This is part of a new series we’re calling, “Hello, My Name Is… A Series on the Names of God.” Look for the next installments to come throughout February. You can find the latest when you follow Tara’s author archive. We’ll add links to the whole Bible study once it’s complete.
Lesson Two: Elohim/The Word
Main Idea: God is the Strong Creator of the universe and of us. We can trust him and through his strength do the good things that he has planned for us to do.
Memory Verse: “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD, do not abandon those who search for you.” Psalm 9:10
- Read lesson, Scripture references, and Genesis 1:1-2:7, Psalm 139:1-18, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Acts 2:38, Psalm 33:6-9, Psalm 57:2-3
- Gather: Bible, lesson plan, dry erase markers or chart paper and markers, plastic cups, sheets of construction paper and paper scraps, scissors, glue sticks, markers or crayons
- To help keep track of the names of God learned over this series, write each lesson’s name of God on the board along with the main idea. Tape a strip of paper over the name, and one over the main idea. Use this to review the lesson as you go. Alternatively, use large flash cards with the name of God on the front and the main idea on the back. Create one of these every week and review with the class as you go.
- Take time to meditate on this lesson and apply it to your own life. I am so often so overwhelmed with my to-do list. It makes me feel insufficient and unworthy of my calling. But then I remember Elohim, the Strong Creator God. He has created me and through Christ Jesus renewed me. He has made me exactly as I am meant to be and through him I can do all things I need to do. Throughout this week, marvel at creation around you and at the creation of The Strong Creator loves you and has wonderful plans for you!
- An interesting note about Elohim: the word Elohim is plural, but it doesn’t refer to multiple Gods. When the Bible uses the word Elohim to refer to the Strong Creator God, the verbs and adjectives referring to it are singular. A plural noun with singular verbs and adjectives. It would look something like this: “The dogs digs in the dirt. He is a dirty dogs.” It isn’t a linguistic error. The plurality of Elohim is a reflection of the Trinity. It is a reminder that God is three distinct persons, working as one unified God toward one goal. It’s more than my finite brain can grasp, which shows, yet again, the power and wonder of our God.
- Genesis 1:1
- Genesis 2:7
- Psalm 139:14, 16
- Ephesians 2:10
- John 1:1-5, 14
Game: Cup Towers
The purpose of today’s game is to get them building and creating. You can use cups and have them race to build cup towers, have them work together to build the tallest cup tower possible, or you can have a relay where each team runs, one at a time, across the room to add one cup at a time to their team’s tower. Or you could have them build with blocks. Or use toothpicks and marshmallows to create strong structures. Use what you have on hand and what will most appeal to your class.
Message: Open in prayer, then say, last week we started a new unit on the names of God. We learned that God has a lot of different names and titles he goes by in the Bible and that these names and titles help us to better understand who he is. Today we’re going to start with the very first name of God we find in the Bible. Where do you think we first see God’s name in the Bible? (Allow students to guess.) We meet God in the very first sentence of the very first chapter in the very first book of the Bible. Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Now you know that the Bible wasn’t originally written in English, right? The Old Testament of the Bible was written mostly in Hebrew and the New Testament was written in Greek. This is important to know for this study because a lot of the time in English we just see the word “God,” but in the Hebrew, the name of God was more complicated and not something we can just say with one word in English.
You’re going to be learning words from Hebrew today! You don’t have to remember these words- I won’t test you on them. But they are cool to hear and help us to understand God better.
So anyway, back to the very first verse of the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” When we see “God” in this verse, the word in Hebrew is Elohim. (El-o-heem. Write “Elohim” on the board.) The name of God that we are studying today is Elohim. Say that with me: Elohim. When we see this name, we are reminded that God is our Strong Creator. (Write “Strong Creator” on the board.) The first part of Elohim, “El,” is Hebrew for strong or power. We see the name Elohim in the Bible over 2,000 times! It is the second-most used name of God in the Bible, and it often is used when the Bible is talking about how God is powerful and how he created everything. So let’s take a few minutes to write on the board some of the things God has created. You may want to read through chapter one of Genesis for a few ideas of the things God created. (Let the students give you a list of things God has created. If you have studied the creation story with your class, you can have them try to remember what God created in order. Or have them read through the creation story in Genesis 1:1-2:7 in small groups and have them list creation together. Or just have them name things off the tops of their heads and not necessarily from the Bible, like grasshoppers and galaxies and mountains and monkeys. Be sure that humans, us, ends up on the list too.) That is quite a long list you came up with! Nice work, class!
Now I have to mention two Hebrew words that I find to be super cool that have to do with the Strong Creator, Elohim. (Write these two Hebrew words on the board, along with their English equivalents.) The first word is “yatsar” and the second is “bara.” Both words basically mean “to make.” But the Hebrew meaning goes deeper than that. “Yatsar” means to make something according to a plan. Like when you build a cup tower, you plan to have three cups on the bottom, two in the middle and one on top. Or you plan to paint a picture of a boat sailing on the ocean at sunset. “Bara” means to create something out of nothing. Any person can “yatsar,” but only God can “bara.” He just spoke and this whole list we made on the board, and everything else ever made or that ever will exist, is because God made the whole universe by just saying the words. The creation story uses “bara” most of the time, but Genesis 2:7 uses “yatsar.” It says, “Then the Lord God [Elohim] formed [yatsar] the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.” God created mankind with a plan. God created you with a plan for you. He took dust and made living, breathing, people. That is the Strong Creator God. Take a minute to let that sink in. God said a few words and created everything from nothing. And then he took dust and made Adam and Eve. He built them and he breathed life into them. The Bible expresses how I feel about this the best. Psalm 139:14 says, “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.” This Psalm goes on in verse 16 to say, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Elohim, the Strong Creator who created the sun and the stars and the sea and the sand, created you. And the Strong Creator wrote out a plan for your life.
Let’s have a sword drill. Take all fingers and bookmarks out of your Bibles and hold them above your heads. When I say go, turn to Ephesians 2:10. Go! (Read, or have a student read Ephesians 2:10.) “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” I love that. We are God’s masterpiece. We are his work of art. But we have sinned and smeared red paint all over God’s masterpiece. God is perfect and when we are covered in sin, we cannot be with God. But he loves us so much that he didn’t just ignore our sin or throw us away, he sent his son Jesus to die on the cross for us and make our lives new! When we have Jesus in our lives, he paints a new masterpiece: one where we are cleaned up from our sins and do great things for Jesus. God didn’t just make you, he made you with a plan for your life. Now we are all called to do different things with our lives. I am meant to be a teacher, not a pro baseball player. But there are a few things God wants all of us to do with our lives. Micah 6:8 tells us, “No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
(This is a perfectly acceptable place to close in prayer and continue with the craft. But if time allows and if you think your class can handle more information, close with the next paragraph.)
You know, the Bible is an amazing book. It tells us all about how God loves us and how he wants us to live and about Jesus and the sacrifice he made so we can live with him forever in Heaven. Four books of the Bible talk about the life of Jesus: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. We call these books the Gospels. But did you know Jesus isn’t only in the Gospels? He’s all over the Bible, even in the Old Testament! He’s even a part of the very first verse of the very first chapter of the very first book of the Bible. Remember we read that a few minutes ago? Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The name Jesus isn’t here, but we know that Jesus is God. Let me read to you from the book of John, chapter one. Close your eyes and listen closely. (Read John 1:1-5, 14.) “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. 4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it… 14So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” I know, that was a lot to take in! This passage can be very confusing, until you understand what it means by “The Word.” Who is “The Word?” (Allow students to answer. Refer them to their Bibles if necessary.) Jesus is the Word, the Father’s one and only Son. This passage tells us that in the beginning, Jesus was there, creating everything! “Elohim,” the Strong Creator, is God the Father and Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit all at once. The word “Elhom” is plural, which means more than one. But it doesn’t mean more than one God when it talks about the Strong Creator. It reminds us that Jesus is God in human form, come to die for our sins, and the Holy Spirit is God in us, coming into our hearts when we ask God to forgive us of our sins, and when we do our best to follow the plan Jesus has for our lives. God is the Strong Creator of the universe and of us. We can trust him and through his strength do the good things that he has planned for us to do.
Close in prayer.
Craft: Paper Creations
(Before passing out materials, say the following to your class.) As people who are created by the Strong Creator to be like the Strong Creator, we can create. Now we can’t “bara,” make something out of nothing, but we can “yatsar,” make a plan to make something out of all this paper. (Pass out scraps of paper, scissors and glue. Instruct your class to make 3D collages by cutting and folding the paper in different ways, and then gluing it to a larger sheet of paper so the scraps stick up. It’s like an open page from a pop-up book, but abstract. Somewhere on their creation, encourage students to write their memory verse for this series: “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD, do not abandon those who search for you.” Psalm 9:10)