It was Shakespeare who wrote, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
When you think about it like that…what really is in a name?? The name doesn’t change the thing, right?
But the truth is, names are deeply important to us as humans. Our names carry the weight of our reputation and even reference our family history.
In Jewish culture, names were deeply important. Children were often named after the circumstances surrounding their birth (good or bad). We see in Genesis the origin of mankind with Adam and Eve. Adam, from the Jewish word Adamah, which means ‘ground,’ because he was formed “from the dust of the ground.” And Eve, which means ‘to breathe, to live.’
Genesis goes on to explain the name of Abraham, which means ‘father of many.’ This was pretty incredible as he was given this new name by God as a childless, 99-year old man! Of course, he and his wife, Sarah, would in fact become parents of Isaac in their old age, bringing to life God’s radical promise to this couple. His name forever served as a reminder of God’s faithfulness even in the midst of the impossible.
But maybe the person who represents the importance of a name most clearly is God himself! In fact, God is so vast and powerful that He needs multiple names to adequately describe who He is. The different names of God don’t just tell us who He is but what He can do….and it’s all AMAZING!
Here are just some of the names we see used for God in scripture:
(Pro tip– Find the name of God that speaks to where you find yourself right now. Which aspect of God’s persona do you need the most?)
Elohim – ‘God Creator’ This is the first name we see for God in Genesis 1:1. ‘El’ means God, and ‘ohim’ is a reference to plurality, referencing the trinity. “We are God,” is another way to see it. From the dawn of man, God has presented Himself in relationship, not as an isolated figure.
Are you lonely? Elohim invites you into togetherness in relationship with Him.
El Roi – ‘Omnipresent Good’ This translates as ‘The God who sees.’ God is everywhere and sees us all! This is a comforting truth that nothing we go through is outside of the awareness of God. We are all seen and known by Him.
Do you feel invisible? El Roi sees you and knows you. He is keenly aware of you and your situation.
El Shaddai – ‘The Sufficient One’ God is ALL you need. He has an abundant supply for whatever your needs are…emotional, physical, financial, relational. He is sufficient for you in every way.
Are you in need? El Shaddai will provide. He lacks nothing and loves to give to His children!
Jehovah Rapha – ‘The God who Heals’ We see this name for God in Exodus 15, as the Israelites were fleeing Egypt through the desert. They were in desperate need of clean drinking water and there was none, only water that was ‘bitter’ and undrinkable. So Moses cried out to God, and He miraculously turned this bitter water clean, saving the nation of Israel from certain death. Verse 26 says, “I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”
Do you need healing? Like Moses, cry out to God with your requests for provision for your health. He is sufficient for you.
There are several other names for God that reveal who He is to us: Jehovah Nissi (God is My Banner), Jehovah Shalom (God is My Peace) to name a few.
Every name of God reveals His love for us and His power to be all we need in this life. Praise God!