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

DT 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength

"Sh’ma Israel, YHWH elohenu, YHWH echad,"

This literally translates "Hear, O Israel: YHWH our Gods is YHWH a unity."

- a compound unity. Unity in essence, nature, being, action

- in fact, echad is used of husband and wife becoming one

Hot stuff! What is this? It’s the Trinity. It’s the fact that right from the start God has described Himself as a Unity.

- The Spirit has been there right from the start, over the water

- The Son has been there, walking in the garden, showing up to people

- Illustr: remember asking Mum about ’let US make man in OUR’

o It’s the Royal ’we’. Yes- but so much more

El... Elohim, THE Power, the awesome, creating, omnipotent God - is a Godhead in unity within itself


But if El means mighty, powerful etc in itself, why couple it with a word, ’Shaddai’ that means mighty?

- is it to mean ’almighty’- to doubly emphasises His ability to do anything?

Nope. Not completely. It’s complete meaning (to YOU) is seen in the e root of the word Shaddai, and the context in which the name is given

- shaddai is translated ’almighty’, but the root of the word is actually ’breast!’ In the sense of nourishment and supply

- so the two words combine to mean God, mighty to nourish and supply

And the name is given in the context of

- Abram’s weakness, frailty! (99!). Exalted father (but father of none!)

- Abram and Sarai’s inability to conceive

And the one true God shows up and says ’I am God the almighty provider and nourisher! And your name is Abraham because you are going to father a multitude and this whole land will produce fruit for you!"

- and it’s such a revelation it changes his name and nature! From Abram to Abraham

And the name is used wherever the context is bounteous fertility

- Isaac blesses Jacob for future fruitfulness in the name of El- SH

- Later, after this fruit, God reveals Himself to Jacob as El-Sh

- And when Jacob prophesises over his kids at the end of his life, as he reaches a ripe old age in Joseph’s company in Egypt:

GE 49:22 "Joseph is a fruitful vine,

a fruitful vine near a spring,

whose branches climb over a wall.


GE 49:25 because of your father’s God, who helps you,

because of the Almighty (Shaddai), who blesses you

with blessings of the heavens above,

blessings of the deep that lies below,

blessings of the breast and womb.

Because, frankly, in those days if God was going to show Himself as God He had to do it in fruitful provision

- Illustr: it’s the same in Lesotho

- People need to see Him in action to believe! In one way or another- and that’s how it is in Lesotho

And if you have basic needs- God wants to be God in providing them!

- I wonder how often we limit God

o By thinking He won’t provide. Being fearful

" Illustr: crisis in Lesotho! DO we rely on God for anything we can’t do ourselves. Instead should seek ’what does God want?’ and then ’what can we achieve ourselves? What are we looking to Him to do’. It ’s a completely other way round of doing things

If God gives the vision He will give the provision.. and if that is material- He’s up for that, too.

- ’Where God guides He provides. He is responsible for our upkeep if we follow His directions. He is not responsible for expenses not on His schedule’ Vance Havner

I wonder if we limit God in other ways, too. To the OT. To only the physical or mainly the physical (as prosperity folks do)… Jesus is the ’EL Shaddai’! Is 9:6 to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, (EL Shaddai) Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

- now the fruit He is looking for is the conversion of the world, too

- I have said to God, Jesus- "Lord, give me souls, lives changed for Jesus. Give it to me!". Now you can pray- you are El Shaddai, Jesus, the Lord of the harvest- give us the souls of these young people.. neighbours. Whoever you will

o Don’t ask… you don’t get. Ask-and I will give the nations as your inheritance! Enlarge your tent! Spread out

o He can do abundantly more than we ask or imagine!

But ask for the right things! The Kingdom things!

I want to close, but need to say one more thing as it won’t be addressed elsewhere and it is a big development on this name


EX 6:2 God also said to Moses, "I am the LORD. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. 4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.

Oi! What does this mean? Also is there some problem here because God says ’I didn’t make myself known by my name Yahweh, yet it says in Gen 4:26 26 Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh.

At that time men began to call on the name of the LORD.(Yahweh)

- is this anachronistic? Reading back the name given in Ex 3?

- A mistake

Well- it means that they knew the name of Yahweh in those days. Used it. But it was a lot to do with externals and provision and awe. They didn’t know the nature of the name… of God-

- And didn’t know the intimate nature of the name

- That the God of awe, power and provision, was also the God of personal relationship who wants intimacy with His people and wants it on the hearts… and not just to be all about what He can DO for them (cf Lesotho)

That was revealed to Moses… along with the name.

- (actually Moses doesn’t ask the name in the usual way- He asks in a way that invites a full answer about nature. And He gets it!

Ex 34:66 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation."

This Awesome God, El Shaddai, wants to be YOUR gracious, intimate, compassionate best friend!

Can I leave you with a thought? Do you know God as El Shaddai… the one you want to provide for you…by his names…. or do you know Him by nature -as Yahweh, the intimate "I am" as well?

- churches are filled with people who have heard of God… who want Him even, as El Shaddai… but haven’t received Him as friend, I am, Jesus, yet

Tonight is the time to do that, if you haven’t.


El Shaddai

I have made you too small in my eyes

Faithful God, faithful God