I would venture that most of us have a pretty limited view of the dimensions of God and His Nature. Most likely, that view is biased, depending on what our relationship with our earthly father has been. Granted, our human fathers can have many dimensions, too: loving, generous, strict, athletic, self-centered, angry, critical, encouraging, good provider .... well, you get the picture. They are usually a mixed bag of strengths and weaknesses that can inhibit our impression of the fullness of God.
I will tell you that as I have researched how God inspired the writers of the Bible to represent Him, I am blown away at the sheer number of ways He is described. And my spirit has rejoiced at the understanding of these names and their meanings. It has opened up a whole new way to pray! Now I can go right to YHWH's heart and address Him in the particular manner and with the particular name that represents the issue I'm praying about. When I'm conversing with God by using the proper name, I know exactly whom I'm talking with, and am able to receive counsel in the correct context. I believe that knowing His names and their meanings can not only enhance our prayer life and create a deeper intimacy with God, but help us to take direct aim at the Enemy in our spiritual battles.
So, allow me to introduce you to the depth of the God that we love and serve. Over the next couple of posts or so, I want to share some of the Hebrew names of God that illustrate His innumerable and limitless attributes. And I will share a Scripture that shows the use of each name in the Bible. Doubtless, you will be familiar with some of the names and their meanings, but I hope to expand that knowledge and show you a broader scope of our Sovereign God. And as I reveal more unfamiliar appellations, I doubt that you will be able to read the Bible in the same way again.
Jehovah Rapha: The God Who Heals -- This is a name well-known among Believers who are determined to do the works that Jesus did; to see the power of God demonstrated in His ability to heal through them. Exodus 15:26 finds God making a promise to the Israelites; a promise that is as real to us today as it was then ... “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.”
There is no greater "high" for my spirit than to boldly walk into a hospital room where a man lays dying of cancer, and the spirit of death fills the room, and to be able to call his spirit forward and speak life into it by the power of God that is in him as a Believer. And then to quietly leave and hear reports from the family that he rallied and the doctors are mystified!
Jehovah Jireh: The God Who Provides -- I am concerned that we don't see the depth of this name of the Lord. We may often use this name when asking for financial help, and use it to meet our temporal needs. But looked at within the context of Genesis 22, we find Abraham's use of this sacred name to be life-giving. After being obedient to God's call to sacrifice his precious son, Isaac -- the child of Promise and his old age -- God stops Abraham from sacrificing Isaac and supplies a substitute burnt offering in the form of a ram. In verse 14, the Bible reads, So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
But there is another dimension to God in this story; it is more than His Goodness to spare Isaac. It is that He saw Abraham's obedience and knew how much He loved his son, yet the patriarch was willing to be true to his covenant with God, no matter the personal cost. And then God acted to have a ram ready to replace Abraham's precious son.... God saw the need and He showed up. He's not an indifferent God.
Jehovah Sabaoth: The Lord of Hosts -- "Hosts" is a word that means a company of angels, and oftentimes is defined in military terms, as an "army"; specifically the heavenly angelic army, of which The Lord is the commander. That is true. The Lord is a mighty warrior who will exhibit His Might upon the unrepentant, as in Psalm 59:5, You, Lord God of hosts, are God of Israel. Rouse Yourself to punish all the nations; spare none of those who treacherously plot evil. Again, in Isaiah 28:22, we see that same picture of the Lord of Hosts: Now therefore do not scoff, lest your bonds be made strong; for I have heard a decree of destruction from the Lord God of hosts against the whole land.
But did you know that Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel was the first to call God by this name? And it had nothing to do with His identification as a mighty warrior. In her struggle with barrenness, Hannah had turned to the Lord in prayer. 1 Samuel 1:11 records this: And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.
I believe that Hannah understood that the Lord could create from nothing. She knew that every atom and molecule, every cell in her body could be commanded to produce a son just by the voice and command of the Lord of Heavenly Armies. If He spoke it, it would be executed and He would sustain it. This was not a battle to conquer lands, but a battle to create something from nothing, and she believed in the name of Jehovah Sabaoth to see it accomplished.
Jehovah Nissi: The Lord is My Banner -- This name is most closely associated with Moses overseeing the battle between the Israelites and the Amalekites as the ragtag army of Israel fought their way to the Promised Land. In Exodus 17:11, Scripture says, Whenever Moses held up his hand [which held the staff of God], Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. When the Israelite men saw this, they rallied behind Joshua, and verse 13 says, And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.
It is important that we recognize that as Israel traveled through the lands of their enemies they knew their God was with them; His very presence was evident in the pillar of fire and the cloud of smoke. But on this day, they knew for the first time, that He was with them in battle. They understood that He fought for them, He led them into battle, He protected them, and He conquered their enemy. It was a day to remember! Exodus 17:15 says, And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner.
So, do you recognize that the Lord is your banner? Do you trust Him to fight for you, to lead you into your spiritual battles, to protect you, and to conquer your enemy, the devil and his demons? And do you raise a banner to Him -- letting the world know that He is your God; that you celebrate and praise Him; making a declaration that you belong to Him? He is our banner, and we are the Lord's!
Jehovah Qanna: The God Who Is Jealous -- God made sure we knew how much store He puts in the covenants He makes with those He calls His own. We first see this name mentioned in the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20... You shall not bow down to them [false gods] or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love Me and keep My commandments.
Throughout the Old Testament, God depicts His covenant with Israel in the nature of a marriage. He is a devoted husband, caring for and protecting and providing for his beloved wife. In the person of Jesus, He is even willing to die for her! But He warns her that He will not tolerate her adultery with other gods; there will be consequences as stated in the Ten Commandments. Joshua reiterates this in Joshua 24:19 as He admonishes them to choose whom they will serve: But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.
Do we, in the 21st Century, fully understand that He is still a jealous God, demanding our complete allegiance and devotion? Or do we spread our love around among the false gods of this world -- wealth, power, status, addiction, self? We would do well to remember the warning He has given us -- love Him and Him alone and He will be faithful with a steadfast love. Decide to bow down or serve anyone else but Him, and our generations will suffer separation from Him.
Jehovah Shalom: The Lord Is Our Peace -- I could find evidence of this name of God only once in the Bible. Yet, I find it interesting that "Shalom" and it's meaning of peace is used quite commonly among Believers. But when we read about the circumstances under which this name of God is revealed in the Old Testament, it carries more significance than we give it today.
In Judges 6, Gideon is called by God to defeat the Midianites, who have been oppressing the Israelites. In fact, the angel of the Lord greets Gideon by saying, The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor. This is the speech of war, not peace, as we know it. Gideon doubts that this calling is truly from the Lord and asks for proof. God provides the proof by sending fire to produce a burnt offering upon the meat and unleavened cakes Gideon had placed upon a rock. The Bible records in Judges 6:22-24 that Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.” But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.
But that's not the end of the story! The word "Shalom" is a derivative of a Hebrew word that means "sound" or "complete", and in its own sense means "absence of strife". The result of Gideon recognizing Jehovah Shalom was that he no longer doubted that the Lord was leading him; he had no fear to complete assignments God gave him to tear down the altar to Baal and the Asherah poles that accompanied it, and to build an altar to the Lord where they had stood. We must understand the fullness of that name, Jehovah Shalom. It gives us confidence that comes from the harmonious state of body, soul and spirit to receive the power from the Lord to be "mighty men and women of valor". We are not to sit idle in our state of peace, but trust [in confidence and wholeness] that we can carry out assignments from the Lord.
Finally, Shalom comes from the root word Shalam, which means "to finish, complete, repay, reward". It denotes perfection in the sense that a condition or action is complete. And once we recognize that perfection and completeness are attributed to the power of God, we know we can enter into a relationship with Him that will provide the power and peace our souls and spirits seek.
These are just a few of the names of God with which we are most familiar. The next post we will explore less common names, but that are nevertheless accurate portrayals of the magnitude of Almighty God. This may not "stir your soul" as some more exciting topics might, but I would ask you to consider that it pleases our Father when we seek to recognize [and then utilize] His unique and distinguished names. He wants us to know more about Him. And as we begin to incorporate these powerful names in our prayers and daily conversations with Him, I believe we will see a growing manifestation of His presence in every aspect of our lives. Be blessed with the magnificence and greatness of our God!
Proverbs 18:10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.