I have realized of late that I have not posted a blog in a very long time. I could give you a variety of reasons (it has been quite a summer) and they, no doubt, would all earn your understanding for, from time to time, we all have what could be described as “quite a summer.” But really, I will admit, I’ve just been dry. And of all the bittersweet insights gained along the dusty road my Savior and I have been walking of late, there is not much of anything I feel compelled to share.
What I will share, however, is that early next Spring, I will be travelling to India. India: the land which simply cannot be described. Words fall woefully short for India can only be experienced. And not all of India’s experiences are good. At least, not all of mine have been good.
Regardless, I am going. And I am going with some very special ladies to teach our Indian friends about the depth of riches hidden within the many names of our God. So I have decided to blog my way through my preparation and study, sharing with you the treasures I find all along the way. Hopefully, you will be enriched as I drag you on this journey with me. And if we really make it to India next year, I will drag you along with me there too. And maybe, just maybe, I will find the words to describe it this time.
With all that said, it is most appropriate to begin at the beginning. And in the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the earth. Our English Bibles simply say God did it. But in the Hebrew, we are told that it was Elohim. In fact, in Genesis 1, Elohim is used exclusively, and in the Old Testament it's used 2606 times!
Ok, you might think, so what? Why is Elohim better than just plain old God? Well, like all the names we will explore, Elohim reveals some important things to us. Let’s break it down: El-oh-heem. El is a word we will see quite often as we delve into these names. It is an ancient word meaning “god” or deity. Within the word lies the idea of creative power and mighty strength, a sovereign force of prominence that brings something out of nothing.
So Elohim tells us God is a creative force. And when we are talking about creation, we are talking about God giving a voice command and “something” coming out of “nothing.” This is the story of Genesis 1 and the six days of creation.
Next, Elohim tells us God is a Trinity. The “heem” of Elohim makes the word el plural. This is something we don’t do very well in English. In some cases, English doesn’t give clear indication when we make a pronoun plural. For example we say “you” when we refer to an individual, but we also say “you” when we really mean you collectively, as in “you all” or “y’all” as my Alabamian relatives would say. So Elohim is the plural form of el. Notice additional plural pronouns are recruited in Genesis 1:26: “Let Us make mankind in Our image.”
On the very first pages of Scripture, in Elohim, we are introduced to a God that is plural. He is three in one. He is NOT plural in the sense that He is three gods. He is one God in three manifestations or roles: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. So in chapter 1—basically on page 1—we are introduced, whether we knew it or not, to the Trinity. Elohim is a God who is a powerful creative force and He is a trinity...three in one. This, of course, becomes critically important when God arrives later in the flesh.
But there is more: Elohim tells us that as Creator He has intimate knowledge of His creation. We see this beautifully drawn upon the pages of Job 38 and 39 when He shares that intimate knowledge with a weary Job. This God knows where mountain goats give birth and when (39:1-3). He gives the wild donkey his freedom (39:5-8) and commands service and submission from the oxen (39:9-12). He acknowledges the stupidity of the ostrich, yet notes that she will have the last laugh when she outruns the horse (39:13-18). It seems even the “crazy” of the horse (and you horse people know what this means) is amusing to God (39:19-25), and when the hawk and the eagle soar far beyond our vision to build their nests, though we can’t see them, Elohim knows exactly where they are (39:26-30).
If He has that kind of intimate knowledge of the mountain goats, horses, and birds, what kind of intimate knowledge must He have of us? Though Isaiah 43:1 tells us He knows our name, what He truly knows goes much deeper than that. Psalm 139 tells us He knows our words before we speak them and our thoughts before we think them. There is no more intimate knowledge than that.
Psalm 139 tells us we are so known because we were created by a tender Elohim knitting us together in the seclusion of the womb...a miracle of new life to be sure! But much later in Ephesians 2, Paul borrows the imagery of the psalmist and declares another miracle of creation has occurred. The masterpiece made in the secret places of Psalm 139 has been gloriously remade, essentially recreated, reborn, made new.That’s us. Created once physically. Recreated spiritually. How so? Elohim.
I always think of God the Creator as God the Father, but Colossians 1:15-20 and Hebrews 1:1-4 beg to differ. They tell us that Jesus was the One who created everything. What gets really interesting is when we consider John 1:14: The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. And what this means, what this really means when I strip everything else away, frankly just astonishes me:
The Creator became creation. Imagine, the Creator subjecting Himself to flesh, to a body, to limitation, to temptation, to deprivation. To hunger and thirst and fatigue. To the pride and stupidity of mankind.
Creator became creation in order to create again. To recreate. Us.
In my mind there has always been two categories of people: good and bad. But to think this way is to misunderstand the gospel, forcing it into the wrong categories. People are not so much good or bad, but they are either alive or dead. This is really all about how we died in the Garden spiritually and how like zombies we are living dead until we in faith allow Elohim, through the power of the cross, to re-create us, to bring us back from spiritual death and give us life anew.
The Creator became creation in order to re-create. What God created as “good” was broken and ruined by sin, but through the cross,
creates again, this time not to make something out of nothing, but to bring something long dead back to abundant life. To create again and in that re-creating, to make something really, really beautiful.
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17