The Name of God (2/4)
Elijah The Prophet and The Priests of Baal
In post one, we identified the name of God as YHWH, a name obscured by English translations of the Bible. One of the great biblical passages that illustrates the value of knowing the name of God is the story of Elijah the Prophet and the Priests of Baal, found in 1 Kings chapter 18.
As you may know, Elijah convinced King Ahab to assemble the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel for a public demonstration of divine power that would decide whether YHWH or Baal was God Most High (El Elyon in Hebrew): “If YHWH is God (El), follow him; but if Baal, follow him” (18:21).
An altar was built and a sacrifice placed upon it. The priests called upon Baal to send divine fire. They shouted, danced, and cut themselves from morning until evening, but Baal did not answer. So, Elijah placed a sacrifice upon an altar, dousing it completely with twelve large pitchers of water. Then, in front of all of Israel, he prayed:
1 Kings 18:36-38
“O YHWH, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, today let it be known that Thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at Thy word. Answer me, O YHWH, that this people may know that Thou, O YHWH, art God, and that Thou hast turned their heart back again.”
The Bible tells us that, after this prayer, the fire of YHWH fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust and the water, and the people acted predictably: they fell on their faces and said, “YHWH, He is El; YHWH, He is El.”
Now, there’s a lot of good stuff in this passage, but there’s one little gem most people will overlook – until they know the name of God. Once they do, the meaning of Elijah’s name becomes clear. What were the people were proclaiming as they bowed down in front of Elijah? YHWH is EL, or YHWH is God Most High, El Elyon. That’s the meaning of Elijah’s name: EL is YAH. Elijah! He was destined for this moment all his life.
Don’t be confused. YHWH is God. We will continue this discussion soon. Stay tuned!