What's in a Name?
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Gen. 1:1)”
In scripture we find that there is no attempt to prove there is a God; Moses starts out as if the reader or hearer of his words already has a belief or a knowledge that there is a God.
The apostle Paul writes in Rom.1:20 that creation itself reveals there is a God and man is without an excuse for not knowing there is a God. However, creation only shows that there is a God, but it can not tell you who he is; the creation only reveals some of his character.
As Moses writes, within the camp there is a clear proof of God’s existence to all who would just look out the door of their tents; a towering presence is in their midst, a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of smoke by day.
The question in the camp wouldn’t be, “Is there a God?” No! The question in the camp would have been, “Who or just what is this God that is in our midst?”
It’s like God could hear the people’s question; since most only had a hand-me-down, he said, she said, past down by word of mouth from generation to generation story or knowledge of God; at best, they only had second hand knowledge of who the God of Abraham was. There was no scripture as of yet written to tell them who he was, (to preserve the accuracy of his character and deeds), and none had ever had a personal experience with God; the knowledge of God was very arcane or obscured at best as it was pasted down from the time of the beginning, at least until now.
But now, God wasn’t just something they had heard about and prayed to or called out to in a time of distress. No! Now there was a clearly seen presence in the camp; and it is this God that had shown himself mightily in delivering them from Egypt; as well as, parting the Red Sea so they could cross over on dry land.
So Moses by the inspiration of this God begins to write, “In the Beginning…” God through the hand of Moses starts out by declaring that he supersedes any other so called god or idea that man may have invented; whereby showing he is the cause of the beginning and that any other god is only a false worship and the invention of fallen man.
“And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD. (Gen. 4:26)”
This is an interesting verse, almost 235 years after the creation of all things, man starts to call upon the name of the Lord! The name Enos means; frail, mortal or miserable. The effects of the fall of man are being noticed and men are calling out to God for relief. Or, are they!
Jewish tradition says that they are not calling out to the one true God, but rather this is the beginning of idolatry; where men take the names of God and apply them to their idols, the mixing of truth with false ideas to create their own belief system and calling it by a name which belongs to the one and only true God. The actual wording of the Hebrew should be: “Then men began profanely to call upon the name of Yahweh.” Where they use his name in conjunction with their idols, or call themselves or some other object by this name.
Some religions claim that the Jews (Moses) borrowed the names or some attributes of their gods and applied them to their own, but in fact, it was the other way around and Moses is starting to return these names or attributes to their rightful owner.
(So if there are any similarities between the true and the false, it’s because; to give any validity to the false, the false will need to borrow from the truth.)
Many false gods have been invented by fallen man, by perverting the truth. Since it is clear from creation itself that there is a God, man had to change the image of the true, into an image that he can manipulate and by doing so, it allows himself to indulge in all kinds of perverted behavior and at the same time he can pacify his own conscience that knows there is a God to whom he can call out to in times of trouble or worship and give some kind of honor in times of goodness.
Even also the Hebrews; many had fallen pray to these false images and mixed some truth with the false; So God through Moses was now setting things straight and bringing them back to the truth.
The first word we see in understanding what God is, is the Hebrew word “elohim”, which is translated into English as, “God” or allah in Arabic. Even the English word we use, “God”, is hard to trace down to see just what is meant by the term; some have suggested that it is short for “The Good Being”.
“Elohim” (which is the anglicized form of the Hebrew word. It can be broken down like this for understanding. (el)(oh)(im); vowels are only used for pronunciation, so it looks like this (lhm). Elohim is a uni-plural noun and is the plural of “el” or “eloah”, the word “el” shows something that is mighty, strong, firm or enduring. In most cases, el is the greatest or strongest of the strongest, therefore it is almost aways translated; God or refers to something God-like.
The Hebrew letter “h” means “ worshipped, adored, struck with astonishment, fear, or terror. So by this: “h” means something that brings awe or worship. (Again, vowels are used only for pronunciation.) So “eloah or lh” may be, something that causes one to be so awe stuck by its strength, it would bring one to an act of worship. No doubt the sight of this burning furnace atop of the mountain would have put these people in a state of awe and fear; and now this site is in the camp.
The last part of the word Eloh(im) shows plurality, which for the most part brings confusion to some people; since God has declared himself as “one”. For those who believe in the trinity of God, there is no confusion; it’s just another part where God reveals a mystery of his character, showing unity.
The same word used to describe God’s oneness, (echad), is also the word used to speak of a bunch of grapes. The bunch consists of many grapes that are connected by a unifying factor; with this factor in place, the grapes are one or one bunch. Separate any of them from this factor, then they are no longer a part of the bunch. The (im) in elohim is referring to a unifying factor within who God is.
This word “elohim”, is the word which God has used of himself, saying he is the only true elohim. It is more of a title that declares something about the character of this extraordinary being, and not an actual name.
The uses of this word in reference to another (false) god or gods plural, using this term “elohim or eloah” is to show something that is receiving a place of honor or worship that belongs only to the true God; in other words, something that someone has substituted in the place of the true God’s position and is causing it receiving (false) worship.
The further one come from the fall of man, this word “elohim”; then starts to morph to mean “any gods or object” of mans worship. The normal term in Hebrew for angel is “malak”; which means messenger, but there is one time in scripture, that the word elohim is translated “angels”, which means the Angels of God are sometimes called elohim (Psalms 8:5, but some say it should have been translated “Gods”, which may refer to God himself and not angels), where God created man in his image and man stands in a place as his ambassadors and represents the one true God; declaring his word or power. (God creating man in this earth above the animal world, but just short of being exactly like God himself.)
(The upper case or capital “G”, or the lower case or small “g”; used by the translators in spelling the word “God”, is only used to help the reader to distinguish between what is the one true God or something else that may be called a god, but there is no capitalization of letters in Hebrew; it is just “elohim” that is used in every cases.)
Allah is the Arabic word for God; there isn’t another word to be use, therefore when translating the English word God or the Hebrew word elohim into Arabic, allah is used. The Jewish or Christian believers who only speak Arabic, when they speak of God, they say allah.
The debate whether God, elohim or allah are the same God, depends on how one worships, whether you freely worship or are the people forced to worship. Plus by the character of that God and his people.
It’s clear that the allah of the Muslims is not the same allah of the Arabic speaking Jew or Christian; simply by comparing their worship and the character they ascribe to this allah it is clear that a different God is being referred to.
When one understands the true meaning of the title of elohim, or God; they will understand that true worship can not be forced, but only freely given. Forced worship is false worship; and there is no honor in forced worship.
Elohim is best described as we look at Jesus and see the response the leper gave when he was healed or the lame was able to stand or leap for joy. The power of God was so greatly manifested before these people that they were awe struck and they were drawn to a place of worship where they freely gave their worship and honor to this “Good Being”.
The True God doesn’t need someone to force people to worship him, he draws people to himself by his Awesomeness, (That is elohim!)