El Shaddai: The All-sufficient One

Maybe you realize that there is a God and that He sees everything and is willing to help but you think that His help is not enough. Maybe you see God as an impersonal God who created everything and then stepped back to see how things would play out. Do you think God is too “busy” to be interested in ordinary people like you and I? Do you know a lot about God but yet do not really know Him? I know a lot about the president of the USA yet I do not “know” him personally. Many churchgoers find themselves in a similar situation. They seem to know a lot about God but they do not know Him personally. They can tell you facts about God but they do not have an intimate knowledge of who He really is. Are you like that? Maybe you have grown up in the church and can quote hundreds of Bible verses yet you still have a vague idea of who God is. In this article I would like to explore the Name El Shaddai to learn how God is willing and able to meet all of our needs in order for us to be satisfied (content) in this life that we live. Are you satisfied with your life and the way things are going? Do you have a feeling as if something were missing yet cannot quite put your finger on it? If so, then I want to invite you to get to know God as El Shaddai.

I. The definition of the name El Shaddai is vital in understanding how to attain satisfaction in this life

Knowing God as El Shaddai is a life-changing experience. The word “El” is the most commonly used word for Deity among the human race. It literally means “power” or “powerful force”. It is not a violent power but  creative one. The literal meaning of the word “Shaddai” is “breasted one”. It is used as an idiom in the Hebrew language for “giver and sustainer of life”. Like a mother’s breasts produce the life-giving milk for a baby so El Shaddai is the powerful force who gives and sustains/maintains life. Knowing God as El Shaddai is like receiving mother’s milk but in a spiritual sense. Our spiritual lives are nurtured and sustained through knowing God as El Shaddai. He has life in Himself and He imparts it with mankind. Not only does He give us life but He also wants to sustain our lives. Jesus Christ uses an image in the New T. to describe how He is El Shaddai, the giver of life, the sustainer of life, and the one who satisfies.

37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ ” 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive ; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7)

This was the last day of the feast when the drink offering was brought and poured out on the alter. The people understood their need for water just like they understood their need for God. This sacrifice was to remind them of their need for God just like they need water. Jesus takes this opportunity to teach the people that He (Jesus) is there to meet the spiritual need that they have. He is El Shaddai. He gives and sustains life. He satisfies. He gives this soul sustaining satisfaction to those who believe in Him, who follow Him, who obey Him. The gift comes in the form of the Holy Spirit. Has Jesus met that longing in your life that you could not put your finger on until coming face to face with Him? Do you know God as El Shaddai?

II. There are requirements that must be met in order to experience God as El Shaddai

As we saw earlier, you must believe in Jesus Christ, follow Him, and obey Him. When God reveals Himself to Abraham as El Shaddai, we learn a few more requirements that must be met on our part. Remember, in Genesis 16, Abraham messed up big time by not listening to and obeying the Word of God. He tried to do things his way and failed. In Genesis 17, God comes to Abraham again and sets him straight. He sees that Abraham cannot remain obedient on his own. He needs some help. Here is what God requires of Abraham.

1 Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty ; Walk before Me, and be blameless. (Genesis 17)

God wants Abraham to walk with Him. God wants Abraham to be obedient to Him. That is the requirement to knowing God as El Shaddai. We have to walk with Him on a moment by moment basis. We have to obey Him day by day, minute by minute. Because of our human nature, sin nature, we cannot obey God the way that He wants. We do not have the ability even if the desire is there. We are born slaves to sin and remain that way until God sets us free. He has made it possible through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When we accept Christ as Lord and Savior, then God gives us the Holy Spirit which reminds us of the truths of the Word of God and warns us when we are about to sin. This is what Abraham was missing. For convenience I have been calling Abraham by his changed name of “Abraham” in all of the articles because that is how most people know him. His name before Genesis 17 is actually Abram. The “h” is added in Genesis 17. Also, his wife Sarah is actually “Sarai” until Genesis 17. God adds the “h” to both of their names after He reveals Himself as El Shaddai to them. Some Bible scholors believe that the added “h” to their names is the “h” from “Shaddai” implying the Holy Spirit. God took part of His character and added it to Abraham and Sarah. They became one with God. The same thing happens in the New T. with the followers of Jesus Christ. We become one with God through the Holy Spirit in us all. In Hebrew the word for Spirit is actually “wind, breath”. In order to pronounce the “h” sound you have to blow your breath out, therefore, when God added the “h” to their names He blew His Spirit upon them. Abraham and Sarah received the Holy Spirit and the ability to obey God the way that He desires, moment by moment and day by day. Has your character ever been transformed by God? Have you received God’s character traits in your life. Here is a simple list of the character traits of human nature and the character traits of God. Which to relate more to?

Human nature

19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5)

Divine nature

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5)

If you know God as El Shaddai then your character has been changed and you left the first category behind (human nature) and have joined the second category (divine nature). If you are still in the first category then you do not know God as El Shaddai, you do not have the Holy Spirit, and you are not a child of God, even if you are a member of a church and have been your entire life. That is the bad news. The good news (that is what the word “Gospel” means) is that there is hope for you. You can be transformed. Here is what you need to do.

1. Confess your sins

8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.  (I John 1)

2. Accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior

12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, (John 1)

3. Study the Bible daily under the guidance of a mentor

31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine ; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”  (John 8 )

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