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El Shaddai, The Lord God Almighty!

First Presbyterian Church of Elmer

107 Chestnut Street

Elmer, NJ 08318

Sermon Notes (Sunday April 17th, 2016)

Rev. Mouris Yousef, Pastor

 

El Shaddai, The Lord God Almighty!

Isaiah 49:24-26; Revelation 1:4-8

 

I believe the amazing story of Charles Blondin, the famous French tightrope walker, is a wonderful introduction to my sermon this morning.  Blondin’s greatest fame came on September 14, 1860, when he became the first person to cross a tightrope stretched 11,000 feet (over a quarter of a mile) across the mighty Niagara Falls.  People from both Canada and America came from miles away to see this great feat.

 

Blondin walked across, 160 feet above the falls, several times – each time with a different daring feat – once in a sack, on stilts, on a bicycle, in the dark, and blindfolded.  One time he even carried a stove and cooked an omelet in the middle of the rope!  The highlight of the show came when Blondin pushed a wheelbarrow full of potatoes across the rope.

 

Upon reaching the other side, the crowd’s applause was louder than the roar of the falls!  Blondin suddenly stopped and addressed his audience: “Do you believe I can carry a person across in this wheelbarrow?”  The crowd enthusiastically yelled, “Yes! You are the greatest tightrope walker in the world.  We believe!”  “Okay,” said Blondin, “Who wants to get into the wheelbarrow?”  Not one hand went up!

 

Like Blondin’s audience, sometimes we, followers of Christ, get excited and emotional after an important spiritual experience or a rousing sermon.  Caught up in the moment, we are eager to cheer for those who are doing the work and taking the chances, but when we are called to step out in faith — to risk a little, or to lay it all on the line — our hands stay clasped firmly in our lap.  Like Blondin’s audience, sometimes our faith ends where risk begins.  God has never failed anyone since He created Adam and Eve.  His timing and balance are perfect — let’s get into the wheelbarrow.

 

What is in a Name?

Over the next couple Sundays, we will be looking at some of the Biblical names of God.  In the days gone by, a person’s name tells us so much about him or her and God’s names similarly tell us so much about His character.

 

This morning I want us to look at a great name of God.  It is a name that I am sure most of us have heard before – it is the name El Shaddai.  But what does this name mean?  “El Shaddai” is first found in Genesis 17:1 where the Lord appeared to Abram for the sixth time and then changed his name to Abraham.  The most simple translation of “El Shaddai” is ’God’ (’el’), THE ALL-MIGHTY ONE (’Shaddai’), to clearly differentiate the ONE true God from all the other ‘gods’ of the nations.

 

As mentioned, “El Shaddai” is first found in Genesis 17:1.  At the age of 99 ~ 24 years after the first promise was made ~ God appeared to Abram.  Up until this time, Abram, knew God only as Jehovah (Yahweh in Hebrew) and as El Elyon (Lord Most High).  But now God reveals another important side to His character.  He says – “I am El Shaddai ~ I am God Almighty.”  From that encounter between Abraham and God the Almighty, I want to draw a single application that is as important to us today as it was to Abraham back then.  What was so important about God revealing Himself to Abraham as El Shaddai?

 

El Shaddai ~ The All Sufficient God

In the context of Genesis chapter 17, El Shaddai speaks of God’s all-sufficiency.  In every circumstance that we find ourselves in, God is all-sufficient for us.  When God appeared to Abram, He said – “I am El Shaddai” – your all sufficiency, Abraham, walk before me and be blameless.

 

What was the major stumbling block for Abram walking before God and being blameless?  What was the major obstacle to Abram having anything at all to do with God?  It was the fact that 24 years earlier a promise had been made and it had not been fulfilled.  Could this God Yahweh be trusted?  I don’t know whether these thoughts were going through Abram’s mind, but I do know that both Abram and Sarah believed that they had well and truly missed the boat.  In Genesis 17:17 we see Abram laughing in disbelief that God was still contending that he could bear a child and in Genesis 18:12 Sarah also had a bit of a giggle to herself.  So it was in this context that God reveals Himself as the all sufficient one.  He was saying, don’t worry about what you have or haven’t yet received, Abraham.  I am all you need and will supply you with all you need.

 

Friends, I believe this is a timely message.  Often times we doubt that God is able to supply us with what we need.  Sometimes things look hopeless, impossible and useless.  Sometimes we feel old and barren like Abraham and Sarah – and we laugh at God’s promises.  We feel that we have exhausted all our resources and we are at our wit’s end – nothing has worked.  Have you ever felt like this?  Take some time this morning and look unto Jesus as the all-sufficient one.  What do we do in such situations?  Where do we turn?

 

I believe that God is giving us the answer here in this passage – He is saying that I am the “El Shaddai” – the ONE who is sufficient to meet all our needs; the one who is sufficient to calm all our storms; the one who is sufficient to restore our hopes, and to strengthen our feeble arms and our weak knees.  Abram was about to learn that God’s promises are fulfilled not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord Almighty (Zechariah 4:6.)  It would be El Shaddai who would accomplish His will in Abram’s life!  God is able, whatever the circumstance and whatever the difficulty.  The Apostle John echoes the same truth in Revelation chapter 1.  He was exiled to Patmos, the church was so persecuted, and it seemed to many that the “Jesus Movement” is coming to an end, yet here is what God wanted to give to His people in Revelation 1:8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

 

Friends, our God is the God of might and power.  In Proverbs 18:10 we read, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower.  The righteous run into it and are safe.”   Psalm 9:10 reminds us that “Those who know Your name, Oh Lord, will put their trust in You for You have not forsaken those who seek You.”  El Shaddai, God reminded Abraham and reminds His children today that He is the all-sufficient God, the God that is more than enough.  He is a covenant-maker and covenant-keeping God.  Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.  Amen!

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