God is a multi-faceted, infinite Being (seeC-6). In fact, the Bible is the only holy book that includes descriptions of God in extra-dimensional terms (that is, other than in the four dimensions of length, width, height, and time with which we are familiar and through which we move.) Throughout the Bible, God has revealed Himself by several names and in many ways, each of which offers a special insight into aspects of His personality and attributes of His character, such as Love, Authority, Power, and Righteousness. They also disclose His transcendent nature—that is, His unique quality of being independent from and beyond the limitations of His Creation (the visible and invisible universe and everything in it).
<!>God does not change (Mal. 3:6a), nor does He lie or change His mind as people do (1 Sam. 15:29). This means that His attributes and His moral laws do not vary from one age to the next; the way He deals with individuals and people as a whole is the same now as it always has been. I feel it is very important for the reader to understand the special relationship that God had with the people of Israel in the Old Testament of the Bible (a relationship which still continues today and will continue, I believe, into the eternal age to come). This should help one to recognize the ways that God interacts with and relates to all the people of the world today, as well as how He may be expected to do so in the future.
The four-consonant Hebrew word “YHVH” (or “YHWH”) is the name by which God called Himself after revealing Himself to Moses in a burning bush (Exo. 3:2a,14—see “the Angel of the Lord”: C-8, P-I, S-1); it means “I Am That I Am” or, more simply, “I AM.” This signifies that no one fully can describe or define God other than God Himself. “YHVH” (or “YHWH”) is short for “Yahveh” (or “Yahweh”) because the entire word was (and still is by many) regarded to be too sacred to speak or write. Many Christians use “Yahveh” (or “Yahweh”), since Jesus taught us to speak in a familiar, personal manner to and about God.
<!><!>God told Moses to tell the children of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you” (Exo. 3:14b), and also, “The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you” (3:15). The Hebrew for “Lord” sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for “I AM.”
Since “Yahveh” (or “Yahweh”) was too sacred to pronounce, it became a practice among the Jews to say “Adonai,” meaning “Lord” or “Master.” In medieval times, the letters of “YHVH” (sounding like “JHVH”) and the vowels of “Adonai” were combined to give “Jehovah,” a more commonly used term today. “YHVH” or “Jehovah” means “the Eternal” or “the Sovereign.” It also can mean “the Ever Revealing.” “YHVH” is incorporated into titles of God that reveal His numerous characteristics and attributes.
A basic root name for God is “El,” which actually refers to any god in the most general sense. Therefore, it may refer to the true God or a false god. In the Bible, “El” usually is grouped with other forms and qualifiers of the true God, such as in this case: “...I, the Lord [Jehovah] your God [Elohim], am a jealous God [El]...” (Deut. 5:9b).
<!><!><!>The following are some of the other designations by which God is known in the Old Testament of the Bible. Each one reveals a different aspect or attribute of God. First is a collection of YHVH (or YHWH) titles because they are joined with the name YHVH (or YHWH), which is “Yahveh” or “Yahweh” or “Jehovah.” Next are derivations of the basic name “El.” Finally are various names showing other important facets of God and His character.
Names & Attributes of God
|Names & Attributes||Descriptions &
Old Testament References
backwards, in Hebrew)
or Yahveh (YaHVeH)
or Jehovah (YeHoVaH)
|“I Am Who I Am” (Exo. 3:14); personal and proper name of God|
|YHVH-Adonai||<!>the Sovereign Lord or Master (Gen. 15:2a,8; Psalm 2:4b)|
|YHVH-Elohay||the Lord my God (Zech. 14:5c)|
|YHVH-Eloheenu||<!><!>the Lord our God (Psalm 95:7a, 99:5a,8a,9a; Dan. 9:10a)|
|YHVH-Eloheka||<!><!>the Lord your God (Exo. 15:26a, 16:12c, 20:2,5b,7)|
|YHVH-Elohim||the Lord God, plural of “El”; refers to the Triune God as the Creator (Gen. 2:4b,7a,9a,19a,22a)|
Netsah Israel or
|<!><!><!><!><!><!>the Lord God (or Holy One) of Israel (Isa. 1:4c, 5:19b, 12:6b; Jer. 7:21; Ezek. 8:4a), or the Strength/Glory of Israel (1 Sam. 15:29a), or the Mighty One of Israel (Isa. 1:24a)|
|YHVH-Elyon||<!><!><!><!><!>the Lord most High (Gen. 14:18b,19,20a,22; Psalm 7:17b, 47:2, 83:18, 97:9a; Isa. 6:1a)|
|YHVH-Gmolah||the Lord of recompenses or retribution (Jer. 51:56c)|
|YHVH-Hoseenu||the Lord our Maker (Psalm 95:6)|
|YHVH-Jireh||the Lord will see or will provide (Gen. 22:8a,14a)|
|YHVH-Makkeh||the Lord who smites (Ezek. 7:9c)|
|YHVH-Mekaddishkem||<!><!><!><!>the Lord our Sanctifier, who makes holy (Exo. 31:13b; Lev. 20:8b, 21:8b, 22:9b,16b,32c; Ezek. 20:12b)|
|YHVH-Nissi||the Lord my Banner (Exo. 17:15)|
|YHVH-Rohi||the Lord my Shepherd (Psalm 23:1a)|
|YHVH-Ropheka||the Lord our Healer (Exo. 15:26b)|
|YHVH-Shalom||the Lord our Peace (Judg. 6:24a)|
|YHVH-Shammah||<!>the Lord is present or is there (Exo. 33:14a; Ezek. 48:35b)|
|YHVH-Tsebaoth||<!><!>the Lord of hosts (1 Sam. 1:3a; 1 Kng. 22:19b; Psalm 103:21)|
|YHVH-Tsidkenu||<!>the Lord our Righteousness (Jer. 23:6b, 33:16b)|
|Elohim||<!>the Creator or the Triune God (Gen. 1:1,21a,26a,27a, 11:5-7)|
|El Olam||the Everlasting or Eternal God (Gen. 21:33b)|
|El Elohe Israel||<!>God, the God of Israel (Gen. 33:20; Ezek. 9:3a)|
|El Shaddai||<!><!><!><!>the Almighty God or God of Mountains (Gen. 17:1a, 35:11a, 49:25b; Exo. 6:3a; Ezek. 10:5b)|
|Jealous||<!>an attribute of God (Exo. 34:14; Deut. 5:9b)|
|Judge||an attribute of God (Gen. 18:25c)|
|King or King of glory||<!><!><!>an attribute of God (Psalm 10:16a, 24:7-10, 29:10b; Zech. 14:16a)|
|the Lord||<!><!><!>an attribute of God (Gen. 12:1; Exo. 3:7a; Josh. 1:1; 2 Sam. 2:1)|
|Redeemer||<!><!><!><!><!><!>an attribute of God (Job 19:25a; Psalm 78:35b; *Prov. 23:11a; Isa. 43:14a, 54:5b, 59:20; Jer. 50:34a)|
|Rock, his/my Savior or
Rock of Israel or Rock of
our salvation or my Rock
|<!><!><!><!><!><!>strong and saving attributes of God (Deut. 32:15c; 2 Sam. 22:47bc, 23:3; Psalm 78:35a, 89:26, 95:1b; Isa. 44:8e)|
|Shekinah||<!><!><!><!>glory of the Lord (Exo. 16:7a; Psalm 104:31a; Isa. 40:5a, 60:1b; Ezek. 10:18)|
(2), (3), (4), (5)
God’s Name on the City of Peace
* “Defender,” rather than “Redeemer,” in the NIV
<!><!><!>The Bible states that ancient Jerusalem bore the Name of God (2 Chr. 12:13b; Jer. 25:29a; Dan. 9:18b,19e). This may be not only a spiritual fact but also a literal one. The Hebrew letter “schin” or “shin” can represent “Shaddai,” a name of God (see the previous section, “additional names for and attributes of God”). And it appears that a figure similar to this symbol actually has been “stamped” onto the city of Jerusalem. It can be seen in Figure 1 that the geographical configuration of the city’s valleys, together with the temple and its location, somewhat resemble a “schin”: . These are the names of the labeled items: A) Valley of Ben Hinnom, B) Tyropoeon Valley, C) Kidron Valley, and D) the temple. The temple is in a similar location to the “dagesh” of the letter “schin.”
<!>Commonly, a “schin” (representing “Shaddai”) is inscribed on one side of a strip of parchment; on the other side are written these passages:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates (Deut. 6:4-9).
... So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul—then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.
Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you. Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the Lord swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth (Deut. 11:13-21).
The parchment is rolled into a little scroll, placed in a metal or wooden case (also having a “schin” on its face), and fastened to the doorpost of a Jewish home. (I have had one on my home, although I am not Jewish.) This is called a mezuzah. One could call Jerusalem the “mezuzah” of the world.
<!>Jerusalem means “habitation of peace,” and God is the only true Source of Peace. (Remember that “Jehovah-Shalom” means “the Lord our Peace.”) Now, it is interesting to note that every section of Psalm 119 is divided into eight verses, each of which originally was headed by a single letter of the Hebrew alphabet (forming an acrostic composition). The only section in which “peace” is mentioned (“Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble”—Psalm 119:165) is the section Psalm 119:161-168. Originally, each of these verses began with the Hebrew letter “schin.” The NIV Bible has a picture of a “schin” at the beginning of this section.
David wrote, concerning Jerusalem and the name of God,
Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together. That is where the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, to praise the name of the Lord according to the statute given to Israel. ... Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels” (Psalm 122:3,4,6,7).
Although peace in Jerusalem always has been temporary, one day there will be permanent, everlasting peace in God’s chosen city. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
<!>God created people to love Him and to choose God and His ways, which always are best. Adam and Eve were capable of doing this and of not disobeying God (sinning). Had they and all of their offspring never sinned (that is, never chosen to “taste” of evil as well as of good—Gen. 2:9b, 3:5,6), they (and we) never would have known evil. Had God been obeyed, the world still would be a perfect place: no disease, infirmities, nor death; no sadness, loneliness, pain, nor suffering; no greed, lying, cheating, unfairness, nor abuse.
But evil did enter the world and get a grip upon its inhabitants through humankind’s disobedience of and rebellion toward God. “We the people” of the earth, by and large, have chosen to exercise our “right of free choice” to do what we have wanted to do rather than what God has wanted us to do. By turning away from God and allowing ourselves to be misled and deceived by Satan (seeC-7, C-8, C-9, and C-10), mankind essentially has handed the “title deed” to Planet Earth over to Satan and his forces (see “world and human suffering”: C-7, P-III). Everything bad that has occurred throughout the ages is a result of our turning away from God, as well as of negative influence by and (whether we are aware of it or not) submission to Satan.
It is not in God’s character to force people to submit to Him involuntarily without first giving them a chance to yield willingly to His laws and Authority (see “Authority”: C-6, P-II). It is typical of God to demonstrate great patience, giving people time to turn to Him and to accept His ways. But His patience does have a limit; it will come to an end near the conclusion of this age (see C-12, P-IV).
After Adam and Eve’s disobedience, the evil done by people continued and grew worse, until finally it actually grieved God that He had created mankind.
The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain (Gen. 6:5,6).
...the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth” (Gen. 6:11-13).
<!><!><!>Fortunately, Noah had found favor with God (Gen. 6:8), since it is not in God’s nature nor character to abandon a project or plan He has begun. After building an ark described to him by God (6:14-16), Noah, his family of seven, and animals (according to God’s instructions) entered the ark. They were saved from the Great Flood, and God told them to repopulate the earth (6:17–9:7). The immersion of the ark and its passengers in water was a symbolic foreshadowing of water baptism (1 Pet. 3:20,21—see “water baptism”: C-6, P-IV).
For a credible explanation of the Great Flood account, including how so many animals could fit into the ark, I recommend the audio tapes, “The Flood” (a 2-tape set, item #A8712) by Hugh Ross. To find out how to receive the tapes, call or write Reasons To Believe. The phone number, address, and web site location may be found in “reconciling the Bible with nature”: C-1, P-I.
Proceed to Chapter 2, Part II
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Copyright © 1998– by Ted M. Montgomery, O.D. Most rights reserved.