Summary: When the two words are put together, El Shaddai means the “One mighty to nourish and satisfy.”
A week ago yesterday I was overwhelmed by an ocean of orange as Beth and I were invited to the Wisconsin/Illinois game. I was decked out in a red hat with a big white “W” emblazoned on it and wore a Bucky Badger shirt. As I looked around Assembly Hall I only saw about five others wearing the colors of heaven, and one was my wife! The worst part of the whole experience wasn’t the ugly orange, or even the looks I got from the other fans, it was hearing a never ending mantra from one end of the stadium to the other. It would start on one side with the crowd spelling out the word I-L-L. This was followed by the fans around me shouting back, “So Am I.” Actually, I think they were trying to say, I-N-I, but it sure sounded like “So Am I.” I know I felt ill when the Badgers bombed out at the end of the game.
We hear slogans and phrases all the time. And some of them even sound spiritual.
Money is the root of all evil. Actually, 1 Timothy 6:10 says that the “…Love of money is a root of all kinds of evil…”
God wants you to be happy. I hear this one a lot. It’s often used for justification to get out of something that is right or to start doing something that is wrong. God never says he wants us to be “happy.” His heart is for us to be “holy” as stated in 1 Peter 1:15: “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.”
God helps those who help themselves. This one is quoted a lot and is sometimes even attributed to the Bible. It’s not only extra-biblical, it’s also unbiblical. In fact, Jeremiah 17:5 says, “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD” and Proverbs 28:26 states: “He who trusts in himself is a fool…”
Over time our mantras can become meaningless and our spiritual slogans can leave us feeling empty. As we come to the sixth name in our series, “What God Goes By,” we will see God as El Shaddai at the moment we realize that we are not happy and when we admit we are helpless. Let me suggest a phrase to focus on: When we are empty, God is enough! This is similar to what John Piper often says, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”
The different names of God are like a multifaceted diamond. Each one reveals more about His beautiful character and tremendous worth. As we unpack these names we can’t help but revere Him more devotedly and rejoice in Him more deeply.
Jehovah Shalom God our Peace
Jehovah Jireh God our Provider
Yahweh God the Covenant Keeper
The first part of this compound name El is the word for God and means “mighty and powerful.” We see this in Psalm 68:35: “You are awesome, O God [El], in your sanctuary; the God [El] of Israel gives power and strength to his people.” 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. The ancient rabbis referred to Him as the “all-sufficient One.” The early church made sure this name was right out front in the Apostle’s Creed: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty…” When we admit our insufficiency, the Almighty is sufficient to meet all our needs. When we are empty, God is enough!
The Demonstration of El Shaddai
We’re going to look at how three individuals came face-to-face with El Shaddai when they were at the end of their ropes. All three were empty in some way before they discovered that God alone is enough.
1. Abraham was burdened (Genesis 17:1). This name for God is used 48 times in the Old Testament. The first instance of El Shaddai is found in Genesis 17:1: “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, ‘I am God Almighty [El Shaddai]; walk before me and be blameless.’” We’ve dug into Abraham’s life several times during this series so we won’t spend much time on him this morning but I do want to point out that he must have been carrying a pretty heavy burden for quite some time. God had made several promises to him – of land, descendants, and blessings – and yet, he waited a long time before they came to pass. When it appeared that God wasn’t going to come through, Abraham even tried to take things into his own hands. Thirteen years later, God speaks to him again, and this time reveals himself as El Shaddai.