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El Elohe Yisrael: God, The God of Israel 

Genesis 33.20 

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • November 3, In the year of our Lord Christ, 2019 


  1. Jacob fled from his brother and 
    1. 20 years later Jacob fled from his father-in-law. 
    2. Jacob decided to go back home to his brother, hoping for peace with Esau. 
      1. On the way, the angels of God met him, and 
      2. he named that area, Mahanaim, which means God’s camp. 
    3. When Esau heard of Jacob’s return, 
      1. Esau assembled 400 men to meet Jacob, and 
      2. he feared greatly for his life and the lives of his family. 
        1. He prayed to God. 
        2. Then he divided his family, 
          1. so that if Esau killed one group, 
          2. the other could escape. 
    4. During that night a Man appeared to Jacob, and 
      1. they wrestled, because 
      2. Jacob, knowing the Man to be divine, 
        1. would not let the Man go 
        2. until He had blessed Jacob. 
  2. It worked because 
    1. when Esau met Jacob, 
    2. Esau did not harm his brother. 
      1. They had a talk and 
      2. Jacob went on to the city of Shechem. 
        1. Then, undoubtedly out of deep gratitude toward God, 
        2. Jacob did something special:

          18 Then Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan Aram [ancient Syria, DR]; and he pitched his tent before the city. 19 And he bought the parcel of land, where he had pitched his tent, from the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred pieces of money. 20 Then he erected an altar there and called it El Elohe Yisrael.

          – Genesis 33.18–20
  3. Genesis 28 had shown
    1. that Jacob did this because of a promise he had made to God. 
    2. Back when he first fled from his brother, 
      1. he had gone asleep and during the night God showed Jacob a ladder 
      2. with its top reaching into heaven, and 
        1. Jacob saw the angels of God ascending and descending upon it. 
        2. He then confessed that he did not realize God was in that place. 
          1. He concluded that it was the house of God there and 
          2. that the place was the gate of heaven. 
    3. Then Genesis 28 says:

      18 Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. 19 And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God. 22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

      – Genesis 28.18–22
  4. Genesis 33 shows 
    1. that God did bring Jacob back to his father’s house in peace, 
    2. after having been with Jacob, 
      1. keeping him in the way that he was going, 
      2. giving him bread to eat, and 
      3. clothing to put on. 
        1. Therefore, Jacob made Jehovah, Yahweh God his God, and 
        2. the altar that he made by the city of Shechem 
          1. he named El Elohe Yisrael 
          2. that the world might know God was his God. 


  1. El Elohe Yisrael: What It Means 
    1. Jacob had made a decision. 
      1. He knew that all the other gods were dead and false gods. 
      2. Therefore, he made a declaration in a land of idolatry 
        1. that he rejected all other gods, and 
        2. choose the God of his fathers. 
    2. Since God had changed Jacob’s name to Israel 
      1. it was logical for the nation that descended from Jacob’s twelve sons 
      2. to use that designation for the nation. 
        1. He was not just the God of Jacob, but 
        2. the God of the nation of Israel. 
    3. As you read through the Hebrew Bible you see more of the God of Israel. 
    4. In Exodus 24, the Lord invited Moses and other men from Israel 
      1. to ascend Mount Sinai and worship there. 
      2. When they arrived, something spectacular happened:

        9 Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity.

        – Exodus 24.9–10
        1. They were the children of Israel, 
        2. so they saw the God of Israel, and 
          1. they saw a pavement of sapphire stone under God’s feet. 
          2. Its clarity was like the heavens. 
            1. He is not just some tribal puny god, but 
            2. He is the one true and living God. 
    5. Two kings of Israel understood who the God of Israel was:

      2Ki 19.15 Then Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said: “O LORD God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.”

      2Ch 6.14 [Solomon] said: “LORD God of Israel, there is no God in heaven or on earth like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts.”
      1. The God of Israel is the only God because He made heaven and earth. 
      2. What God has man come up with that is like the God of Israel? 
    6. Psalm 68 declares the awesomeness of our God:

      8 The earth shook;
      The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God;
      Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

      – Psalm 68.8
      1. The earth knows the God of Israel. 
      2. The heavens cannot hold its water and drops it at God’s presence. 
        1. When God descended upon Mount Sinai, 
        2. it was moved at His presence. 
    7. Isaiah 45 shows a unique feature of our God, and 
      1. this is something that causes some not to believe, but 
      2. if you think about it, 
        1. what is said here affirms the fact that He is God:

          15 Truly You are God, who hide Yourself,
          O God of Israel, the Savior!

          – Isaiah 45.15
        2. You can see the images of the gods of the nations, because 
        3. they are made from the imaginations of men, but 
          1. you see no images of God, because 
          2. He is truly God and not some odd looking object like the idols. 
    8. I agree with the psalmist:

      18 Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel,
      Who only does wondrous things!

      – Psalm 72.18
      1. Has He not done wonderful things? 
      2. No other gods of the nations have done what the God of Israel has done, 
        1. like taking a nation out of another nation, that is, Israel out of Egypt, or 
        2. like giving his son to die for a wicked world. 
  2. If He Is the God of Israel, He Is for His People 
    1. Exodus 5 shows 
      1. that Moses and Aaron understood this truth:

        1 “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Let My people go, that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness.’”

        – Exodus 5.1
      2. They knew that they could enter the presence of Pharaoh 
        1. with a greater authority and 
        2. tell Pharaoh what that authority had to say. 
      3. They knew that the God of Israel would work for His people. 
    2. Joshua 10 shows that the assistant to Moses, Joshua, learned that lesson well:

      42 All these kings and their land Joshua took at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel.

      – Joshua 10.42
    3. [The story of First Samuel 5–6] 
    4. Luke 1 shows that Zacharias could see this truth 
      1. when after his son John was born, and 
      2. he was not able to speak from the time the angel announced 
        1. that Elizabeth would have a son 
        2. to the time that the son was born, and 
          1. the first words of Zacharias were:

            68 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
            For He has visited and redeemed His people…”

            – Luke 1.68
  3. If He Is the God of Israel, He Is Their Everything 
    1. If you know David, 
      1. you know that the God of Israel was his everything. 
      2. First Chronicles 17 shows 
        1. that after he wanted to build a temple for God, but 
        2. God said no, and 
          1. that He would build a dynasty for David, 
          2. David was so humbled 
            1. that he offered a magnificent prayer to the God of Israel:

              24 “So let it be established, that Your name may be magnified forever, saying, ‘The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, is Israel’s God.’ And let the house of Your servant David be established before You.”

              – 1 Chronicles 17.24
    2. In Psalm 68, the psalmist declared 
      1. that the kingdoms of the earth should sing praises to God. 
      2. Then the psalmist went on to glorify God:

        35 O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places.
        The God of Israel is He who gives strength and power to His people.
        Blessed be God!

        – Psalm 68.35
        1. If He created the heavens and the earth, and 
        2. if He has a people on the earth, 
          1. then He can and He does 
          2. give them strength and power. 
    3. Remember all these truths I have shown you today when you pray! 


  1. Therefore, make a decision 
    1. that the God of the man Israel 
    2. will be your God too. 
  2. Joshua reminded the people of Israel:

    2 “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River in old times; and they served other gods.”

    – Joshua 24.2
    1. He continued that thought and commanded:

      23 “Now therefore,” he said, “put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD God of Israel.”

      – Joshua 24.23
    2. I urge you today to do the same, 
      1. incline your heart to the Lord God of Israel, and 
      2. follow the Lord Jesus Christ. 
  3. If you do as Joshua told Israel to do, 
    1. you shall be of the Israel of God, 
      1. just as those Israelites were, and 
      2. just as Paul told the Galatian churches:

        16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

        – Galatians 6.16
    2. Now think about this: 
      1. What was the purpose of Israel? 
      2. God promised Abraham 
        1. that in him God would bless all the families and 
        2. all the nations of the earth. 
          1. God renewed that promise to Isaac. 
          2. God renewed and gave more details of that promise to Jacob. 
            1. God used the nation of Jacob, the children of Israel 
            2. to bring the promised blessing found in Christ to the world. 
  4. When you become the Israel of God, 
    1. let Him use you 
    2. to bring the promised blessing of forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ 
      1. to the people around you. 
      2. Present yourself to Him this morning and 
        1. He will use you 
        2. as He used Israel.