Monday, March 16, 2015

Teach us to pray, part 22: Elohim

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB)


Elohim is the Hebrew word meaning God, and is used more than 2,600 times in the Old Testament. The derivation is not certain, but some scholars think it is derived from a root meaning "strong". It is first used in Genesis 1:1. 

"In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heaven and the earth."

David used this name for God repeatedly, and Psalm 68 is filled with references to Elohim that help us understand this God we serve a bit better. The psalmist tells us that God is a father to the fatherless and a judge for the widows, He makes a home for the lonely, and leads the prisoners into prosperity. The presence of God brings rain, and He provides His goodness for the poor. 

Blessed by the Lord, who daily bears our burden,
The God who is our salvation.
God is us a God of deliverances.
Psalm 68:19-20

David wrote that our strength is commanded by God and that we are to ascribe strength to Him. "The God of Israel Himself gives strength and power to the people." (Ps. 68:35)

Look again at the ones for whom our strong God cares: the fatherless, the widows, the lonely, those who are prisoners, the poor. He loves us all, but He pays particular attention to those who cannot care for themselves. He gives the strong their strength and gives His strength to the weak. He bears our burdens Himself, and delivers us from our trouble.

There is no burden so great that He cannot bear it, nor so complicated that He cannot deliver me from it. What a consolation to know that I serve a God who can handle anything that comes my way, and what a comfort to know that God cares about me in my weakness! When I am weak, He is not only strong, He gives me the strength I need.

How, then, do I honor the name of this One who cares so much for me? I must care about the ones He cares about. I, too, must love the fatherless, the widows, the lonely, those who are in prison, the poor. I, too, must be concerned for those who cannot care for themselves. 

Having a tender heart toward the weak is not enough. God's caring results in action, and mine should, too. When He sees the lonely, He doesn't just feel sorry for them, He makes a home for them. When He sees a widow, He doesn't just take note of her, He stands up for her and insures that she is treated fairly. 

Hallowing the name of Elohim means that I use my strength to help those who are weak, and that begins with looking around me to see the needs, then taking action to meet those needs. I must be the hands and feet of Christ, "Jesus with skin on" to those in need. 

There is good news, however. Serving God is not just doing good deeds. Hallowing Him also requires that I recognize Him and honor God for His great attributes. When I am the one that is weak, I have no need to fear. The One who cares for the lilies and the birds also cares for me, and I can take my burdens to Him and leave them at His feet.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower:
the righteous runneth into it, 
and is safe.  (Psalm 18:10)

There is no need so great that God cannot help me. There is no danger so severe that He cannot protect me. His name is a strong tower, a safe place, even in the midst of trouble. In time of need, run to the only One who can keep us safe. Elohim.