Week Two: El Shaddai: God Almighty, the All Sufficient One, God of the Mountain
Deep breath. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Good sturdy shoes? Check. Sunblock? Check. Enough water to drink? Check. This is the mental list and routine I go through as I rummage through my small backpack to verify everything I need is in there. I take another deep breath and look up at the trail that leads up the side of the mountain before me. “I can do this, I have everything I need.” I say to myself. It’s steep, and the trail looks hard and impossible in some places but I know that as I walk up step by step, I am not alone, the Lord is with me. He has equipped me for this, and in the places where I struggle, He will show up.
Have you ever had this moment? Whether it’s physically hiking up a mountain or when you face a time in your life that feels like an unsurpassable or impossible mountain is in the way? This is where El Shaddai shows up!
El Shaddai, a name of God that God actually claims for Himself, as it first appears in scripture. Turn with me to Genesis seventeen, verse one and two say, “When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty (El Shaddai), walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”
Here we have Abram, ninety-nine years old, and the Lord who called him out of his homeland into a foreign place is now speaking to him again, telling Abram He will make a covenant with him. A covenant, a binding agreement or seal between two parties, a promise. A promise that Abram will be the father of a multitude of nations.
“Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations.” (Genesis 17:4)
I can tell you if I was Abram I would think the Lord is crazy! How can an old man who has struggled to have children with his bride, Sarai, during all their years of marriage, become the father of nations? This is impossible! Except, the Lord calls himself El Shaddai.
El, in Hebrew means God. El the God of all things, like in the word Elohim, the plurality of the God-head three in one. God claims his deity, He is the creator of all things. Shaddai comes next in this introduction and is a bit trickier. There is much debate on how it should translate into our English language. Like many things found within scripture there is deeper meaning here. Shaddai in Hebrew has many sounds and meanings within this one word, so let’s pull back the layers.
Shadu* a word in the Akkadian language that Abram spoke meaning of the mountain. The God of the Mountain.
Saday* a Hebrew noun meaning a cultivated field or a wild place where animals abound. A God who is the creator of life.
Shad* a noun spelled much like the one above, in Hebrew meaning breasts or relating to fertility. Giving the meaning of a God who nourishes or multiplies.
Day* the ending part of this word or particle meaning sufficient, enough or an abundance.
El Shaddai, so much deeper in meaning than just the Almighty One, and I can see how one would struggle to translate into English to convey the true meaning of this name or characteristics of God. El Shaddai, the God of the Mountain who created all things, makes life out of nothing, multiples it, is faithful to keep His promises, who provides all we need and even more in abundance. This is the way God introduces Himself to Abram. WOW!
We see as we continue through the story of Abram, him becoming Abraham and the father of Isaac. Isaac then had sons and so on, all the way down to the line of King David and birth of Jesus.
“I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant…” (Genesis 17:6)
El Shaddai, had fulfilled His promise with Abram in abundance. This is just one part in scripture where we see the name and characteristic of God the Almighty, El Shaddai, show up.
In Exodus six, verse two it says, “God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, as God Almighty…” In a time when the Israelites are enslaved in a foreign land and feel forgotten and hopeless, the God Almighty appears again and speaks to Moses of remembered promises. How does El Shaddai show up in this story? I am sure most of us know it but, surprise! He delivers on His promise. Moses beseeches pharaoh to “Let my people go!” When that doesn’t work God Almighty sends plague after plague to encourage pharaoh to let them go. When the Israelites are freed and stand on the shore of the Red Sea with no way forward, an army advancing from behind to take them back to captivity, El Shaddai parts the sea so they may walk across. He overcomes what seems impossible odds and makes a way.
We know that from this story of the miraculous deliverance out of Egypt the Lord brought them into the wilderness. In this place of the wild the God Almighty is still with them. He nourishes them when they grumble about food, providing manna from heaven. He makes water come out from the rocks when there is no water to be found. See Exodus chapter 16 and 17 if you want to read more about these things. More importantly El Shaddai truly meets with them. Turn with me to Exodus 19, verse two through six says, “…There Israel encamped before the mountain, while Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Did you catch that? The Lord spoke to Moses out of the mountain! Even more amazing though as you continue to read in this chapter you see the Almighty God descend down on the mountain in fire, wrapping the top in a cloud of smoke with thunder and lighting. How amazing that must have been!?
The God of the mountain who nourishes us is all powerful and kept His promises even when the Israelites didn’t.
This El Shaddai that we see in Old Testament scriptures is still the same God Almighty who appears in the New Testament. A God who desires to keep the promise of redeeming a broken world back into right relationship with Him. To make good on His everlasting covenant with Abraham, that all nations would be blessed.
El Shaddai, who goes so far to keep His promise that He puts on human flesh. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God (El Shaddai), Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”(Isaiah 9:6)
Humbling himself to walk with us, heal us, comfort us, teach us, and suffer with us and for us, to redeem us. There is still so much to see of El Shaddai within the life and teachings of Jesus. Such as, how many times Jesus went to a mountain top to be alone with the God Almighty, or when Jesus multiples the fish and the loaves to nourish a crowd of thousands twice over. When Jesus gives himself up as a living sacrifice to do the impossible, to make a way for all nations, peoples to have a relationship with the creator of all things. I think my favorite is seen in the last moments the disciples have with Jesus before he goes again to be with the Father in heaven.
“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him… And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)
El Shaddai, Jesus, meets them on a mountain top at the very end of His time on earth. He is the God of the mountain. He establishes His authority, He is El Shaddai and He tells them to go out. To go out to the places He has created and prepared to be a part of fulfilling the promises given since the very beginning. To trust in Him as El Shaddai to do the impossible and bring peoples from every tribe, tongue and nation back into relationship with Him, making good on the eternal covenant. All the while never leaving us. Filling in the spaces we lack, He is sufficient. This is His promise.
El Shaddai, God Almighty, God of the mountain, the God of the impossible. The God who is the all sufficient one, who keeps His promises. Who nourishes us and invites us in to multiply His Kingdom with Him every step of the way.
So, let me ask you the questions again. Has there ever been a time in your life where the things in front of you seemed impossible? Where you needed to be nourished back to life? Where you need to be reminded that we follow a God who keeps His promises and wants you to be a part of it?
*Referenced from the Abraim Publications: https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Shaddai.html
Take sometime this week and reflect on what this name El Shaddai means for you currently in your life.
What impossible thing can El Shaddai do for you?
What promise from El Shaddai do you need to be reminded of?
Who can you share the wonders of El Shaddai with this week?
God Almighty, El Shaddai. Thank you for being the God of the mountain, the one who does the impossible. The one who always keeps His promises. Who has cultivated all of creation and nourishes it daily. Who never leaves me know matter what, and also invites me into this story of redemption. Who makes up for my every inadequacy, and is the all sufficient one. Help me remember this daily Lord. To tuck it deep in my heart and not forget. Jesus name, amen.