Friday, October 27, 2006

God- Who He Is: El Shaddai

Today I read Genesis chapter 17. This is the chapter in the Bible where God makes his great covenant with Abraham. Before this chapter, Abraham was known as Abram, and God changed his name to Abraham. I have found that Abram meant "exalted father" and Abraham meant "father of many." Abraham was told that from this point on, all men were to be circumcised to show their love for God, and to be marked as his. And finally, God changed his wife's name to Sarah, which means "princess." After God changed Sarah's name, he also told Abraham that she will give him a son. Sarah was 90 and Abraham 100 years old, they were both past their prime for childbearing. Abraham believed God, and that very day, every man in his household, including himself and his 13 year old son Ishmael, were circumcised.

El Shaddai is one of the many names for God. Years ago Amy Grant sang a song called El Shaddai. One of the lines I remember was "age to age you're still the same, by the power of your name." How true is that. The God that thousands of years ago could give Abraham and Sarah a son, is the same God today that can help us with any struggle we are going through. El Shaddai means "I Am God Almighty"- the God who is enough, the fruitful one. It can be hard in today's world. Every day we are confronted with something that says we aren't enough, or we don't have enough, or we aren't doing enough. But it's God who is enough. Through God we can feel complete and whole, and we can believe that we will do anything.

God gave a 90 year old woman a baby. Let's think about that for a second. By 90 years old, surely Sarah has gone through menopause, and has not been in "reproduction mode" for many, many years. And just like that, God says she will have a child, and her womb begins to work again. God can do anything!! If he can take a barren womb and heal it so that it can bear a child, think of what God can do for us! One of the important points to make here is that both Abraham and Sarah believed God when he said she would have a child. Abraham may have found the idea funny and confusing at first, but he believed nonetheless, and eventually, Sarah gave birth to Isaac. Abraham and Sarah chose to take the opportunity to believe that God would give them Isaac. Every time we face a difficulty, we can view it as an opportunity. An opportunity to put our trust in God- in El Shaddai, the one who satisfies. Abraham's faith grew stronger while he waited for Isaac, and so can ours. A hard time and a difficult time could actually be an opportunity to draw closer to God and learn to rely on him more.

And the biggest point in this chapter is that God delivers what he promises. God promised Abraham Isaac, and Abraham had Isaac. And when God promises to see us through our troubles, if we just ask him, he will do so. And that is a great thing to know.


Claire said...

As soon as I saw this I knew I had to pull out my book about the names of God! Another phrase to describe El Shaddai is "all sufficient one." In the book there is a description of this characteristic of God that I think you'll like. The word "shaddai" comes from the Hebrew word "Shad," which means "woman's breast." A woman's breast is the source of sustenance for her child, she provides its life. This is just like El Shaddai...He gives of Himself for us, His children. He provides us with all we need for life (physical and spiritual). He is All-sufficient...even for things we don't see as possible (Sarah!).

Erika said...

Claire, you'll like the next couple of days... I've got five days about who God is, and each day has a name of God. I would love to know more about them if you've got more.