed through His Names

Many Christians around the world will likely celebrate Easter at home with online services amid the Coronavirus pandemic.  Easter is a time for us to remember Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)  

Who is God, and what is His nature?  Why would God treat His Son like that?  How can I pray or worship if I don’t know God?  The more I know Him, the richer our conversation would be.  The following are seven names of God that reveal His character. 

1. Elohim:  The first verse of the Bible reads, “In the beginning [Elohim] created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)  His every word brought on creation (Genesis 1:6,9,14,20, 24). Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

We can be amazed at his fingerprints in the glory of a sunset, in the power of a thunderstorm, or in the roar of an ocean wave.  He is in all, and He is over all.

2. Jehovah-Jireh:   Abraham and Sarah had longed for a child.  After many years, they finally received the child God had promised.  One night, God told Abraham, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah.  Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about” (Genesis 22: 1-2).  

Abraham got up early the next morning, cut enough wood for the burnt offering, and set off for Moriah with Isaac and two of his servants.  Abraham built the altar, laid his only son on the altar, and raised the knife to kill him. But the angel of the Lord called out to Abraham from heaven.  Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horn. Abraham took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son, Isaac.  “So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide” (Genesis 22:14).

Jehovah-Jireh provided for Abraham’s sacrifice.  Through Christ, God provided for the sins of man for all time.  Hundreds of years later, a Father leads His only Son up a mountain, and only this time, God sacrifices His only Son for the sins of humankind.

3. Yahweh:  The name Yahweh was a special name that signified the personal relationship God had with His people.  When Moses encountered God at the burning bush, God presented Himself to Moses as I am or Yahweh. With this introduction, God stepped into an intimate relationship with Moses.  

Pascal, the mathematician and philosopher, said, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.”  Jesus is our link to God; Jesus makes it possible for us to have an intimate relationship with God. He wants to dwell within us.  

4. Jehovah-Rophe:   After four hundred years of slavery in Egypt, God had led the Israelites into freedom.  He had miraculously delivered them from their enemies and from the waves of the Red Sea.  In the wilderness, they travelled for three days without finding any water. Finally, an oasis came into sight.  The people rejoiced and rushed forward to drink, but were disappointed that the water tasted bitter.     

Moses turned to God in his desperation to meet the thirst of thousands of people.   God directed him to a piece of wood. When Moses threw the wood into the water, it became sweet.  “There the Lord made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.” (Exodus 15: 26)

Jehovah-Rophe is the healer of our emotional wounds.  He heals the body and the soul from grief. He is how we can forgive the wrongs done to us.  He restores our hearts, souls, and bodies when we look to Him. Not only does God take our pain when we forgive, but He will also judge the wrong that has been done against us.

5. Jehovah-Nissi:  During the journey in the desert, the Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites.  Moses stood at the top of the hill, holding up his staff for all to see. As they looked up, the warriors could see it high above the battlefield, and Israel gained ground.  When Moses got tired and his arms drooped, the enemy surged forward once again. Something had to be done if Israel was to win the battle. Aaron and Hur pushed up a large stone so that Moses could sit, and then the two stood on either side of him and held up his arms until sunset.  Moses was strengthened, the entire army was encouraged by the symbol of God’s presence in Moses’ hand, and they won the battle!  

After the victory, Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner (Exodus 17:15).  Banners are to remember and commemorate.  They are for those who raise them as well as for those who see them.  We look up to Him for victory, and that gives us hope.   

6. Yahweh-Shalom:  The Israelites had rebelled against God, and He had given them into the hands of the Midianites.  For seven years, these raiders cruelly oppressed them. When the angel of the Lord went to visit Gideon, he was threshing wheat in a winepress.  As a good host, Gideon provided food for the angel. The angel, instead of eating the food, touched it with a staff and everything burned up! It was the consuming fire, and Gideon had been in the presence of the Sovereign Lord. “But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid.  You are not going to die.” So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace.” (Judges 6:23-24)

Throughout Scripture, fear is the normal reaction to seeing God’s messengers.  Sinners cannot endure God’s holiness. Yet, if we have come to know Jesus, we too have seen the face of God.  Instead of reacting with fear and terror, we can say, “Yahweh-Shalom.” The Hebrew word for peace, Shalom, means wholeness in all of life, completeness, welfare, safety.  God is our source of all of these blessings.

7. Jehovah-Shammah:  “And the name of the city from that time on will be: The Lord Is There.” (Ezekiel 48:35)  When God made this promise, Israelites were in a long exile – far from Jerusalem, the temple, and the land they knew as home.  God, in the midst of one of the darkest times of Israel’s history, affirmed to His people that He would be there with them.  God’s presence strengthened us to face the difficulties and trials life holds for us in the midst of the worldwide pandemic. 

Who is God to you?  God knows us by our name, shouldn’t we know Him by His?  Elohim is the creator of heaven and earth, and Yahweh wants to have personal relationships with His people.  Not only does Jehovah-Jireh provide for our needs, but Jehovah-Rophe also heals our wounds. When we look up to Jehovah-Nissi, he is our help and our hope in times of trouble.  When we humbly come before Him, Yahweh-Shalom is our peace, and the presence of Jehovah-Shammah gives us strength.

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