The Names of God

“And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.” (Genesis 7:16)

Many stirring books have been written on the general subject of the names of God. Most of the names make use of one or two of the three primary names. The first is Elohim, meaning “mighty one.” It is a uni-plural name—plural in form but singular in meaning and verb usage, suggesting the uni-plural nature of the triune Godhead, appearing in most English translations as “God.” It most often is used when worldwide events or attributes are discussed, including creation, judgment, sovereignty, transcendence, and salvation. The second is Jehovah, meaning “the self-existent one,” which appears as “LORD” in English translations. It stresses God’s holiness, nearness, concern for man (especially Israel), hatred of sin, love of sinners, and His revelatory nature and communication. The third is Adonai, a more general term meaning master and used of both men and God. It appears as “Lord” in English Bibles.

For example, the name Elohim, the transcendent, uni-plural, Creator God, is appropriately used exclusively in Genesis 1:1-2:4, the account of creation from God’s perspective. Throughout the rest of Genesis 2, the account of creation from man’s perspective, the combination name Jehovah-Elohim is used. Man was at this point without sin, in full accord with his Creator, and experiencing the fullness of His love and communication. The curse, as related in chapter 3, changed things forever, and in chapter 4, Adam and his offspring, painfully aware that their sin has broken God-established relationships, relate better to Jehovah, the Savior. In our text for the day, we see Noah obeying the orders of Elohim, the sovereign judge, to enter the Ark, but Jehovah, the loving Savior, making them secure. JDM

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