El-elyon - The Most High God
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Genesis, chapter 14, verse 14:

Genesis 14

17And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's dale.
18And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
19And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
20And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
21And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.
22And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,
23That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:
24Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.

In this paragraph you will notice another name of God presented to us. In verse 19:

Genesis 14

19And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:

You will notice in verse 22:

Genesis 14

22And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,

In verse 18, Melchizedek, king of Salem, king of righteousness, is presented to us as the priest of the most high God and again in verse 19, “the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth.” Four times over in this paragraph is this name presented to us. We have been studying for some weeks now what we have referred to as the Compound Names of God . That statement will not be clear to you unless you keep in mind that there are three names presented in the Word of God basically: Jehovah , Adonai , and El or Elohim , Elohim being the plural form. The word Jehovah is indicated in your Bibles by the word LORD with every letter of the Word capitalized. Every time you see the word Lord with the first letter capitalized, you know that it is the translation of the Hebrew word Adonai. Every time you see the word God , you know that it is the translation of the Hebrew word El or Elohim . Sometimes in the Word of God, the word Jehovah is presented instead of the English translation. Sometimes the word El or Elohim is presented instead of the word God . Those basic names of God are often associated with other words to form compound names of God. The one most frequently associated with other words is the word Jehovah , so we have noticed a number of compound names of Jehovah in this series of studies.

The Universal Sovereignty of God

Then we discovered that the word El or Elohim is compounded with other words to give us other names of God. Today we want to suggest to you the theme that has been suggested four times over in this one paragraph, used rarely in the Word of God, but nevertheless used, for it is a compound name of the word El or the word Elohim . You may say as you look at this passage of Scripture, “I don't see the word El or Elohim there. That is quite true, but you do see the translation of a compound name of God made up of two words—El and Elyon . So the name that is presented to us in this paragraph is the compound name El- Elyon , which presents to us the name of God as it is related not to the Jews basically, not to a certain group of people basically, but to the whole world. It is a name that is not related primarily to the earth or primarily to the heavens, but it is a name that presents—this is the important thing, the thing that I would like for you to get today—the universal sovereignty of God. It is important for us to recognize God and his characteristics.

Notice verse 18 again:

Genesis 14

18And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.

The word God is the translation of the word Elohim . The two words most high are the translation of the Hebrew word Elyon . So there you have El Elyon , “the most high God.” Again, in verse 19 you will find this presented to us in the same way, and here you have an additional phrase which explains a characteristic of God when this name is used, “the possessor of heaven and earth.” Down in verse 22, you will notice it again:

Genesis 14

22And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,

This is the first time this name is mentioned. It is not the only time. We are going to look at the two other times this name is mentioned so that we will be able to understand this particular characteristic of God. The phrase that is presented to explain the name the most high God was the possessor of Heaven and earth . That means “controller of Heaven and earth,” “sovereign of Heaven and earth.”

The Sovereign of Heaven

We are going to look, first, at how He is the sovereign of Heaven. Turn, please, to chapter 14 of the book of Isaiah, the paragraph beginning with verse 12:

Isaiah 14

12How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
13For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
15Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
16They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;
17That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?

Our basic intention for turning to this Scripture is not to present El-Elyon . If you are familiar with this passage of Scripture, you know that it is a description of the existence of the Devil before he became the Devil, the existence of Satan before he became Satan as we know him now. According to this passage of Scripture, he was the anointed cherub that covered. He was the chief of all the angels of God. He was the most beautiful of all of the angels of God; and there in Heaven—remember the location—he sized the situation up and said, “I am not content to be Lucifer, son of the morning. I want to be Elyon ; I want to be the most high; I want to take God's place. I am going to ascend up to the very place where God sits on His throne in the sides of the north, and I am going to take over.”

No sooner was that desire expressed in his heart than the most high Elyon , who is in complete charge of the Heavens, said, “This cannot be.” Satan was cast out of Heaven to the earth and began his work which characterizes him as the individual known today as the Devil.

The Possessor of Earth

God, the complete sovereign of Heaven, could decide who was going to be in charge of things in Heaven and who was not going to be. That is as much as we are going to look at in relation to the most high, the possessor of the Heaven, because we are trying to make these studies practical in relation to the application that they represent to our own lives. Since we are not in the Heavens yet, we want to think about the name of God as it represents the sovereignty of the earth, El-Elyon , possessor of the earth.

Turn, please, to the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 32, as we notice in a very general way what the Bible has to say about God being the possessor of the earth. As you glance at it with me, you will recognize that it is a song of Moses, a song which Moses sang because of the delivering power of El-Elyon , the delivering power of the most high God. The song that Moses is singing is a song that is retroactive in his mind. That is, he is calling to pass some things that occurred a long time ago, but from which he learned some very important lessons. Notice from verse 1:

Deuteronomy 32

1Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.
2My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:
3Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God.
4He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
5They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation.
6Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?
7Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.
8When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.

Notice in verse 8 the term, the most high . That is our name again, Elyon . We read in verse 8 that El-Elyon —God, the most high, the sovereign of the earth—set the boundaries of the nations according to the children of Israel. This may be difficult for us to comprehend, but basically I am going to tell you what it means and suggest that until you can disprove it from your study of the Word of God, you at least accept it by faith because the Bible very plainly teaches it. Because our time is limited, we want to make it as simple as we can. This passage of Scripture says what is elsewhere taught in the Word of God, that God divided the sons of Adam—that is, the human race—into nations, and God set their boundaries. He said, “The nations shall be here and here and here and here and here.” God did it. It is quite beside the point today to talk about how God did it. God is able to accomplish things by putting into the hearts of men certain desires without them even realizing it and they, fulfilling those desires, perhaps think that they have done the thing all on their own when it was God who has moved them to do it. So when we hear about people migrating to a certain section of the world, you say, “You mean to say God placed them there? They decided to go there!” Who are you to say that God is not back of their decision? God set the boundaries of the nations of the earth according to the nation of Israel.

God's Purpose for Israel

What does that mean? Does that mean God had a special interest in the nation of Israel to the exclusion of all other people, that He liked them better than He liked anyone else? It does not mean that. If you think, when we speak of the nation of Israel being God's chosen people, it is a reference to the idea that God loves them better than anyone else, you are entirely mistaken. It is simply that God has chosen them for a specific purpose, and having chosen them for a specific purpose, He related all of the activities of the world to them and to that purpose.

Turn, please, to the book of Acts, chapter 17, for here we have another illustration of what we are talking about when we say that God set the boundaries of the nations of the world as His sovereign right as possessor of the Heaven and the earth, particularly possessor of the earth. Notice Acts, chapter 17, verse 22:

Acts 17

22Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious [ that is, you are very religious ].
23For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
24God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

We pause long enough to notice the word God and the phrase, Lord of heaven and earth . The Hebrew names of God, transliterated into the Greek language, translated into the English, and we find we are talking about the same God with the same name, El-Elyon .

You will notice in verse 25:

Acts 17

25Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
26And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

Here is the Apostle Paul preaching on Mars Hill in Greece to Greeks the very same thing the Moses declared in chapter 32 of the book of Deuteronomy. God has appointed the bounds of the nations of the earth. Why? Did He do it because He didn't like some folk and liked other folk? Did He do it because He was afraid that the nations of the earth might integrate and cause trouble? Why did He do it? This is the reason in verse 27:

Acts 17

27That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
28For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

Moses said that God appointed the nations of the earth and their respective boundaries according to the number of the children of Israel. Paul amplifies and it says that He did it in order that the nations of the world might know God. God put the nation of Israel in the center of the earth at the very hub of the earth, and He put all the nations of the world in their respective places in relation to the nation of Israel that through the nation of Israel to whom was committed the oracles of God might go forth the message of God to the whole world.

The Ministry of the Church

When you have time, read chapters 9, 10, and 11 of the book of Romans. You will find that the nation of Israel fell down miserably on the job that God gave her to do. God gave her this great faith concerning Himself and appointed her as the evangelist of the world, so to speak; but instead of sending that truth out, she hugged that truth close to her own heart and decided that because the truth was given to her she was a superior nation to everyone else, and the world, for the most part, went without the knowledge of God. That is the reason God took this privilege from the nation of Israel and has given it to what we refer to as the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ . We have to refer to that very carefully because the minds of men are quite muddled about it. When we mention the term the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ someone thinks immediately that we are thinking about a denomination which bears that name, and we are not. Someone else will think that we are referring to what is commonly recognized as organized Christianity, and we are not. We are referring to the Body of Christ which is made up of all born-again believers regardless of their church affiliation or their lack of it, all born-again believers to whom has been committed the ministry that is described in II Corinthians, chapter 5. You will remember the Apostle Paul is emphasizing this truth that we would like to leave with you. Notice verse 18:

II Corinthians 5

18And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
20Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

So to each of you today is committed the ministry of reconciliation. God has taken this ministry out of the hands of the Jewish nation. He has placed it in your hands as individuals and has given you the responsibility of discharging that privilege.

I might remind you that the Bible very plainly teaches, as sad as it is for us to recognize, that God, as the possessor of the earth, is going to take this privilege away from us because we have failed so miserably in discharging it. He is going to take it away from us and He is going to give it again to the Jewish nation. They are going to do in three and one-half years what we haven't been able to do in two thousand years. We should be ashamed that we have done such a poor job of discharging our responsibilities. All of this because God is the possessor of the Heaven and the earth.


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