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Some use El-Shaddai or God Almighty to refer to His omnipotence. Yet there is only one reference to God’s omnipotence in the Bible. We see that He is indeed God Almighty and all-powerful in this teaching. Yet the idea of omnipotence may be detrimental to our evangelism efforts. God being omnipotent may bring thoughts of a scary God, much like the Greek gods, rather than a God who desires to have sons and daughters.
just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,Ephesians 1:4-5
Omnipotence is derived from Greek philosophy and the view of their gods. We will see that the Hebrew view of God is different from the Greek view.
2. Defining Omnipotence
A. Omnipotence is Only Mentioned Once!
And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!Revelation 19:6
The Greek word for omnipotent is:
παντοκράτωρ pantokratōr; from 3956 and 2904; the all-ruling, i.e. God (as absolute and universal sovereign)
We see that the Greek word Omnipotent is from two Greek words.
B. Creation shows God is All-Powerful
In the Old Testament Revelation of God, we found that Elohim and Yahweh were both names of our creator. To create the heavens and the earth, He must be powerful.
C. There is no Fight between God and the Devil
When Jesus ascended to His throne, God didn’t need to drive the devil from heaven; the angels knew what to do:
And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.Revelation 12:7-9
Jesus then sprinkled His blood throughout heaven, purifying it after the devil’s access:
But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.Hebrews 9:11-12
Now let’s look at the Hebrew Old Testament of the View of God, which will help us understand how we view God as our Father.
3. El Shaddai (God Almighty)
A. El Shaddai in Evangelism
In our evangelism, we need to be careful not to portray God’s power in a manner that brings a response of fear rather than the desire of the Father to have children. An example is saying He is so powerful that He will destroy all our natural enemies. As a result, some people preach that we can still curse our enemies as God did in the Old Testament! Our enemy now is the devil and his armies, not people.
People misquote scriptures like:
Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;Romans 12:20
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
These misguided people say that we are putting burning coals directly on our enemy’s heads. However, it must be read in the context of the surrounding verses and Solomon’s culture. Some people lived as nomads in the desert within his kingdom, keeping warm at night by making a fire. So when they travelled, they kept the burning coals in a clay jar, carried on their heads. If these coals went cold, they were in danger of dying overnight in the bitterly cold desert. To be given coals to start their fire was considered the most basic hospitality.
B. God’s Primary Name in the Old Testament is Yahweh
Remembering from previous studies in this series, God (Elohim) is personalised as having a primary name of Yahweh in the Old Testament. Yahweh appears to Abram and calls Himself El Shaddai. Elohim was the plural word for deities, so He says that I (Yahweh) am more powerful than all the deities at the time of Abraham.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, Yahweh appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am El Shaddai; walk before Me and be blameless.Genesis 17:1
C. El Shaddai is a Descriptor of Yahweh
El Shaddai means the all-powerful Being and is a Descriptor of Yahweh, so like the other names for God in the previous studies, we could correctly call Him Yahweh Shaddai.
D. El Shaddai Instructs Abram
In Genesis 16, we get an idea of what God is saying. Abram had just tried to produce a child to fulfil the promise of God that his wife Sarah would bear a child. In their frustration of not seeing this come to pass, Sarah and Abram take matters into their own hands rather than believing God to work a miracle. He does this by accepting Sarah’s offer of sleeping with her maid. There were consequences to this action that we still see today in the conflict between the children of Ishmael and the children of Isaac because the wages of falling short of the mark, as Abram did, is always going to be death.
E. El Shaddai Lovingly Corrects Abram
Notice what God says in Genesis 17:1, walk before Me and be blameless. God says that He wants Abram to be blameless and let go of the shame. Do we see God sternly rebuking Abram? No! Instead, El Shaddai lovingly corrects Abram.
F. El Shaddai, Reminds us of our Covenant with Him
And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations.Genesis 17:2-4
G. El Shaddai Confirms His Promise to Abram; Forgiving him
El Shaddai then changes Abram’s name to Abraham!
No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.Genesis 17:5
This promise and simple forgiveness attitude help to clarify the meaning of the name God Almighty.
H. El Shaddai- The One who Nurtures
Shaddai (šaḏay) שַׁדַּי comes from the root word in Hebrew; Shad, שַׁדַּ which means breasts! From this, we understand that God Almighty is the one who cares for us, like a mother who nurtures her newborn. Almighty God is nurturing Abraham, telling him, “My promises to you are still valid!”
I. El Shaddai- Powerful on Behalf of the Covenant Keeping Partner
The next mention of El Shaddai is not about how big and powerful God is. Instead, it is about the covenant partner of God, Abraham, whom God will act mightily on his behalf to bring the covenant promise to pass.
“May God Almighty bless you,Genesis 28:3
And make you fruitful and multiply you,
That you may be an assembly of peoples;
El Shaddai means that God will nurture and care for us. Being God Almighty, He will work mightily for us!
4. El Shaddai, the Authority Giver
In Revelation 12:7-9, God chose to work through Michael and his angels (Selah – think about that).
A. God also Gives Man Dominion over His Creation
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”Genesis 1:26
B. The Commander of the Host of the Lord
Here, the pre-incarnate Jesus gives Joshua authority, reminding him that the key to finding victory is in a sanctified life and that God is not against the ‘sinners’ and the ‘church’. We all need to remember this in our evangelism. If we think that we are ‘holier than thou, our listeners will sense it, even if we don’t verbally say so.
And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?”Joshua 5:13-15
So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.”
And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”
Then the Commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.
C. His Covenant Promise
God will show His power on our behalf in response to His Covenant Promise so that we can walk in the promises of God.
Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.Genesis 12:7
D. Strong on our Behalf
God will show Himself strong on our behalf in response to our obedience to the word of the Lord.
Obedience will mean we can walk in the promises of God because fulfilled promises are how He rewards obedience. He will wait until we are ready, just like He did with Abraham.
It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.”Joshua 6:5
E. Our Declaration of Faith
God reveals His Power in Response to a Declaration of Bold Faith.
Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel:Joshua 10:12-13
“Sun, stand still over Gibeon;
And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
So the sun stood still,
And the moon stopped,
Till the people had revenge
Upon their enemies.
Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.
5. El Shaddai in the New Covenant
A. God is Not Against our Natural Enemies
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, Yahweh appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.Genesis 17:1
We found from the Pre-Incarnate Jesus talking to Joshua that God is not against our natural enemies.
B. Having Abba Shaddai Inside of us
We need to move in the power AND nurturing of God, not using that power for evil, but rather for good.
C. We Need to Love our Enemies
Jesus tells us to do good to those who persecute us. In the Beatitudes (which are the blessings of the New Covenant), Jesus talks about our attitude towards others and how we need to love them just as God loves them.
Blessed are the peacemakers,Matthew 5:9-12
For they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
D. Bless those Who Curse Us
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’Matthew 5:43-45
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven;
E. Walking The Same Road Jesus Walked
Paul also talks about the fact that persecution will come. It is not IF- but WHEN persecution comes.
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.2 Timothy 3:12
F. Be Ready To Love
Therefore, having Abba Shaddai inside us, we need to be ready to love and respond lovingly and patiently to all people.
Praying that God will give us grace and the strength to see God work on our behalf as He did when the Jewish leaders threw Paul and Silas into prison.
But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself.But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”Acts 16:25-30
- Yahweh is the Pre-Existing One.
- God wants sons and daughters.
- He lives inside of His creation (but can choose to live outside of creation).
- God lives inside of time (but can choose to live outside of time).
- He is Immutable in Nature but mutable in decision and mind.
- God shows emotions.
- He is relational with us..
- God is covenant-keeping.
- He can change His mind.
- His Old Testament primary name is Yahweh (we will see that this is no longer His primary name later on).
- All descriptors (eg Rapha) are related to us, not God.
- He is our provider (Yahweh Jireh).
- He is our healer (Yahweh Rapha).
- He is our Battle Banner (Yahweh Nissi).
- Yahweh is our Peace (Yahweh Shalom).
- He is our Righteousness (Yahweh Tsidkenu).
- God is our Shepherd (Yahweh Rohi).
- He is our sanctification (Yahweh M’kadesh).
- His Sovereignty chooses what He knows about you.
- His Covenant demands that He is All-Knowing, Not Omniscient
- He is Powerful on Our Behalf (El Shaddai). The Bible does not hold to the Greek philosophy/reformed theology that He is Omnipotent.
© Use by Permission Awakening Impact Ministries/Dr Neville van Eerten 2022