The Many Names of God

Other Names Part 2

Isaiah 63:16, 64:8, Avinu "Our Father"
Ecclesiastes 12:1; Isaiah 40:28-31, 43:15, Boreh "Creator"
2 Kings 19:22; Psalms 71:21-24; Isaiah 5:18-23, Kadosh Israel "Holy One of Israel"
Genesis 49:22-24a, Abir Jaacov "The Mighty One of Jacob"

More Names of God

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Isaiah 63:16, 64:8, Avinu "Our Father" (1/21/2009)

I was reading some commentary or other recently in which the writer made the point that Jesus alone in the whole Bible calls God "my Father." I had never noticed this before, so I did some fairly careful checking, and it appears to be true. Amazing! Jesus uses this name about 70 recorded times (some of which are duplicates), and presumably many unrecorded times. He also calls God "your Father" about 20 recorded times in speaking to crowds mostly in the plural, I think. Paul calls God "our Father" about 17 times. No one else uses "our Father" in the New Testament.

Now, this seems very strange to me, having been raised to address God as "Father," just as Jesus did. The main explanation that I can think of is that the Jews were not accustomed to seeing God as their Father, but rather Abraham. "Our Father" is used only twice in the OT as a name or title for God. Not surprisingly, it was the prophet Isaiah who had this brilliant insight that God was not only the divine and powerful Lord, but also the loving Father of us all.

Ecclesiastes 12:1; Isaiah 40:28-31, 43:15, Boreh "Creator" (1/22/2009)

After reading two creation stories and reciting "I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth" a few hundred times, you probably think that "Creator" would be a common name or title for God. You would be mistaken, however. This name is used only 5 or 6 times, three times in the Old Testament and two or three times in the New Testament, depending on how you read one text (Colossians 3:9-10).

All of these texts seem to me to have a similar flavor. They seem to be contrasting me with God, not because God is holy and I am unholy which is my own choice, or even because God is powerful and I am weak which is simply unfair. Instead, they contrast me with God because God is the Creator and I am a creature, which is humiliating. I think this is clearest in the first two readings, but it also comes through in the others. Even when I am (or was) young and strong, as a creature I am aware that it won't last. Strength and energy may not even last for a short time, Isaiah says. Only through the gift and intervention of the Creator is the creature empowered. Do you suppose this name for God is rare because it reminds us that we are creatures?

2 Kings 19:22; Psalms 71:21-24; Isaiah 5:18-23, Kadosh Israel "Holy One of Israel" (1/23/2009)

God is called the "Holy One of Israel," (also Holy One or Holy One of Jacob) about 40 times in the Old Testament. At least once, in Psalms 16:10, "Holy One" is taken to refer to the Messiah. Jesus is called the "Holy One of God" by a demon (Mark 1:24) and by Peter (John 6:69), who also calls Jesus the "Holy One" (Acts 3:14). We have all sung "Holy, Holy, Holy, LORD God Almighty" enough times to know that God is holy. The psalm we read today is similar in spirit; it is a celebration of God's holiness.

In Leviticus 11:44, God says, "Y'all be holy, because I am holy!" Difficulty aside, that's a little hazy on the details, which is alarming because the prophet Isaiah says that reviling, questioning, or failing to imitate God's holiness is a sin. Fortunately, Jesus is also the Holy One, and he reinforces that by saying "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. I and the Father are one." Christ's example and teaching are clear and show exactly what holiness is in a broad range of circumstances. Be Christlike. Be holy.

Genesis 49:22-24a, Abir Jaacov "The Mighty One of Jacob" (1/26/2009)

We all know about the Lord strong and mighty, strong and mighty in battle.

Another name or title of God is the "Mighty One of Jacob," which comes through in some translations as the "Mighty God of Jacob," even through "God" is not in the Hebrew. Two verses have "Mighty One of Israel" (Isaiah 1:24 and 30:29), which could either mean Jacob or the nation of Israel. Since nowhere do we see "Mighty One of Judah," I'm betting that we have a total of 7 references to God as the Mighty One of Jacob.

Why not the Mighty One of Somebody Else? I don't know, but here's something to think about. After Jacob left his father-in-law Laban, he was in a difficult position. There was not a lot of love lost between him and Laban, so he couldn't very well turn around and go back. On the other hand, the last time he heard from his brother, Esau was out for his blood. Jacob sends his family to a safe place, but then a strange thing happens. A man comes and wrestles with him all night. Before Jacob will back off, he insists that the man give him his blessing. The man says, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed." So maybe God is called "the Mighty One of Jacob" because He wrestled with Jacob all night.

More Names of God
Names of God - Introduction
Sacred Names - Part 1
Sacred Names - Part 2
Other Names - Part 1
Other Names - Part 3
Names of Jesus - Part 1
Names of Jesus - Part 2
Names of Jesus - Part 3
Names of Jesus - Part 4
Names of Jesus - Part 5
Names of Jesus - Part 6
Names of Jesus - Part 7
Names of Jesus - Part 8
Names of Jesus - Part 9
Names of the Spirit

Copyright 2009, 2011 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.

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