My husband and I lived in Chicago for several years. I had an awesome wardrobe, beautiful shoes and purses, a great social life, and married to the greatest guy I ever met. I had everything I ever wanted.
But something was still missing.
I was so unhappy and routinely felt empty. I remember thinking all the time, this just isn’t that great. All that was supposed to fill my life with meaning just didn’t measure up.
While it has definitely been a process, everything started to shift as God began to take up more space in my life. It began with the basics – attending church, praying and reading my Bible. And as I started turning from looking to things of the world to satisfy and instead turning to the All Sufficient One, I have gotten to know my El Shaddai.
He is enough. And he is better. So much better.
The first time God reveals himself as El Shaddai is in Genesis 17:1-2.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty (El-Shaddai); walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”
God had already promised to make Abram into a great nation (Genesis 12) and already promised Abram would have a son and descendents more numerous than the stars in the sky (Genesis 15). Abram had already slept with his wife’s maidservant, Hagar, and already had a son through her (Genesis 16). And now, God appears to Abram again, at the age of 99, and promises that he will have a son with his wife Sarai.
And that son, whom they would name Isaac, would be the son through whom the entire promise would be fulfilled.
Except Abram (renamed Abraham) and Isaac weren’t the height of the promise. They were a vessel by which God would foreshadow the real One whom it was all about.
When God introduced himself as El-Shaddai and told Abram to walk before him and be blameless (Genesis 17:1), there was really only one way that would be possible – if someone else would walk before Abram.
The only way that myself or anyone could ever walk before God without blame is if someone else without blame walked before us. And one thing I have learned about God is that if he gives a command, he will make a way. And that is exactly what he did through another son of promise.
His son. Jesus.
Our blame, our sin, our shame, it all is lifted off us and nailed to the cross when Jesus takes it upon himself and is crucified. He is the way that we may walk before God without blame.
And when we trust in the words of the Lord and have faith, believe what he says and what he did, then we become a part of Abraham’s family too. We become part of God’s family.
Genesis 17 goes on to say, “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you… I will be their God.” (verses 7-8)
And when the new heaven and the new earth are revealed, God uses the same language:
“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” (Revelation 21:3)
From Genesis to Revelation, God is God. He is our God.
Ironically, knowing the Lord as my El Shaddai has made everything else taste so much sweeter. I can enjoy hobbies, my husband, and time with people even more because I’m not dependent on those things the way I had been. While change doesn’t happen overnight, and a relationship with the Lord is never flawless, standing on the Word is a foundation that holds steady. He has all the might and all the power, and he is sufficient on his own to keep all his promises. He is all we need, because all we need is Him.
Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announce the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
Read: Genesis 17:1-8
Stepping in: How many times does God use “I”? What does this passage show you about El Shaddai?
What is Abram’s response to who God says he is? What is your response?
Journeying further: How has God shown himself as El Shaddai in your life? What is a promise of God that you struggle to trust and wait for? How can this passage be an encouragement and an anchor in your life?
– Great sermon by David Platt about the sufficiency of Christ
– Short video on covenants, a helpful illustration of God’s ability to fulfill his promises independent of human behavior
Join me in this study!
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