Who is Adonai? Complete Possession & Complete Submission
The book of Malachi has several indictments of the nation of Israel, the second one found in chapter 1 verse 6.
"A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am father, where is My honor? and if I am a master, where is my respect? says the LORD of hosts."
The word used for 'master' is the fourth name of God revealed to us in the Scriptures, Adonai. We find this name first used by God in Genesis 15:2, the use of Adonai is directly tied to the use of El Elyon which was found in Genesis 14:18-22.
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So, what does Adonai mean? Adonai in its simplest meaning is master and signifying ownership. The name/title occurs nearly 300 times in the OT being used around 215 times in reference to men. When Adonai is used in reference to men it is used in the singular form Adon. Yet, when it is used as the name for God it is always in the plural form, Adonai. The context in which the name is first revealed to us is in Genesis 15, which tells us that God has complete possession and requires complete submission.
In Genesis 15:2 and 8, Abram calls God, "Lord GOD," which in Hebrew is "Adonai Yahweh." Yahweh is most often in English rendered, LORD, but to avoid the confusion of saying "O Lord LORD" in English they chose to translate it as "O Lord GOD."
Here Abram clearly makes the declaration that Yahweh the Personal God is the Complete Possessor of everything! This name is used directly after God reveals Himself to us as El Elyon the Protector of His Possessions. His possessions that He truly values are the souls of men, women, and children that take Him at His Word and believe.
This thought is clearly carried over in chapter 15, for Genesis 15:1 says,
Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; your reward shall be very great."
Abram is not to fear because El Elyon is a shield to him and Abram is promised a great reward. But naturally, the question of how must surface in Abram's mind. How will you reward me for I have no heir, this is the reward I desire.
"O Lord GOD, what will You give me, since I am childless...?" (Genesis 15:2)
God's response is, 'I will show you what I will give you Abram, and it is far greater than a single son.'
"Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them." And He said to him, 'so shall your descendents be.'" (Genesis 15:5)
This is a big promise. Abram knowing more now about God than he has ever before believed in this promise and it's credited to him as righteousness. Abram took God at His Word which is the only thing to do! But Abram still has questions, he needs more revelation from God to satisfy his questions. So, he asks another one,
"O Lord GOD, how may I know that I will possess it?" (Genesis 15:8).
Possess the promised land that is. For the promised land was already possessed by many different nations all bigger and stronger than Abram and his 318 household servants. God essentially tells him through the name Adonai. God is master of it ALL, everything is His, and He has complete possession of everything.
So, for those that possess the land currently, God will give them over to Abram's descendants. How? Because He is El Elyon the Protector Of His possessions and He is Adonai the Complete Possessor of EVERYTHING! God will protect Abram and His descendants because He is El Elyon, and God will make His descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven because He is Adonai. And as Adonai God will give Abram's people the land He promised because it is His land to give and to take as He wills.
Adonai answers the question: How can God protect His possessions? And addresses the question: what then is required of His possessions?
As Adonai, God is the Complete Possessor, and as the Complete Possessor, He requires complete submission.
One does not say, 'no Lord' and live. This has been demonstrated across time with kings and caesars. To say, 'no Caesar would be a death sentence. Just as it was a death sentence for early Christians to say, "Jesus is Lord." For to profess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord is to declare that Caesar is not. Caesar answers to the Lord, Jesus Christ.
It was not a small thing in early Christianity to profess Jesus as Lord, for to do so meant to be considered an outcast at the very least. People wouldn't associate with Christians for fear of offending Caesar. Yet, this is the call for all men,
"that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)
This confession came at a price, and wouldn't have been arrived at lightly. It was costly and those that made it would have for the most part been very serious about this decision. They would have brought their lives into complete submission to the Lord. For you do not say, "no Lord" and expect to be saved on the day of judgment.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; leave Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)