Sunday, July 24, 2022

Names of God: Adonai

"Servant" in our English New Testament usually represents the Greek doulos (bondslave). Sometimes it means diakonos (deacon or minister); this is strictly accurate, for doulos and diakonos are synonyms. Both words denote a man who is not at his own disposal, but is his master's purchased property. Bought to serve his master's needs, to be at his beck and call every moment, the slave's sole business is to do as he is told. Christian service therefore means, first and foremost, living out a slave relationship to one's Savior (1 Corinthians. 6:19-20).

What work does Christ set his servants to do? The way that they serve him, he tells them, is by becoming the slaves of their fellow-servants and being willing to do literally anything, however costly, irksome, or undignified, in order to help them. This is what love means, as he himself showed at the Last supper when he played the slave's part and washed the disciples' feet.”
-James Packer, Your Father Loves You, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986.

Today we consider God’s name, the name Adonai. The first time this name for God is used, is in Genesis 15, let’s look at verses 1-6:

“After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:
“Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward.”

2 But Abram said, “Adonai-Jehovah, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”

4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”

The name Adonai occurs about 300 times in the Old Testament. Every time it’s used it’s written as a possessive plural form. So it could actually be read as “my Lords” which reminds us that God is a trinity, of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But Adonai what it really means is, master or owner. It’s a Hebrew word that can also refer to a person who owns property or a person who owns slaves or other ways of describing ownership or being ones master.

What this really reminds us is that, “…God is the owner of each member of the human family, and that he consequently claims the unrestricted obedience of all.”

Abraham acknowledges this when he calls God his “master” his “Adonai.” God has every right to have authority over our lives. We all have lived in rebellion to our Adonai, fleeing from him and chasing after sin. But we can return to our master and say to Him, Adonai, you are our owner, and our master, and we submit to your authority, because you made us, and we belong to you.

We can say it. But it then has to be proved out in our actions. Every decision you make in life either says, Adonai to God, or says I refuse you God. Every decision you make, from the words you say, to the content you view on tv or internet or your cell phone, to how you treat people, and what things you eat, and if you’re orienting your life to tangibly serve others.

In all those decisions you’re either saying Adonai God you are my master, or you’re saying God I reject you and I’m getting what I want.

Another man who called God Adonai, was Moses, in the book of Exodus. In exodus 4, when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush,

From Exodus 4:10-15 “10 Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, (Adonai) Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

11 The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord (Adonai) Please send someone else.”

14 Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. 15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do.”

Both times as Moses speaks to God, he refers to him as Adonai, as master or owner, but even that Moses doesn’t want to obey his master. And God becomes angry with him, but also makes a way for him to do His will.

Gideon when speaking to God refers to the Lord as Adonai. In the book of Ezekiel it occurs 200 times. But we also see Adonai appear in the New Testament.

“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 (1 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 (Romans 12:1). We are to understand what the will of our Lord Adonai is (Eph 5:17). And Peter calls us children of obedience to he who called us (1 Peter 1:14-15) and He is the master who has bought us (2 Peter 2:1).” -Nathan Stone, Names of God

Yet it is in the life of Jesus Christ that we find the perfect example being a servant. Jesus was the perfect servant, modeling how we should live in this world. Jesus lived in perfect obedience to His Heavenly Father.

So if God is indeed Adonai, the God who is our master and owner, how should we live in response to that fact? We should live like Jesus lived. He was the servant of all people. He did God’s will in everything. He didn’t sin. He loved people genuinely and deeply. He wept and faced many difficulties and was persecuted and harassed and people argued with him. He spoke the truth boldly and never sugar coated what he said. He taught the truth faithfully, healed the sick, met needs, and loved his disciples.

Do you fully understand the fact that God has total authority over you? Do you get that? God is your Lord, and your master. He made you. He made the universe. He owns you. You are his servant. Live that way.

Much of our world is setup in rebellion against God, because people do not want to serve God, they want to serve themselves. So they pretend like God isn’t there. Yet deep inside they know that there’s something special about the world. Deep inside they know there is right and wrong, and right and wrong have a source, in God. But they hide from God, and live their own life, their own way, and reject God as their Adonai.

But I encourage you to live your life understanding in every moment that God is your master and you are his servant. Then you will live right, and you will live a life pleasing to God.