Which God?

Read: Joshua 24:1-15

And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods. . . (v. 2)

When the Old Testament authors write about God, which of course they do a great deal, their regular Hebrew word for him is Elohim. This word is there from the outset, when the very first verse of the Bible tells us that “in the beginning God [Elohim] created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

The opening verses of Joshua 24 shine a light back onto the early story of Abraham from a much later time. The intriguing thing about these verses is that they use exactly the same word. They tell us that Terah and his family, being dyed-in-the-wool pagans, were therefore worshipers of Elohim! Like English words such as sheep and fish, Elohim can refer either to a singular or to a plural. Abraham had grown up among people who worshiped many different elohim (gods). But the day came when he got to know the one true Elohim (God).

Many people say they believe in God. The question is, which one? What does that word God mean to them? We may be tempted to think that believing in any God is better than nothing. But that is irresponsible and unloving. Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). —Michael Wilcock

As you pray, ask God to inspire you with his love and care for people who do not know him.

About the Author

Rev. Michael Wilcock was formerly director of pastoral studies at Trinity College, Bristol, and vicar of St. Nicholas' Church, Durham. He is now based in Eastbourne, England, as a writer and speaker.