November 3rd 2010
“You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.”
Exodus 20:7 (NLT)
As people, we are not just known by one name. To some we are known as an acquaintance, a colleague or a friend. Then a close friend, a husband or wife, father or mother. Then a teacher, banker, postman or artist. And then an encourager, diligent, or dependable. The better we know a person, the more names we give them and it is the same with God. The more his people came to know him, the more names they gave Him.
There are more than 80 names for God in the Old Testament alone. First of all, God is known as Creator or Elohim; and Elohim appears over thirty times in Genesis 1.
Abraham called God “Jehovah Jireh,” ‘the Lord will provide,’ (Genesis 22:14 NIV), when he was stopped from sacrificing Isaac and a ram was provided. Exodus 17:15 tells us Moses called God, “Jehovah Nissi,” ‘the Lord is my banner,’ when the Amalakites attacked Israel. In the same way as we become known by what we do, i.e., painter, gardener, doctor, carpenter, waitress, secretary, nurse, etc., God’s names tell us about different expressions of his character and what he does.
Another name used in the Old Testament was Redeemer, someone who delivers you from danger or difficulty. Ruth used it of Boaz. But the most well known is in Job 19:25 (KJV), when Job says, “I know that my Redeemer lives.” Many songs have been composed on this theme, most famously, the aria in Handel’s Messiah.
Of all his names, ‘Father’ is God’s favourite. It is recorded in the New Testament over 200 times. When on earth, Jesus called God his Father, and his first recorded words were, “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49 NLT). And in his final prayer, he says, “Father I place my life in your hands.” (Luke 23:46 MSG).
Father, of all the names by which your people are known, the most important is Christian. Please help me not to misuse this name, but to be a true representative of what it means to be called Christian.
Study by Jill Newman