“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26)
The very first name of God used in the Bible is Elohim, and it can be found over 2,500 times in the rest of Scripture. A name identifies who a person is. We are constantly being told by the government and media that we must be careful about identity fraud, so we know that names are important. God has many names and titles, but this first, like the others, gives us insight into who He is.
Many think that the doctrine of the Trinity is a New Testament revelation of God, and that the Old never speaks of it. This is the notion of the unitarian cults, but they cannot be more wrong. Those who reject Bible truth are usually quick to dismiss the existence of the Trinity [Godhead] also.
The name Elohim, as found in our text, is a plural noun, for man was created in God’s image, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27), therefore the “us” and “our” can only refer to Him rather than any created being. This also tells us that God consists in more than one person, or as most Biblically sound statements of faith proclaim, “We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Some argue that Deuteronomy 6:4 conflicts with this teaching, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD”, but they fail to notice that the word “one” is in a plural form in the Hebrew, and suggest unity rather than singularity. It is our belief that believers in both Testaments knew about the plurality of God. “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8).
The doctrine of the Trinity might be difficult to comprehend and explain, but that does not mean that it is unsound. Since we are made in His image and likeness it ought not surprise us to learn that each one of us has plurality of form too. “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). The word “Godhead” in Acts 17:29, Romans 1:20 and Colossians 2:9 is the Scriptural term for the Trinity.
The El part of the name stresses the fact that God is Almighty. He is seen in Genesis as the Creator of all things. “In the beginning God [Elohim] created the heaven and the earth … These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God [Elohim] made the earth and the heavens” (Genesis 1:1, 2:4). This name of God is used thirty-five times before this verse. Therefore He is above all. “Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created” (Psalm 148:3-5).
This is why the first commandment must be upheld as absolutely vital if we are to understand anything of Scripture. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Everything, including man and angels, are inferior to the Creator. Those who practice idolatry, in any form, have no knowledge of who God is. Wherever the name Elohim appears in Scripture it emphasises God’s might, His creative power, and His attributes of justice and rulership.
We can see that God is not impersonal, but instead is directly involved with His creation. The very fact that humanity alone is created in His image and likeness speaks of this. The Deists of the 17th and 18th centuries (some branches still exist today) taught that God created the universe but never intervened in human affairs. The Bible is evidence enough that this notion is incorrect, for in Genesis 3:8 we read that Elohim walked and talked with Adam in the Garden of Eden.
The name Elohim is connected to the idea of covenant, “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33). Therefore God makes agreements with those who trust and follow Him. The amazing thing is that He provided everything necessary to build this covenant upon. All He requests of us is faith and obedience. From the opening verse of the Bible onwards it is revealed that God wants to have a personal relationship with us. This means that He is very much involved with our lives. It is this God that protects, guides and blesses us.
If we can be relational, rational and responsible then, since we are created in God’s image and likeness, surely He must be too. We are not accidents of evolution but are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Genesis 1:29 teaches us that God is indeed concerned about our lives, “And God [Elohim] said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed…” Is it not of great interest that Satan wanted this relationship broken?
Elohim speaks of God Almighty, the Creator and Covenant-Maker. It is only through the Lord Jesus Christ that we can experience and enjoy a personal relationship with Almighty God. This places Biblical Christianity above all religions and belief systems, for we point people to the True God. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). We are His creation and He has not left us to without His presence [the Holy Spirit], but continues to work in and with us. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Ephesians 2:10).