what‘s in a name?

Weekend J1M Blogger: I have asked my life-long friend, Dr. Ron Ethridge to be our guest blogger this weekend.  Many of you have met Ron and know him personally thanks to our friendship.  Ron is a serious preacher and teacher of God’s Word.  He is the faithful husband to Pam, and the loving father to Amy, Trey and Britton. Moreover, Ron is a man who loves the Lord and faithfully serves Him with all of his heart.  You can read more of Ron’s daily writings at his own blog spot http://pastorron7.wordpress.com/.

Do we know who God is?  Seriously, do we really know who God is?  Do we actually know the God of the Bible?

I am not asking about the god of our imagination or the god of our own creation.  I am not referring to the “man upstairs” or the god that reminds you of your grandfather.  I am referring to the Holy God, the True God, the One and Only God; the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the God of the Bible.

Do we know this God?  Do we know who He is?

The Bible tells us who God is.  The Bible tells us who God is by the many names used to describe God.

Wayne Grudem, in his book, Systematic Theology (Zondervan), writes this about God’s names:

God has many names, yet God has no name. God has no name in that we will never be able to describe or understand all of his traits. Yet God has many names in that He has revealed Himself to us (160).

The names of God are more than just labels.  They actually represent who He is and what He can do, has done or will do.  That is why the names of God are listed with great care in the Scripture.  Each name says something about the God’s identity.  They mirror a particular trait or part of His character.  The Bible gives us a long list of names for God.  All of these names reveal something about the character and intentions of our Lord.

Who is God?

The Bible says…

He is Jehovah, “Lord”
He is Jehovah-Elohim, “The Self-Existent One”
He is Jehovah-Jireh, “The Lord will Provide”
He is Jehovah-Rophe, “The Lord Who Heals”
He is Jehovah-Nissi, “The Lord Our Banner”
He is Jehovah-Shalom, “The Lord Our Peace”
He is Jehovah—Rohi, “The Lord Our Shepherd”
He is Jehovah-Shammah, “The Lord is There”
He is Jehovah-Sabaoth, “The Lord of Hosts”
He is El, “Mighty, Strong or Prominent”
He is El Shaddai, “the God Almighty”
He is Elohim, “The Strong One”
He is Ben Elohim, “The Son of God”
He is Eloheynu, “Our God”
He is Elohei, “God of”
He is Elohei Avraham, “The God of Abraham”
He is Elohei Chasdi, “The God of my Kindness”
He is Elohei Haelohim, “the God of gods”
He is Elohei Ma’uzzi, “The God of my Strength”
He is Elohei Mikkarov, “The God who is near”
He is Elohei Merachok, “The God who is far”
He is Elohei Mishpat, “The God of Justice”
He is Elohei Telhillati, “The God of Praise”
He is Elohei Kedem, “The Eternal God
He is Elohei Emit, “The God of Truth”
He is Elohei HaAv, “God the Father”
He is Elohei Chayim, “The Living God”
He is Elohei HaChaym, “The God of the Living”

What can we learn about these names of God?

We can know Him truly, but we can never know Him fully.
We can know something about Him, but we can never know Him completely.
We can know Him intimately, but we can never know Him exhaustively.
We can know Him personally, but we can never know Him totally.
He is comprehensible, yet incomprehensible.
He is known, yet unknown.
He is fathomable, yet unfathomable.
He is explicable, yet inexplicable.
He is clear, yet mysterious.
He is unlimited, yet He limited Himself in Christ.
God is unchangeable, yet God responds differently to situations.
God is both finite and personal.
God is both transcendent and intimate.

Again, Grudem adds:

God does not need us or the rest of creation, yet we and the rest of creation can glorify Him and bring Him joy (160 – 161).
God is unchanging in his being, perfections, purpose and promises, yet God does act and feel emotions, and he acts and feels differently in response to different situations (163).
God has no beginning, end or succession of moments in his own being, but is vividly involved in all events, in all times, in all seasons, in all moments (172).
There is nowhere in the entire universe, on land or sea, in heaven or hell, where one can flee from God’s presence, yet He reigns in my heart (174).
God is not divided into parts, yet we see different attributes of God emphasized at different times (177).

God is the Creator, and we are the created.

We can pass way, yet He necessarily exists forever.

He does not need us, yet He loves us.

Do we know Him? Do we really know who He is?


4 Responses to “what‘s in a name?”

  1. 1 Marie
    January 23, 2009 at 12:43 pm


    Something that keeps jumping out at me is the fact that God had a name for himself — I AM. That name is more encompassing and more meaningful that any name that man can possibly have for God. That name says it all.

  2. 2 Anne
    January 24, 2009 at 7:33 am

    I agree with Marie with one addition: The great I AM still IS.

  3. 3 Regina Stewart
    January 24, 2009 at 8:41 am

    I was hoping you would publish this after I heard you read it on Sunday. Thanks for a great start to the book I’m looking for! I want to know the God of the Bible!

  4. January 25, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Marie, great observation. The title for the Lord to which you are referring is the verb “hayah”, which means “to be”. That word is also closely associated with the word YHWH. Whenever you see the title LORD (all caps) in the Scripture it refers to the unpronounceable name of God, which we pronounce as Yahweh. My Jewish theologian/friend also tells me the word “hayah” may also be closely associated with the word used when God created Adam from the dust of the earth. Thus YHWH combined with “hayah” might be the way that sacred name for God is pronounced. Again, we do not know its proper pronunciation. What a title. Better yet, what a God! Or should I write what a G-d!

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