The Identity of God as Expressed by His Names

12 April 2014 by Jason Law CM –


Our enemy is spiritual, but because we mostly process our thoughts based on information we receive from the material world, through (among others) our auditory and visual senses, we often forget this. We humans are very much physical beings, and sometimes we lose sight of our real battles. Conversely, our enemy knows that because we customarily live in the world of the corporeal, the most effective way for him to assault us is through his spiritual influence over the concrete stuff. This means that we are fighting on two fronts; both the spiritual (transformation of spirit and mindset) and the physical (transformation in the physical realm).

If we think we can do this alone, we’re seriously deluded. We need God in our lives. However, there is also a wider scope to this. The isolated fighter is a lonely one, exposed and vulnerable. We need the company of God’s people to shore us up during times of trials, and our calling as Christians also extends beyond ourselves. There is great need for the Church to build itself up in the way God intends. And in order to do that, we can strategize but, ultimately it is only by collectively and truly knowing His identity that we can be effective ministers for God.




The relationship between God and His people has extended for thousands of years, since the time of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Even before Christmas and Easter Sunday as recorded in the New Testament, this relationship had been a profound one, and the Old Testament abounds with the names of God. These names are still applicable right up to now, encouraging us and serving as reminders on a daily basis. While exegesis is valuable, for most of us, what is relevant is applicability instead of deep intellectual stuff. Among the names are:




1.    El Shaddai (The Lord God Almighty) : This name is first used in Genesis 17:1, and occurs 7 times in the Old Testament. The name means All-sufficient One, Lord God Almighty. Our God is Almighty and All-sufficient. He is the Creator of everything that exists now, then, and forever, and all things are under His dominion. 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 is a potent reminder of who God is.  


1 Chronicles 29:11-12 ESV

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.





2. El Elyon (The Most High God) : El Elyon is first used in Genesis 14:18. It occurs 28 times in the Old Testament, and 19 times in the Book of Psalms. There is nothing more preeminent than God; His is the ultimate expression of sovereignty and splendor, and He is the highest standard of anything that is good.




3.  Adonai (Lord, Master) :  God is the Master; He created us and much like a craftsman owns the result of his efforts, everything we have actually belongs to God. We need to approach God with respect, and the sad thing is that there are many Christians today who approach God like He is our errand-boy, ‘used as a convenient tool’ for our self-agenda. The name occurs 434 times in the Old Testament; perhaps an indication of the difference between the OT and much of modern attitude to God. It is first used in Genesis 15:2.


Eventhough God has a rightful place as Master, He is also full of grace and compassion, and throughout the Old Testament, we find numerous names given to God in reference to how He relates to men:  




4. Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner) : The name ‘Jehovah’ means “The Existing One” or “Lord”. This connotes that He is ever-existing, and that there is and was never a time when He does not, but also that He constantly reveals His presence to His people. The name Jehovah Nissi occurs in Exodus 17:15 after Moses had recognized that an Israelite victory over the Amalekites came under the direct banner of God. The usual significance for banners is three-fold; as a symbol of hope, honor, and focal point. In the same way today, God should be our banner.




5. Jehovah Raah (The Lord My Shepherd) :  The name Jehovah Raah occurs in Psalm 23. A shepherd guides sheep to pasture, protects them, and feeds them. The sheep is wholly dependent on the shepherd, and the relationship between a shepherd and his sheep are often deeper than his relationship with his family or friends. While God is the sole Being that exists at His level, the name Jehovah Raah indicates the type of concern God has for His children. God desires intimacy between Himself and His people, and the name can also be translated as “My Friend”.




6. Jehovah Rapha (The Lord My Healer)  :  Jehovah Rapha is used in Exodus 15:26. The Lord is our healer. We have seen this so many times in healing services, and in our own lives. But we need to recognize that every sickness that has been healed in the past was through the compassion of God, and that while apostles, doctors, and medicine are agents of healing, the true act of healing comes from God. God’s healing does not just cover medical illnesses, but also emotional and mental healing.  Be thankful to God for the good friends and people that He has brought into our lives as encouragement.   




7. Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness) : Every good work we did in the past that had  produced results, was through obedience to God and through His grace. He is the standard in our Christian lives, and righteousness only truly comes through Him. He is our Staff and He strengthens us, guiding us on the straight and righteous road.


There are many other names of God dating from the times of the Old Testament. Who is God to us? Perhaps it is a good opportunity to meditate on this as we enter into the Holy Week. Incidentally, there is a promised name of God that is too holy to voice and that is spelled YHWH without vowels. A good site to go to for deeper exegesis into the names is   


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