Article of the Month

June 2015

EL SHADDAI

 

There are a number of Hebrew and Greek words which refer to God.  Some of them are not exclusive to the Father — words like EL and ELOHIM which can and do also refer to other beings.  But there are a very limited number of words which exclusively refer to THE ONE AND ONLY supreme God of the universe.  One of these terms is “El Shaddai.”

The term is usually thought to mean “The Almighty.”   This is close to correct; but it lacks an important ingredient in the meaning.  In the Greek, “Pantokrator” is the word for “Almighty.”  And this Greek word does seem only to mean “Almighty.”  It is used exclusively for the Father.  But “El Shaddai” has a nuanced meaning which very much helps a Christian more appreciate his Heavenly Father.

In Genesis 17:1, God introduces Himself to Abram (later Abraham) by saying, “I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou perfect.”  “Almighty God” in this verse is “El Shaddai.”  Genesis 17:1 is the first place in the Bible in which we encounter this Hebrew word.

“Shaddai” comes from a Hebrew word meaning “the breast.”  “Shaddai,” then, implies “The Breasted” — in the sense that God is THE NOURISHER of His followers.  It is not that He is not “The Almighty” (as Strong’s Concordance defines the word), but that He is the All-Powerful-Nourisher.  The expanded meaning is so much more satisfying than the definition which only stresses His power.  God, by this term, portrays Himself as the Nourisher, the Strength-Giver, the Satisfier Who pours Himself into the lives of believers.

The term “The All-Sufficient” would better characterize the meaning of this special term for God.  He is sufficient for us in every and all circumstances we may face.  Not only does He have All-Power, but He uses it to nourish our experiences for our growth in Christ.  Thus the word not only tells us what God is, but also what He does with what He is.

In Exodus 6:2, 3 we find two names exclusive to our Father.  In addition to “El Shaddai,” we find “Jehovah.”  Jehovah is a word invented by English translators to represent the Hebrew word, “Yahweh” — a name considered so sacred to Jews that they do not pronounce it.  The translators, not willing to deprive God of this name in their English translations, invented “Jehovah” as a substitute they hoped would find acceptance.

Jehovah (or Yahweh) literally means “He is becoming what He is becoming.”  God is entirely too big to be contained in a static name.  So He names Himself with an on-going form of the verb “to be.”  He is perpetually (eternally and forever) becoming new to us as His plans throughout eternity are revealed to us all.  It is the perfect name for Him.  It has no boundaries!  Based on its meaning, Jesus teaches that it is an eternity to know God.

In Exodus 6:2, 3, we read, “God spake unto Moses and said unto him, I am Jehovah; and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob by the name of El Shaddai; but by My name Jehovah was I not known to them.”  Thus the SUFFICIENCY of God was known to the Patriarchs before the SELF-EXISTING, PERPETUALLY CREATIVE nature of God was introduced via Moses, whose writings began to unveil the unfolding Plan of God for all ages to come.

The lesson to take from this article is the comfort message from this one particular name for God:  “El Shaddai.”  He is the One Who is All-Sufficient for us in every way.  We need no one else.  His power is there not just to be there, but to work effectively on our behalf.  Time will reveal this for all creation.

  

 

 

 

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