Summary: Names of God 3: El Shaddai. What does ’El’ mean, and if that means ’Powerful’, ’mighty’ etc already- why add Shaddai to it?

Names of God 3: El Shaddai WBC 11/9/5pm

Genesis 17:1-9


Paul Harvey told about a 3-year-old boy who went to the grocery store with his mother. Before they entered the grocery store she said to him, "Now you’re not going to get any chocolate chip cookies, so don’t even ask."

She put him up in the cart & he sat in the little child’s seat while she wheeled down the aisles. He was doing just fine until they came to the cookie section. He saw the chocolate chip cookies & he stood up in the seat & said, "Mom, can I have some chocolate chip cookies?" She said, "I told you not even to ask. You’re not going to get any at all." So he sat back down.

They continued down the aisles, but in their search for certain items they ended up back in the cookie aisle. "Mom, can I please have some chocolate chip cookies?" She said, "I told you that you can’t have any. Now sit down & be quiet."

Finally, they were approaching the checkout lane. The little boy sensed that this may be his last chance. So just before they got to the line, he stood up on the seat of the cart & shouted in his loudest voice, "In the name of Jesus, may I have some chocolate chip cookies?" And everybody round about just laughed. Some even applauded. And, according to Paul Harvey, due to the generosity of the other shoppers, the little boy & his mother left with 23 boxes of chocolate chip cookies.

I must admit, I fins the names of God fascinating and inspiring.

- you learn more about God’s nature as you learn about His names

- in fact, God SHOWS more of His nature through His names in the Bible

o I’ll go on to show, tonight, that God has revealed some very special things about Himself in salvation-history

" Ultimately, of course, in Jesus

" Because that is the name of the Lord! The Lord Jesus Christ who is the full revelation of God

Tonight we look at El Shaddai. Often translated ’God Almighty’… but meaning a whole lot more. (hence the joke!)


"But", you ask, "what does ’El’ mean? Start at the beginning, Ewen"

Well, El means ’God’

- literally the word means ’power’… and you can well understand this: god’s being referred to as ’powers’

o so ’above all powers’ is a great song to sing!

- The word has to do with power, strength, omnipotence, ability

But, interestingly enough, it’s not a word often used of the one true God- on it’s own

o It’s not the one of Gen 1:1 for example.

It most often appears in a compound form, with another word,

o El- Shaddai for example-

o and so (I THINK) the first time ’El’ appears is Gen 17:1

- Or in the Pleural

Where it is used in the singular.. on its own… it is used to make a real big point

- Eg Deut 10:17 "17 For Yahweh (the Lord) your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God (great ’El’) , mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes

El is used only 250 times in the OT

- translated ’God’ by our bibles and the LXX (Gk- theos)

The word used 3,393 times of God is the pleural.

- it conveys all the same power, awesomeness

- but it is pleural and it is ELOHIM (also tr by LXX God)

This is the word used in the whole of Gen 1

- In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth

Oi! Why! Is this Erich von Danikan, ’Chariots of the Gods’ stuff

- claims that these are stories of ’the gods’ visiting earth. ’the gods’ being spacemen

well- where the word Elohim is used of ’gods of other nations’ the words around it, verbs, adjectives and pronouns are pleural

- eg ’the gods of the nations ARE nothing’

- suggesting there are many of these (which are nothing at all!)

But not so where Elohim is used of the one true God. They are singular

- eg Gen 1:1 God CREATED (3rd person singular, not 3rd pleural)

- Is 45:5 ’There is no Elohim besides ME’, singular

o In a passage where He is stating His singular uniqueness

The only place where a pleural pronoun is used are some occasions where the one God says ’let us make man in OUR image’

- but no one else uses it of Him

So- what’s going on? Why use pleural? Why does God sometimes say ’us’ of Himself. Why bend grammar & use single pronouns with pl word

Well- a bit of it is clarified in the Shamma Deut 6:4

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