Monday, June 16, 2008

Names of God

We sang "Ancient of Days" in church yesterday. I like that song mostly because it uses such a cool and rarely-referenced name for the Lord. I'm not sure, but I think that Ancient of Days is only used in the Book of Daniel. The description there is probably where the popular notion of Grandpa God in a white nightgown with white hair and beard comes from (Daniel 7:9). Of course, since this is an apocalyptic vision, God isn't just sitting there all jolly-like. Nope -- He's seated on a fiery throne with wheels (?) burning of fire, opening the books to judge the "ten thousand times ten thousand" before Him. Oh dear. I'm glad to think that when I am standing there, Jesus will be pleading on my behalf.

Have you ever seen those posters or booklets that list all the names by which God reveals Himself to people? I love reading them over and thinking how the different names have come to mean so much to me over the years. Here are a few of my favorites:

Yahweh -- the most common Biblical word for the Lord. I really like when this is shortened to Yah. Whenever we have Messianic Jews speak at our church, they say "Yah," instead of "God," and I would be delighted if the rest of us picked up this habit.

Lahai-Roi -- "The One Who Lives and Sees Me" from Genesis 16. I took off "Beer" which means "well" and left on Hagar's revelation about God. It is a beautiful name, and one that I remember when I am feeling particularly insignificant and one-six-billionth-ish.

Jehovah-Jireh -- "The Lord will Provide" is a promise that I've clung to many a time.

El-Shaddai -- "God Almighty" or "God All Sufficient" pretty much says it all. Plus, is there anyone alive who does not love this Michael Card song as sung by Amy Grant?

Jehovah-Nissi -- "The Lord our Banner" reminds me that we are not on this battlefield alone. "Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war; With the cross of Jesus going on before . . ." The other side can never, ever win -- we just have to show up for the battles.

And then there are the names particular to Messiah. For instance:

Yeshua -- derived from the Hebrew "Y'shua" or "Je-Hoshua" (aka "Joshua") (and in Greek, of course, "Jesus") means "He will Save" or "Jehovah is Salvation" either of which is the gladdest news of any I've ever heard.

Alpha and Omega -- I love the continuity in this name. The Beginning and End and Everything in between -- and yet He shed His blood for me.

Of course, the I AM statements -- I AM the Way, the Truth, the Life; I AM the Bread of Life; I AM Living Water; I AM the Resurrection and the Life; Before Abraham was, I AM. As C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity (Book II, Chapter 3): "A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on a level with the man who says he's a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to." I choose to fall at His feet.

What are your favorite names for the Lord Most High?

**I received much of this supplemental information (name translations from Hebrew and Greek, etc.) from this excellent website: The Names of God.**

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