The prophet Hosea wrote: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” God did not destroy His people because of a weak military or not having a gold standard to stabilize their economy; instead, God rejected them because of their rejection of Him. Similarly, God does not care about our constitution, gun rights, health care, military, tariffs, taxes, or immigration. None of these are the reasons we experience God’s judgement. God’s judgment upon this nation is squarely centered on our willful rejection of knowing Him. If we want God’s judgement turning into blessings then we must return with zeal in our desire to know God. Knowing God is the chief form of knowledge. As King Solomon wrote: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
A pastor once said there are four ways we can know God: philosophically, theologically, fundamentally and through His names. Our study this month will focus on knowing God through names giving to Him in the Old Testament. Each one of these names of God in the Old Testament opens up a new understanding of the character of God.
The first name mentioned in the Bible for God is Elohim. This name speaks of God’s diversity in unity and His supremacy in all things. He is the great three in one God, and is superior to His creation and set apart from His creation. He is a transcendent God. Humanity is so incredibly guilty of condescending God to their standards, instead of rising to His. God never said that He must be like us but He did say we must be like Him - “be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). I have heard so many people say that God knew their heart and on this basis, He would not reject them from entering into Heaven. The fatal flaw in this theology is lowering God from His transcendent position to embrace humanity for what we are: imperfect.
Another name for God in the Old Testament is Adonai. Adonai means the Lord, Master or Owner. This name does not just speak of God’s Lordship or power but focuses on His right in being the Lord and exerting His power. Back in 2001-02 we attacked Afghanistan and dethroned the Taliban’s rule over the country. After the Taliban was dethroned, the rightful government that was in exile came back to lead Afghanistan. The Taliban exerted power over Afghanistan for many years but they were not the rightful government. God is the only one who has the right to rule the universe because He is the creator of the universe. Since the beginning of sin, humanity has dethroned God’s right to rule their lives. They have illegitimately seized control of ruling the affairs of their life. Sadly, any person who dies in this state of anarchy against God will come to the immediate revelation upon their death of the eternally fatal flaw in assuming they had the right to dethrone God. God has the right to do whatever He pleases and demand from us whatever He wills.
A third name for God in the Old Testament that helps us in understanding His character is Jehovah Shalom. Jehovah means God is. He is the self-existing God. He needs nothing to exist; nor is His existence predicated on anything. Yet, within this name, God desires a covenant with His people. After all, He is a covenant God. The problem is how can God have a covenant with a people that have voluntarily dethroned and rejected Him. The answer is Jehovah Shalom. Shalom is peace. The self-existing, covenant God provided a bridge so that people can have peace with Him through Jesus Christ. Peter preached: “The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)” (Acts 10:36). Paul wrote: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Jesus Christ is the peace answer and there is only one way to experience Jehovah Shalom (The Lord is peace); we must confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in our heart that God hath raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9).