Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Bible Doctrine Series-El-Shaddai
El Shaddai—the almighty God” (Genesis 17:1; 28:3). The Hebrew word Shaddai means “most powerful in strength, omnipotent.” El Shaddai is translated either “God Almighty” or “Almighty God.” Early in Genesis, the Lord told Abram to leave his country and his family and go to a place He would show him. Before Abram and Sarai ever had children, the Lord promised to make Abram a great nation with so many descendants they could not be counted. Later the Lord came to Abram in a vision and told him he would have a son. Abram believed, thus He considered Abram as righteous due to his faith. The Lord made a covenant with Abram; He would give the land of Canaan to his descendants. Something happened in Abram’s life that we often find happening in our own lives as we stand on the promises of God: Time passed! A great deal of time passed. To Abram and Sarai it no doubt seemed like the Lord had forgotten His promise to give them a child of their own. With the intention of helping out, Sarai gave her Egyptian maid, Hagar, to Abram as his wife. When Abram was 86 years of age, Hagar conceived. She bore a son and Abram was content, but this was not the son that had been promised. Ishmael was the product of the will of man and the will of the flesh; the result of Abram and Sarai trying to assist the Lord. I get into a heap of trouble when I try to assist Him. Thirteen more years passed after Ishmael was born, Abraham had yet to see the promise of God. Then El Shaddai spoke these words in Genesis 17: 1-2, Abram was ninety-nine years old. “I am God Almighty (El Shaddai); walk before Me, and be blameless. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly.” The Lord, as El Shaddai, told Abram that He would establish His covenant with Abram. To establish means “to make, to build or to bring into being.” The Lord made the covenant, but it was God as El Shaddai that would make it happen. To emphasize what He was doing, He changed Abram’s name, meaning “exalted father,” to Abraham, meaning “father of a great number.” Again He told Abraham that his wife Sarah (Sarai) would conceive his child. How did Abraham respond to the news? He laughed at the prospect that he and Sarah would have a child at the ages of 100 and 90; it was humanly impossible. The covenant that the Lord made was established and brought into being by El Shaddai. The fulfillment of this promise is recorded in Genesis 21: 1-2. “Then the Lord took note of Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had promised. So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him.” Abraham and Sarah could not produce the promise by the works of the flesh. The bodies of both had to come to the point they could no longer produce naturally to make them realize it was all of God. In God’s first revelation of Himself as El Shaddai, we see that He is almighty, all powerful, and able to accomplish what is impossible in the physical realm. That is the meaning of the first part of the name, El. The word Shaddai is translated “Almighty.” This word is used in connection with judging, chastening and purging. This is shown to be true in the book of Job where the name El Shaddai is used 31 of its 48 occurrences; the book of Job is the story of a man learning to know El Shaddai. Because of the circumstances in Job’s life he argued with El Shaddai while other smeared Him with lies (Job 13:3, 4). Rather than taking responsibility for his own hostile attitude to what was happening in his life, Job accused the Almighty of embittering his soul (Job 27:2). Job acknowledged El Shaddai should do these things to the unjust that perform iniquity, but proceeded to proclaim his own innocence, inferring God was indeed guilty of injustice (31:2-40). Finally, Job went so far as to label El Shaddai his adversary, calling Him to answer for the indictment which had been written against him (31:35). The Lord’s response to Job is given in Chapter 40:2 “Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let him who reproves God answer it.” When Job heard God ask that question, he wisely concluded that he should say no more. Ryrie makes this comment about God’s response to Job: “When Job criticized God’s ways, he was in effect trying to usurp God’s position as governor of the world. In this paragraph full of irony, God asks if Job can really perform those things which only God can do.” After the Lord finished His verbal reprimand, Job repented. Ryrie’ comment is significant: “Job repents of his pride and rebellion and finds contentment in the knowledge that he has God’s fellowship. This is the great lesson of the book; if we know God, we do not need to know why He allows us to experience what we do. He is not only in control of the universe and all its facets but also of our lives; and He loves us. Though His ways are sometimes beyond our comprehension, we should not criticize Him for His dealings with us or with others. God is always in control of all things, even when He appears not to be.” The ways of El Shaddai as listed below give us a clear picture of a God who is faithful to keep His covenants with His people. --When El Shaddai concludes a work in our life, we will delight in Him (Job 22:25). --When He completes a work in our life, we will have understanding (Job 32:8). --El Shaddai gives life. John 10:10 tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ came that we might have an abundant life. Job had life but El Shaddai wanted him to experience life abundantly. After taking Job through his ordeal, Job’s fellowship was restored, along with his fortunes; all he had increased twofold (Job 42:10). The life Job lived after El Shaddai had taken him through his tribulation was more abundant. A person can experience life even while imprisoned by an enemy. Once that person escapes or is released from his prison and experiences freedom, he’ll live life more abundantly. El Shaddai wants us out of our bondage from the world, the flesh, and the devil. --El Shaddai does not treat us wrongly (Job 34:10). --El Shaddai will not pervert justice (Job 34:12). --El Shaddai will not heed nor give regard to an empty cry (Job 35:13). He is not moved by pity parties. --El Shaddai finds us, we don’t find Him. He is exalted in power. He will not do violence to justice or abundant righteousness. The worldly wisdom of men does not impress Him (Job 37:23-24). --El Shaddai brings destruction (Isaiah 13:6). Since He does not treat us wrongly nor pervert justice, El Shaddai brings destruction to our fleshly, worldly, demonic ways. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.