|Prayer. by Vinoth Chandar|
Why is God known by different names? In the Bible there are many different names given to the One True God. Each of these names of God describes a different aspect of His many-faceted character. These names explain His nature, character and the way He cares for us.
The first part of this compound name “El” is the word for God and means “mighty and powerful.” This is to clearly differentiate the One true God from other “gods”, as “el” was a common term for any god at that time, age and area. While there is some difference of opinion regarding the primary meaning of “Shaddai”, and it is often translated as “Almighty” because it can also stand for a mighty mountain. The word actually has a more tender definition. The root “shad” is connected to the nurturing relationship a mother has with her infant child and signifies one who “nourishes and satisfies.”
When the two words are put together, El Shaddai means the “One mighty to nourish and satisfy.” God pours out His provision because He is all-powerful. When we admit our insufficiency, the Almighty is sufficient to meet all our needs. When we are empty, God is enough! “El” is found 250 times in the Bible. The name “Shaddai” by itself is used 48 times in the Bible, 31 of them are in the book of Job. The two names “El” and “Shaddai” are used together only 7 times.
The Message of El Shaddai
- El Shaddai supplies the impossible (Genesis 17:1-8; 15-22) – God was promising the impossible. Why did God promise that Abram would have a son then wait almost 25 years before He came through on His promise? Now that Abram was 99 years old and Sarah was 90 years old there was no question that a son could only come if God performed a miracle. Maybe this will answer some of our questions as to why God delays answers to our prayers. God’s future promise should make us happy in the present.
- El Shaddai blesses the obedient (Genesis 28:1-8) – Many years later the long promised son of Abraham, Isaac, passes on the same confidence that Abraham had to his son Jacob. Are we passing on a joyful confidence in God to those around us? In this context Isaac in reminding his son that El Shaddai loves holiness. Followers of God must be careful to not make alliances with those who don’t love God. “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15-16).
- El Shaddai doesn’t share worship (Genesis 35:1-4; 9-12) – God is about to change Jacob’s name, but before He does God demands that every worldly god be abolished. The name Jacob means “supplanter”, which means “deceiver.” God is about to change his name to Israel, which means “prince with God”.
- El Shaddai The All-in-All – The same term, The Almighty, is found in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 6:17-18). Today, most Christians accept the meaning of ‘El Shaddai’ as being both The All-Mighty, All-Powerful and Only True God, and the One who has further, finally, and completely revealed Himself in the New Testament and in the Lord Jesus Christ to be All-in-All.
Our Response to El Shaddai
How do we respond when facing life’s challenges? Do we stay burdened, bitter and broken, or respond in a better way? There are three responses that come directly out of the name El Shaddai.
- Fall before Him in reverence. When Abram heard from El Shaddai, Genesis 17:3 indicates that “Abram fell facedown…” This is also what Ezekiel did when he caught a glimpse of the Almighty in Ezekiel 1:28: “I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.” Even when we don’t understand we must still adore Him. When you feel empty express your praise to Him, even if you don’t feel like it.
- Run to Him as your refuge. El Shaddai is powerful and He is also our protector. This is spelled out in Psalm 91:1: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty [El Shaddai].” The idea here is that we take up lodging under the wings of El Shaddai. We don’t just visit once in a while; we live in the shelter He provides. When He is our residence, we find both rest and refuge. Stop running away from Him and run to Him instead.
- Trust Him as your rewarder. A time is coming when all wrongs will be made right. Here’s just one example of what Jesus will do from Revelation 19:15: “Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron sceptre.’ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.” When life turns upside down, find your nourishment in El Shaddai. When you live with unbearable pain, proclaim El Shaddai as your everything. When you are all alone and feeling empty, El Shaddai is enough!
The name El Shaddai is given to us in order to magnify God’s ability to do everything He promises, so that we may gain great confidence in God’s ultimate plan to bless His own.
“Let them praise the name of the LORD:
for his name alone is excellent;
his glory [is] above the earth and heaven.”
- How did you picture God in your mind before you studied the names of God?
- Why is it important to know the names of our God?
- Has God revealed Himself to you as El Shaddai? What has that meant in your life?