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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Getting to Know God: El Shaddai

As we've already discussed in previous posts, the word "El" means "God", but keep in mind that in Biblical times, this word was used to describe the true God and the heathen gods as well.  To set apart the one true God, descriptors were added to the word "El", and "Shaddai" is one such descriptive word.

The origin of the word Shaddai has not been determined, but there are several theories, each of which complements the others.  The Hebrew word "dai" means "sheds forth", "pours out" or "to heap benefits", thus implying provision, sustenance and blessing.  The Hebrew word "shad" means "breast" and signifies nourishment, supplication and satisfaction.  The Hebrew word "shadad" means "to overpower" or "to destroy" and suggests power beyond measure.  The Akkadian word "Sadu" means "mountain" and implies enormous strength.  All in all, we come up with this:  God the Almighty who provides, nourishes, blesses and satisfies.  Now that's a description!

The name "El Shaddai" is first used in Genesis 17:1-2 when God promises to make of Abraham a great nation.  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.  And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

Notice God proclaims Himself mighty and then makes a claim that only One of unlimited power could bring about.  God is speaking to Abram at the age of 99.  His wife, Sarai, is 90, and they have no children.  Yet God is promising to make an entire nation from the seed of Abram.  What seed?  Sarai was barren, and it was certainly too late for them to start a family.  Wasn't it?  Not for El Shaddai, the One who can provide, sustain, bless, nourish, supply and satisfy.  There is nothing beyond His power.  There is no task too difficult, no circumstance too overwhelming.  No, there is nothing He can't do.

The name El Shaddai is used many more times throughout the Bible (mostly in the Old Testament) and is usually found within a passage where God is making grand claims and/or promises.  For the All-Sufficient God, no claim is too wild, no promise too vast.  And fortunately, God is also One to be trusted, for each of His promises have come to pass.  Each claim has been verified save for the ones dealing with Him imminent return, the tribulation and millennial kingdom, but we can be assured by His track record, that those claims will be proven true as well (and probably sooner than we imagine).

In this world of trouble and sorrow, isn't it good to know that our God is all-powerful and all-sufficient?  Don't you find comfort in knowing that there is no problem too big for Him?  What a blessing to know that this Almighty God is also gentle enough to care for us with tender nourishment and provision.  Through El Shaddai, we can be blessed and satisfied.  We can put our trust in the One who will never let us down, the One who can give us above and beyond all that we can possibly ask or think.  The trick to putting our trust in the All-Sufficient God, however, is that we must first recognize our own insufficiency.  We must come to the realization and accept the fact that we do not have the strength or power to provide for and nourish ourselves as God can.  There comes a point when we've done all we can do.  Beyond that, there is El Shaddai.

He wants to help us.  He wants to provide for us.  He wants us to find satisfaction in the presence of His power and might.  Call on Him.  Lean on Him.  Get reacquainted with this God above all gods.  Who knows?  You may discover more about Him than you ever dreamed possible.

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