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1 Corinthians 9:11
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Relationship With Jesus
The Key To Effective Ministry

Section 10, Chapter 9

More on the Names of God
In the Bible

Page 5 of Pages 1, 2, 3, 4

Fourth, His faithfulness is not diminished by human short-comings. When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, telling him to lead the Children of Israel out of Egypt, poor Moses came up with a whole list of reasons why he was the wrong man for the job. Mosesí short comings were the following: He had no standing with either the Israelites or the Egyptians for such an undertaking (Ex 3:11); he didnít even know the name of the One who was sending him (3:13); he was plagued by doubts and fears (4:1); he lacked the eloquence that most leaders possess (4:10); finally, there was the very mundane consideration that his employer might not release him from his responsibilities (4:18). However, God would not allow Mosesí personal shortcomings to interfere with Israelís deliverance from Egypt. He had made promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and nothing would prevent Him from keeping His Word. So He made provision for each of Mosesí five concerns and the rest, as they say, is history.

*El Hagadol, ldoG:h' laeh;

El Hagadol meaning: The Great God.287 This is found in Deuteronomy 10:17: "For Yehovah361 your Elohim is the Elohe291 of Els and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome El359 who does not lift up faces [show partiality] nor take a bribe." Note that all primary names for God are used here: Yehovah, Godís proper name; Elohim, describing the composite unity of our one God Elohe; elohim which also can be used as a plural noun to describe the lesser gods of the nations; Adonai, Yehovah is Lord of lords; and El, the shortened form of Elohim.

Other names used in this passage for God are rBoGIh' laeh; (El Hagibor) meaning The Mighty, Strong, Valiant God.288 ar;/Nh' laeh; (El Hanorah) meaning: the fearful God; dreadful, terrible, awful, holy, marvelous, wonderful God.289 In this passage God wants us to know that He is greater than our enemies. "You shall fear Yehovah your Elohim; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name." (Deut 10:20)

Second, God is great because He is not subject to human shortcomings. ". . . and the awesome El359 who does not lift up faces [show partiality] nor take a bribe" (Deut 10:17). With Him there is no partiality and He takes bribes from no one. He is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). he is not impressed with wealth, influence, or social status. He doesn't care what kind of car you drive, how many boards of directors you serve on, or how many people jump when you say "Jump." We are all equal in God's sight. Someday when we stand before Him, everyone will be judged on the same basis.

Third, God is great because He defends the weak. He takes up the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and He loves the "stranger," or the alien (v. 18). People no one else will stand up for, God stands up for. Those who are too weak, and have no way of defending themselves, God defends. This is what makes Him El Hagadol, the Great God.

Note the contrast between Godís measure of greatness and the worldís measure of greatness. The world says there are only two kinds of peopleóthe weak and the strong, the predators and the prey. Itís like Darwinís maxim of "survival of the fittest," or natural selection. Only the strong survive. But what does God say? He says true greatness is measured not by status or achievement, but by how we treat the weak and the oppressed. It is measured by how we protect those who cannot protect themselves, and how we provide for those who cannot provide for themselves (See Ps 146:5-9).

Fourth, God is great because His works are great. "He is your praise and He is your Elohim, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen. Your fathers went down to Egypt, seventy persons in all, and now Yehovah your Elohim has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven" (Deut 10:21-22).

*El Shaddai yD;v'-la,

The next name for God we want to discuss is yD;v'-la, (El Shaddai) meaning: the Almighty, Omnipotent, All-Sufficient God.290 Genesis 17:1 states, "Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, Yehovah appeared to Abram and said to him, I am El-Shaddai290; walk before Me, and be blameless." What does El-Shaddai mean? The commentaries offer a variety of answers. The most common view among Bible Scholars is that Shaddai comes from a similar-sounding Akkadian word meaning "mountain" or "breast." If El Shaddai means "the Mountain God," they would say it speaks of the majesty and grandeur of God. If it means "Breast of God," they would say it speaks of God as the One who nurtures and sustains His People. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance states that shaddai comes from the primitive Hebrew root shadad meaning "to deal violently with, despoil, devastate, ruin, destroy, or spoil." Which one is right? Joseph Azreil, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi in Israel recognized as an expert Hebraist and Torah scholar states that Shaddai means "sufficiency." Therefore, El Shaddai means "the God Who Is Enough." When Jewish parents have had enough of the noiseness of their children, they will say in Hebrew: "Dai, dai!" which means "Enough, enough!" So El Shaddai is "the God Who Is Enough."

It is especially significant that God revealed Himself in Genesis 17 as El Shaddai. At this juncture in their lives, Abram and Sarai were wrestling with the fact that God had promised them something they thought was impossible. He told them they were going to have many descendants. Furthermore, they would be the progenitors of not just one nation, but many nations. "And He took him outside and said, Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them. And He said to him, So shall your descendants be" (Gen 15:5). That was the promise. What made it seem impossible was that both Abram and his wife, Sarai, were well beyond their childbearing years: "Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing" (Gen 18:11). Sarah had already undergone the reproductive change of life that marks the end of a womanís fertility.

Abram and Sarai decided the Lord needed their help to fulfill his promise. They devised a plan for Abram to take his wifeís Egyptian handmaiden, Hagar, and have a son by her. They decided to carry out this plan. Abram was 86 years old when his son Ishmael was born. Ishmael was half Hebrew and half Egyptian.210/8-9 However, God was not pleased. It was an offense to the Lord that Abram and Sarai had not believed that He could fulfill His promise to them. So after the birth of Ishmael, there was a 13-year period of silence during which God said nothing to Abram. It is very noticeable because from Chapter 12 to Chapter 16 there are many references to the Lordís appearances to Abram. But at the end of Chapter 16, when Ishmael is born, those revelations end abruptly. The Lord does not say anything more. The grieved silence of God lasted for 13 years, the length of the interlude between Chapters 16 and 17.

Finally, at the beginning of Chapter 17, after 13 years had passed, and Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, "I am El Shaddai." God was telling Abraham that He did not need his help to fulfill His promises to him. Then God He repeated His promises: one, He would make Abram the father of many nations (v. 4); two, He would establish an everlasting covenant between Himself and Abram, for Abramís descendants, and for generations to come (v. 7); and, three, He would give them the whole land of Canaan (v.8). He even changed Abramís name to Abraham which means, "father of a multitude."206

Abraham had no problem with anything the Lord said right up through Verse 14. Then the Lord said something that stunned Abraham:

"Then Elohim said to Abraham, As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. And I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her." (Gen 17:15-16)

This was a surprise to Abraham because the first born always received the inheritance, therefore, he thought that the promises would be fulfilled through Ishmael. God, however, went back to his original promise that Abraham would have a son through Sarah. As a result Abraham fell on his face and said to himself, "Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?" (Gen 17:17). To God, however, he said, "Oh that Ishmael might live before You!" (Gen 17:18). Abraham wanted God to fulfill his promise through Ishmael. God could not do this because Ishmael was not the son He had promised to Abraham. That was why God had introduced Himself to Abraham in Chapter 17 as El-Shaddai. He wanted Abraham to know that no matter how hopeless the situation may appear, and no matter how impossible it may seem, God is Enough. He is the Sufficient God.

He also has a sense of humor. Abraham had laughed at the notion that he and Sarah could have a child in their old age. So when the time came, the Lord instructed them to name their son Isaac, meaning "he laughs."416 Every time they said his name, it would serve as a reminder that nothing is impossible with El Shaddai.

In the word yD;v' (Shaddai) there are three letters: v, D and y. The ancient rabbis took those three Hebrew letters and made an acrostic. The v (shin) stands for shaqad, which means "watching." The D (dalet) stands for deleth, which means "door." And the y (yod) stands for Yisrael, which, of course, is "Israel." So in this symbolism, the name Shaddai signifies the One who "watches the doors of Israel. he is the One who guards Israel.428/4

On the doors of Orthodox Jewish families is a mezuza which is a little metal or wooden tube affixed to the right door post. Inside the tube is a tiny parchment inscribed with two passagesóDeuteronomy 6:4-8 and 11:13-21. It is customary for Jewish people to kiss the mezuza when they pass through the door. To them, it is a literal fulfillment of the command: "And you shall write them on the doorposts (Heb., tzWzm]) of your house and on your gates." (Deut 6:9).428/4-5

On the outside of the tzWzm] (mezuzit), the word Shaddai is visible. Again, it is Shin-Dalet-Yod: "Watching the Doors of Israel." So the presence of tzWzm] (the plural form of the word) on the doors of their homes is a reminder to the Jewish people that God is El Shaddai, and that He is the One who watches over them.

Suggested Further Reading:

  1. How We KNOW Jesus IS God.

  2. The Names of God

  3. The Names of God 2

  4. The Nature of God

  5. The Christmas Story (Video)

  6. Trinity

  7. Christology: The Nature of Jesus Christ

  8. Cassuto, U. The Documentary Hypothesis. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, the Hebrew University, 1941. First English edition, 1961.

  9. Segal, M.H. The PentateuchóIts Composition and Its Authorship. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Hebrew University, 1967.

  10. Archer, Gleason. Jr. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction. Chicago: Moody Press, 1964, 1974, 1996. Moody Press. Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Used by permission.

  11. Motyer, J.A. The Revelation of the Divine Name. London: The Tyndale Press, 1959.

  12. Free, Joseph P. "Archaeology and Higher Criticism," Bibliotheca Sacra. January, 1957. Vol. 114, pp. 23-39.

  13. Free Joseph P. "Archaeology and the Historical Accuracy of Scripture," Bibilotheca Sacra. July, 1956. Vol. 113.

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