The Names of God (Part 2) “Elohim”

Feb 22, 2012 No Comments by

By Ron Ross (February, 2012)
In many passages God is simply referred to as ‘The Name.’ (See Acts 5:41, Leviticus 24:10-16, 2 Samuel 6: 2, 1 Chronicles 13:6 and 3 John 7),

2Sam. 6:2 “And David arose and went with all the people who were with him to Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God which is called by the Name, the very name of the LORD of hosts who is enthroned above the cherubim.

In the Old Testament, there are two names which form the core of a wide variety of other compound names. Those names are Elohim and Yahweh.

The very first phrase in the Bible begins, “In the beginning ELOHIM…” ELOHIM appropriately means sovereign – Mighty Creator.

“Elohim is the plural form of Elor Eloah, one of the oldest designations for divinity in the world. The Hebrews borrowed the term El from the Canaanites. El can refer either to the true God or to pagan gods. Though El is used more than 200 times in the Hebrew Bible, Elohim is used more than 2,500 times.” (See PRAYING THE NAMES OF GOD – Ann Spangler).

Bible translators faced challenges with the name Elohim. The original Hebrew builds on the word El which was used to designate the true living god as well as the other varieties.

The serpent in the Garden said: “You shall be like Elohim, knowing good and evil…” (Gen 3: 5).

Elohim is used three times in Genesis 35: 1,2 and 4 where it is used to describe charms probably dedicated to ancient Egyptian idols. The phrase ‘the Elohim of Egypt’ appears in Exodus 12: 2. (See the consequences in Numbers 33: 4)

But the biblical reference in Genesis 1 ELOHIM is immediately linked with God’s great work of creation. ‘God said, and it was so’ we read over and over. Creation was by a Personal God who loved us as His own. Only the one true God could achieve such a task.

EL means “mighty.” It highlights glory and strength. The “-im” in ELOHIM speaks of plurality and suggests more than one Person in the Godhead. This specific selection of the plural allows for the Holy Trinity without directly referring to it by name – ie. Father, Son and Holy Spirit and these are names we will consider later.

The plurality in the Godhead is indicated again in Genesis 1: 26 in the phrase “Let Us make man in Our image…’

Although the word ‘Trinity’ does not appear in the Bible, the use of the plural makes the existence of the Trinity – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a theological possibility.

The first phrase in the Bible is full of detail. Elohim (plural) is linked with ‘created’ (singular) indicating the Trinity as one God.

By using the name ELOHIM the glory and greatness of God is declared and His sovereignty and power is proclaimed.

ELOHIM reminds us this mighty One created the heavens and the earth. He is beyond comparison and without equal. ELOHIM only occurs in Hebrew writings. This name was never used in any other Semitic language including biblical Aramaic. ELOHIM appears 2,574 times in the Old Testament.

How might it help for you to know God as Creator and Sovereign – ELOHIM?

We know God created the universe out of nothing. He spoke and the worlds as we know them today were created and scientists are convinced there are still more great universes to be unveiled. This is awesome!

Consider Psalm 139:14-16 “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.
“My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.”

You were created by Elohim who made heaven and earth. You can paraphrase these verses by declaring “I am an awesome wonder.” Like the universe – you are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.’ That should put to rest all thoughts of unworthiness or inferiority. The substance that became you was unformed. God knew your frame. He saw you even before you were created. He knew your days before you were born.

Spurgeon writes “An architect draws his plans, and makes out his specifications; just so did the great Maker of our frame write down all our members in the book of his purposes.” (The Treasury of David)

Surely this is time to pause and praise the Lord. Give thanks for who you are and the you He has planned for you to be. Consider Isaiah 64:8 “But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.”

While studying for this topic I read ‘The Names of God’ by Marilyn Hickey. She wrote: “Some people say. ‘Nuclear weapons will destroy the world!’ But I don’t think that will happen, because God is bigger, mightier and more powerful than any bomb that man has ever made. God is not going to have this earth blown up until He is ready to finish it the way He wants. He will do it by fire, but I don’t believe the fire will be started by an atomic bomb. I don’t accept that idea, because God knows how to take care of His creation and He has done so for a very long time. God knows how to care for you because you have entered into a covenant relationship with Him. By faith, you are the seed of Abraham; and God told Abraham, ‘Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee!” (The Names of God, Marilyn Hickey, Whitaker House)

They are encouraging words very appropriate when there is so much in this world that shouts discouragement and uncertainty.

ELOHIM is complex. We could write chapters on each of the titles listed here. I hope you will take time to turn to your Bible and read these references yourself. Ask the Lord what He is revealing to you through each one.

• holy ELOHIM (Josh 24:19)
• righteous ELOHIM (Ps. 78:10)
• Living ELOHIM (Deut. 5:26; 1 Sam 17:26-36; Jer 23:36; 2 Kings 19:4,16)
• an ELOHIM who is near (Deut 4:7)
• a jealous ELOHIM (ex 20:5; 34:14; Dt. 4:24)
• an angry ELOHIM (Ps 7:12)
• merciful ELOHIM (Deut 4:31)
• merciful and gracious ELOHIM (Ex 34:6) 9)
• great and terrible ELOHIM (Deut 7:21) 10)
• mighty ELOHIM (Deut. 10:17; Jer 32:18)
• faithful ELOHIM (Deut 7:9)
• forgiving ELOHIM (Ps. 99:8)
• hiding ELOHIM (Is. 45:15)
• the incomparable ELOHIM. e.g. 2 Sam 7:22

“There is none like thee and there is no ELOHIM beside thee.” “Before no god was formed, nor shall there be after me. I am Yahweh and beside me there is no savior…” (Isaiah 45:2)
(I took this list from a study on the Names of God by M James Sawyer, published by Bible.org)

God reminds us, ELOHIM is our STRONG TOWER.

Prov. 18:10 “The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
The righteous runs into it and is safe.”

Psalm 91: 4- 9 “He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day; Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not approach you.
You will only look on with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. For you have made the LORD, my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place.

Yeshua spoke of being that strong tower for those who acknowledge Him. He lamented over Jerusalem.

Matthew 23:37-39 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.
“Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!
“For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’ ”

In Psalm 61 we are encouraged to take refuge in the shelter of His wings. David spoke from personal experience. In 2 Samuel 17 he says he is ‘overwhelmed.’ But in that predicament he remembers his ‘shelter’ which was a very real place of safety and comfort for him. He runs to the Tower of God’s protection. This Tower is four-sided and completely surrounds the fearful David who is renewed by the faithfulness of Elohim.

David had life-threatening moments. His words encourage us to praise ELOHIM with our lips and our lives.

Psalm 66:1-4 “Shout joyfully to God, all the earth; Sing the glory of His name; Make His praise glorious.
“Say to God, “How awesome are Your works! Because of the greatness of Your power Your enemies will give feigned obedience to You.
“All the earth will worship You, And will sing praises to You; They will sing praises to Your name.”

Throughout his study of ELOHIM Larry Richards listed names meaning God including the Creator, God, the Sovereign One, God the Judge, God as Savior, God of history, God of Relationships.

Jonah knew the Creator God.
Jonah 1:9 “He said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.” (See also Isaiah 45:18)

God of Relationships is a warm and inspiring name which highlights God’s desire to have a close and intimate fellowship with His people.

Jeremiah 23: 23 tells us ‘God is near at hand.’

Psalm 59:17 refers to ‘my God of mercy’ and Genesis 48:15 speaks of ‘the God who has fed me all my life long to this day.’

FANNY CROSBY
Throughout her long career, Fanny Crosby wrote more than 8,500 gospel songs and hymns, many of which are still popular today. “To God Be The Glory,” “Praise Him, Praise Him,” “Tell Me The Story Of Jesus,” “I Am Thine O Lord”—every song is a testimony of her love for Jesus Christ. However, this gifted poet, who described her salvation experience as a “floodtide of celestial light,” could not actually see light.
In May of 1820, when she was six weeks old, she caught a cold, and her eyes became slightly inflamed. The regular physician in Putnam County, New York, was out of town, and a man posing as a doctor gave her the wrong treatment. Within days, her eyesight was destroyed, and the man fled town in a panic. Fanny was never bitter about the stranger’s intervention. She has been blind since she was six months old, but she is of a happy, contented disposition, and refuses to be pitied because of her great affliction.
With a heart filled with love and praise, among her many hymns she wrote:
Blessed Assurance

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!

O what a foretaste of glory divine!

Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.


Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Refrain: 
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.


Perfect submission, all is at rest;
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
(Fanny Crosby quotes from an article published at www.preceptaustin.org)

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About the author

Ron Ross worked as the first Sports Editor at WINTV. In Wollongong. He ran The Hamburger Hut an outreach and discipleship program for youth. He served with Youth With a Mission in Hawaii, Philippines and Australia. He was senior pastor of the Noosa Baptist Church, Queensland for 9 years. He reported news from Jerusalem for five years and is now the Middle East correspondent for United Christian Broadcasters and travels regularly preaching and teaching.
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