Elohim Among Cultural gods

All Scripture references are taken from NET2 unless otherwise noted.

Lower case ‘g’ is not a mistake for Elohim is the God who overshadows those gods created in the minds of evil men.

Elijah’s Challenge to the Priests of Baal

“Ahab sent messengers to all the Israelites and had the prophets assemble at Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long are you going to be paralyzed by indecision? If the Lord is the true God, then follow him, but if Baal is, follow him!” But the people did not say a word. 22 Elijah said to them: “I am the only prophet of the Lord who is left, but there are 450 prophets of Baal. 23 Let them bring us two bulls. Let them choose one of the bulls for themselves, cut it up into pieces, and place it on the wood. But they must not set it on fire. I will do the same to the other bull and place it on the wood. But I will not set it on fire. 24 Then you will invoke the name of your god, and I will invoke the name of the Lord. The god who responds with fire will demonstrate that he is the true God.” All the people responded, “This will be a fair test.” 1 Kings 18:20-24.

The etymology of Elohim and  Elijah

Elohim: “ ‘Elohim’ is a plural word, which is peculiar because God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4). Still, the singular form of the word Elohim is Eloah (אלה), and that form is used frequently in the Bible as well. In between these sits the construct form, that is: the plural form without the final ם (mem), or אלהי, Elohai, and indicative of a rudimentary genitive: ‘Elohim of’ or ‘God of’ or ‘gods of’.”

Elijah: “The first part of the Prophet’s name is the word אל (El,) the common abbreviation of Elohim, meaning God (or gods), but most fundamentally possibly meaning power or strength. And “the second part is the appellative יה (Yah) = יהו (Yahu) = יו (Yu), which in turn are abbreviated forms of the Tetragrammaton; the name of the Lord: YHWH. For a meaning of the name Elijah, BDB Theological Dictionary reads Yah(u) Is God. NOBSE Study Bible Name List renders Yahweh Is God. Jones’ Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads God-Lord, Strength Of The Lord.” (Abarim Publications’ Biblical Name Vault:)”

Elohim as opposed to god(s)

Gods, as in gods, are found everywhere. There is no doubt that in this world gods of all sorts exist and it must be said that the gods of which I write are not alive, have been formulated in the finite minds of men and women which leads to the fact that these gods are dead, inactive and have no ability to affect people or to effect life-changing activity in the life of anyone.

However, Elohim, the God of people who know and trust the Word of God understand and know Him to be alive and effectively changing the daily lives of everyone who claim Him as Savior and Lord. Because He is Sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent His effectiveness upon His creation is as undeniable upon those who claim not to know HIm. Paul writes these words, “Romans 1:18-20. HCSB.

From the beginning of human history, mankind has worshiped all sorts of things whether it be rocks, trees, water, wind, animals that wander the earth and fly in the sky, insects, and kings and queens. The gods of humanity have been and continue to be powerless and ineffective because they have been conjured up in their minds.

We know that a solution for godlessness does exist in creation and His Hebrew Name is seen in a variety of ways:

  1. “YHWH appears 6,828 times in the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible. This name is first mentioned in Genesis 2:4 and in English language bibles is traditionally translated as “The LORD”.
  2. Another common name of God in the Hebrew Bible is Elohim (אלהים). Despite the -im (י) ending common to many plural nouns in Hebrew, the word Elohim, when referring to God is grammatically singular, and takes a singular verb in the Hebrew Bible.
  3. In the Hebrew bible אל (El) appears very occasionally alone (e.g. Genesis 33:20, אל אלהי ישׂראל, “El the god of Israel”, and Genesis 46:3, האל אלהי אביך, “El the god of your father”), but usually with some epithet or attribute attached (e.g. El Elyon, “Most High El”, El Shaddai, “El of Shaddai”, El `Olam “Everlasting El”, El Hai, “Living El”, El Ro’i “El of Seeing”, and El Gibbor “El of Strength”), in which cases it can be understood as the generic “god”.
  4. The name עליון (`Elyon) occurs chiefly in poetic and later Biblical passages either alone or in combination with El, YHWH or Elohim. It derives from the Hebrew root ʿly “go up, ascend”. The modern Hebrew adjective “`Elyon” means “supreme” (as in “Supreme Court”) or “Most High”. In the Septuagint, it is translated as ὕψιστος (highest). El Elyon has been traditionally translated into English as ‘God Most High’.
  5. Elah (Hebrew: אֵלָה), (plural “elim”) is the Aramaic word for “awesome”. The origin of the word is uncertain and it may be related to a root word, meaning “fear” or “reverence”. Elah is found in the Tanakh in the books of Ezra, Daniel, and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 10:11, the only verse in the entire book written in Aramaic.). Elah is used to describe both pagan gods and the one true God.

(i) אלה ישׂראל (Elah Yisrael), God of Israel (Ezra 5:1)

(ii) אלה ירושׁלם (Elah Yerushelem), God of Jerusalem (Ezra 7:19)

(iii) אלה שׁמיא (Elah Shemaya), God of Heaven (Ezra 7:23)

(iv) אלה אבהתי (Elah-avahati), God of my fathers, (Daniel 2:23)

(v) אלה אלהין (Elah Elahin), God of gods (Daniel 2:47)

6. Ehyeh asher ehyeh (אהיה אשר אהיה) is the first of three responses given to Moses   when he asks for God’s name (Exodus 3:14). The Tetragrammaton itself derives from the same verbal root as אהיה אשר אהיה. The King James version (and others) of the Bible  translates the Hebrew as “I am that I am” and uses it as a proper name for God.”

These names are listed as the most common names for God. One which I chose not to list is “Shekinah Glory” because it is not found in the Hebrew Bible although the vivid description of His glory certainly is. These 6 names and others are found in many places, but these are taken from http://biblicalhebrew.org.

Misplaced Hopelessness

What we see in 1 Kings 18:20-14 is Prophet Elijah coming to the end of his rope of patience and therefore, challenges a large group of Baal prophets to prove the existence of their god. Yes, we know what happened and God answered Ezekiel’s bold call for His appearance, and appear He did. This incredible display of God and His power is really impossible to describe in human language. As we read this account the scene is described in human terms as clear as is possible, but there is something missing that cannot be described and no words exist in any human language. I feel the same way in the Gospel narratives concerning many of the events in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ and then the events surrounding Pentecost. No words exist for describing what was witnessed by human lives.

Other gods are everywhere which are just as hopeless as the frail humans. These gods are existent in many things which take up large quantities of time and emotions of human beings. These gods are found in hobbies, animals, inanimate objects of all sorts. These are represented in money, jewels, minerals, and all sorts of other possessions that become objects of human adoration.

The point is simple; these gods are unable to meet any kind of need beyond temporal expressions of human emptiness. But, here we are with ring-side seats observing the incredible destruction of the pitiful and lifeless existence of the gods of humanity Fast-forward thousands of years to our day and time. Gods (gods) exist everywhere. There are sports figures, political figures and a large host of other humans who have truly become ‘gods’ for many people. These figures are worshiped in many ways and when something happens to them those who have been closely following them find themselves overcome with grief which high-lights misplaced emotions. However, read what God says about Himself, “For this is what the Lord says—God is the “I am Yahweh, and there is no other. 19 I have not spoken in secret, somewhere in a land of darkness. I did not say to the descendants of Jacob: Seek Me in a wasteland. I, Yahweh, speak truthfully; I say what is right.” Isaiah 45:18b-19.

However, Jesus remains Lord and He IS God.

 

About Bob Williford

Conservative Southern Baptist pastor, missionary, and personal evangelist. An avid supporter of Texas Tech Athletics. Enjoy oil painting, writing and woodworking. My wife, children, and grandchildren are my joy. Reading and writing are great for relaxing......
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