We’ve been talking about the Names of God. In the first week, we learned about El Roi, the God Who Sees Us. No matter our circumstances, no matter our social position, no matter where we are, no matter whether we’ve been wronged, or wronged someone else, God sees us. And He hears us and He cares.
The second week we talked about El Elyon, God Most High. There are lots of things and unclean spirits wanting worship, wanting to be first place in our lives, but God – the God who created the whole universe, and us, is Most High. Satan wanted to be as high as God, to be worshipped as God, but it backfired big time. He did not ascend to the heights but has been cast down.
This week we are going to learn about El Shaddai. The first place this name is used in the bible is in Genesis 17:1-6. Again, we are taken to how God revealed Himself to Abram.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly.”
Then Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for Me, this is My covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram, but your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.
I will make you exceedingly fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will descend from you.
Why does God use a new Name here? He was El Elyon, God Most High, previously. He uses this new name because He wants to reveal more and more of Himself to us – all the time. He wants us to know Him intimately.
Here He is El Shaddai, God Almighty. He is all powerful. There are so many situations where we feel powerless. Aging, for one, makes us realize that we cannot do everything. When we were younger, we could conquer the world, climb high mountains, maybe leap over tall buildings. But now we know we can’t. We look at sickness, and there is only so much healthy eating and exercising can do. We look at world situations and definitely feel powerless! We need to lean on and trust in our All-Powerful God, El Shaddai.
When God used this Name when speaking to Abraham, He was saying, “I’ve waited this long to show you that this promise has nothing to do with your strength, your manliness, or Sarah’s ability to conceive. I will fulfill My promise to you with My power.” It was so impossible in the natural, Abraham would always look at Isaac and know it was God!
This is one of God’s Names that became very special to me. In Hebrew this is El Shaddai …. God Almighty… God All-Powerful. El is a shortened form of Elohim. It speaks of the might, the strength, and the excellence of God. No one and no thing is more powerful than our God. With so much not good happening in the world today, I’m glad we have a big God.
Shad is the Hebrew word for “breast.” Shaddai pictures God’s fullness or bounty, His tenderness, His generosity, His desire to nourish and nurture us, to make us fruitful. In this one name, God’s attributes of might and tenderness are brought together!
Jesus taught us to pray “Our Father.” We relate to Him as our Father, and our King. But this name has a feminine side to it, a nourishing, nurturing side. He was promising the blessings of growth and abundance that would flow through the generations. Here are a couple of more instances that illustrate this.
May God Almighty [El Shaddai] bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. (Genesis 28:3 NIV)
And God said to him, “I am God Almighty [El Shaddai], be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will be among your descendants. (Genesis 35:11 NIV)
God is again speaking of increase, bearing fruit, growth in both of these verses – not only to Abraham but to his whole family for generations.
This name doesn’t just speak of God having breasts and nourishing and caring for us, the root meaning is “many breasted.” Now that can evoke a strange picture in our minds, but I’d like to suggest another perspective. Picture a mother dog, with 8 teats – and she delivers 9 puppies. One of them is going to have trouble getting enough and will always have to fight for a place to feed! Coming from a very large family, I completely understand this.
And remember that movie Bruce Almighty with Jim Carrey? He was overloaded and overwhelmed by all the prayers of all the people! El Shaddai is not like that. He is sufficient. He is enough. His resources are endless. His love is boundless. And He never is too busy to listen… or help. He can handle my needs, and yours… and everyone else’s needs too – without getting at all frazzled. He is always enough.
In today’s world of gender confusion, this can lead to another question. Is God male or female? Some churches have removed all references to God as Father, or any reference to gender at all.
So, is God male or female? No – and yes! God is spirit. He has no physical body parts, but He is referred to as Father – definitely male, in scripture. But He also, like in the Name El Shaddai, has female characteristics. A father loves in one way, and a mother loves in another way. God’s love is complete. He is strong, trains like a father, protects like a father, helps us know who we are (as women or men), but He also nourishes and nurtures (and trains and protects) like a mom. In Matthew 23:37 Jesus is weeping over Jerusalem.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. (NLT)
Again, in Isaiah 49:13-16, God is reassuring Israel that He has not forgotten them.
Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth;
burst into song, you mountains!
For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his
But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion
on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are
ever before me.
Does God want to be your El Shaddai God? Absolutely! He is!
He is strong enough to handle any problem. He is sufficient, always enough. He’s not just barely enough, but more than enough – for you and the whole universe! And He loves us completely, with strength and gentleness. And never gives up on us. We have a great God!