Just recently my father-in-law, John Rubis (if that is his name) celebrated his 80th Birthday with a big party. It was a fun day to share stories and celebrate the journey. Many family and friends were present for the big event. While there, I recalled something I had long known about my father-in-Law. He is living under an assumed name. I listened as people came in and greeted him by names, lots of them… “Sam”, “John”, “Jack”, “Butch”, “Grampa Jack” “Dad” and more. The many names of John Rubis are all related to when and where people first met him. This got me pondering…
Have you ever pondered why God has so many names in Scripture? If you recall from the book of Exodus, Moses inquires of the voice from the bush, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” He certainly could not call God “the voice from the bush”. He needed a name that would show God’s authority and power was behind what Moses was saying.
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers–the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob–has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.
Exodus 3:14-15 (NIV)
God says that “I AM” is a name by which He is to be remembered from generation to generation. Yet Scripture identifies God with many other names, or titles. Here are just a few of them, “Living Stone, Wonderful Counselor, El-Shaddai, Potter, Gardener, Bread of Life, Good Shepherd, Consuming Fire, High Priest, Prince of Peace, Jesus, and Light of the World just to name a few.
Why so many names? As I ponder the question I come up with two reasons. First, one name could never fully describe God in a way that we might be able to understand His nature. It would be like the ancient folk tale of the blind men around the elephant. The blind man who feels a leg says the elephant is like a pillar; the one who feels the tail says the elephant is like a rope; the one who feels the trunk says the elephant is like a tree branch; the one who feels the ear says the elephant is like a hand fan; the one who feels the belly says the elephant is like a wall; and the one who feels the tusk says the elephant is like a solid pipe.
If people have difficulty describing an elephant, can you imagine trying to use just a few words to describe God? Even with all the names and titles given to God in Scripture, we still cannot fully comprehend who He is.
Secondly, God has various names to help us remember where and when we met Him, just like my father-in-law. You may have met God as the Resurrection and the Life in the midst of your sorrow over loss. Maybe we know him best as the Prince of Peace in a world that is war torn. Still others relate to him as the Good Shepherd faithfully tending and caring for his sheep. His many names help us remember when and where we connect to God. As one who suffers from depression, He is my Light of the World who has called me out of darkness into His wonderful light!
Something to Ponder: What is your favorite name for God , and why does that name stand out for you? Take a moment and share your thoughts with us in the comment section. We would be blessed to hear from you.