El-shaddaI - The Almighty God
Dr. Joe Temple


Turn, please, to Genesis, chapter 17, verse 1:

Genesis 17

1And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
2And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
3And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
4As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
5Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
6And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
7And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
8And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

Notice particularly verse 1:

Genesis 17

1And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

I would like for us to notice particularly the phrase, “the Almighty God.” We have been studying together the Compound Names of God . We have told you that there are three names for God in the Word of God. There is the word Jehovah ; there is the word Adonai ; there is the word Elohim . These three words are not always presented in those terms in the King James translation. For example, the word Jehovah is presented to us by the English word LORD with every letter capitalized. When you see the word Lord in your Bibles, always look at it carefully because it is not always written the same way. Sometimes every letter is capitalized and if it is, it means that it is the translation of the word Jehovah . Sometimes just the first letter is capitalized. When it is, you know that it is the translation of the word Adonai . Then, of course, you see the word God , which is the translation of the word El or Elohim as the case may be. El is the singular; Elohim is the plural. It is a very interesting thing to notice that in most instances, the words comes from the word Elohim , plural. For example, in the first verse of Genesis: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…”, the reference to God is plural because we know from other passages of Scripture that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit were active in the creation of the world.

We told you when we looked at the word Jehovah that quite often there are associated with the word Jehovah other words that form compound names. Today I want us to recognize how the word Elohim is used in the Scripture in combination with other words which describe yet another characteristic of God. The word Elohim in the combination at which we are going to look today is used forty-eight times in the Old Testament, thirty-one times in the book of Job. We are going to look at only three uses of the word today, because these three uses give you the basic facts. All the other times they are used, they are used in this fashion.

The Sufficient God

Look at the first verse of chapter 17 and notice the word God . It is the translation of the Hebrew word Elohim . Look at the word Almighty . It is the translation of the Hebrew word Shaddai . Actually what you have here is El Shaddai , another name of God—God, the Almighty One. The word Shaddai is a word that speaks of might in relation to nourishment, in relation to strength, in relation to power, in relation to sufficiency, As a matter of fact, in the Septuagint version—the translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew to Greek by seventy Greek scholars—every time they came across this word Almighty , they used the Greek word Arkano or Ikano , which means “the one who is able to nourish,” “the one who is able to strengthen.” So we find in the name El Shaddai the characteristic of God which speaks of God who is able to nourish, God who is able to strengthen, God who is sufficient in the midst of our insufficiency. That is the thought that I would like for you to notice here in Genesis, chapter 17.

If we had the time to go back before chapter 17, we would find that Abraham had spent a great deal of time in his own strength trying to fulfil the promise of God. You remember that God gave a promise. The promise was that a son would be born to Abraham and through that son all the nations of the world would be blessed. Abraham waited nine years at one time and thought surely God would do something, and God didn't. He said to himself, “Time is fast running out.” He waited sixteen years, and God did nothing. He was quite concerned, and he said, “Time is running out.” There was yet another period, and he thought time was running out. So he decided to take matters into his own hands, or perhaps I should say that his wife decided to take matters into her own hands and sold him on the idea, and he attempted to have a child by Hagar, an Egyptian handmaiden. You remember after that union was born the boy, Ishmael.

When time ran out again and Abram realized he was well past the age of having a child and Sara likewise, he went to the Lord and said to him, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you, that Ishmael might be the one through whom you are going to fulfill your promise to me.” God said to him in so many words, “I am not going to let Ishmael be the fulfillment of the promise. Ishmael is the son of the flesh; he is not the son of the spirit; he is not my fulfillment; you have got to rest on Me.”

So, in the first verse of chapter 17, when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said unto him, “I am El Shaddai. I am the Almighty God. I am the God who is sufficient. Walk before me therefore, and be thou perfect.”

The Insufficiency of Man

This word perfect is not as good a translation as it might be. The words complete or sufficient would be better words. Personally, I like the word sufficient because I think there is an intentional play on words here that brings us the lesson that should encourage our hearts. Keep in mind that I have tried to paint for you the picture of the utter insufficiency of Abraham. When he was brought to the end of himself thoroughly, utterly, insufficient for the need presented to him, God appeared to him and said, “I am the El Shaddai. I am the sufficient God. Walk thou before me, and be thou sufficient.”

The Apostle Paul said that same thing in the New Testament, you will remember, in his letter to the Corinthians when he was thinking about all of the tremendous needs in the hearts of men and the tremendous responsibility that was his because he was entrusted with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. He asked the question, “Who is sufficient for these things?” If he had stopped right there, he could have turned away discouraged. We all could have turned away discouraged and said, “Well, we are just not sufficient.” But he added another word and said, “Our sufficiency is with God. We are not sufficient, but our sufficiency is of God.”

Here is a New Testament description of the same Old Testament experience. The word God is used, and the word sufficient is used, which is a New Testament counterpart of the Old Testament word. Paul learned to know God, El Shaddai . He learned to know Him as the sufficient One, the One who is sufficient in his time of insufficiency.

It is an interesting thing, I think, for us to notice that we cannot as a rule recognize the sufficiency of God until we have recognized our own insufficiency. If you followed my suggestion about Abraham in your thinking a few moments ago, you will remember that Abraham consistently tried one thing after another to get the job done. When he got to the place where all of those things had failed and had reached the age of ninety-nine where the whole thing was settled from a physical standpoint, he came completely to the end of himself; and God then said, “Now I am sufficient in the midst of your insufficiency.” God has to bring us to the end of ourselves a great many times before we can know Him in the manner that I am suggesting to you today.

The Illustration of Ruth

There is a good illustration of that in the book of Ruth, chapter 1. The story of Ruth is probably familiar to most of you, how Ruth left her home, went into a foreign country and returned again utterly defeated and discouraged. Remember the story of how Noami and her husband and her two sons had gone into the land of Moab at a time of famine. There her husband died. There her two sons died. She was left with only two daughters-in-law. They started back home to the land of Palestine, the city of Bethlehem, and one of the daughters-in-law decided not to go. She decided to remain in Moab. Ruth, the other daughter-in-law, said that she would go and never leave nor forsake her mother-in-law. Of course, the story of Ruth continues with Ruth eventually marrying Boaz, and a beautiful story of redemption is presented.

In verse 19 of chapter 1:

Ruth 1

19So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?
20And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.
21I went out full and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?

Notice the word Almighty used twice in this one paragraph. It is the word that we are thinking about—El Shaddai . Here it is, God being presented as the sufficient one. How is He presented as the sufficient one in this particular instance? What was it Naomi said? My, how she must have looked when she came back into the city of Bethlehem. People saw her and they said, “Is this Naomi?” What they were really saying was, “Can this really be? This is not the beautiful, young woman that left. This is not the woman who left in the midst of prosperity. Can this be Naomi?” She said, “Don't call me that anymore. Call me ‘Mara' [which means bitterness ]. I went out full, but I have come back empty.” She laid the whole thing in the hands of God, but who does she say took away everything she had? Who does she say took her down to the bottom? Who does she say brought her back empty when she went away full? El Shaddai did–the sufficient One.

The Revelation In Personal Experience

I suggest to you today that many times the only way we can know the sufficiency of God is to come to the end of our own sufficiency. The chastening of God is sometimes necessary for that very reason. When everything goes very well with us, we have everything we need and everything we want, we are not as conscious as we should be of our dependence upon God; but when we come to the place that we feel, as we have suggested to you at other times, at wits' end corner, we recognize the sufficiency of God.

We would like to emphasize that the names El or Elohim , El Shaddai , were always revealed in the process of personal experience. In other words, God did not introduce Himself and say, “You may call me Jehovah ; you may call me Adoni ; you may call me Elohim , or you may call Me any one of these compound names.” He didn't do that. He introduced Himself to individuals in relation to certain experiences, and as a result of the experiences, they gave those names to God, which leads me to suggest to our hearts today that these names of God all represent personal experiences which are available to the believer. We don't all know the Lord to the same degree. We don't all know the Lord by the same experiences because we haven't all walked the same path. I daresay there are some of you who can claim God as El Shaddai because you have come to the end of yourself. Your sufficiency is all God. There is nothing left for you, and then God reveals Himself as the One who is sufficient for your every need. You can give testimony to that in a way that no one else can because God is very personal to you in that relationship.

From Barrenness to Fruitfulness

I want you to notice with me one other place where this word is used. Keep in mind that El Shaddai is not presented only in these three places. Forty-eight different places in the Scripture it is presented, but these three places typify all the other places. Turn, please, to the book of Genesis, chapter 28, verse 1:

Genesis 28

1And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan.
2Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother's father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughers of Laban thy mother's brother.
3And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people;
4And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.
5And Isaac sent away Jacob: and he went to Padanaram unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother.

Notice in verse 3 the words, “…God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee…” The word God is the translation of the Hebrew word Elohim , and the word Almighty is the translation of the word Shaddai–Elohim Shaddai , the compound name of God in this instance. What is it that is brought before us in this particular paragraph? Elohim-Shaddai , the faithfulness of God, how God is able to take a barren life and make it more fruitful than anyone could possibly imagine. Here was Jacob, yet unmarried, but Isaac claimed for Jacob this relationship to God, the relationship of El Shaddai , that he might know the fruitfulness of God in his experience.

Turn with me to Genesis, chapter 35, where there is a related passage of Scripture to this subject that we are discussing in relation to Isaac at a much later date than this. In verse 9:

Genesis 35

9And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him.

Notice, the first passage of Scripture was before he went, wasn't it? Isaac said, “I want you to know my God as El Shaddai ; I want you to know Him as the one who is able to make a faithful life out of a barren life.” He had been down to Padanaram, and in verse 9 of Genesis, chapter 35:

Genesis 35

9And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him.
10And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel.
11And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins;
12And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.
13And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him.
14And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon.
15And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel.

God appeared to Jacob and what was the first thing He said to him? “I am God Almighty. I am Elohim-Shaddai .” When did he make this appearance? After Jacob attempted to be faithful to his own efforts with deceptions, with craftiness, with lies. He attempted to do what only God could do. He came to the end of himself in a wrestling match with God; and when God touched Him, brought him down to the end of himself, He said, “I am going to change your name. I have changed your character. I am going to change your name. You have been Jacob, which means ‘deceitful,' ‘supplanter,' ‘liar,' ‘hypocrite'—all of that. I am going to change your name to Israel, which means ‘prince'.” That is an illustration of the grace of God. God is able to take a man—a supplanter and a deceiver and a liar—and change him so completely that he becomes a prince in God's sight. When God said this to Jacob, what name did he use? El Shaddai , “the one who is able to strengthen, to cause to be fruitful,” “the one who is able to meet a particular need.”

The Personal Relationship With God

Jacob accepted by faith his relationship with God and built an altar and called the name of the place where he built his altar Beth-el , which means “house of God.” Beth means “house”; el is the name we are thinking about. That place—this has always been very interesting thing to me—with nothing but the sky for a roof and the dirt for a floor became the house of God because he met God there. He met God in a personal way—the one who is able to know him, the one who is able to supply, the one who is able to cause to be fruitful.

I say in closing that sometime when you have time, read the book of Job and notice how many times this word El Shaddai is used in the book of Job. I think it is mentioned some thirty-one times. It can help you to realize how personal God can be to an individual.

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