The Names of God: El Shaddai


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The first time we see the name of God El Shaddai is when we come to …

Genesis 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

We see two of the names of God in this text. We see YaHWeH (translated LORD (all caps)) which is the “I AM” name of God. Then YaHWeH tells Abram:

I am the Almighty God

which is אֵל ‘El שַׁדַּי Shadday which means “Most Powerful God”. God uses this name when He is conveying the thought that our God is able to fill our needs. Amy Grant’s song El Shaddai is one of my favorites. In it she sang:

El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
El-elyon na Adonia,
Age to age you’re still the same,
By the power of the name.
El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
Erkamka Na Adonai,
We will praise and lift you high,
El Shaddai.

Through your love and through the ram,
You saved the son of Abraham;
Through the power of Your hand,
Turned the sea into dry land.
To the outcast on her knees,
You were the God who really sees,
And by your might,
You set your children free.

Why Did God Now Present Himself To
Abram As El Shaddai?

Our text today is not the first time YaHWeH came to Abram. Our God came to Abram while he was in Ur of the Chaldees. The name Abram means “exalted father”. When he was born his father Terah (whose name means “to breathe”) looked at Abram and had high hopes for him. He thought that Abram would – as mamma used to say – “do his family proud”, make a name for himself. He would have a large family, and he would be well honored as the father of a mighty clan.

But life often squashes our dreams.

Abram was 75 years old and had yet to have any children at all. His wife Sarai was a good woman, but she was unable to have any children. Sometimes things just are. Sometimes dreams fail. Sometimes we don’t measure up, and look back over our lives, the broken tracks, and begin to despair or be depressed.

Then YaHWeH came to Abram. We read:

Genesis 12:1-3 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

The Eternal I AM gave Abram three “I WILL” promises, all of these statements promising that Abram would have children. The GREAT I AM told Abram, in essence, “If you follow Me, and go where I say go, I will repair your broken dreams and your crippled life. I will look after you, and protect you where ever you go! I will give you children. Follow Me!

People often ask me “why do good people suffer”, to which I reply:

There is none good, but God” (Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19)

If you are asking me why we as humans suffer (for Job truly said {5:7} “man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward”) it is because we live in a fallen, sinful world. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that God loves us. Trials many times stop us, break our pride, bow our knees, and lead us to look up. That’s where Abram was. As C.S. Lewis once said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, but shouts to us in our pains”. Abram was at the end of his rope – and there he found God holding the rope! Abram followed God without hesitation.

Abram waited for a child. And waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. Now back to our text:

Genesis 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

Abram was 75 years old when God came to him and promised him many children. But now he’s how old? Ninety nine years old. Twenty four years have passed. Abram has gotten older, Sarai has slowed down, and it seems as if God has forgotten him. Yet our God never forgets. When time passes, we are often tempted to believe that God has forgotten us, or that He has welshed on His promise. Yet the Scripture declares:

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and keep you from evil.

Our God is faithful. He keeps His promises. He never forgets what He has said. As God came to Abram on this day, I believe the Lord looked in the heart of that old saint. Our God does not see as the world sees, but looks on the heart. God told the Prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 16:7):

the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

God looked at Abram and saw his heart. There was doubt there, in that old saint’s heart. God started by telling Abram “I am El Shaddai – mighty, able to provide”. Then God told Abram:

Genesis 17:4-6 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. 5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. 6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.

God not only reaffirmed His promise to Abram, but renamed him “Abraham” which means not “exalted father”, but “father of many nations”.

Genesis 17:7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

God Does Not Need Our Help To Fulfill His Promises,
But We Must Walk With Him!

After introducing Himself as The Almighty God (אֵל שַׁדַּי El Shaddai) God told Abraham:

walk before Me, and be thou perfect

“Walk Before Me” (פָּנִים paniym) means walk in My presence”. If you want to be blessed of God, dear ones, you need to “walk” or live your lives as if God is PRESENT. Too many believers live their lives as if God is in another room, or another country. God tells His children:

Hebrews 13:5 Let your {way of life} be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for {God} hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

For 24 years God has watched over Abraham. God knows the best time to fulfill His promise. When time passes we often begin to doubt the promises of God. Yet God tells us to rely on Him. He is EL SHADDAI. He says:

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

God also tells Abraham “you are to be PERFECT (תָּמִים tamiym, to be “Whole” or “Complete”)”. I will speak more on “being perfect” this coming Sunday in the Red Letters series we are going through. To be “perfect” we are to keep our eyes on the One Who saved us. To be “perfect” we are to do what God tells us to do when God tells us to do it.

We are not to live our lives foolishly as the lost world does. We need to live our lives imitating God, doing His will, and trusting His faithfulness.

The Great Preacher C.H. Spurgeon said:

Whether we know him as Jehovah, Elohim, Shaddai, or Lord, or by whatsoever other name he has been pleased to manifest himself, that title becomes the ground of our confidence, and is the means of fostering faith in his people’s minds, when they come to understand its meaning. To a trembling people the Lord enlarges on his wonderful names. I think he also does it to excite our wonder and our gratitude. He that loves us so much as Jehovah: he that can create and destroy; he that is the self-existent God; he, even he, has set his heart upon his people, and loves them and counts them precious in his sight. It is a marvelous thing. The more one thinks of it, the more shall he be overwhelmed with astonishment, that he who is everything should love us who are less than nothing. It is the Holy One who has deigned to choose, and to love unholy men, and to look upon them in grace, and save them from their sins. That you may bow low in loving gratitude, God lets you see who He is.”

We are “perfect” not when we are sinless. We are “perfect” when we keep putting our broken lives in the hands of El Shaddai. Walk in God’s presence.
Imitate Christ!

Many who profess Christ as Savior and Lord live much like Naomi did. In the Book of Ruth – truly a Book of Blessing – the believer Naomi loses her husband and Ruth her husband, who was Naomi’s son. Naomi was destitute. Naomi says to Ruth:

Ruth 1:20-21 …. Call me not Naomi (which means “Pleasant”), call me Mara (which means “Bitter”): for the Almighty (El Shaddai) hath dealt very bitterly with me. [21] I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD (Yahweh) hath testified against me, and the Almighty (El Shaddai) hath afflicted me?

Abraham thought that El Shaddai had let him down. Naomi thought that El Shaddai let her down. God did not let either of these precious broken people down. In the Book of Ruth God comes through for Naomi and Ruth, just as God – the EL SHADDAI – comes through for Abram. God knows when the time is right to fulfill His promises to us. Let us trust the faithfulness of God. Let us remember the admonition:

James 1:17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

God Does Not Need Our Help,
No Matter How Well Intentioned It Is

God tells Abraham that He is going to bless him with a child. How did Abraham respond? We read:

Genesis 17:15-18 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. 16 And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. 17 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? 18 And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!

As God told the Prophet Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 32:27 (KJV) Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?

Abraham believes that what God has promised is impossible – so Abraham does what we have ALL been guilty of at one time or another.
He tried to help El Shaddai!

Abraham had a child by Hagar, his Egyptian maid. Ishmael’s name, means “God that hears”. Abraham thought that his union with Hagar would bring about the blessing of a son to raise. Now in his 99th year Abraham is, in essence, saying to El Shaddai:

I’ll help You out, Lord. I know You appreciate it!”

No, God does not appreciate it. In fact, the birth of Ishmael would come back to haunt Abraham’s children many years later. God does not need our help. God wants us to pay attention to what He has told us to do, to DO what He has told us to do. Nothing more. Nothing less.

King David knew better than El Shaddai, and put the Ark on a cart.
Uzzah died because of his foolishness.

Jonah decided the Ninevites weren’t worth witnessing to.
El Shaddai made sure Jonah got to see the inside of a whale.

Judas Iscariot focused more on money than on El Shaddai..
Judas hung himself.

Every time we fail as believers to “walk in El Shaddai’s presence” we hurt ourselves. Quit listening to the flesh, to the world, to the chatter of darkness. Walk before El Shaddai, be in His Presence. The Psalmist David – often afflicted – wrote with confidence:

Psalm 91:1-10 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High

{ עֶלְיוֹן ‘elyown} shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty {שַׁדַּי Shadday}. 2 I will say of the LORD { יְהֹוָה YaHWeH}, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God {אֱלֹהִים ‘elohiym}; in him will I trust. 3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. 4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. 5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; 6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. 7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. 8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. 9 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; 10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

Our God is The Most High (El Elyon)
Our God is Almighty to Provide (El Shaddai)
Our God is Triune (Elohiym)
Out God is the ever Present I AM (YaHWeH)

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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