His Name Is
by Rev. Randy Brown
From time to time, those of you who are parents are all doing me a big favor and I want to thank you. The favor really starts out at your home when your young child comes to you and says, “Who made God?”, “How old is God?”, “Where did God come from?” You know those questions that children ask and you ladies you’ll say, “Well, go ask you father,” and they go and ask their father and their father says, “Go ask you mother,” and the child says, “I’ve already done that,” and then they go back to mom and she says, “Well, we’ll ask the preacher on Sunday.”
Thank you, that you’ve got that much confidence in me.
I remember a little boy hearing the story that he asked his mom – or – the actually his mom asked me, “How big is God?” And the little boy said, “Well, God’s big enough.” I thought that’s a pretty good answer. God’s big enough. He’s big enough to put the sun and the stars, and the moon into orbit. He’s big enough to carve out the places like the Grand Canyon and to fill up the oceans and to put snow on top of the Alps and the Rockies. God’s big enough but He’s small enough that He can live within my heart. God’s big enough.
As we look together I want to look a little bit about God this morning just for a few moments and I want us to look at the names of God because the names of God are different descriptions of God, at different times and points throughout the scripture and throughout history.
You sang it a few moments ago. You may not know what you sang but the song El Shaddai…El Shaddai means God Almighty. That God is all I need for all of my needs. El Shaddai is that word that claims that God is the Almighty One.
Then there’s Elohim. Elohim is the word for Creator God. That God created all that there is. I know a lot of you are talented, good with your hands and can take things and make beautiful things, but nobody in this room can take nothing and make something out of it except God. God is the Creator. The one who the scripture says, “And the Earth was without form and void,” but all of a sudden God spoke to existence, He said, “Let there be,” and there was. Elohim is the Creator God – the God who spoke the world into existence.
Then there’s El ElRoi, the One who sees.
Have you ever been on a sticky situation?
God did not leave you there. God did not abandon you there. God sees. It was El ElRoi that was there in the third chapter of Daniel. When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into the midst to the fiery furnace and King Nebuchadnezzar says, “You’re going to burn.”
But they get there in the midst of the fiery furnace which is heated seven times hotter than normal and then all of a sudden the king gets close as he could and he looks and he sees and there’s not three but there’s four persons in the fire. He says, “And the fourth one looks like a God.” That’s God being with them. El ElRoi is the One who sees in a sticky situation.
Now, El Elyon is another name. El Elyon means God Most High, the One who rules. The One who is in control. It’s been years…it seems like yesterday in some ways but on 9/11…You all remember that? I was the pastor at Gallatin First Methodist and we, like churches across the country on a Tuesday evening, gathered just for prayer. Open the doors to the church and it was standing room only because the nation came together to pray.
I don’t remember what I prayed that night. I don’t remember what anybody else in that crowded auditorium prayed that night except one lady. Her name was Dorothy Strader. Dorothy’s husband was Dr. Bruce Strader who was a pastor in this conference. They’re from England.
Dorothy would come in every Sunday morning with a couple of other people and pray for me before church on Sunday morning, but this night in a time of silent prayer…Dorothy Strader in that beautiful English accent voice, simply said, “Lord, I thank You that You are still in charge. Amen.” I don’t remember any of the other prayers. I’ll never forget that one.
That’s El Elyon. The Most High. The One who Rules and He’s still in charge and when we know that we can…as the youth say we can, “Cool out and chill out,” because He’s got this one.
Then there’s Jehovah, The Covenant-Keeping God. The One who is self-existent. Now, this is all one God but with different names to describe different characteristics. Then there is Jehovah-Jireh, He’s my Provider. The Psalmist knew this, “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.” He’s my Provider.
I heard Bishop Payne this week and Bishop Payne told a story about a church in North Carolina. I don’t know if we’ve got any tall hills, or not, but in Carolina in 1876…Now, this is not a preacher story. This is a historic account of what actually happened. In 1870’s in Pamlico Sound the people called Methodist wanted to build a church – the trustees went to a guy by the name of Sam Sadler, who owned the highest land elevation in that area. They wanted to build a church on that highland and he wouldn’t sell it to them. They tried everything and Sam Sadler wouldn’t sell.
They built the church in another location. It took them about six years. So, 1876 came along and right before they were finishing the building the hurricanes came in and the waters came up and the floods came. It is a historical fact from the Historical Society of North Carolina that on that day when all the storms came through that Methodist Church which was almost complete wise lifted it off the foundation and taken north for about a mile. That church building was floating down through that town.
It got down to a place called Main Street and it was like a pilot turned it left going east and it went to where the land was that they wanted to buy from Sam Sadler. It went to that land and it turned and the whole church sat facing Main Street. Sam Sadler saw it. He got in a row boat, went to the Trustees house and said, “You all can have the land.” That church that floated that day is now a historic part of some more buildings from that church that had been built but it’s still there today. Outside that church is the sign that says, “Provident Church…Providence Church… The Church That God Moved.”
God is our Provider. Jehovah-Jireh.
Now, there’s Jehovah Rapha. All through the scriptures we hear about Jesus as the Great Physician. Jehovah Rapha is the Healer God – God-healing. That God walks into the operating room with the doctors and the nurses, and the staff and God brings about healing. That is Jehovah Rapha. It was Jehovah Rapha who was present all through the scriptures when the centurions came on behalf of a friend. When the widow came on behalf of her son and he was raised. Jehovah Rapha, The One Who Heals.
Then there was Jehovah Shalom, the One who brings Peace and Jehovah-Shammah, the One who is near us. Then we sang a moment ago Adonai. Adonai, means my Lord. Thomas had doubted. Thomas was honest but when Thomas saw the One standing in the very midst and presence he simply said, “ My Lord, My Lord,” that’s Adonai.
There are several names for God that we didn’t cover this morning but I want to look at one more name and when I do set it up this way…There was a little boy whose father had made it to the height of climbing the ranks in the military. He had served his time and he had gotten one advancement after another after another after another until he was one of the top few in the military with all the honors and all the ranks and all the accolades.
When he got home that night and the little boy’s father said, “What do you think about your old man now?” He said, “I just got one question. Can I still call you daddy? Can I still call you daddy?” That’s the name I want us to look at for just a second. It’s the name that Jesus called Him. For when Jesus said, “Abba,” Father.
You know what that means translated in English?
All these flowery names of God, that’s not what God wants you to call Him. God just wants you to call Him ‘Daddy.’ That’s the kind of intimate relationship that God wants with you.
That’s what Jesus taught us.”Our Father, who art in heaven.”
Abba, is the One who invites you this morning to come to the table and to receive the elements of Holy Communion. That is the broken body and shed blood. Abba invites you to the table that remembers the love of Jesus for you. So if you forget all the other names don’t forget this one Abba, Daddy. For He invites you to come to the table.