One of the names by which God has made Himself known is El Elyon, which means, “God Most High.” It is found 49 times in the Bible. E.g. Psalm 47:2 – “For the LORD most high is terrible [i.e. awesome]; He is a great King over all the earth.” The Most High God stands above every position of authority in heaven and in earth, higher than the greatest monarchs who have ruled mighty empires in the past, and higher than all the powerful politicians and presidents of the world today.
How comforting it is to know that in our troubled world God is still ruling and overruling all things. Despite all the wars and acts of terrorism in the world today, we know that the Most High God is at the helm, in absolute control of all the events. Rulers may propose whatever they wish, but the Most High God will dispose, according to His sovereign will which will prevail. This name, therefore, speaks of God’s supreme exaltation above all earthly authority.
This name also describes our Lord Jesus Christ in His most exalted state as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to whom “every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10,11).
Jesus Himself said, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.” (Matthew 28:18). And it may not be long before He returns to earth to subdue all authority and establish His worldwide rule. Revelation 11:15 speaks of that blessed era with these words “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever.” And so, the name God Most High looks forward to the establishment of this future reign of God over the entire world.
Manifestations of God’s Supremacy
The very first time that this name appears is in the account of Abraham’s victory over the invading forces of powerful kings who came from the east (Genesis 14). A conflict between the forces of four kings against five came about as a result of the rejection of the authority of the former confederacy of kings by the latter group. The five western kings were under the power of the four eastern kings for 12 years. Then they rebelled against their overlords (v.4), prompting the outraged kings to come against them. This brought about a war that would be considered a world war in those days. The outcome of it was the re-establishment of supremacy by the four eastern kings. They were the clear victors in the conflict, basking in their supremacy and might.
With such obvious political supremacy that these powerful kings enjoyed, who would dare to challenge them now? Only one man – Abraham! Abraham was the most unlikely candidate of all. He was not a king, nor even a man of war. All he had was 318 servants who helped him in his work of shepherding the sheep. All that he could arm them with were ordinary weapons – probably swords, spears, and bows – which he carried just to defend himself and his flock against wolves and robbers. Abraham had no ambitious plans or desires to subdue the kings under his control or take over territories to build an empire for himself. All he had was a strong love for his nephew Lot, who had been caught and taken by them as a prisoner of war in the conflict, and a strong faith that God will give him the victory over them.
His attempt to do battle with them may have seemed quite foolhardy and even suicidal to those who were living then. How could he hope to win against these powerful kings? And yet they were soundly defeated and had to surrender their loot and prisoners to Abraham. They returned back to the east, empty-handed. How did Abraham accomplish this impossible feat? It is only because He trusted in God Most High to subdue them all. This is seen in the congratulatory words that were offered by another king (Melchizedek) – “Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand.” (vv.19,20) Abraham won a resounding victory because the Most High God had granted him the victory.
About 15 centuries later, another eastern king was subdued by the Most High God: Nebuchadnezzar, the great king of Babylon. Through careful planning, good strategy and military prowess Nebuchadnezzar had accomplished the feat of destroying the Assyrian Empire. At the prime of his life, he ruled over a mighty empire that stretched across the entire Middle East and turned Babylon into the premier city of the world.
And one day, while the king viewed the whole city of Babylon from his palace he said, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30) A voice from heaven spoke: “O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.” (vv. 31-32)
This reveals that every government can exercise authority only because the Most High God grants it the right to exercise authority for a time. None can stay in power longer than He permits. When its time is up, the Lord Most High replaces it with another government through various means. The outcome of every war, revolution, general or presidential election is determined solely by Him.
This explains the rise and fall of every kingdom, every regime and empire that this world has seen from the beginning until now. They all received their allotted time of rule from God Most High. Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged this. After seven years he realised how degraded he had become and as he looked up to heaven, his sanity returned to him, and he became king again. This was what he testified: “And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured Him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?” (vv.34,35)
How Will You Respond?
The name El Elyon denies man any right to glory in all his achievements. Whatever power or position you may hold now; you must acknowledge this fact before the Lord Most High: You are nothing. Do not believe what the self-help books teach you on this. The world would have you think that you are really something, that you have full ability to achieve anything you want and can become all that you aspire to be in this life.
Whenever such thoughts arise in your heart please remind yourself that God is the Most High! Humble yourself before Him and don’t let pride lift you up. If anyone praises you for anything that you achieve, give God the credit He deserves. Have this mindset – that God must increase, and we must decrease (cf. John 3:30).
Besides humility, this knowledge of God Most High requires full submission from you. Whatever He requires you to do, do it without question. To question what He does is to challenge His authority. There are times when we cannot understand why God allows certain things to happen in our lives. We believe that all things are supposed to work together for good. But when things go wrong, we wonder: What good can there be in losing one’s job? What good can there be in delaying our deliverance? What good can there be in allowing us to fail? Learn to accept that these things are ordained for you by the supreme authority of the Most High God, and submit yourself to it.
It is only when you are able to humble yourself and submit to the sovereign will of the Most High God that you will be able to derive the greatest benefit – HOPE. Are you worried about the present world situation? Look up to God Most High and hope in Him. Are you worried about whether you will be able to cope with all the challenges ahead? Look up to God Most High and hope in Him. Commit everything to Him in prayer, for He ultimately rules over all things, and He is able to overrule all the plans and policies of men.
There is one very precious hope that we can have from knowing the Most High God. Because the Lord reigns over all, we shall one day have the privilege of reigning with Him. Daniel 7:27 speaks of this blessed time in the future – “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.” What an unparalleled privilege we have to be called the saints of the Most High! Since we have this hope of reigning with Him, let us gladly humble ourselves now under His authority, and submit ourselves most willingly to His will for each of us.
Reflect: Let us trust our Most High God to be in control of our lives, submitting and humbling ourselves in recognition to who He is. (Proverbs 3:5-6)