Sunday, July 31, 2022

Names of God: El Shaddai, The God who gives from His Own Abundance

"Roger Simms, hitchhiking his way home, would never forget the date--May 7. His heavy suitcase made Roger tired. He was anxious to take off his army uniform once and for all. Flashing the hitchhiking sign to the oncoming car, he lost hope when he saw it was a black, sleek, new Cadillac. To his surprise the car stopped. The passenger door opened. He ran toward the car, tossed his suitcase in the back, and thanked the handsome, well-dressed man as he slid into the front seat. "Going home for keeps?" "Sure am," Roger responded. "Well, you're in luck if you're going to Chicago." "Not quite that far. Do you live in Chicago?" "I have a business there. My name is Hanover." After talking about many things, Roger, a Christian, felt a compulsion to witness to this fifty-ish, apparently successful businessman about Christ. But he kept putting it off, till he realized he was just thirty minutes from his home. It was now or never. So, Roger cleared his throat, "Mr. Hanover, I would like to talk to you about something very important." He then proceeded to explain the way of salvation, ultimately asking Mr. Hanover if he would like to receive Christ as his Savior. To Roger's astonishment the Cadillac pulled over to the side of the road. Roger thought he was going to be ejected from the car. But the businessman bowed his head and received Christ, then thanked Roger. "This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me."

Five years went by, Roger married, had a two-year-old boy, and a business of his own. Packing his suitcase for a business trip to Chicago, he found the small, white business card Hanover had given him five years before. In Chicago he looked up Hanover Enterprises. A receptionist told him it was impossible to see Mr. Hanover, but he could see Mrs. Hanover. A little confused as to what was going on, he was ushered into a lovely office and found himself facing a keen-eyed woman in her fifties. She extended her hand. "You knew my husband?" Roger told how her husband had given him a ride when hitchhiking home after the war. "Can you tell me when that was?" "It was May 7, five years ago, the day I was discharged from the army." "Anything special about that day?" Roger hesitated. Should he mention giving his witness? Since he had come so far, he might as well take the plunge. "Mrs. Hanover, I explained the gospel. He pulled over to the side of the road and wept against the steering wheel. He gave his life to Christ that day." Explosive sobs shook her body. Getting a grip on herself, she sobbed, "I had prayed for my husband's salvation for years. I believed God would save him." "And," said Roger, "Where is your husband, Mrs. Hanover?" "He's dead," she wept, struggling with words. "He was in a a car crash after he let you out of the car. He never got home. You see--I thought God had not kept His promise." Sobbing uncontrollably, she added, "I stopped living for God five years ago because I thought He had not kept His word!" -J.Kirk Johnston, Why Christians Sin, Discovery House, 1992, p. 39-41.

Do you believe that God is faithful? Do you believe that he will work all things out? Because he certainly will. He is our provider. And from his bounty, we are fed.

But many times in life we try to feed ourselves from our own bounty, as we wait on God’s promises to come true.

This is what happened with Abraham. Thought Abraham and his wife were very advanced in years, they had no children. This was a big deal in ancient times. For a couple not to have a child, was embarrassing. More so, they had no one to carry their family line on.

This was tragic for Abraham. Yet God made a promise to him. It says in Genesis 17:1-2,“When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him, saying, “I am God Almighty. Live in My presence and be blameless. 2 I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you greatly.”

Abraham waited and waited for God to fulfill his promise. But the years passed, year by year they went. And nothing happened. God had made a promise. But the results weren’t appearing.

How often does this happen for us? We have hopes, dreams, and plans, and we wait for God to make them a reality. And we know God will answer. But time passes. More time passes. Years pass by. And we start to lose hope. Our faith starts to dwindle.

And then we get a bad idea, and we say to ourselves, I know, I’ll figure out a way to help God make it happen.

That’s what happened with Abraham and Sarah. Since God’s bounty hadn’t appeared yet, they decided to make their own way. Sarah invited Abraham to sleep with their servant Hagar, and Hagar became pregnant and gave birth to Ishmael.

They went out of God’s way and made their own way. And it didn’t work out too well. It caused conflict between Sarah and Abraham. And Hagar was mistreated by Sarah. Abraham asked God to make Ishmael his heir, and that was not God’s plan. In the end, Hagar was sent away with Ishmael. And only later, was God’s plan fulfilled, when Isaac was born after Sarah became pregnant.

The name of our God is El Shaddai, the God who is our bountiful provider, the Almighty One who can make anything happen, anything he wants. He takes the impossible, and suddenly it happens.

He is El Shaddai. El Shaddai is often translated in the Bible, as “God Almighty.” This points us to the fact of God’s ability to do miraculous things. He is able to break the laws of nature which he created to do miraculous things in the universe he made.

So it is physically impossible for Sarah to have a baby when she is elderly. But God breaks the physical laws of the human body and brings about the birth of a baby.

He is God almighty, able to do anything he desires, by breaking the rules of his own systems. That is what a miracle really means, when someone is miraculously healed, or when God suddenly provides something that seemed impossible, that is a miraculous event, God breaking the rules of his system to heal and help someone.

Yet there is also a deeper meaning to El Shaddai as the name of God. El Shaddai also means that God brings forth bounty and riches out of Himself to us.

Abraham and Sarah learned this, that what they desired could never come form their own efforts, it had to be a gift from God. It had to come from his bounty, from his storehouse, from his wealth, not from themselves.

That is who God is to us, he does not call us to create what we need, he calls us to wait on Him, and then God will provide from his bounty.

This points us forward to the new testament, when Jesus Christ would come, and would provide our salvation for us as a free gift, not something from our own efforts, but a gift we receive from God.

Our God is El Shaddai, God almighty, who perfectly forms the systems of the universe and is able to change the rules to create miracles in our lives. And he is God who provides from his own bounty, not from our efforts or plans, but from Himself, as we wait patiently on Him to provide. We receive it as a free gift. That is how it works. Praise the Lord.

“So we see that the name Almighty God speaks to us of the inexhaustible stores of His bounty, of the riches and fulness of His grace in self-sacrificing love pouring itself out for others. It tells us that from God comes every good and perfect gift,, that He never wearies of pouring His mercies and blessings upon His people. But we must not forget that His strength is made perfect in our weakness; His sufficiency is most manifest in our insufficiency; His fullness in our emptiness, that being filled, from us may flow rivers of living water to a thirsty and needy humanity.” -Nathan Stone, Names of God, p. 42