El Shaddai, The All-Sufficient One

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 deatheven 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?

El Roi, The God Who Sees

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.

God sees.

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?

El Elyon, God Most High

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:

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?

What Does Elohim Mean?

Why have biblical writers referred to the one God with different names? The different names of God are a way to emphasize one quality of His character. Elohim is one such name that is used frequently in the Scriptures. This term “Elohim” means “supreme one” or “mighty one” and appears about 2,750 times in the Old Testament. “In the beginning [Elohim] created the heavens and the earth,” Genesis 1:1.

Although the term “Elohim” is used on occasion to refer to judges, human rulers, and even angels, it is also used to express the one true God in his supreme rule and almighty power. Mike Leake, Lead Pastor at FBC Marionville in Marionville, Missouri, writes: This is the word [Elohim] which is most frequently used when referring to God’s dealings with creation in general or with the nations of the world apart from his covenant with Israel.”

God’s very essence is glorious and unlimited power. His creation is a testament to His awesome creativity and might. For since the creation of the world God’s [Elohim’s] invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse,” Romans 1:20.

I love that, starting with Genesis, God increasingly reveals Himself to us. He first places himself as Elohim in covenant with his creation. Next, he enters into a special relationship with Israel through the Abrahamic covenant. Finally, his covenantal promises (Genesis 12) find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ, God’s supreme revelation (Hebrews 1). This knowledge of Christ has the ability to move us from a vague understanding of Elohim into an exciting relationship with our Maker.

How do you know this God? Do you know him just as a mighty, far away power? Or can you address him as “my Lord and my God”? I’m so thankful that Jesus has given us a clear frame of reference to who this mighty God is and his mission, when Jesus entered our world. My Pastor, Cliff Purcell, is currently preaching a series called “Just Jesus”. His last message is from the second chapter of Mark. You may listen to his podcast here: Closer than You Think, (Jan. 20, 2019). Blessings!

What is an Examen Prayer?

My pastor is currently teaching a series on prayer, helpful ways to better connect with God. These ways are not intended to be a “one size fits all”, or a rigid method of “you must do this in order to grow in your walk with God”. But I thought his latest class about the Examen Prayer was really interesting. Although I have heard about this kind of prayer, I really knew little about it. So I am sharing what I have learned. I’ll give you a Facebook link to his class at the end of this post if you wish to hear it. There are also a couple of good (free) apps from the Examen Prayer available through Google’s Play Store and Apple: “Reimagining the Examen”, and “Examen Prayer”.

Some Christians find a specific approach to prayer a helpful discipline, while others prefer to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18). The Examen Prayer is a practice in meditation and prayer. Many people throughout the centuries have found this helpful in sensing God’s daily presence and guidance. This prayer is credited to Roman Catholic Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556) who, a Spanish soldier from his youth, pursued military glory and personal pleasure until age 30. After a severe battle wound, during a prolonged and painful recovery, he dove into Christian literature. This motivated him to renounce his old habits and commit himself to serving God.

After Ignatius spent hours of his convalescence in meditation and prayer he became convinced that any believer could benefit from prayer. He felt prayer is more effective when one approaches it in more of a conversational way with Jesus as a friend rather than in a ritual method. In 1548, Ignatius published his discovery in the Spiritual Exercises, a simple set of prayers, mental exercises, and meditations devised to be completed in 28 to 30 days. The Examen Prayer gives suggested “points” or “movements” when “praying the Examen.” These points are as follows:

Movement 1: Thanksgiving
Movement 2: Guidance
Movement 3: Review
Movement 4: Grace
Movement 5: Resolution

Whatever approach believers take in prayer, they may find the Examen Prayer helpful as long as they keep grounded in God’s Word (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2). Here is a link to Pastor Cliff Purcell’s class: Prayer Like You Never Experienced It, Episode 3. Blessings!