May 05, 2014

El Shaddai: "God Almighty"

Genesis 17:1-8

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless.”
—Genesis 17:1


The origins of the Hebrew word shaddai are unknown, but most scholars believe this word means “almighty” or “most powerful.” Together with El it gives us the compound name El Shaddai, “God Almighty.”

The name El Shaddai first occurs in Genesis 17, where God promises to provide Abram a son and to make him into a great nation (see also Genesis 12:1-3; 15:1-6). Here God also changes Abram’s name to Abraham, saying, “I have made you a father of many nations”—as surely as if it were already accomplished.

Imagine how Abram felt when he heard this promise! Later in the story, Abram even “laughed to himself” about it (17:17).

The message of this story is simple: Nothing is impossible for El Shaddai, “God Almighty.” As we continue to read the story of the Bible, we see that from Abram comes Isaac, then Jacob, then the people of Israel, then Jesus the Savior, and from Abraham’s spiritual descendants through Jesus comes the church (Romans 4-5), which today spans the globe and in-cludes every tribe and tongue. Truly, nothing is impossible for El Shaddai!

Knowing God Almighty, what big changes can we expect in our lives? Nothing is impossible with God!

God Almighty, thank you for revealing yourself to us with your power and might. Help us to expect big things when we live for you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About the author — Kurt Selles

Kurt Selles is the director of ReFrame Ministries and serves as the Executive Editor of Today. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, and received his PhD from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to ReFrame, he served 19 years in Taiwan and China with CRC World Missions. Kurt later taught missions at Beeson Divinity School, where he also acted as the director of the school’s Global Center. Kurt and his wife, Vicki, reside in Grand Rapids and have three adult children.

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