Seven Active Names: 4. El Elyon (אל עליון) God Most High
We have seen that Elohim means God, mighty, strong, creator, judge. It is sometimes shortened to “El” and here it precedes Elyon (upper and above) to denote not just that God is ‘right up there with the best of them’ but that He IS the best of them; He is above them all. In other words, and in literal translation, El Elyon – He is God Most High.
This shows something of God’s absolute right as Lord – His absolute right as lord over us and as lord over all creation. It reflects the sense of God as the creator of heaven and earth; of everything. And the nuance deriving from that is that as God is Creator and Lord of all, we should not worship any idol, god or created thing, because to do so is to introduce something (obstacle, barrier … distance) between us and God our Father.
Anything and everything is ‘lesser’ than God, so if we choose to put something above us, we are putting it in between us and God – even if we do not see (or choose not to look) that God is there. If we are blinded by the thing, and consider it the biggest, the greatest, then it is simply a mountain boulder; a false summit obscuring our view to the actual mountain top. Hopefully we look beyond and choose the path upwards.
When we fail to see past, we cannot hope to comprehend God. How little we see; how little we discern. Perhaps we will only understand Most High when we are with Him in His glory.
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
This serves not to confuse but to show something of the incredible complexity of God. On our own we can hardly start to know Him or describe Him – after all:
‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,’
declares the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8)
Remembering, and declaring, El Elyon – God Most High – helps not just to remind ourselves that we are below God (where we always are) but to remind us of its corollary: that God is indeed The Most High. Nebuchadnezzar praised himself and looked to his own power; thought he was the biggest, the most powerful. He was reduced overnight from king to one who lived as a wild animal. And when he came to his senses, it was to see the true ‘big picture.’
At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes towards heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the El Elyon; I honoured and glorified him who lives for ever. (Daniel 4:34)
If we are under the shadow of our own (or the earth’s) boulder or obstacle, we will not be able to perceive the amazing heights that only God reaches and we will live under the lie that there cannot be anything more. We need to remember who He is:
They remembered that the LORD was their rock,
that El Elyon [the LORD Most High] was their God. (Psalm 78:35)
[from Timothy Pitt]