Gods in the ancient world held power over nature, jurisdictions and people. Some, like Baal, were capricious and spiteful. Others were benevolent (for a price). But across the pages of the Old Testament whenever anyone who worshipped those deities encountered “El Elyon” (God Most High), their perception of those gods changed. This title is used 31 times in the Old Testament with the most well-known appearing in Genesis 14:18-24. In this passage we are introduced to Melchizedek, an enigmatic priest-king who bestows generous gifts on Abraham after he successfully frees Lot and his family from captivity. Melchizedek brings an offering to God Most High with words of praise concerning His nature and character and Abraham equates El Elyon with Yahweh in Gen. 14:22 as the Creator of heaven and earth.
Spiros Zodhiates in his Complete Word Study Dictionary of the Old Testament notes that, “In Num. 24:16 this name stands in parallel to the name God (Elohim) and Shaddai (Almighty); it depicts the God who gave Balaam his knowledge and visions. The term also stands in parallel with other names of God such as “The Lord” (Dt. 32:8; 2 Sam. 22:14; Ps. 18:13; and God (Ps. 46:4; 50:14). In Ps. 47:2, El Elyon is also called a king. As such He rules over the whole earth, subdues people and nations, has the power to determine an inheritance for Israel, ascends a holy throne and reigns from it in an exalted state (vv. 3-9). It is not surprising then that the Lord uses this name to impact kings such as Nebuchadnezzar. It denotes a position of power and authority they were very much familiar with- and also believed proved their own association with divinity. Nebuchadnezzar is so convinced of his divine nature that El Elyon determines to take him down a peg or two (Dan. 4) and in the end, Nebuchadnezzar learns that El Elyon will discipline you for as long as it takes and in whatever way it takes until you understand that it is He who is in control and that you answer to Him. (Dan. 4:34-37).
Madison Avenue is glutted with advertisements urging us to buy insurance for every aspect of our lives. We can get health insurance, car insurance, home insurance, and pet insurance. We can extend warranties on any appliance in our home, purchase protection plans for the wiring in our home and put our money to work in a number of savings plans. None of these things are bad in and of themselves, but oftentimes we put so much confidence and trust in them they usurp the only True Insurance we have. One may amass a healthy nest egg only to be faced with a catastrophic illness and it becomes a complete loss. The Bible warns us that it is not wise to put one’s trust in chariots (Is. 31:1), idols (Ps. 18:6), or riches (Ps. 52:7). A glance at history is a stark reminder that power comes and goes so it is not wise to trust in the “king” either.
When we begin to worry about the future it is a good indicator that there may be something we’ve put in the place of El Elyon. Maybe we have attributed too much “power” to our retirement plan and with the tumultuous political climate in the world we now worry if we’ll have enough. Maybe we’ve given to much credence to one person. We look for validation from them and worry we will lose their favor if we don’t do what they ask or say. Jesus admonished us to store up our treasure in heaven (Mt. 6:19-21). According to Him it is the only fail-safe savings plan. The Lord Most High oversees the things that are stored there and nothing can be taken from His grasp (Jn. 10:27-29). If we trust in Him, we have nothing to fear.
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
Week of 8/21/2016