I am working on a catalog of the names and terms for God in the Bible. It is a type of concordance for the Name that is above every name. In the Old Testament, there are four primary names for God (Transliterated from Hebrew to English: Adon / Adonai, Elohim, Yahweh, and Ruach) upon which most names and terms, almost 300 different ones, are built. In the New Testament, there are six primary names (Jesus, God, Christ, Father, Holy Spirit, and the Lord).
Thursday morning, in prayer with a friend I saw something I had not recognized before. Psalm 107 was the “frame” for our meditation and the organizing language for the prayers we prayed. It is a great prayer. It begins with a kind of three verse call to worship.
1 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary
3 And gathered from the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south.
And then, in verse 4, it moves to a rehearsal of God’s saving acts on behalf of Israel. The pattern is familiar. So many of the psalms in the song book of Israel have this pattern. They call the reader/singer to REMEMBER.
Remember who God is.
Remember His rescues?
Remember what He did in the past?
Remember what it was like before He saved you?
Remember what the darkness was like?
Remember how He brought light?
Remember how hungry and thirsty you were?
4 They wandered in the wilderness in a desert region;
They did not find a way to an inhabited city.
5 They were hungry and thirsty;
Their soul fainted within them.
6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble;
He delivered them out of their distresses.
Remember. God wants us to have a long, deep, personal memories of Him and His work.
Back to the book I’m working on, the catalog or concordance of names . . .
Working on this project has been a labor of love and extremely tedious at times. The attention to detail that this book requires is not my forte but I have enjoyed it because of the bounty of what I am learning. For years, in my annual reading of the Bible through in a year, I have set up a number of projects to force myself to slow down my pace to gain in meditation what I lose in speed. I wanted to look longer. I wanted to think harder. I wanted to probe forgotten corners of the God’s truth and these projects have helped me to do that. One of those projects has been looking more closely at the names of God in each book of the Bible. The more you look, the more you see patterns and groups of names that seem to fit together.
There is a category of names I am calling . . .
The “God of” Group
It is a group of names scattered throughout the Old Testament that have the same shape or formula. For example, God reveals Himself to be “the God of Abraham” or “the God of Jerusalem”. Here’s a sampling:
The God of Abraham
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
The God of Bethel
The God of Hezekiah
The God of Isaac
The God of Israel
The God of Jacob
The God of Jerusalem
The God of Jeshuran
The God of Nahor
The God of Shem
The God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego
Each of these terms have the base name, Elohim, associated with them and then a real person(s) or place is added. With each we are invited to REMEMBER that our God is a God who has acted in real time, in real lives, in real events in history. We must remember this. We must remind our hearts to not forget this. Such remembering is a key to our spiritual health. And with each remembering, the roots of faith go deeper into the soil of God’s intention for us–to know Him.
All of His names reveal Him.
And each of these names is an invitation to remember God’s interaction with real people. He wants us to remember His acts by evoking the names of these individuals in the remembering of His name and so draw us into their story that we might learn from their lives that the God revealed in the Bible is a God who is personal, faithful, compassionate, holy and righteous and so much more. He wants us to remember Him in the darkness until light comes and He comes to receive us to Himself.
6 Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” 8 Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. 9 Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. 10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.