El Shaddai Inductive Sermon
El Shaddai (God Almighty)
In America, people don’t put a lot of emphasis on the meaning of someone’s name. In the entire time I lived in America, I don’t think I was ever asked what my name meant, but when I came to this country, people kept asking me what it meant and I said I didn’t know. Seeing that it was obviously important, judging by the number of times I was asked, I looked it up and I was pleased to learn that “Stacy” doesn’t mean something weird like “rotted root”, it means “resurrection”, so now I’m happy when someone asks me what my name means. It gives me an opportunity to talk about the resurrection.
Names are very significant in some cultures and they are in the Bible too. Most, if not all, names in the Bible conveyed a definite meaning.
God gave Adam his name àwhich meant “red” probably signifying the color of the clay from which God fashioned Adam
David à meant “beloved”
In the Bible, names were such an important aspect of one’s identity that when a major change took place in their life, often his/her name was changed to effectively communicate this new feature of their life to others.
Abram meant “exalted father”à after God promised that he would be the father of a multitude of nations Abraham means “father of a multitude” or “chief of multitude”
Jacob meant “heel holder” or “supplanter”à after wrestling with an angel all night Israel means “God prevails”
Namoi meant “my delight”àafter a famine in which she lost her husband and two sons Mara meant “bitterness”
Their names were an important vehicle to communicate to others who they really were. God’s name also has special significance. Scripture records numerous names for God because each of God’s names reveals to us a different attribute of His. Here at Grace Union, we’ve been going through a sermon series examining a few of the different names for God.
|Adonai (Master and Lord of All)|
|El Elyon (God most high)|
|El Shaddai (God Almighty) Today’s sermon|
|YHWH-Jireh (God who Provides)|
|YHWH-Rophe (God who Heals)|
|YHWH-Nissi (God, my Banner)|
|YHWH-Tsis’ke-nu (The Lord our Righteousness)|
|YHWH-Mekaddesh (God who Sanctifies)|
|YHWH-Rohi (The Lord is my Shepherd)|
Would you please stand with me for the reading of God’s Word? This morning, we are considering God’s Hebrew name of El Shaddai which in English is translated “God Almighty” and our text will be the first 5 verses of Genisis 17.
Genesis 17 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.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, 4 “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.
To say that God is almighty is the same as saying that He is omnipotent.
1. What does it mean that God is almighty?
a. First, let’s look at what it does not mean.
i. It does not mean that God can do everything. When I’ve talked with people about the Lord, an oft asked question by those who scoff at God and mock Him is, “Can God make a rock so heavy that He cannot lift it?” This is not a serious question intended to learn more about God, but is clearly designed to belittle God and ridicule the one who’s speaking of Him. Proverbs tells us how we should respond to this type of foolish question designed only to demonstrate the “superior intellect” of the one asking the question.
Proverbs 26: 4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Or you will also be like him. 5 Answer a fool as his folly deserves, That he not be wise in his own eyes.
So, we shouldn’t validate this foolish question by attempting to answer it. To be almighty doesn’t mean that God performs logical contradictions to entertain some scoffer.
ii. No, being almighty doesn’t mean that God can do everything. In fact, you and I can do some things God cannot do. He can’t lie, steal, cheat, or sin in some other way like we can. God is consistent. In His omnipotence, He never violates His own character. Since He is righteous, He can’t perform an unrighteous act. He is just, so He never acts unjustly and so on.
b. So, what does it mean that God is almighty? I want to read a quote by Stephen Charnock that offers a good explanation of what it means that God is almighty.
The power of God is that ability and strength whereby He can bring to pass whatsoever He pleases, whatsoever His infinite wisdom may direct, and whatsoever the infinite purity of His will may resolve. . . . As holiness is the beauty of all God’s attributes, so power is that which gives life and action to all the perfections of the Divine nature. How vain would be the eternal counsels, if power did not step in to execute them. Without power His mercy would be but feeble pity, His promises an empty sound, His threatenings a mere scarecrow. God’s power is like Himself: infinite, eternal, incomprehensible; it can neither be checked, restrained, nor frustrated by the creature.
God’s omnipotence enables Him to do any and everything He desires. Because God is almighty, His provision, His deliverance, His protection, the fulfillment of all prophecies, the execution of all His promises, the ultimate elimination of sin, the destruction of all His foes, and our eternal future are just as certain as tomorrow’s sunrise.
2. God’s might is demonstrated in Scripture in many ways.
a. Suppose you or I want to “create something”, we need to first acquire the materials. If we want to bake a cake we start with flour, milk, eggs, butter, and the like. If we want to create a work of work, we need to start with paint and a canvas. To construct a house, we would need to purchase the appropriate building materials. Whatever we attempt to create, we always have to begin with the raw materials. God, however, does not have this restriction.
When God undertook His little creation project called the universe, nothing else existed but Him. There weren’t any building materials around. He couldn’t go down to the nearest department store and purchase the latest “do-it-yourself” galaxy kit.
Genesis 1:14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16 God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also.
Don’t you love the way the Bible relates some things. It says God made the sun and the moon and then, almost as if to say, “oh yes, and BTW, He made the stars also.” There were not any building blocks or do-it-yourself construction kits. As v14 relates regarding, God simply spoke it into existence. This was an amazing demonstration of His awesome power. The entire universe came into being because God commanded it to exist. Wow, just meditate on that sometime. God said a few simple sentences and the universe was created from nothing! Creation is an awesome demonstration of the power of our God, El Shaddai!
b. The deliverance of His people from bondage in Egypt was another example of the Lord’s omnipotence. They had been enslaved in Egypt for about 400 years. God sent ten plagues on the land including slaying all the Egyptian’s first born to “convince” Pharaoh, king of Egypt to let the Israelites depart. Their departure route, however had a slight problem, it led them straight to the shores of the sea of reeds. This vast sea posed a significant obstacle to the exodus of the approximately 2,500,000 Israelites from Egypt. In a display of His might, God essentially says to their leader Moses, “No Problem, I’ll make a way for you!” and causes its waters to part so that they could all simply stroll right through the midst of the sea on dry ground. (Pretty cool, huh!) Meanwhile, Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt, had regretted his decision to allow them to leave and had sent his army to recapture them. His army pursued the Israelites into the sea. Once all the Israelites had safely reached the other shore, God decided He had parted the waters long enough, so He let them return to their previous tranquil status. OOPS, the entire Egyptian army was still in the midst of the sea when God, shall we say, “unparted” the waters! They instantly discovered it was just a wee bit difficult to swim while wearing all their armor for war! In a moment’s time, El Shaddai made a watery grave for Israel’s oppressors. Throughout Scripture Israel is repeatedly exhorted to remember this awesome demonstration of God’s power and to teach it to their children. Remembering God’s mighty deeds would increase their faith and their obedience to Him.
Spurgeon said, “Men of great faith do great things.”
It is said that if you do not expect to see God do any great things, you will not be disappointed! Faith unleashes God’s mighty power! When Jesus observed the lack of faith of those in His hometown, Scripture records,
Mark 6:5 And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He wondered at their unbelief.
The more difficult the task, the greater the power needed to accomplish it, right? God demonstrates His omnipotence by specializing in accomplishing the “impossible”. We’ll get a better understanding of God’s might if we observe how His people reacted in the face of some “impossible” situations.
Moses: Parting the Sea
Suppose Moses didn’t exercise faith… à Sorry folks, I thought we had a good chance to be free, but it looks like we’ve hit a “dead end” here and we’re obviously no match for Pharaoh’s army. We just need to surrender to them and return to Egypt.
But Moses exercised faith… à “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. Exodus 14:13
Noah: Surviving the flood
Suppose Noah didn’t exercise faith… Instead of acting on the knowledge of the coming flood, he might have reasoned to himself, it has never yet rained on the earth and it just doesn’t look to me like it’s going to. Besides, I like to play mahjong withmy buddies. I think I’ll just wait and see what happens.
But Noah exercised faith… He spent approximately the next hundred years constructing the ark so that mankind as well as the animals would survive.
Joshua: Walls of Jericho
Suppose Joshua didn’t exercise faith… He would look at Jericho’s massive walls and say, we can never breach those walls and I‘m not so sure of this plan to march around the city many times and then shout. What can that possibly accomplish except to make us look silly! We need to move on and find a city that’s easier to take.
But Joshua exercised faith… à “Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord.” Then he said to the people, “Go forward, and march around the city, … Joshua 6:6b-7a
Elijah: Slaying 400 prophets of Baal
Suppose Elijah didn’t exercise faith… I’m hopelessly outnumbered. All the rest of God’s prophets have been eliminated and things don’t look too good for me either. I hope I can just safely slip away from here and hideout where I won’t be found.
But Elijah exercised faith… “ O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.”
(God answered by consuming Elijah’s sacrifice with fire from heaven.)
“Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape.” So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there. 1 Kings 18:36b-37, 40b
Peter: ~3000 Souls Saved at Pentecost
Suppose Peter didn’t exercise faith… If these people even turned on Jesus and crucified Him, what hope do I have of reaching them? I should just go back to fishing, but it doesn’t seem like I can even do that very well anymore.
But Peter exercised faith… 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “ Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
We appropriate God’s omnipotence through faith. Apart from faith, His almighty power is inaccessible and irrelevant to our daily living!
Even though God required the children of Israel to have faith, in one very real sense, they could walk by sight. They had walked through the sea when it parted. When they were thirsty, God supplied them water from the rock. Daily, God provided manna that sustained them in the wilderness. In many ways, they were firsthand witnesses of God’s mighty hand working on their behalf.
Though God Almighty is still in the miracle business today, His deeds are often in the spiritual realm, not so easily seen with our physical eyes.
For instance, in one conversation with the disciples, Jesus refers to the “impossibility” of salvation for the rich.
23 And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heardthis, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26 And looking at them Jesus said to them, “ With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:23-26
God is miraculously working in people’s hearts opening their eyes to the truth, convicting of sin, and granting repentance. His miracles are evidenced in changed lives.
Though He still miraculously heals people today, it is not in the spectacular public ways that He did in Jesus’ day.
Some people, today, long to see God use His infinite power in similar physically spectacular ways that He did in Moses’ day and in Jesus’ day. They might think, or even say, that if they could just witness firsthand God sending fire down from heaven or raising the dead, then they would put their faith in Him. They wouldn’t! Jesus clearly teaches this fact.
But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” Luke 16:31
Think about it. An entire generation of Israelites (except Joshua and Caleb) died in the wilderness for their unbelief in spite of the fact that they all witnessed God’s many miracles in Egypt and in the desert! Similarly, many of the people in Jesus’ day who witnessed His miracles and even wanted to make Him King quickly showed their unbelieving hearts by shouting for His crucifixion just a few days later!
No, mere miracles didn’t produce faith then nor could they produce faith now. The truth is, we have two things today that are far superior to the signs and wonders that they had then.
1. We have the completed Scriptures.
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
God didn’t leave us lacking. He has already equipped us with His Word to do His work!
As we all know, we are to walk by faith, not by sight and it’s by the Scriptures that our faith is increased.
2 Corinthians 5:7?for we walk by faith, not by sight—
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
2. The second advantage that we have over them is that the Holy Spirit resides in every believer. He is our constant companion guiding us, reminding us of truths, convicting us of sin, emboldening us, motivating us, and empowering us. We don’t have to see God’s mighty power in miracles, we have that very power and more in our lives since the Holy Spirit lives within us!
Can we get real practical for a minute and look at what difference El Shaddai makes in your life? We all experience trials and encounter serious obstaclesin life. What is your response in these life situations when the sea is in front of you and Pharaoh’s army is behind you? How powerful is your God? Is He a puny little God who can accomplish little against the overwhelming circumstances of life or is He God Almighty who parts seas, collapses walls, sends fire from heaven, saves souls and raises the dead?
Brothers and Sisters, God is the same God now as He was then! He declares emphatically in Malachi 3:6 “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.
God has the same infinite power today that He had when He sent down fire from heaven to consume Elijah’s sacrifice. As His child, you already have that power in your life through His indwelling Spirit, but maybe you’re not experiencing it in your daily living.
Paul reveals in his own life the secret to experiencing God’s power!
2 Corinthians 12:7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Did you catch that? It was when He was weak that Paul experienced the power of God. Christian, when we are strong (at least we think we are), we don’t think we need Christ. Maybe we might think, “I struggle in a lot of areas, but I’ve got this one scoped out.” Too often, we depend on our training, our abilities, our resources, our contacts, etc. when we are confronted with life’s struggles and opportunities. When we have that attitude, pride goes before the fall and we fail again.
We must be like Paul and recognize our weakness and insufficiency. Though we can do all things through Christ, apart from Him we can do nothing. The key to this is prayer. Prayerlessness says, “I don’t need you. I can do this on my own.” By depending on Him in prayer, we are acknowledging our weakness and our need for Him.
El Shaddai has all power. If you are a true believer in Jesus Christ, then you have that power within you. How foolish we are, when we deny that power and rely on our own feeble efforts through prayerlessness. Like Paul, it is through our own weakness that we can experience the power of God!