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Love In Context - Part 2

God Almighty


Defining God in His totality is a subject way too big for this format.  Besides, I can't do that.  I only wish to share a few Scriptures that state the awesomeness of the God we serve.  I seldom use the word awesome because I think it should only apply to God, for He only is awesome.  If we can see just a little glimpse of God's awesomeness, it should humble us.  At that point, we'll begin to appreciate His love.  Therefore, the degree to which we can understand the awesome nature of God will be the degree to which we can begin to appreciate His love.   


Despite Jacques Ellul's quote found in chapter 6 of The Shack, the first aspect of God we see in the Bible is the Almighty Creator God, which Ellul says is not the aspect of God we should first think of  when we think of Him.   


Genesis 1:1 says that "Elohim" created the heavens and the earth.  Elohim is a Hebrew word and is the first name for God that we see in the Bible. It expresses His Almighty Creative power that Ellul says is a secondary aspect of God.  "Elohim" simply spoke all things into existence with absolutely no effort.  Man has hardly begun to understand His creation, even though many scientific minds believe we have.  The name "Elohim" clearly expresses the almighty and awesome nature of our God.


The next aspect of God we see in Genesis is that of "Yahweh".  "Yahweh" is associated with the loving nature of God because this name is often linked to God's covenantal promises he spoke to the patriarchs of Israel .  Yet beyond this association with the Abrahamic Covenant, "Yahweh" means, "I AM".  Thus "Yahweh" is the eternal "I AM" who lives in the eternal present, outside of our space and time domain.  So when we associate "Yahweh" with God's covenantal promises and love, that's only part of the story.  Fundamental to "Yahweh's" love is the eternal aspect of who He is.  That's pretty awesome, wouldn't you think?   Ellul, and the author of  The Shack seem to downplay this aspect of "Yahweh" when they only associate Him with love.   


The next aspect of God we see in Genesis is in Genesis  15:2 when Abraham recognized God as His "Sovereign Lord".  That's "Adonai Yahweh".  The Hebrew word "Adonai" implies ownership.  Abraham was saying that "Yahweh", the eternal "I AM", owned him.  "Yahweh" was Abraham's master.  Abraham did not think for a minute that "Yahweh" was his buddy.  Now that's something to think about in our "I'm my own master" world.             


The next aspect of God seen in the Genesis account is reflected in yet another name associated with God.  In Genesis 28:3 Isaac recognized God as "El Shaddai", or, "God Almighty" in English.  The earliest meaning of "El Shaddia" that we know of seems to be symbolized in the term "The Mountain One", suggesting strength.  Thus the term "Almighty" in English.  Once again, "almighty" according to Ellul is a secondary aspect of God.  


Exodus 6:2 and 3 in the NIV reads, "God also said to Moses, 'I am the Lord. (Yahweh)  I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, (El Shaddia)  but by my name the Lord (Yahweh) I did not make myself known to them."  God is saying that He appeared to the patriarchs as "El Shaddia", the Almighty One.  That was their mental image of Him.  Even though the patriarchs used the term "Yahweh", they understood Him as "El Shaddai", the Mighty One.   It appears that the name "Yahweh" was further clarified during the days of Moses.   


The reason why I mention Exodus 6:2 and 3 is for its context.  God was going to judge and deal with Egypt in a way that would benefit Israel and devastate Egypt .  Throughout the Old Testament God caused nations to rise and fall.   He brought Babylon to power and used her to bring judgment on an unrepentant Israel .  Then He brought Persia to power to bring judgment on Babylon for her mistreatment of Israel .  You might say, "that's Old Testament", and you're right, but the book of Revelation shows that God still judges nations today, causing them to rise to prominence and fall into obscurity. 


If you stop and think about it for a bit, "Elohim", "Yahweh", "Adonai", and "El Shaddai" are four inseparable aspects of God.  I don't see that any one aspect of God is more important and predominant than any other.  These aspects of God, and others as well, all show the powerful and awesome nature of God that Ellul says is a secondary aspect of God.  I don't think we can simply view God as love and ignore the rest of who He is.    


So there you go.  I've only scratched the surface of one Old Testament book that clearly shows the Almighty Creator aspect of God.  We can't ignore this or else we are ignoring the Bible that Christians claim is the authoritative Word of God, or at least we used to make that claim.  That seems to be changing these days.


Just in case you think Elohim has changed since Old Testament days, we'll see that He hasn't changed in my next chapter when we take a look at the  New Testament. 


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