Do you ever feel like a tidal wave is crashing down on you? There are times when situations arise that are completely out of our control. Although we feel powerless during those times, God does not. For there is no limit to His power and understanding. But where do miracles fit into the life of the believer? My pastor, Cliff Purcell, has some great insights about the subject of miracles in the Christian’s life. You may listen to his podcast from his “Just Jesus” series here: Miracles: Promises or Signs? (Feb. 17, 2019). Blessings!
What does the word Shaddai mean in the Old Testament? There are some differences of opinion surrounding God’s name, Shaddai. Dawn Wilson, founder and director of Heart Choices Today, has an interesting view on the differing interpretations. She writes, “the various possibilities are shades of meaning that give us greater understanding of who God is and what He does.”
The most common perception of shaddai among Christians today is “mighty”. So El Shaddai would render “God Almighty.” This root meaning would go along with El Shaddai being “The Overpowerer.” God overpowers every opposition against Him. Whatever He purposes, He will bring forth. But the primary meaning of God’s power in this name denotes all-bountifulness, The “Pourer-forth” of blessings that are both temporal and spiritual.
Some Christians also interpret shaddai as “sufficient”, which is also an accurate description of God. For He is the “All-sufficient One.”
Wilson explains yet another possible meaning of El Shaddai: “The God of the Mountain. Some Messianic teachers say shaddai comes from the Akkadian word shaddu, meaning ‘mountain.’ God lives in heaven, but He also inhabited a mountain top—Mount Sinai. It was on this mountain Moses met with God and received the Ten Commandments. It might be argued God’s presence on that mountain reminded the Israelites of His power and provision. The God of the Mountain was the same God who mightily led His people from Egypt and appeared to them as a cloud by day and a fire at night. He is the God who expected obedience to His commands, and swiftly and powerfully took action against those who rebelled and ignored His will.”
God is definitely both mighty and sufficient. He is the Almighty One who is more than enough! Although I grew up going to church and knew God as my Savior, I didn’t know Him as El Shaddai, the all-sufficient One, until I went to college. When I hit rock bottom, El Shaddai became more than words on a page to me. (You may read my story here: My Lifeboat). But before that time, and since, He has been both protector and lover of my soul.
People in the Old Testament who came to know El Shaddai include Abraham and Job. Even though God had promised Abram and Sarah a child at the ripe age of ninety-nine and eighty-nine, the baby had yet to make his entrance.
As God reveals Himself to Abram by this name, He also adds something to Abram’s name. He adds the chief letter of His own name “Jehovah”, the letter ‘He’. This sound can only be uttered by an out-breathing, giving something of His own nature. Genesis 17:1-3 tells us that when Abram comes to know God as El Shaddai, he falls on his face and immediately submits to God in everything.
Although Job argued with God at first, the Almighty’s show of wisdom and power resulted in changing this Patriarch’s attitude to quiet reverence before the Lord’s authority and sovereignty.
This same mighty God, embodied in Jesus Christ, worked mighty miracles to help people, rescue them, and prove He is God. He fed thousands from small provisions, healed people, and cast out tormenting demons. Yet, what blows my mind the most, is that El Shaddai would humble Himself to become a servant, “becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8) in order that we might have salvation through His Son.
We serve a mighty God who deserves all of our thanks and praise. In His mighty power, He never grows weary. He is our all-in-all who compassionately sustains, nourishes and protects. In His sufficiency, He can take our weaknesses and inadequate resources and use them for His great purposes. He alone is more than able! No need is too difficult for El Shaddai. He wants us to come to Him through prayer. For He knows His power and provision will lead to peace, hope, and praise. As with Abraham, God desires to work mightily in our lives and use us as a channel of His blessing to others.
Do you know God as El Shaddai?
Have you ever felt like an outcast, or used for another’s profit or pleasure before being thrown out like an old rag? That is how Hagar felt when Sarai took matters into her own hands by arranging for Hagar to have a child with Abram (Genesis 16).
Where is God when rejection cuts deep? Where is the One who promises to work all things together for the good of those who love Him? Does He care? Does He see?
In our broken, sinful world it’s easy to buy into the lie that God doesn’t see, or that He sees, but doesn’t care. The truth is, our omnipresent God not only sees, but He also cares . . . deeply.
He is El Roi, the God who sees. The God who is aware of every painful circumstance.
The first time we encounter God in the Bible as El Roi we discover that He tells Hagar to go back and face her problem. Even though it seems so much easier to bury our problems, they usually only manifest in more harmful ways. But with God’s help, we can face the problem(s) and begin to heal in His strong arms.
Even though God may have allowed the wrong, as in Hagar’s situation, He can still use it for good. But you must first know Him, believe in Him, and put your trust in His name. For He promises to never forsake those who seek Him (Psalm 9:10).
One day He will right every wrong. It will be a day of righteous judgment. For God saw all of it (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). Thankfully, God is also rich in forgiveness. But it’s a scary thought to think of the fate of those who reject the “Lamb of God” who paid the penalty for the sin of everyone who seeks forgiveness.
Have you ever considered the benefit of knowing God as El Roi?
God is not only our Elohim, He is also our El Elyon, the Most High. This name not only distinguishes Him as the sovereign ruler of all the universe, but also implies that nothing in life is more sacred. El Elyon, “God Most High” delivered Abraham’s enemies into his hand (Genesis 14:20). El Elyon was, and is, Israel’s Redeemer (Psalm 78:35). He is also the Most High God who reigns over the affairs of men and women today: “For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What hast Thou done?’ (Daniel 4:34-35). So “Nebuchadnezzar . . . blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever” (Daniel 4:34).
Other scriptures that refer to God as El Elyon in relation to His sovereignty include the following:
- Numbers 24:16
- Deuteronomy 32:39
- 1 Samuel 1:5-6
- 1 Samuel 2:6-10
- Psalm 7:17
- Isaiah 5:5-7
- Isaiah 14:13, 14
- Isaiah 14:24, 27
- Isaiah 45:6-7
- Isaiah 46:9-11
- Daniel 2:20-23
- John 19:10-11
Kay Arthur, (Lord I Want to Know You), writes: “If ‘the name of the God of Jacob’ would ‘set you securely on high,’ if you would trust Him to ‘send you help from the sanctuary, and support you from Zion (Psalm 20:1-2), then you must know him as El Elyon, the Most High. For if God is not sovereign, if He is not in control, if all things are not under His dominion, then He is not the Most High, and you and I are either in the hands of fate (whatever that is), in the hands of man, or in the hands of the devil.”
Satan’s relationship to God’s sovereignty and control can be found in Job 1:6-12, Job 2:1-10; and Luke 22:31. I love that, just as in Joseph’s story (Genesis 45:5, 7-8; 50:20), God in His sovereignty can take all the ugly details in our lives and “work together for good to those who love [Him], to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
How do you see El Elyon’s work in your own life?