LORD OR ADONAI
THE names of God, which we have so far noticed, have mainly revealed His nature: "Elohim," His unchanging love; "Jehovah," His righteousness and truth; "El Shaddai," that He is a giver or pourer out of Himself for others; "El Elyon," that though Most High, He is yet of a kindred nature with us. The names which remain for our consideration speak rather of His relationships, to things or persons, whether in heaven or earth. Not that we can say of any view of God that it excludes the others, or that this or that name speaks only of His nature, while some other name dwells exclusively on His relationships. God's perfections are so united that we cannot know one without seeing in it something of all, though one may and does more prominently bring out one aspect, and another some other aspect, of His fulness. It is here as in the Four Gospels, where each differing view of our Lord contains or gives hints of all. Thus the names "Elohim," "Jehovah," "El Shaddai," and "El Elyon," though they do not exclude the relationships which are in God Himself, and in which He likewise stands both to His fallen and unfallen creatures, rather reveal this or that perfection of His nature; while the names which follow, "Adonai," "El Olam," and "Jehovah Sabaoth," speak more directly of His relationships, either to men or angels, or to the differing and successive ages, in and through which He works His purposes. These latter, though in themselves not perhaps so wondrous as some of the preceding, may touch us more directly, as shewing what is becoming in those, who by grace are called to know God's mind, and to have such close and abiding relationships with the Lord and God of all.
The name which we are now to consider is "Adonai," which our Authorised Version translates "Lord,"—not by any means the same word as "Lord," which is the usual rendering of the name "Jehovah." (Note: I have already said, in speaking of the name "Jehovah," that the Jews of old not only wrote the name "Jehovah," whereever it occurred alone in Scripture, with the vowel points of "Adonai," but actually read "Adonai" instead of "Jehovah," except where, as in Genesis 15:2, 8, and like places, the word "Adonai" is united with "Jehovah," in which cases they wrote "Jehovah" with the vowel points of "Elohim," and read "Elohim" for "Jehovah.") This name, "Adonai," is first found in Abram's address to God, when, after his interview with Melchisedek, "the word of Jehovah came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward; and Abram said, Lord God, (that is "Adonai Jehovah,") what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless?" and again immediately after, when "Jehovah said, I am the Lord, that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it: and Abram said, Lord God, (that is "Adonai Jehovah,") whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?" (Gen. 15:1-8). Abram again uses the same name repeatedly in his addresses to God, when he intercedes for Sodom (Gen. 18:27, 30-32); and it is, as we shall see, a name which is continually in the mouth of all God's servants generation after generation. The question is, or rather it is no question, What does this name reveal? "Adonai" is simply the plural of the Hebrew word, "Adon," which means "lord" or "master," and which both in the singular and plural is constantly applied to God. (Note: For the singular, "Adon," אדון, as used of God, see Exod. 23:17; 34:23; Joshua 3:11, 13; Neh. 8:10; Psalm 8:1, 9; 97:5; 114:7; 135:5; 147:5; Isa. 1:24; 3:1; 10:16; and elsewhere. The plural, "Adonai," אדני, occurs, as a title of God, in countless places. Gesenius says that "the י in אדני is the ancient termination for ים, and this form of plural is used exclusively of God, both when He is addressed or spoken of." When the word in the plural is used of men or angels, as in Isa. 26:13; Jer. 27:4; Amos 4:1; Psalm 136:3; Prov. 25:13; and similar passages; the usual plural termination, ים, is used. (Heb. Lex. on the word.)) When applied to man, as it constantly is, this word is used to express two well-known earthly relationships; first, the relation of a master to his slave or servant; (Gen. 24:9, 10, 12, 14, 27, 35; 39:2, 3, 7, 8; Exod. 21:4, 5, 6; Judges 19:11; and in many other places.) and then of that of a husband to his wife. (Gen. 18:12; Judges 19:27; 1 Kings 1:17, 18; Psalm 45:11; 1 Peter 3:6; &c.) To see its meaning as applied to God, we have only to understand what these relationships exactly were, which God has chosen to express His relations towards us.
Of old both slave and wife occupied a position somewhat different from that which is accorded to wives and servants at the present day. The title, "Adon," or "Lord," whether as meaning "master" or "husband," expressed a personal relationship, which involved rights of lordship and possession. The slave or wife were "not their own" (1 Cor. 6:19, 20). Both, voluntarily or involuntarily, belonged to, and were the property of, their lord. In the slave the relationship was binding quite irrespective of his own will. As a rule he or his parents were either purchased for money, or were captives taken from an enemy (Lev. 25:44-46; Numb 31:35); for in those days there were but two ways of dealing with captives in war, namely, either putting them to death, or reducing them to slavery. In the case of the wife, though she too generally was given or sold by her father (Gen. 29:15-20; Exod. 21:7-11), there might be more of the element of free will; for the woman, as we see in Rebekah's case, might be asked, "Wilt thou go with this man?" (Gen. 24:58). But, once a man's wife, she was his for life, unless she should be put away for some evil in her, or for unfaithfulness (Deut. 24:1). With their will however, or without it, slave or wife stood in a relation of subjection to their lord, where faithfulness received due honour and reward, while unfaithfulness would no less surely be visited with just judgment.
Now the name "Adonai," or "Lord," teaches that a relationship answering to that of servants to their lord, and of wives to their husbands, exists between God in heaven and His creature man upon the earth. Not only do the elect, in their approaches to Him, constantly use this name in addressing God, to express their relation to and dependence on Him, as well as their faith in the faithfulness of One, who, because He is their rightful Lord, is bound to sustain, and keep, and help them; but God also no less, when speaking of Himself, continually claims this title (See Isa. 8:7; Job 28:28; and in countless other places), as declaring His relationships of Master and Husband to us,—relationships, which, while they set us in the place of honour, for to be even a servant, much more to be the beloved, of the "King of kings" is great honour, no less involve most solemn responsibilities, if, called with such a calling, we are unfaithful to it. In nothing more therefore than in the confession or denial of this name do we see the radical contrast between the Church and the world. The Church is Church because it acknowledges relationship: (Note: The English word, "Church," an abridgment or corruption of the Greek word κυριακή, simply means "belonging to the Lord.") the world is world because in practice it denies it. The great mark of the elect is that they "know the Lord" (1 Sam. 3:7; Jer. 9:24; 24:7; 31:34; John 17:3), while the world yet knows Him not (John 8:19, 55; 17:25; Acts 17:23; 1 Cor. 1:21; 2 Thess. 1:8), and acts as far as may be in independence of Him. The world's way is to do as it likes, think as it likes, speak as it likes, without regard to any higher will above it. Its great ones do "according to their will" (Dan. 8:4; 11:3, 16, 36). They say, "Our lips are our own: who is lord over us?" (Psalm 12:4). They live as if they were their own. All obedience with such seems more or less degrading. The very opposite marks all God's saints. All own a Lord. All say, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6). All with Christ, their Master, come to do, not their own will, but the will of Him that sent them; for they know that not in self-will, but in God's will, and in it alone, is perfect rest. Let us look briefly at some of the teaching of Holy Scripture upon this point, though indeed the lesson is so clear and so oft repeated, that it hardly needs exposition or illustration.
First then to look at the name, "Adonai," as expressing the relationship of Master. Not one only, but all God's saints, in trial of all kinds, turn instinctively to this name, as assuring them of the help which they must require and will receive in their appointed service. "Who goeth a warfare at his own charges?" (1 Cor. 9:7). Who serveth a master at his own cost? "The eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters" (Psalm 123:2); and God's servants are no less cared for. As not their own, but purchased by their Lord, they are parts of His household in a way no hired servant can be. For, strange as it may seem to our modern views, the purchased slave of old stood in a nearer relation to his lord than the hired servant, who, as he worked for wages, could come or go according to his own will. For the hired servant might not eat of the Passover or of the holy things of his master's house, while the purchased slave, as belonging to his lord, was free of both these privileges (Exod. 12:45; Lev. 22:10, 11). Abram, the father of the faithful, in the scene where the name "Adonai" first meets us, shews how blessed is the relationship which he confesses when he says, "My Lord," and "Lord God." For at the time two burdens were pressing on his heart. A seed and an inheritance had been promised him; and years had passed, and he was still childless and without the promised land. But because in his "Lord" he has One who cannot fail, he pours out his complaint, saying, "Lord (Adonai) God, what wilt thou give me?" and again, "Adonai God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?" and receives in vision once and again enlarged assurances, that both seed and inheritance, far larger than he hoped, shall surely be given to him by his Lord: a seed even as the stars of heaven for multitude, and for an inheritance the land of many nations. He is yet but a servant: he calls himself a "slave" (Heb. עבד. See Gen. 18:3, 5; and elsewhere): but on his "Lord's" faithfulness and power he relies for everything.
It is so with all God's servants. Their sufficiency is in their Lord (2 Cor. 3:5, 6), who fits each specially for the varied work committed to them. So Moses, called to bear God's message to Israel, says, "O my Lord, (Adonai,) I am not eloquent, neither before nor since thou hast spoken to thy servant. And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and will teach thee what thou shalt say" (Exod. 4:10-12). So again, Joshua, when he is appointed to lead God's people into the land, and they are smitten at the outset by the men of Ai, turns to this name, saying, "O Lord, (Adonai,) what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies?" and at once receives directions how he may discover the "accursed thing," which, though hidden, has been the cause of the defeat of God's people (Josh. 7:7, 8). So again Gideon, when he is called to deliver Israel from the Midianites, and answers, "O my Lord, (Adonai,) why is all this befallen us?" and again, "O my Lord, (Adonai,) wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am least in my father's house," receives for answer these words,—"Surely I will be with thee: go in this thy might: have not I sent thee?" (Judges 6:13-16). The servant's strength is in his Lord. All God's servants prove this. Those in whom God's power has most been seen most freely confess it. Manoah childless (Judges 13:8); Samson in his bonds (Judges 16:28); Samuel in his youth with Eli (1 Sam. 3:9, 10), above all David, so greatly tried; all confess this name "Adonai," as their encouragement and hope in every weakness. It seems as if David could not too often repeat this name:—"Then went David in, and said, Who am I, O Adonai Jehovah, and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Adonai Jehovah; but thou hast spoken also of thy servant's house for a great while to come; and is this the manner of man, O Adonai Jehovah? And what can David say more unto thee? for thou, Adonai Jehovah, knowest thy servant. For thy word's sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all these great things, to make thy servant know them" (2 Sam. 7:18-21). (Note: We find the same constant repetition of this name "Adonai" in Daniel's prayer, Dan. 9:3-19.) The Psalms continually repeat this language:—"O Lord, our Lord, (Adonai,) how excellent is thy name in all the earth." Thy servants are weak, but Thou art their "Lord." Therefore even "out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength. ... What is man that thou art mindful of him? Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away. But thou, O Lord, our Lord, hast put all things under his feet. ... O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth." (Psalm 8:1-9; 144:3, 4. See also Psalm 35:23; 38:9, 15, 22; 39:7; 40:17; 51:15; 68:17, 19, &c.)
The prophets still more bring out the blessings which lie hid in the relationship which is confessed under the name "Adonai." From or in connexion with it, they draw their inspiration. To take one or two examples out of many. It is the vision of "Adonai," and of the service which is rendered Him by heavenly hosts, which moves Isaiah, when all things around him seem dark, to say, "Here am I: send me" (Isa. 6:1-8). He thus describes his call:—"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, (Adonai,) sitting upon his throne, high and lifted up." The earthly lord is taken away. Signs are abroad that for Israel's sins even the semblance of power may ere long pass away from God's elect. But the prophet's eye is opened to see a "Lord," who is yet "high and lifted up," and whose "train filled the temple." "Before Him stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly; and one cried to another, saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory;" all revealing, not only the shrinking from self-display, which marks the spirits nearest to the throne, but no less their power and readiness to go anywhere to fulfil their Lord's bidding. The immediate result of such a vision is to make the prophet cry, "Woe is me, for I am undone; for I am a man of unclean lips," till "there flew one of the seraphim, having a live coal which he had taken from off the altar," the touch of which upon the prophet's lips, not only imparted new power, but also purged away his sin. And then he "heard the voice of the Lord, (Adonai,) saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" What could he say, but, that which all who have seen such a vision always must say, "Here am I: send me." With such a Lord, and with such help, and with such hosts to serve His servants, who can refuse to bear their Lord's message, whatever the cost of its delivery.
The same name meets us in the mission of the other prophets. In none perhaps do we more clearly see its special import than in the call of Jeremiah. Here was a man by nature timid, whose words and ways constantly reveal even a womanly tenderness and susceptibility. In his case it was no natural self-confidence or self-conceit which brought him out before his king and people as a prophet of the Lord. More even than Moses he shrunk from the burden laid upon him. But "the word of the Lord comes to him," saying, "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I ordained thee a prophet to the nations." And Jeremiah answered and said, "Ah Lord (Adonai) God, behold I cannot speak, for I am a child." But He answered, "Say not, I am a child, for thou shalt go to all that I send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid, for I am with thee." And then He touched his mouth and said, "Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have set thee this day over the nations, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to build, and to plant" (Jer. 1:2-10). It is the same in Ezekiel's case. He, like Jeremiah, lived in evil days, when Israel was a "rebellious house" (Ezek. 2:7, 8), and the prophet with his people was "among the captives by the river Chebar." There "the heavens opened, and he saw visions of God." "The word of the Lord came to him" (Ezek. 1:1, 3), with a message from One, who claimed to be both his and Israel's "Lord," "whether they would hear, or whether they would forbear;" and who throughout the whole of this prophecy, more perhaps than in any other part of Holy Scripture, again and again repeats that He is "the Lord (Adonai) God" (Ezek. 2:4), (Note: This name, "Adonai God," is used in more than two hundred other places in this one prophecy.) not of Israel only, but no less of the nations around, who have forgotten or denied that they too must be His servants. "Other lords (Adonim) have had dominion" over God's elect, and over the world (Isa. 26:13), but God does not therefore surrender His rightful lordship over all. His message whether to Israel (Ezek. 2:4; 3:11, 27; 5:7, 8, 11; 6:3, 11; 7:2, 5, &c.), or to Ammon, or Moab, or Edom (Ezek. 25:3, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13), or to Tyre or Egypt (Ezek. 26: 3, 5, 15; 28:2; 29:3, 8, 13, &c.), is always prefaced by His rightful title, "the Lord (Adonai) God."
It is in the Gospels however above all that the import of this title is brought out most fully. For not until the Lord Himself came in the flesh, and "took the form of a servant" (Phil. 2:7), and had his "ear bored" to seal His service (Exod. 21:6; Psalm 40:6; and Heb. 10:5), was the full blessing of this relationship revealed. Till then, so deeply had men fallen, all service was counted more or less a disgrace and badge of inferiority. God was serving all; feeding even ravens, clothing lilies, opening His hand to satisfy the desire of every living thing (Psalm 145:16; 147:9; Luke 12:24, 27). But men perceived it not. So the Lord of all revealed Himself in the service of Him who was His image, saying, "Behold my Servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth: I have put my Spirit upon Him, and He shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive nor cry, neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth" (Isa. 42:1-4; Matt. 12:17-20). He was among us "as One that serveth" (Luke 22:27), revealing, as till then it had never been revealed, the blessedness of subjection to our true and heavenly Lord, which not only gives man what he needs, a Master, to "uphold and put His Spirit on us," but which makes selfish fallen men, even if they know it not, conformed in some measure to Him, who, like a shepherd, can rule and govern, because He serves, all. None have ever spoken of service like the Lord. The Gospel which is devoted to witness of His Lordship shews this. Hear Him saying, "The disciple is not above his Master, nor the servant above his Lord: it is enough for the disciple that he be as his Master, and the servant as his Lord" (Matt. 10:24, 25). "Whosoever therefore will be great among you, let him be your minister, and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant; even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:26, 28). "Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching. Verily I say unto you, that He shall gird Himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them" (Luke 12:37). The approval of faithful service is the same in the use of ten talents or of one. "Well done, good servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord" (Matt. 25:19-23). Well may all the saints rejoice in the relationship, that God is indeed their "Lord," and that, with all their weakness, they may say with Paul, "His I am, and Him I serve" (Acts 27:23).
But the name "Adonai" reveals another even more blessed relationship. The title "Lord" is used, not of Master only, but of Husband. It tells, that, weak and fallen as we are, the Lord of all calls us to the closest and most endearing communion with Himself; to be "no more twain," but "joined to the Lord," and "one spirit" (Matt. 19:5, 6; 1 Cor. 6:17); that as a wife is not her own, but her husband's, so we too are "not our own," but both in body and spirit are the Lord's (1 Cor. 6:19). The language of Holy Scripture upon this point is such as could never have entered into the heart of men, had they not been possessed and taught by God's Spirit. Take the words to Israel, the appointed figure of God's elect:—"Thus saith the Lord, I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in a land that was not sown" (Jer. 2:2). "Thy Maker is thy husband" (Isa. 54:5). "I am married to you, saith the Lord" (Jer. 3:14); and again, "I was a husband unto them" (Jer. 31:32). "Thus saith the Lord (Adonai) God; ... I made thee to multiply: thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown. Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love, and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness; yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord (Adonai) God, and thou becamest mine. And I clothed thee with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers' skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk; I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain about thy neck; and I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thy head. Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil; and thou wast exceeding beautiful through my beauty, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord (Adonai) God" (Ezek. 16:7-14).
Words like these are common to the prophets, revealing something of that love, wherewith the Lord has loved us, in giving Himself to us, that we may give ourselves to Him for ever. For to us too the words are spoken, "Hearken, O daughter, and consider: forget thine own people and thy father's house; so shall the King greatly desire thy beauty, for He is thy Lord, (Adonai,) and worship thou Him" (Psalm 45:10, 11). Language fails to express the unutterable preciousness of such a relationship, and the unspeakable blessings which it pledges to those who accept it, and by grace are faithful to it. For it is not only certain gifts which come upon the "beloved of the Lord" (Deut. 33:12; Jer. 31:3); but in the relationship itself, as "married to Him," provision is made to meet our folly, so long as, spite of all our weakness, we are faithful to Him. What for instance can be more blessed than the law respecting a woman's vows, "if she have a husband," and is living with him. Though in her folly she may "bind her soul with any vow, if her husband disallows her on the day he hears it, then he shall make her vows, wherewith she hath bound her soul, of none effect: her husband hath disallowed it, and the Lord shall forgive her" (Numb. 30:6-8). Her foolish purpose "shall not stand." It is by grace "forgiven" in virtue of the will of him to whom she stands so closely related. "But every vow of a widow, or of her that is divorced, wherewith they have bound their souls shall stand" (Numb. 30:9); for with those who have been put away for their unfaithfulness, or, having been united to that which is dead, are without their "head,"—for "the husband is the head of the wife" (Eph. 5:23),—there is no "Lord" to set aside and disallow their folly, and thus their foolish purpose "binds their souls."
The Song of Songs from first to last is the appointed witness of the delight, which both lover and beloved draw from this most intimate of all relationships. The earthly joy shadows the heavenly. For if all creatures are voices, silently witnessing to us of Him who is the great Archetype,—if sun and air, and bread and wine, lilies and cedars, sowing and reaping, all are telling something of the glory and fulness of Him, who is Himself our Lord, our Refuge, and our Portion (Psalm 16:2, 5; 119:57; 142:5),—much more must man, who is God's image (1 Cor. 11:7), in that which most marks him, that is in his love for one above all others, shadow forth that Highest Love, which of twain makes one, and thus fills both with gladness. God at least does not shrink from speaking of His joy in making us His own, and in giving Himself to us as ours for ever. "All the promises of God in Christ are in Him Yea, and in Him Amen" (2 Cor. 1:20). And He hath said, "As a bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee" (Isa. 62:5). And the Song of Songs shews how the loved one reciprocates this love, as she sings, "I am my Beloved's, and His desire is toward me" (Song 7:10). Blessed therefore as it is to know the Lord as "Master," it is as nothing to the joy of knowing the still nearer relationship of "Husband," to which the name "Adonai" calls us. For, as one has said, while "work is the result of one ruling or directing another, fruit is only the result of a union between two." (Note: Charles George Gordon, Reflections in Palestine, p. 74.) We may do good work as servants, if we are obedient to our Lord; but to produce and bring forth the "new man," which is His image, there must be that perfect self-surrender, and union with Him, of which the marriage bond is the appointed figure. And we may be espoused, while yet we are not married, to Him (Compare 2 Cor. 11:2; and Rev. 19:7). But without union with our Lord we are, and must be, barren. Fruit, bearing His likeness, can never be produced by any soul until it is perfectly the Lord's.
Such are some of the blessings which gather round the name "Adonai," or "Lord:" such the privileges of knowing God as "Master," and still more as "Husband." But for this very reason, because these relationships are so intimate and full of mutual confidences,—for husbands must needs trust their wives, and masters their servants,—the least unfaithfulness in such relationships involves the greatest sin,—sin for which neither diligence, nor beauty, nor cleverness, can make the slightest compensation. In wife or servant perfect faithfulness is the first thing, and indispensable. And the more a soul is favoured, the greater the gifts entrusted to it, the closer its union with its Lord, whether as Master or as Husband, the greater is the sin of the very least and apparently most trifling unfaithfulness. An act which in a stranger might be nothing, in a trusted servant would be a crime: a look or word, or the lack of such, which would be unnoticed in those not related to us, in a loved wife might be unpardonable. Sins are relative. Hence such words as those of the prophet:—"You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for your iniquities" (Amos 3:2). Times of ignorance God winks at or overlooks (Acts 17:30), even as we overlook the faults of little children. Even unfaithfulness in those not trusted or nearly related to us does not greatly touch us. But evil in one's own house must be judged, if we would not be partakers in it. Hence, as the Lord's Supper teaches, communion involves judgment. If we can judge and correct ourselves, we are not judged of the Lord. If we do not correct ourselves, the nearer our relation to the Lord, the surer and sorer will be His judgment and correction (1 Cor. 11:31, 32).
It is of this judgment, as well as of the blessings of nearness to the Lord, that the name "Adonai" is the special witness. For indeed blessings may be judgments, and must be, if we are unfaithful; even as judgments are blessings, for they are sent to bring souls out of their unfaithfulness. Therefore both to servant or wife, if faithless, "Adonai" must be judge. Need I quote the words of prophets, or of the Lord of prophets, to shew that the sin of His servants must bring its own judgment:—"Thus saith the Lord, If I be a Master, (Adon,) where is my fear? O priests that despise my name; and ye say, Wherein have we despised it? Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar, and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? Ye offer the blind and the lame for sacrifice. Is it not evil? Offer it now to thy governor; will he be pleased with thee or accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts. Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? Neither do ye kindle fire upon mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts; neither will I accept an offering at your hand. For ye said also, Behold what a weariness it is; and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame and the sick. Should I accept this at your hand? saith the Lord. Therefore now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you. If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory to my name, saith the Lord, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart" (Mal. 1:6-12; 2:1, 2). What judgment can be sorer, than that one's blessings should become a curse. And yet thus it must be with those, who, called to nearness to their Lord, are unfaithful to their high calling. We know Who it is that says,—"But and if that evil servant say in his heart, My Lord delayeth His coming, and shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink and to be drunken, the Lord of that servant shall come in a day that he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him in sunder, and shall appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And that servant, which knew his Lord's will and prepared not himself, shall be beaten with many stripes; but he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required, and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more" (Matt. 24:48-51; Luke 12:45-48).
It is even worse with the unfaithful wife, though her husband's love remains unchanged. The prophets seem to labour under this burden when they would utter it:—"Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the Lord" (Jer. 3:20). "Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God" (Jer. 2:19). For "thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot, and pouredst out thy fornication on every one that passed by. And it came to pass, after all thy wickedness, (woe, woe, unto thee, saith Adonai God,) that thou hast made thee a high place in every street. And thou hast not been as a harlot, in that thou scornest hire, but as a wife that committeth adultery, who taketh strangers instead of her husband. Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord (Adonai) God, Because thy filthiness was poured forth, through thy whoredoms with thy lovers, and with all the idols of thine abominations; therefore, behold, I will gather all thy lovers, with all whom thou hast loved, and them also that thou hast hated, and I will judge thee as women that break wedlock and that shed blood are judged, and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy. And I will give thee into their hands, and they shall strip thee of thy clothes, and take thy fair jewels, and leave thee naked and bare; and they shall execute judgments upon thee, and I will cause thee to cease from playing the harlot any more" (Ezek. 16:15-41).
And yet, because "Adonai" is God, even thus, and from all this, shall the fallen wife be saved at last by Him who first loved her:—"As I live, saith Adonai God, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters. Neither hath Samaria committed half thy sins. They are more righteous than thou. Yea, be thou confounded, in that thou hast justified thy sisters. Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant. Then shalt thou remember thy ways and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger; that thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord (Adonai) God" (Ezek. 16:60-63). (Note: See too Isa. 1:24-27, for similar words of threatening and promise from "Adonai.") Well may saints and angels cry with wonder, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord"! Who is like unto our "Master" and our "Lord"!
Such then is the relationship between the Creator and creature, which the name "Adonai," or "Lord," reveals to us. And though it falls far short of that still more wondrous vision, of the "Father" and the "Son," which is opened in the gospel, yet in the name "Master" and "Husband" we have enough, and more than enough, to make us "strong in the Lord," and to "rejoice in Him, alway" (Eph. 6:10; and Phil. 4:4). For if the servant of a prophet, as his master was taken from him, could cry, "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof" (2 Kings 2:3, 12):—if even in a Syrian slave of old there could be such confidence and love, that the servant could call his lord, "Father," saying, "My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it?" (2 Kings 5:13)—what should be our faith and hope in Him, who calls us His "servants," and His "beloved"? And especially in these last days, when the spirit of lawlessness is growing, and all the bonds which have held society together seem in peril of being broken, it is more than ever our wisdom to remember the "Lord," "whose service is perfect freedom," and whose love for His beloved "passeth knowledge." Blessed be His name, the day is coming, when "there shall be no more curse," but His "servants shall do Him service, and shall see His face, and His name shall be upon their foreheads" (Rev. 22:3, 4). If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13). He hateth putting away (Mal. 2:16). His gifts and calling are without repentance (Rom. 11:29). Even unfaithful Israel shall obtain mercy (Rom. 11:31). For thus saith the Lord, "In that day thou shalt call me Ishi; (that is My husband;) and shalt call me no more Baali; (that is, My lord;) and I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies. And I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God" (Hos. 2:16-23). Oh, day of wonders, when "the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His Wife hath made herself ready" (Rev. 19:7).
I conclude with the words of one who knew "Adonai," and who in the day of his trouble found in this name, and in the other names of God, which in his anguish seemed instinctively to rise upon his lips, that help and comfort which he had not in himself, and could not find in creatures. How many in every age have found comfort in the words:—"Will Adonai, (my Lord and Husband,) cast off for ever? Will He be favourable no more? Is His mercy clean gone for ever? Doth His promise fail for evermore? Hath Elohim, (who is in covenant with me), forgotten to be gracious? Hath He in anger shut up His tender mercies? And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High; (even of Him whose offspring we all are, even though as Gentiles we may have wandered from Him.) Yea, I will remember the works of Jah, (Jehovah, the righteous One, who gives Himself to be our righteousness;) surely I will remember thy wonders of old" (Psalm 77:7-11). So cried a soul of old who knew "Adonai." Would to God that those to whom these names have been matter for self-exalting criticism, rather than for faith and hope in Him, who is only truly known as we obey Him, might be brought even by trouble to know themselves, and the grace of Him, who reveals His fulness to His creatures as they need it. They that know His name will put their trust in Him. And they that trust in Him shall never be confounded.
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