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Friday, February 1, 2013

Getting to Know God: El-hay

We've already discussed how the qualifiers after the name "El" serve the purpose of setting apart the one, true God.  This particular qualifier does so in a mighty way.  Today we will look at El-hay, the living God.  Of all other religions, not one can claim to serve a living God.  Their gods are dead and buried.  Their idols are lifeless.  And as such, their "gods" can't do anything for them.

Our God, on the other hand, has conquered both death and hell.  He has always been alive and will always be alive.  He is the living God, and because He lives, we have hope.  Hope that He sees our needs.  Hope that He can intercede on our behalf.  Hope that He can meet our needs and solve our problems.  Hope that He can protect us.  A dead god can't help his people.

I'm reminded of a story told by a missionary to Africa.  He was struggling to get the village leader to understand the difference between his idol god and the one, true God.  Finally, he broke down and asked this question, "So, if your hut were to catch on fire, would your god save you, or would you have to save your god?"  His point was made and eventually, the village leader surrendered his life to Christ.

We first see the name El-hay when the children of Israel are standing at the banks of the Jordan River, waiting to see if they could take the land before them.  They'd been down this road before.  They had walked across on dry land as the Red Sea was parted for them after they had escaped from Egypt.  They had seen God's provision, yet the thought of fighting the "giants" of the land scared them to the point that they forgot all God had done and all that He could do.  And so they were left to wander.  Now, here they are, facing a very familiar scene.  An uncrossable river.  A land filled with enemies.  A decision to be made.

So before giving the orders, Joshua decides to give the people a little pep talk, and in the midst of it, he reminds the people that they serve a living God.  And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites. (Joshua 3:10)  Within moments, the entire nation once again defies nature by walking across the Jordan River on dry ground.  Only a living God can make the waters stand still.

We see the name El-hay again when King Darius sneaks out to check on Daniel after the man of God had been thrown into the lion's den the night before.  After seeing that Daniel was unharmed and that God had indeed delivered him from the lions' mouths, the king said, I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. (Daniel 6:26)  Only a living God could have delivered Daniel from those hungry lions.

Those are not the only times El-hay is mentioned.  In fact, the Bible has quite a lot to say about the living God, but what does it really mean for us?  For starters, it means that we serve a God who is both worthy and able to receive our praise.  It also means that we can take great comfort in the fact that our cries will be heard, our joys will be seen, our requests will be considered and our hearts will be loved.  Our God is alive, and because of that, He can do for us what no other could do.  He's watching.  He's paying attention.  He's always awake, always alive and always available. He lives for us.  Is it too much to ask that we live for Him?

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