by David E. West, England
Elohim (God), Adonai (Lord) and Jehovah (Lord) are the Divine titles (or names) most often used in the Old Testament. Jehovah occurs almost 7000 times.
The Divine names and titles are a most important subject of study for they are inseparably connected with a sound interpretation of the Scriptures. For example, Elohim and Jehovah are not employed loosely on the pages of Holy Writ; each has a definite significance and the distinction is carefully preserved.
We, as believers of this present dispensation, know Him as our God and Father. However, Jehovah is a name especially reserved for Israel; consequently it will be employed again when they are brought back to a knowledge and appreciation of their relationship with God during the millennial reign of Christ.
That the Jesus of the New Testament is the Jehovah of the Old Testament is abundantly clear. Nevertheless, when He came He was really Jehovah in the midst of Israel, but He is never Jehovah for Christians.
The personal name of the God of Israel most frequently used in the Old Testament appears in the Hebrew Bible spelt (after transliteration) with the four consonants YHWH or JHWH. In our English Bible, YHWH is rendered "the Lord" except where it is preceded by Adonai, when it is rendered "GOD" - "the Lord GOD" representing Adonai YHWH. It should be noted that in the section Gen.2.4-3.24, "the Lord God" represents YHWH Elohim – a compound form which marks the transition from the use of "God" (Elohim) in Genesis 1.1-2.3 to "the Lord" (YHWH) of chapter 4.
In the A.V. of Isa.26.4, we read, "in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength", both titles being completely capitalised. Here "the Lord" represents "YH" (Jah), a shortened form of YHWH, for example also found in Ps.68.4, "extol Him that rideth upon the heavens by His name JAH".
THE PRONUNCIATION OF JEHOVAH
No one knows for certain the correct pronunciation of YHWH because the ancient Hebrew spelling used no actual vowels in its alphabet. The Jews themselves scrupulously avoided mentioning the name since they considered it too sacred to utter. This custom of avoiding the verbal use of the name Jehovah, which had its origin in reverence but later almost degenerated into a superstition, was founded upon an erroneous interpretation of Lev.24.16, "and he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him", from which it was inferred that the mere utterance of the name Jehovah constituted a capital offence.
The present writer is given to understand that when (somewhere between AD 500-1000) points indicating the vowel sounds were added to the consonantal text of the Hebrew Bible to help with the pronunciation, the points attached to the consonants YHWH indicated the vowels of the word which was to be pronounced in its place, usually "Adonai". Thus, although the Jews continued to write "YHWH", they nevertheless read it as "Adonai". However, where God is called "the Lord Jehovah" (Heb. Adonai YHWH), in order to avoid use of the double "Adonai", "Elohim" was substituted for "YHWH". The strong possibility, however, is that the name "Jehovah" was anciently pronounced "Yahweh".
JEHOVAH IN THE BOOK OF GENESIS
In total, the name Jehovah is used alone or as part of a compound name of God on more than 140 occasions in the book of Genesis. The first record of the use of Jehovah is as part of the compound name, Jehovah Elohim, "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens" Gen.2.4.
Abram knew the name of Jehovah, "and there [Bethel] Abram called on the name of the Lord" Gen.13.4. Of Isaac we read, "he builded an altar there [Beer-sheba] and called upon the name of the Lord" Gen.26.25; "Then Abimelech ... and Ahuzzath one of his friends, and Phichol the chief captain of his army" Gen.26.26, say to Isaac, "We saw certainly that the Lord was with thee" Gen.26.28. At Bethel, Jacob promised, "then shall the Lord be my God" Gen.28.21, whilst we hear of this same patriarch praying, "O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee ... Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau" Gen.32.9,11. Then, in the course of his closing words to his sons, Jacob states, "I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord" Gen.49.18.
Therefore, it is clear that the patriarchs were acquainted with God's name of Jehovah, but they had no experimental acquaintance with all that it stood for; they did not have an understanding of the full significance of the name.
JEHOVAH – WHEN MADE KNOWN
We read, "The angel of the Lord appeared unto him [Moses] in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed" Ex.3.2. On that occasion, God confirmed to Moses that He was "the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" Ex.3.6.
When Moses had been given the commission by God that he should be the deliverer of God's people from the oppression of the Egyptians, "Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?" Ex 3.13. What a sad state of affairs! God's people did not even know His name!
However, Moses wished to understand the essential nature and character of the God with Whom he was dealing. In knowing this, there would be a better appreciation of how God would act. God graciously bears with His hesitant servant, saying unto Moses, "I AM that I AM: "and He said, "Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, ‘I AM hath sent me unto you’ " Ex.3.14.
This name contains each tense of the verb "to be"; thus it could be translated, "I was, I am, I shall always continue to be". It may mean, "I am because I am" or "I will be that I will be", meaning "I will be all that is necessary as the occasion will arise" - this is a familiar idea in the Old Testament. He is the God of open-ended promise. "I AM" is an English translation of the four Hebrew letters to which, in English, we add vowels in order to make the pronounceable "Yahweh" or "Jehovah".
"I AM that I AM" - He is the self-existent, self-subsisting ever being One. All others are merely beings that exist. God is the only One Who can say, "I AM"; that which exists was called into being. This testifies to a God who does not change. With Him there was and is no outside power which could change Him, nor was or is any change necessary. All that He is, He owes to Himself alone.
This most definitive of titles contains a vital lesson both for Moses then and for ourselves. It is not our responsibility to prove the existence of God, but to declare Him. We must declare Him as the unchanging God as made manifest in His beloved Son, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever" Heb.13.8. The "I AM" of the Old Testament is the Lord Jesus of the New Testament. This title seems to be the one, more than any other, which the Lord Jesus uses to reveal Who He is. In John's Gospel, He proclaims, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am" Jn.8.58. Throughout this Gospel, He says repeatedly, "I am". This is the God all must come to know. Creation declares the existence of a Designer, the Elohim of Genesis chapter 1, "For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead" Rom.1.20. However, like Israel in Egypt, all need to acknowledge the eternally, existent "I AM", "Him which is, and which was, and which is to come" Rev.1.4.
Moses was to see what the Lord would do to Pharaoh, "Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh" Ex.6.1. The children of Israel would not go out from bondage by the use of guile, nor would they have to fight battles in order to leave Egypt. Pharaoh would be brought to a point where he would insist that the people go; he would thrust them out of the land, "with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land" Ex.6.1 It was at this point that "God spake unto Moses , and said unto him, I am the Lord" Ex.6.2.
The words of Ex.6.3, "by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them [i.e. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob]" do not imply that the patriarchs were completely ignorant of the existence or of the use of the name. This has been clearly established in this chapter in the section dealing with "Jehovah in the Book of Genesis". Thus Ex.6.3 is one of the Scriptures which cannot be interpreted absolutely, but must be understood relatively.
Says God, "I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty" Ex.6.3; thus we read, "the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God" Gen.17.1. Then "God appeared unto Jacob again ... and God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and He called his name Israel. And God said unto him, I am God Almighty" Gen.35.9-11. Then further, "And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me" Gen.48.3. Thus the patriarchs, as shepherds in the land, had known God as "El Shaddai" (God Almighty), proving His power.
The key to the understanding of the apparent difficulty presented in Ex.6.3 is supplied by what follows where the Lord says, "And I have also established my covenant with them" Ex.6.4. Thus Jehovah [the Lord] is His title as connected with His people by covenant relationship. He would now reveal Himself as Jehovah in a new way, that is to say, in new power delivering his people. He had made a covenant and was about to fulfil it by freeing the children of Israel from Egypt and ultimately bringing them into the promised land.
As Jehovah He would make known what was in His heart, His interest and good pleasure in His people and His active intervention on their behalf so that He would be personally known by them.
Jehovah is a title which displays God acting for His own glory and taking up His oppressed people in order to show forth glory in them.
While God had indeed made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we are told that "These all died in faith, not having received the promises" Heb 11.13. But now this covenant, Ex.6.4, was to be fulfilled so, in a special way, Moses and the children of Israel would know Him as "Jehovah".
COMPOUND NAMES OF JEHOVAH
Historically Genesis chapter 22 presents Abraham's greatest test; for Abraham it was a further moment of crisis. Typically it points forward to another Father giving His own Son as a sacrifice. In response to Isaac's question, "Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" Gen.22.7, Abraham had said, "My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering" Gen.22.8.
As the story unfolds, we are told that "Abraham stretched forth his hand and took the knife to slay his son" Gen.22.10, but as he did so, "the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven ... And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him" Gen.22.11,12.
However, "the angel of the Lord" Who called to Abraham out of heaven, not only arrested the sacrifice of Isaac, but provided a ram in his place, "Abraham lifted up his eyes," (this was the place of clear vision) "and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son" Gen.22.13.
Abraham's response to this remarkable provision by God was to call "the name of that place Jehovah-Jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen" Gen.22.14. "Jireh" is a transliteration of the Hebrew word translated as "provide" Gen.22.8, but it comes from a verb meaning "to see" and could be translated accordingly. We often use the expression "to see to it" in the sense of "providing for it". The God of vision is the God of provision. The Lord who sees also provides to meet the need He observes, so "Jehovah-Jireh" is also justifiably rendered "the LORD will provide". God provided for Abraham's (and Isaac's) immediate need with the ram and, seeing our greatest need, He "spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all" Rom.8.32.
This title is the second chronologically of the compound names of Jehovah. It should be noted that the title itself Jehovah-Ropheka does not appear in the A.V. text, but rather as the translation, "the Lord that healeth thee" Ex.15.26. The Hebrew word transliterated Ropheka is used almost seventy times in the Old Testament for healing, restoring or preserving.
The Israelites were in the wilderness where there was no refreshment, "they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water" Ex.15.22 and then even the appearance of water disappointed, since it was bitter, "And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter" Ex.15.23. Then those who had been singing with Moses began to murmur against him, "and the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?" Ex.15.24.
Moses then interceded on behalf of the people, "he cried unto the Lord"; the response was immediate, "and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet" Ex.15.25. Although there is no record of the Lord commanding Moses to cast the tree into the waters, the fact that the waters were made sweet when Moses did so, suggests that such instruction had been given. Surely the tree speaks to believers today of the cross, the answer to all man's need of healing. The One Who died on that cross knows all about the bitterness of this world. To use the analogy, where the cross is put into the circumstances of life, the bitter things become sweet.
As far as the children of Israel were concerned, the lesson of Marah had to be learned for "there He made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there He proved them" Ex.15.25. The Lord would put them to the test. The test they had faced at Marah was set out before them so that there could be no misunderstanding in the future. V.26 sets out the statute and the ordinance to which reference is made in v.25, "If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in His sight, and wilt give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee [Jehovah-Ropheka]." Their health would depend upon their obedience. The spiritual health of the believer today is dependent upon his obedience to the Word of God.
This title is the third chronologically of the compound names of Jehovah. This time the title itself does appear in the A.V. text, "And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-Nissi" Ex.17.15, meaning "the Lord[is] my banner". It should be noted that the Septuagint Version (the Greek translation of the Old Testament Hebrew) renders the title "the Lord is my refuge", deriving "nissi" from a Hebrew word meaning "to flee".
A banner depicts something under which an army would go into battle. The title is therefore most appropriate to the circumstances recorded in Exodus chapter 17, for Israel had just engaged in its first battle. Vv.8-16 of the chapter tell us of the war with Amalek. Amalek was a near kinsman of Israel according to the flesh; he was born to Esau's son, Eliphaz, by Timna, a concubine. By this time, he had increased into a strong war-like people.
This battle can be viewed as a type of the war in which every believer is engaged. It foreshadows that conflict known only to those who have been redeemed by God and delivered from the authority of darkness and from this present evil world. Amalek is a type of the flesh; the flesh is that fallen, evil, corrupt nature, the seat of sin in man. The unconverted are under the dominion of the flesh, they serve its lusts, they do its will. The flesh therefore does not fight its subjects, it completely rules over them.
However, at conversion, the Holy Spirit takes up His abode within the believer and a strange conflict begins, something hitherto unknown to the individual. The flesh within the believer has not died nor ceased to function. The Spirit of God neither eradicates nor somehow absorbs the flesh within the believer. The flesh may not be expelled; it cannot be improved. It should be noted that it was not Israel who attacked Amalek, but rather, "Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel; thus it is first said, "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit" before "The Spirit against the flesh" Gal.5.17.
The manner in which the victory was won has in it all-important lessons for the people of God. The battlefield had its upper and lower spheres. On the top of the hill, Moses held the rod of God in his hand, whilst down below Joshua used the sword. The respective actions of Moses and Joshua point to the provisions which God has made for us to combat the flesh . In Moses upon the hill, we have a picture of the believer in communion with God. While he abides there, his hands lifted up in conscious need, the power of God (symbolised by the rod) is exercised on his behalf. However, Moses was not left to himself; Aaron and Hur were with him. Aaron was the head of Israel's priesthood and speaks plainly of our great high Priest. Hur means "light", the emblem of Divine holiness and points us to the Holy Spirit Himself. God in His grace has fully provided for the believer and he is supported on either side with one intercessor with God for him and another intercessor with God in him, Rom.8.26, and thus he has power to prevail. The typical picture is completed by what is said in Ex.17.13, "Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword". The sword points to the Word of God, Heb.4.12. It is not by prayer alone that we can combat the flesh, the Word of God is also needed.
Vv.14-16 of Exodus chapter 17 are concerned with the memorial to the battle. Firstly there was to be the writing in a book, "And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a ["the" – J.N.D.] book". The writing would no doubt be an account of the battle, the events on the hill included, with the message that the remembrance of Amalek would be blotted out. It was to be rehearsed in the ears of Joshua who presumably would pass the message on to the next generation so that it would never be forgotten.
Moses also "built an altar" v.15. The purpose of an altar was to mark some dealing with God and Moses determined that this battle should be so marked. Moses "called the name of it Jehovah-Nissi" which, as we have noted, means "the Lord [is] my banner" - the reference being to the rod of God which had been held up over the battlefield as a banner. The altar with its name, recognised the fact that the rod itself did not win the battle, but rather that it was the Lord Himself who fought for Israel and won the victory.
The closing verse of the chapter clearly indicates that the future of Amalek had been settled, "the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation". This was displayed on the battlefield at Rephidim. The battle is the Lord's and we fight under His colours and hence, whatever the stubborn persistence of the foe, the victory is assured.
The opening verses of Judges chapter 6 give the background to Gideon's call to service. The children had done "evil in the sight of the LORD: and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years" v.1. The people of God who had been victorious under Joshua were now reduced to a fearful, impoverished people, oppressed by their enemies, "the Midianites ... the Amalekites, and the children of the east" v.3. So we read, "Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites"; a point was reached, however, "when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord" v.6. In response to their cry, "the Lord sent a prophet unto the children of Israel" v.7, to remind them of their idolatry, saying, "fear not the gods of the Amorites" v.10.
Then "the angel of the Lord appeared" v.12, (one of the pre-incarnate appearances of Christ) to a man of the tribe of Manasseh, named Gideon, as he was secretly threshing wheat by the winepress to hide it from the Midianites, v.11. The angel of the Lord assured Gideon, who was addressed as "thou mighty man of valour", that the Lord was with him, v.12. Gideon responded by pouring out the burden of his soul, "if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all His miracles which our fathers told us of ...? v.13. It was the language of despair.
Then "the Lord (it was indeed Jehovah Himself) looked upon him and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?" v.14. Still Gideon was reluctant to believe the message, but in grace the Lord reassured him, "And the Lord said unto him, "Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man"" v.16. The Lord had called Gideon and when He calls He also equips for service and is with His servant. Sensing that he was speaking to the Lord, Gideon then asked for a sign, "shew me a sign that Thou talkest with me" v.17.
Gideon, obviously impressed by the appearance of the angel of the Lord and the manifestation of grace to him, so unworthy an object, desired to bring a present [offering – R.V.] and set it before the angel, v.18. The offering consisted of a kid as a burnt offering (or was it a peace offering?), unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour as a meal offering and broth in a pot, presumably as a drink offering, v.20. Gideon evidently had a somewhat imperfect understanding of the value of the sacrifices which the Lord had commanded to the children of Israel; "the broth in a pot" was a witness of his ignorance. However, God discerned that which was real, underlying the feeble faith of Gideon, and accepted the offering when he laid it "upon this rock" v.20. The fire of judgment rose up out of the rock, consuming "the flesh and the unleavened cakes" v.21. These details turn our minds to the great sacrifice of Christ; there would be a day coming when the fire of judgment would fall upon Him.
Gideon did not appear to realise that he had been face to face with the angel of the Lord until He had departed; then Gideon was overwhelmed by the fact and feared the consequences, "Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face" v.22. However, "the Lord" graciously addressed His troubled servant with words of comfort and assurance, "Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die" v.23. "Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord" - he became a worshipper - "and called it Jehovah-Shalom" v.24, meaning "The Lord is peace" or "The Lord send peace". The Hebrew word shalom denotes welfare in its widest connotation, including peace of mind, health of body, salvation of soul, comfort in distress and success in life.
In the midst of all the tumult that raged about him and in spite of the conflicts that were soon to take place, there was One Who could give perfect peace, one Person with Whom there was no conflict – Jehovah Himself. Gideon had found the God of peace.
At this point in his prophecy, Jeremiah projects our thoughts forward to the millennial reign of Christ, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth" Jer.23.5. He then adds, "In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is His name whereby He shall be called, "The Lord our righteousness" [A.V. marg. Jehovah-Tsidkenu]" Jer.23.6. Thus this title is given to the future King.
This "righteous Branch", the King, is and will be personally just in all His dealings. Then a new thought is added; as king or ruler He is to make and establish a new righteousness, because of which He shall be called "The LORD our righteousness", that is, sinful man's righteousness. Paul reminds believers of this present dispensation, "For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" 2 Cor.5.21, and that "of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" 1 Cor.1.30.
But Jeremiah further writes, "In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, "The Lord our righteousness"" Jer.33.16. The term, which has been earlier associated with the King, is here applied to the city of Jerusalem. In that day, she will have the same name as the Messiah Himself because she will reflect that righteousness which He has bestowed on her.
When the city was unrighteous, there was no security. When Jeremiah wrote these words, the Babylonians were at the gates, but "In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely". Righteousness and security are linked. In the former passage, 23.6, reference is made to Judah and Israel, but here the subjects of the promise are Judah and Jerusalem; this reflects the immediate circumstances of the prophecy for "the cities of Judah, and ... the streets of Jerusalem" were "desolate" Jer.33.10.
What a miserable time it was for the nation when God departed from the temple and from the city of Jerusalem. Israel's house was soon left to them desolate; it was no longer His and soon it was to be no longer theirs. However, in that coming day, when the elect nation will be regathered, God will redistribute the land, but differently from the division in Joshua's day. The temple design in that future kingdom will be quite different from that of either the wilderness tabernacle or Solomon's temple. The city will be laid out in a square, Ezek.48.16, denoting equality and stability in that age to come. Its gates will be named after the twelve tribes, representing all Israel.
"And the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there (A.V. marg. Jehovah-Shammah)" Ezek.48.35. No one will be asking, as did their forefathers, "Is the Lord among us, or not?" Ex.17.7. Ezekiel does not dwell upon the purpose of the city, its activities or its administration. All that matters to him is the presence of the Lord; this transcends everything. With this he closes his prophecy. Do we not hear the Lord Jesus Himself saying, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them" Matt.18.20?
This title does not appear, as such, in the A.V. text. However, the Hebrew Jehovah-Ro'i is translated "The Lord is my shepherd in Ps.23.1. Jehovah is spoken of as the "Shepherd of Israel", "Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock" Ps.80.1. However, the nation of Israel in the past failed to fully appreciate His shepherd character. Nevertheless, there is a day coming when Isa.40.11 will be fulfilled in relation to the nation, "He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young".
David, in Psalm 23, was writing from his own personal experience. The Psalm begins and ends with reference to Jehovah, "I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever" v.6. As the shepherd, He leads, He guides, He feeds, He restores and He protects.
We know the Lord now as the Good Shepherd in connection with His death, "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep" Jn.10.11, as the Great Shepherd in association with His resurrection, "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep ... make you perfect ..." Heb.13.20, and as the Chief Shepherd in connection with His appearing, "And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye [faithful under-shepherds] shall receive a crown of glory, that fadeth not away" 1 Pet.5.4.
Again, this title does not appear in the A.V. text. However, the Hebrew, Jehovah-MeKaddishkem, is translated "the Lord that doth sanctify you" in the following Scriptures:
- Ex.31.13 - "Verily My sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you";
- Lev.20.8 - "And ye shall keep My statutes and do them: I am the Lord which sanctify you";
- Lev.21.8 - "Thou shalt sanctify him (the priest) therefore; for he offereth the bread of thy God: he shall be holy unto thee: for I the Lord, which sanctify you, am holy";
- Lev.22.32 - "Neither shall ye profane My holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the Lord which hallow you";
- Ezek.20.12- "Moreover also I gave them My sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them". The Lord Who had sanctified His people demanded holiness of life in those who were thus set apart.
We, as believers today, have been positionally sanctified, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit" 1 Pet.1.2, and are called upon to exhibit practical sanctification, "But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [way of life]" 1 Pet.1.15.
Elyon, meaning "most high", occurs 36 times in the Old Testament, the first of these being in association with El, where it is rendered "the most high God" thus, "And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God" Gen.14.18. As the "most high", He is most great in power, lofty in dominion, eminent in wisdom and elevated in glory.
We are, however, immediately concerned with the title Elyon in association with Jehovah of which there are just three references, all in the Book of Psalms:
- Ps.7.17 - "I will praise the Lord according to His righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High";
- Ps.47.2 - "For the Lord Most High is terrible; He is a great King over all the earth";
- Ps.97.9 - "For Thou, Lord, art high [Elyon] above all the earth: Thou art exalted far above all gods".
Psalm 7 begins and closes with these great titles, Jehovah Elohim,v.1,and Jehovah Elyon, v.17. David is saying that Jehovah is my God and He is the most high. Frequently in the Psalm, David speaks of righteousness and, in accordance with that righteousness, the Psalmist sings praise to the name of Him Whom he calls Jehovah Elyon. This title is suited to the One Who is the supreme Governor of the world; as Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar, "the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will" Dan.4.25.
Psalm 47 reminds us that "the Lord Most High is terrible"; He is to be feared by His creatures, to be held in awe and reverence. None can resist His power nor stand before His vengeance. "He is a great King over all the earth" - not only over Judaea or Israel; indeed, "Most High" is God's millennial title.
The unknown author of Psalm 97, during the course of his meditation, bursts forth in praise to Jehovah, "For Thou, Lord, art high above all the earth" v.9; indeed vv.8,9 of the Psalm are addressed directly to Jehovah. He is "Most High" (Elyon); He is above all the earth, and exalted exceedingly above all gods, the reference being to heathen deities, "Thou art exalted far above all gods" v.9.
Jehovah ZeBa'oth (Tsebaoth or Seba'oth)
This is a title of God used frequently (more than 200 times) in the Old Testament and is translated "Lord of hosts". It first occurs as the title by which God was worshipped at Shiloh, the sanctuary which, in the period of the judges, housed the ark of the covenant, "this man [Elkanah] went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh" 1 Sam.1.3. At that time, the "hosts" may have been envisaged as the hosts of Israel, thus David's challenge to Goliath was, "I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel" 1 Sam.17.45.
However, "the host of heaven" is a phrase commonly used for the stars and planets, so often the objects of idolatrous worship, "And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them" Deut.4.19. Our God is "the Lord of hosts". The hosts were also considered as the armies of heaven, the angelic powers that exist to carry out the Creator's commands, thus, "Bless ye the Lord, all ye His hosts; ye ministers of His, that do His pleasure" Ps.103.21. The title, Jehovah ZeBa'oth conveys to us that this God is mighty, majestic and supreme.
For sake of completion, brief reference has been made to this compound name of Jehovah, albeit this title will be considered in detail in Chapter 7.
To conclude, it has been pointed out that 8 compound names of Jehovah are experimentally referred to in this well-known Psalm of David. Jehovah as the good, great and chief Shepherd is engaged in all the perfection of His attributes on behalf of His sheep:
- v.1 - "The Lord is my Shepherd", (Jehovah-Ro'i);
- v.1 - "I shall not want" (Jehovah-Jireh);
- v.2 - "He leadeth me beside the still waters [marg. waters of quietness]", (Jehovah-Shalom);
- v.3 - "He restoreth my soul", (Jehovah-Ropheka);
- v.3 - "He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness", (Jehovah-Tsidkenu);
- v.4 - "Thou art with me", (Jehovah-Shammah);
- v.5 - "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies" , (Jehovah-Nissi);
- v.5 - "Thou anointest my head with oil", (Jehovah-MeKaddishkem).
- "We thank Thee for the grace
- Descending from above
- That overflows our widest guilt,
- The eternal Father's love,
- Love of the Father's everlasting Son,
- Love of the Holy Ghost -
- Jehovah, Three in One."
- (H. Bonar)