Genesis 17:1-2

It felt like we’d talked for hours on end about what we would name him. He was our first child and the pressure of coming up with the right name was quite visceral. We settled on naming him Ethan… until about a week before he was born. At that point, we started to rethink whether Ethan was in fact the right name. I’m guessing most parents-to-be have those moments of doubt. The time came for Ethan to be born and we decided to name him Nolan. As we laid him in his hospital bed and saw the nametag above his transparent crib, both Kelly and I agreed that Nolan wasn’t the right name; he was, in fact, Ethan.

Names are a big deal to us today, but back in biblical times, they were even more important. Names meant something, they sent a message about identity. Over the last few years, I’ve been intrigued by the different names of God we read in Scripture. I guess I’m struck by the fact that it’s impossible for God to be summarized or captured with one name. He is Yahweh, El Rio (the God who sees), Adonai (Lord, or Master), Jehovah Rapha (Shepherd), and the list could go on; there are over 100 names for God in the Bible. El Shaddai is one of the Hebrew names for God. It is typically translated in English as, “God Almighty.” It’s used over 40 times in the Old Testament.

Genesis 17 is the first time the name El Shaddai is used. God uses the name to describe himself to Abram. The passage reads,
1 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, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” (Genesis 17:1-2)

“I am El Shaddai.” God wants Abram to know and believe that God is almighty, powerful, and able to deliver on his promises and keep his covenant. Even though Abram was 99 years old, he would still become the father of many nations. Abraham didn’t see any way that what had been promised to him decades before could come to pass. However, what he was about to learn was that what was impossible for people, was possible for God. He is able; it’s his name!

God is still El Shaddai today. He’s still powerful and mighty. He’s able to provide, he makes good on his promises, and he keeps his covenant. Spend a few moments and think about an area in your life where you need God to show his power and then invite him in as El Shaddai.

Ryan Paulson
Lead Pastor

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