The Living God

What Does "The Living God" Really Mean?

When the Scriptures refer to our Father in Heaven as “The Living God,” which it does about thirty times throughout the Tanakh and Brit Chadashah, it may be common to picture a great man sitting on a throne. But as we explore the descriptions in His Word, there is a depth of meaning revealed which is much more intricate, and much more glorious

In Hebrew, Elohim Chayim (Living God) is in the plural form. While not universally used, it is the form found in many of the references in the Tanakh.  

That plural use for the word God is a source of significant controversy, most notably involving Genesis 1:1, where the very first mention of God is the plural Elohim. The Jewish religion’s interpretation calls the use of the plural a representation of the majesty of God. However, the body of Messiah generally agrees it reveals the triune nature of God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

The first biblical use of the title “Living God” is found in the Torah. In Deuteronomy 5:26 Moses wrote, “For who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?”

Several of the other quotes allude to God’s power. For example, when Joshua foretells the upcoming victories over the heathen peoples in the land of Canaan, in 3:10 he says, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you.” In 1 Samuel 7:26, a young David about to attack Goliath says, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

Perhaps the most obvious interpretation of Living God is found in its comparison to idols. Given the rampant paganism of ancient days, God clearly drew a line between Himself and graven images. In addition to the inclusion in the Ten Commandments, Leviticus 19:4 admonishes, “Do not turn to idols, nor make for yourselves molded gods: I am the Lord your God.”

The point is the idols are inanimate, without life, while God is alive. The Jewish Apostle Paul emphasized that a number of times in his letters, including 2 Corinthians 6:16, “And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God;” as well as 1 Thessalonians 1:9, “ . . . how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” 

But the issue of God’s life goes much deeper than the concept of what it means to humans to be alive. Look at Yeshua’s words in John 5:26, “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself.” This of course embellishes the mind boggling reality established when the Lord told Moses at the burning bush, “I AM WHO I AM,” meaning I am the self-existent one.

That He is the Living God for eternity is further declared in Revelation 1:8, “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’”

Speaking to Gentiles in Athens, the Jewish Apostle Paul identified God in Acts 17:25 as the one who, “. . . gives to all life, breath, and all things.” He is not only the Living God, but the God of life. As Jesus told the Sadducees, in John 22;32, who didn’t believe in resurrection, God said, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?” Jesus concluded, “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

Messiah’s implication was, there is life after death, and our Living God rules over that afterlife. Certainly, life after death is a different kind of life - it’s spiritual. That helps us further focus on the spiritual nature of God.

Yeshua was all about spiritual life, and He often confounded His audience with bold statements about it. Most notably, He told the Jewish leader Nicodemus, in John 3:3, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Notice He started this revelation by saying, “Most assuredly.”

Nicodemus didn’t get that He was speaking of a spiritual re-birth. Instead, the Jewish man asked how that could happen, how an old man could go back into his mother’s womb. Yeshua re-emphasized His astounding edict in verse 7 saying, “Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born again.”

So the Living God requires a new kind of life, a spiritual life, different from what humanity knows as life, in order to qualify for eternal life in Heaven.
Jesus continued to detail the difference between the fleshly life and the spiritual in the Book of John. In 6:63 He declared, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”

Then in 10:10, He added, “ I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” The abundant life He described is not physical, as in abundant possessions (although I believe that kind of abundance is also of the Lord), but rather spiritual abundance. It fits with the phrase, blessings that money cannot buy.

Applying these spiritual standards to other Scriptures brings revelation to some of the attributes of God. Jeremiah portrayed the Lord, in 17:13, as “The fountain of living waters.” The Living God is the source of living water. It's water you can't touch or see because it is spiritual, but nonetheless real. 

Messiah challenged the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:10, after asking her for a drink, that had she asked Him, “He would have given you living water.” At the end of the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) in Jerusalem, Yeshua, as documented in John 7:38, cried out, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

Again we see the spiritual blessing of living water, which comes from a Living God, is available only to those who believe Jesus is the Messiah! And it is to flow forth from those believers to bless others. 

So how about bread? Glad you asked. Yeshua made that connection several times in John 6. In verse 35, He definitively states, “I am the bread of life.” Then in verse 51 He amplifies the significance saying, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.”

Finally, He completes the understanding in verse 57, “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.” 

Living water, living bread, Living God. And so it is with God’s Word.
Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Catch this: the Word of the Living God has spiritual power that goes beyond that of any man-made weapon. It can separate the soul and the spirit. It is beyond our human comprehension. The culmination of this spiritual truth is Jesus, as confirmed in John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” 

The living Word undergirds all of God’s truth, which gives us a living hope. The Jewish Apostle Peter, writing in his first epistle, 1:3, brought that to light. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus the Messiah, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Messiah Jesus from the dead.”

The Living God, He supplies us with so much more than a breathing human life when we believe in Messiah Yeshua. That’s why we praise Him. As King David wrote in Psalm 84:2, “My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”