The evil queen in Snow White was shocked by the mirror’s answer to her question, “who’s the fairest of them all?” Tyrannical deception had blinded her to any possibility of a rival beauty. God’s name, “Most High (‘Elyon),” has a similar story, which begins with a mysterious priest-king, Melchizedek.
It is likely that ’El ‘elyon originated as the name of a Canaanite god. When Melchizedek blessed Abram in the name of El elyon (God Most High), Abram graciously received the blessing. However, he clarified that his own allegiance was to the LORD God Most High.1 Abram had broken the news to the world—Yahweh is the true God Most High.
There can only be one “Most High.” The main word (‘elyon) in these Hebrew names of God also applies to the highest or uppermost of pairs or collections.2 Satan found out God’s supremacy when he tried to become like the Most High; God thrust down the evil tyrant in disgrace.3
In his final message to Israel, Moses referred to God as ‘Elyon. The Most High had singled out Israel for special relationship. What a privilege!
When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,
When He separated the sons of man,
He set the boundaries of the peoples
According to the number of the sons of Israel.
9 “For the Lord’s portion is His people;
Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance.
10 “He found him in a desert land,
And in the howling waste of a wilderness;
He encircled him, He cared for him,
He guarded him as the pupil of His eye.
11 “Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,
That hovers over its young,
He spread His wings and caught them,
He carried them on His pinions.
12 “The Lord alone guided him,
And there was no foreign god with him.
13 “He made him ride on the high places of the earth,
And he ate the produce of the field;
And He made him suck honey from the rock,
And oil from the flinty rock,
14 Curds of cows, and milk of the flock,
With fat of lambs,
And rams, the breed of Bashan, and goats,
With the finest of the wheat—
And of the blood of grapes you drank wine. (Deuteronomy 32:8-14)
Melchizedek and Abram had both noted God’s bounteous provision and protection during their conversation. They referred to God Most High as “Possessor of heaven and earth.” The Hebrew word for “Possessor” (qoneh) has its roots in both commercial transactions and creativity.4 The picture is of an artisan, who is doubly invested in an item that he or she has bought and made. Such people glow when they see their work appreciated and well used.
Hundreds of years after Abram and Moses, God expanded His family. Through Jesus He offered adoption to the entire world. The relationship comes with the same abundant supply and vigorous defense that only the Unrivaled One can guarantee. Since He made us, nurtured us, and paid a steep price to redeem us, God is more interested in having his work appreciated than the best craftsman is. Israel often suffered because they forgot how much God loved them. Today, we have a chance to live confident of the love of the Most High God and make Him glow with delight.
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