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Names of God #4

Adonai

        
THE NAMES OF GOD

by Nathan J. Stone (1944) 

ADONAI


     THE NAMES of GOD we have studied so far have been Elohim,
translated "God" in our Bibles; Jehovah, translated "LORD"; and
"El-Shaddai," translated "God Almighty" or "Almighty God." These
names have related rather to the Person of God - the power and
glory of His Being, as in Elohim; the expression of Himself as a
God of righteousness, holiness, love and redemption, as in
Jehovah; and as a beneficent and bountiful Bestower of powers,
gifts, blessings, and fruitfulness for service, as seen in
El-Shaddai. While these names do imply or demand a responsibility
on the part of man to conform to the Being in whose image he is
made, the name under consideration in this chapter makes a
definite claim upon man's obedience and service.

     The name Adonai is translated in our Bibles by the word Lord
in small letters, only the first of which is a capital. Used as a
name of God, Adonai occurs probably some 300 times in the Old
Testament. It is significant that it is almost always, in the
plural and possessive, meaning my Lords'. It confirms the idea of
a trinity as found also in the name Elohim. 

(It confirms only that the Godhead is MORE than one person, it
does not prove the "trinity" teaching. The word "ship" is
singular, the word "ships" is plural, but does not tell you how
many over the number TWO there are of ships in the habor. The
rest of the Bible proves the Godhead is TWO eternal beings - the
Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit is not a person separate from
the Father and Son. This truth of the Godhead I have proved in
other studies on this website - Keith Hunt)

     This is still further confirmed by the fact that the same
word is used of men some 215 times and translated "master,"
"sir," and "lord,"  but for the most part, "master," as
throughout Genesis 24, where Eliezer, the servant of Abraham,
speaks of "my master Abraham," and over and over again says,
"Blessed be Jehovah God of my master Abraham." It is important to
notice, too, that the same word Adonai is translated a number of
times by the word "owner." But, used of men, it always in the
singular form, "adon." Only of God is it in the plural. 
     The suggestion of the Trinity in this name is still more
strikingly confirmed its use in Psalm 110, in these words: "The
Lord said d unto my Lord " or "Jehovah  said unto to Adonai. Sit
thou on my right till I make thine enemies thy footstool." The
Lord Jesus in Matthew 22:41-45 (as also Peter, Acts 2:34, 35; and
Hebrews 1:13; 10:12,13), refers this striking passage to Himself.

(All this proves is DUALITY - not "threeality" or "tryality" -
Keith Hunt)


     How significant then that David, speaking of but one-member
of the Trinity should use here not the plural Adanai but the
singular form Adoni: "Jehovah said unto my Adoni," that is to
Christ the second Person of the Trinity.

(No the second person of the DUALITY of the Godhead - the Father
and the Son - the One we call Father today and the One we call
Son today - Keith Hunt)

     The name Adonai, while translated "Lord," signifies
ownership or mastership and indicates "the truth that God is the
owner of each member of the human family, and that He
consequently claims the unrestricted obedience of all." 1 The
expression, "Lord of lords," in Deuteronomy 10:17, could be
rendered "Master of masters." An illustration of this name as a
claim upon man's obedience and service is found in Malachi 1:6:
"A son honoreth his father, and a servant his master: if then I
be a father, where is mine
......

1 Girdlestone, Old Testament Synonyms, p.59.
......

honor? And if I be a master, where is my fear? saith Jehovah of
hosts ..." And in Job 28:28 it is declared that the fear of
Adonai (the Lord, the Master) is wisdom.


THE USE OF THE WORD IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

     The use of this name "Adonai" in the Old Testament plainly
reveals the relationship which God sustains toward His creatures
and what He expects of them. A glance at a good concordance will
give all the instances in which the name occurs. Let us examine a
few of them.
     The first occasion of its use, as with the name El-Shaddai,
is with Abraham in Genesis 15:2. In the first verse of this
chapter it is written: "After these things" - that is, after his
rescue of Lot and his military achievement of the defeat of the
four kings and their armies, where it is revealed that Abraham
himself was lord or master (adon) of a large establishment -
"After these things the word of Jehovah came unto Abram in a
vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy
exceeding great reward." Abram then makes his reply addressing
God as Adonai-Jehovah - an acknowledgment that Jehovah is also
Master. Certainly Abram understood what this relationship meant;
perhaps better than we nowadays understand it, for those were
days of slavery. Lordship meant complete possession on the one
hand, and complete submission on the other. As already seen,
Abraham himself sustained the relationship of master and lord
over a very considerable number of souls; therefore in addressing
Jehovah as Adonai he acknowledged God's complete possession of
and perfect right to all that he was and had.
     But even Abraham, thousands of years ago, understood by this
more than mere ownership, more than the expression and imposition
of an arbitrary or capricious will. Even in those days the
relationship of master and slave was not altogether or
necessarily an unmitigated evil. The purchased slave stood in a
much nearer relationship to his lord than the hired servant, who
was free to come and go as he might wish. In Israel, the hired
servant who was a stranger might not eat of the Passover or the
holy things of the master's house, but the purchased slave, as
belonging to his master, and so a member of the family, possessed
this privilege (Exod. 12:43-45; Lev. 22:10,11). The slave had the
right of the master's protection and help and direction. Nor was
the relationship devoid of affection. In the absence of seed, a
slave, Eliezer, is the heir to Abram's entire household. So the
psalmist well puts it all when he says: "Behold, as the eyes of
servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of
a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the
Lord our God ..." (123:2). "The eyes of all wait upon thee; and
thou givest them their meat in due season" (Ps. 145:15). As
Adonai, or Master or Lord, God says to Abraham: "Fear not, Abram,
I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward." He can depend
upon the faithfulness of the Master. For if a human master can
sustain relationships even of affection to a slave and be
faithful in provision and protection, how much more the
Jehovah-God who is Adonai also to His creatures.
There are many examples of the use of this name which well
illustrate this truth: Moses, when commissioned to Egypt to
deliver Israel, addresses God as Adonai, acknowledging thus God's
right to his life and and service when he replies: "O my Lord"
(that is, Adonai), "I am not eloquent ... I am slow of speech"
(Exod. 4:10). And again he says after God's reply, "O my Lord
[Adonai] send someone else." Then God's anger kindled against
him, against a servant who seeks to evade his responsibility of
carrying out the will of his rightful Lord. For God, who is never
a capricious or unjust Master, does not ask what cannot be
performed, and never requires a task for which He does not equip
His servants. Thus He assures Moses that He will be his
sufficiency for the task (Exod. 4:10).

     As the eye of a servant looks to the master, so Joshua, in
defeat and distress, looks for direction to the Lord God who is
his Adonai. When Gideon is called to deliver the children of
Israel from the Midianites, he asks: "O my Lord [Adonai],
wherewith shall I save Israel? Behold my family is poor in
Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house" (Judges 6:15).
Then God gives answer: "Surely I will be with thee, and thou
shalt smite the Midianites as one man." The name Adonai is found
frequently on the lips of David, and in one especially
significant passage in this connection (2 Sam. 7:18-20), it
appears four times in three verses. To David, of humble origin, a
shepherd lad, and now king of Israel, God comes and promises to
establish his dynasty, his throne, forever. Overcome by this
great promise, for he recognizes in it also the promise of
Messiah who shall come from his loins, David, king and lord of
God's people, calls God his Lord, coupling it with the name
Jehovah. He acknowledges his humble origin, his own unworthiness,
and the goodness and greatness of God the Adonai who has exalted
him, and he says: "Who am I, O Adonai Jehovah? And what is my
house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? ... And what can David
say more unto thee? For thou, Adonai Jehovah, knowest thy
servant."
     The psalmists, too, make frequent use of the name in its
proper significance. It is Jehovah, Adonai, whose name is so 
excellent in all the earth who has put all things under His feet
(Ps. 8). He is the Adonai of the whole earth (Ps. 97:5). The
earth is bidden to tremble at the presence of the Adonai, its
Lord (Ps. 114:7). Adonai is above all elohim or gods (Ps. 135:5).
As Master or Lord, Adonai is besought to remember the reproach of
His servant (Ps. 89:50). "My eyes are unto thee, O God, the
Adonai" (Ps. 141:8) says the psalmist as of a servant to his
Lord. And he asks Adonai, his Master, to take up his cause and
defend him against his enemies (Ps. 109:21-28).

     The use of this name by Isaiah the prophet is especially
significant. It is the vision of God as Adonai which started him
out on his prophetical career. One of the most stirring portions
of Scripture describes this vision. It was a time of national
darkness, for Uzziah, Judah's great king, had died. Uzziah was
the prophet's king, therefore his lord and master, and perhaps
his hero too, in spite of his tragic end. It is then that the
young man experiences one of the most solemn and significant
visions of Scripture. In the sixth chapter he tells us, "In the
year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord" - Adonai. His earthly
lord and master had died, but what does that matter when the Lord
of lords, the Adonai in the heavens, lives and reigns. This
Adonai is seated upon a throne too, but high and lifted up, above
all earthly lords and monarchs, for this Adonai is also Jehovah
of hosts, whose train fills the Temple and whose glory covers the
whole earth. This Adonai is surrounded by the fiery seraphim, who
not only cover their eyes before their holy Lord, but with their
wings are ready instantly to do His bidding. Then after the
prophet's confession and cleansing in preparation for his
service, he hears a voice saying: "Whom shall I send and who will
go for us?" This call for service comes from Adonai, for this is
the name used in verse 8.
     So prophet after prophet is called and commissioned for
service by Adonai, the Lord who claims obedience and service. The
shrinking Jeremiah, ordained from before his birth to be a
prophet, answers the call to service by saying, somewhat like
Moses "Ah, Adonai Jehovah! Behold , I cannot speak: for I am a
child" (Jer. 1:6). As with Moses, the Lord of life and service
enables His servants to carry out His commands when they yield
themselves to Him and obey. He touches the lips of Jeremiah, as
of Isaiah, and promises His presence and protection.
     In the prophecy of Ezekiel the name Adonai Jehovah occurs
some 200 times. It has added significance here that name occurs
in connection with prophecies not only concerning Israel but
concerning the nations round about. It reveals that Adonai claims
lordship not only over Israel but, whether they will or not, over
all the peoples of the earth. It is. "Thus saith Jehovah who is
Adonai," and again and again, "Ye shall know," and "They shall
know that I am Adonai Jehovah" (Ezek..13:9; 23:49; 24:24; 23:24,
29:16).

     It is Adonai Jehovah who commands the four winds to breathe
upon the dry bones and make them live (Ezek. 37:9).

     The use of this name is especially notable in Daniel 9 where
it occurs ten times in seventeen verses. Daniel is living in the
land of Israel's captivity, whose king is lord or adon over many
nations; but only Jehovah is the Adonai of Daniel and his people.
This is a chapter of confession of Israel's faithlessness as
God's servant, hence Daniel addresses God as Adonai in his prayer
for forgiveness and restoration of the people and Jerusalem. "O
Adonai," he cries, "the great and dreadful God, keeping the
covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep
his commandments; we have sinned, and have committed iniquity,
and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from
thy precepts and from thy judgments" (9:4,5). Since it is God as
Lord and Master whose will they have disobeyed, it is He to whom
they must address their prayer for forgiveness, for acceptance,
for restoration. Thus it is in verse 19, "O Adonai, hear; O
Adonai, for give; O Adonai, hearken and do (defer not for thine
own sake, O my God..."

     So throughout the Old Testament those who know God as Adonai
acknowledge themselves as servants: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are
thus spoken of (Exod. 32:13). Over and over again we read,
"Moses, my servant," and "Moses, the servant of the Lord." In the
same significant passage in which he addresses God as Adonai, a
number of times David the king speaks of himself as "thy
servant." "I am thy servant; give me understanding," says the
psalmist (Ps. 119:125). The word translated servant is also
slave. Thus prophets, priests, kings, all God's people
acknowledged themselves His servants, recognizing His right to
command and dispose of them according to His will as the Lord of
their lives. It is this which is suggested by the name Lord or
Adonai.


ITS USE IN THE NEw TESTAMENT

     The meaning of Adonai as Lord and Master is carried over
into the New Testament. Between two and three centuries before
Christ the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek by a
group of Jewish translators at Alexandria in Egypt. It is
interesting to note that they translated the word Adonai in
Genesis 15:2 as "Master." In the Greek it is "Despot."
In the New Testament, too, it is the word used of men as lord and
master in relationship to servants. It is used hundreds of times
of the Lord Jesus Himself.
     We are said to be not our own; we have been bought with a
price. We belong to God who is our Lord and Master. We are
therefore bidden to glorify God in body and spirit, which are His
(I Cor. 6:19, 20). Many Scriptures set forth this relationship to
God as His servants. We are exhorted to present our bodies as a
living sacrifice to God, holy, and acceptable, and this as our
reasonable service (Rom. 12:1). We are to understand what is the
will of the Lord - our Adonai (Eph. 5:17). And Peter calls us
children of obedience to Him who has called us (I Peter 1: 14,
15); and He is the Master who has bought us (11 Peter 2:1).
     A striking illustration of this is found in the life of the
apostle Paul. He felt himself to be a zealous servant of the Lord
God of his fathers even in his first opposition to and
persecution of the Church, believing he was doing God great
service. The first words that fall from his lips on his
conversion are: "Lord [Master], what wilt thou have me to do?"
(Acts 9:6). Like a good servant, he tells us that when it pleased
God to reveal His Son in him that he might preach Him among the
nations, "immediately he conferred not with flesh and blood," but
he went away in complete surrender to be alone with his Lord to
prepare himself as quickly as possible to do His will (Gal. 1:16,
17). He seems to take even a little pride in emphasizing the
Lordship of Jesus Christ by calling himself His bondservant or
slave. As such he bore in his body the marks of his Lord Jesus
(Gal. 6:17). "Christ Jesus, my Lord [my Master, my Adonai],
counted me faithful, appointing me to his service" (I Tim. 1:12).
"I count not my life dear to myself so that I may accomplish my
course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus"
(Acts 20:24). Whether we live or die, we are the Lord's (the
Master's).
     As in the Old Testament, so in the New, God as Lord is
represented as the One who bestows gifts upon and equips His
servants for their service. He made some apostles, some prophets,
evangelists, pastors, teachers - all for the accomplishment of
His purpose and will in the perfecting of the saints, the work of
the ministry, and the edifying of the Body of Christ (Eph. 4:11,
12). Having these gifts from our Lord, Paul exhorts us, let us
wait on them and minister them, as faithful servants, with
diligence (Rom. 12:6-8). God, as Lord, is said to protect, to
provide for and sustain His servants. In the Old Testament,
Adonai says to Abram, "I am thy shield." He is a rock, a
fortress, a deliverer. Luke says of Paul, in great danger: "The
Lord stood by him and said, Be of good cheer" (Acts 23:11).
Again: "The Lord stood with me and strengthened me" (2 Tim.
4:17). The Lord delivers His servants from every evil (2 Tim.
4:18). The grace of the Lord is continually with His servants. It
is the Lord who says to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for thee"
(2 Cor. 12:9). The Lord directs the service of His servants,
opening doors (2 Cor. 2:12), and closing them, too (Acts 16:6).
We are exhorted to abound in the work of the Lord for such work
is never in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).

     God's requirements of service and usefulness are clearly set
forth in the parables of the Lord Jesus, especially in the
parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30), and the parable of the
pounds (Luke 19:11-27). As Lord, He rewards the faithfulness of
His servants and punishes their lack of it. The reward is far
more than commensurate with the service rendered. In the
parables, the reward is represented in terms of the material, but
the real reward is in the realm of the spiritual, of which the
material is only a feeble analogy. Even so, the greatness of our
reward for faithfulness as servants lies in our increasing
apprehension and possession of our Lord Himself. Adonai said to
Abram, "I am thy exceeding great reward " Frequently in the Old
Testament the Lord is said to be the inheritance, the portion and
possession of His people (Num. 18:20; Ps. 73:26; 16:5; Ezek.
44:27, 28). So Christ our Lord gave Himself for us and to us. If
we are His, He is ours, and He is ours in proportion as we are
His.

     Apart from this, however, there is a day of reckoning for
His servants. In the Old Testament, Adonai renders to every man
according to his work (Ps. 62:12). Every servant's work is to be
made manifest. The test of fire will prove its worth. If it
stands the test, it will receive a reward. If not, it will be
lost (1 Cor. 3:13-15). "To whomsoever much is given, of him shall
much be required: and to whom they commit much, of him will they
ask the more" (Luke 12:48, A.S.V.) "It is required in stewards,
that a man be found faithful" (1 Cor. 4:2, A.S.V.).
     But since God is Lord of all men whether they acknowledge
Him or not, there is a day of reckoning for all men apart from
His servants. Jeremiah calls it the day of Adonai, Jehovah of
hosts (46:10). It is a day of vengeance, for Adonai the Lord will
demand a reckoning from all His creatures. But, thank God that
the Lord Jesus Christ will be deliverance and surety in that day
for all who have believed on and served Him.

     It is the Lord Jesus Christ, however, who, though He is our
Lord and Master, is the supreme example of the true and faithful
servant. He is the ideal servant. It is in Him we realize the
full import and blessedness of the relationship that exists
between ourselves and God as servant to a Lord. He is revealed in
the Old Testament as the Servant. "Behold my servant, whom I
uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my
spirit upon him" (Isa. 42:1). "He shall not fail" (v.4). "I the
Lord ... will hold thine hand, and will keep thee ..." (v.6). So
the New Testament tells us He took the form of a servant - the
same word Paul uses of himself, a bondservant, a slave. He
humbled Himself and became obedient unto death (Phil. 2:7,8).
"Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to
do thy will, O God" (Heb. 10:7). This is in fulfillment of Psalm
40:6-8 where He is spoken of as the slave whose ear is bored,
because he loves his master and elects to serve him forever
(Exod. 21:6). He said of Himself, "I do always those things that
please him" (John 8:29). "Even Christ pleased not himself," says
Paul (Rom. 15:3). "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto,
but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Matt.
20:28). "I am among you as he that serveth" (Luke 22:27). As a
servant He also suffered, being made perfect through sufferings
(Heb. 2:10). In that wonderful thirteenth chapter of John, He
sets Himself forth as our Example as a servant. "Ye call me
Master and Lord: and ye say well, for so I am" (v.13). "I have
given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than
his lord ..." (vv. 15,16). He exhorted to faithful service to the
end, and spoke of the blessedness of those servants whom the Lord
when He comes will find faithful and watching (Luke 12:36,37).

     To be servant of the Lord is the greatest liberty and joy of
all. Man needs lordship. With faculties and judgments impaired,
distorted by sin, original and personal, he needs direction,
guidance, authority in this world. Man is born to worship and
serve. If he does not serve God, then directly or indirectly he
serves the Devil, the usurper of authority. But no man, as our
Lord said, can serve two masters - that is, God and the Devil at
the same time. "Know ye not," says Paul, "that to whom ye yield
yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey;
whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?"
(Rom. 6:16). To be subject to Satan is to be abject. His lordship
makes service servile. He has made service degraded and a badge
of inferiority. Christ, our Lord, Himself the ideal servant, has
invested service with dignity, nobility, liberty, joy "For he
that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's
freeman" (I Cor. 7:22). To be the servant of God is eternal life
(Rom. 6:22). And the faithful servant of the Lord will one day
hear those joyful words from the lips of the Lord: "Well done,
good and faithful servant ... enter thou into the joy of thy
Lord."

                           .....................


To be continued


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