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The Names of God: Adonai



Did you ever notice the word “Lord” in the Old Testament? It’s there! Lots! Almost seven thousand times! Ok, did you notice that sometimes it’s Lord with a capital “L” and other times it’s LORD, with all capital letters?

When the Bible was first translated into English, the translators wrote LORD for Yahweh (or Jehovah), God’s personal name, and Lord for the Hebrew word Adonai. That’s the name I’d like to consider today.

That Hebrew word is first found in Genesis, chapter fifteen. Remember the story...

God had called Abraham (Abram) from his home in southern Iraq. “Follow me” God said, “And I will give you a new land, and I will bless you with tribes of children and grandchildren.”

So Abraham followed God all the way to Canaan. Years later, Abraham was having a frank conversation in prayer. (Abraham’s prayer-time was different that mine, because Abe wasn’t doing all the talking... God was talking back!)

Abraham said something like... “Hey God, those kids and grandkids you promised ... we’ve got exactly ... none! Zero... Zip!”

God responded, “Fear not! I’ll take care of it! Trust me!”

That’s when Abraham used the name Adonai. He said, “O Lord GOD...” In Hebrew, that’s “Adonai Elohim!” That’s the first time in Scripture that we find the word Adonai.

Look a couple of verses down the page to find what Adonai Elohim promises. The Lord God “brought him outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be’ ” (Genesis 15:5, ESV). Of course, the Great Promise-Keeper delivered!

I’d like to leave you with two things to contemplate.

First, the name Adonai, or Lord, can be synonymous with Master, Owner, or maybe Boss. When we call Him Lord, we declare His complete ownership over us. He’s the Boss! He’s the Master! He owns us as a slave-owner possessed a slave! He’s the Lord and we’re the slave.

That bring us to the second thing.

The Adonai / Slave relationship demands complete submission. He didn’t give us Ten Suggestions. He gave us Ten Commandments! He doesn’t offer advise that we take or leave depending upon how we feel. He is Adonai, and that calls for complete submission.

By the way, our submission isn’t based upon the fear of a tyrant, but it’s based upon our love and respect of a Father, our Adonai Elohim.

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