From Praying the Names of God Week Twenty-Four, Day One
When applied to God, the term Elyon, meaning "Highest" or "Exalted One," emphasizes that God is the highest in every realm of life. In the New Testament, Jesus is known as the Son of the Most High while the Holy Spirit is the power of the Most High. All who belong to Christ are revealed as sons and daughters of the Most High by imitating the Father in heaven. When you praise the Most High, you are worshiping the One whose power, mercy, and sovereignty cannot be matched.
When that period was over, I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me. I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored the one who lives forever. For his sovereignty is an everlasting sovereignty, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation. (Daniel 4:34 NRSV)
GOD REVEALS HIS NAME
Belteshazzar [Daniel] answered [King Nebuchadnezzar], "My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you, and its interpretation for your enemies! . . . This is the interpretation, O king, and it is a decree of the Most High that has come upon my lord the king: You shall be driven away from human society, and your dwelling shall be with the wild animals. You shall be made to eat grass like oxen, you shall be bathed with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, until you have learned that the Most High has sovereignty over the kingdom of mortals, and gives it to whom he will. As it was commanded to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be re-established for you from the time that you learn that Heaven is sovereign. Therefore, O king, may my counsel be acceptable to you: atone for your sins with righteousness, and your iniquities with mercy to the oppressed, so that your prosperity may be prolonged."
All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, and the king said, "Is this not magnificent Babylon, which I have built as a royal capital by my mighty power and for my glorious majesty?" While the words were still in the king's mouth, a voice came from heaven: "O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: The kingdom has departed from you! You shall be driven away from human society, and your dwelling shall be with the animals of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like oxen, and seven times shall pass over you, until you have learned that the Most High has sovereignty over the kingdom of mortals and gives it to whom he will."
Immediately the sentence was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven away from human society, ate grass like oxen, and his body was bathed with the dew of heaven, until his hair grew as long as eagles' feathers and his nails became like birds' claws.
When that period was over, I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me. I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored the one who lives forever. For his sovereignty is an everlasting sovereignty, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation. (Daniel 4:19, 24-34 NRSV)
El Elyon, you are God above all gods, the One who rules over the rulers of the earth.May every knee bow to you and every tongue confess that you are Lord forever.Amen.
Understanding the Name
Elyon, the title given to the highest of the Canaanite gods, was appropriated by the Hebrews as a title for Yahweh. Emphasizing God's transcendence, the name El Elyon (EL el-YOHN) is first used in relation to Melchizedek, the king of Salem, who was also called "priest of God Most High" and who blessed Abraham in the name of "God Most High" (Genesis 14:18-20). The passage in Daniel regarding the interpretation of a dream that King Nebuchadnezzar had illustrates what happens when human beings forget who is highest in heaven and on earth. In Daniel, the Aramaic word Illaya is the equivalent of the Hebrew El Elyon and is translated as "God Most High."
Studying the Name
- What does the king's dream and Daniel's interpretation indicate about the source of Nebuchadnezzar's greatness and prosperity?
- Nebuchadnezzar may have been stricken by a rare form of insanity in which a human being believes he is a particular kind of animal. Why do you think his boasting led to this kind of punishment?
- What does Nebuchadnezzar's story reveal about the link between sanity and humility?
- How have you been tempted to take credit for God's blessings?
- What can you do to acknowledge God's greatness?
Two of Ann Spangler's most-loved books have been released in paperback: Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus.
These books help us understand the biblical context in which these names and titles were revealed, and help us gain a more intimate knowledge of the Father and of the Son.