Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Wild, Weird God of the Hebrews

Long ago groups of people began to encounter a God who was very different from the other gods they had heard of or worshiped.

  • He acted in strange ways:
    He made promises; covenants.
    He kept His word even if the people did not keep theirs.
    He did not act like any of the other gods.
    He was not at all like the people He chose to encounter.
    He wanted to be close to the people.
    He was unpredictable and inscrutable in His mercy.
  • He was always concerned about ways to benefit people.
These people began to tell stories about Him. Hebrew is a language primarly of pictures so the names are really pictures of Him; descriptions of His character and actions. They are specific descriptions. They gave Him really strange names to describe His character:

  • YAHWEH “I am because I act.”
    YAHWEH-ROPHE "I am the One who heals you."
    YAHWEH-NISSI "I am the One who goes in front of you and stand above you."
    YAHWEH-M'KADDESH "I am the One who will make you holy just like Me."
    YAHWEH-SHALOM "I am the One who makes Peace with you."
    YAHWEH-JIREH "I am the One who provides; who sees the need."

  • El Shaddai "The One who dwells on the mountain."
    El Elyon "The One who dwells above us."
    El Rohai "The One who is our “Shepherd," who guides us."
    Elohim "The Magnificent One. "
    EL "The First One."

They saw Him as a person. All of these names are ways of describing God in terms of what He does. He is not a philosophical abstraction. He is not a concept. He is alive...He acts.

Many people believe in God. They say they belive God exists. They are looking for the God who acts...who does things. They need help and they are looking for someone to help them. An abstract God is not any good to them or to us.

The Scriptures are NOT primarly concerned with proving God exists. They are concerned about telling us that He does things...that He acts. He was active then and He is active now. He is doing things now.

A. I.

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