El Shaddai

This is a guest post by my friend Ron Lease, aka Ron Stoppable

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)- Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Starting in Exodus chapter 3, God engaged in dialog with Moses. God begins telling Moses of His plan to free the Israelites from bondage. Moses keeps asking “w” questions: “who” (Ex 3:11) and “what” (Ex 3:13, 4:1). God responded by saying “I will be with you.” (Ex 3:12 NIV)
Exodus 4 and 5 show Moses and his brother, Aaron, returning to Pharaoh asking him to let the Israelites go and hold a festival to the God of Israel. Pharaoh refuses and punishes the Israelites. Then God promises deliverance.

One of the names that God uses to reveal himself is El Shaddai, or God Almighty. Imagine Moses’ reaction when he not only heard the voice of God, but heard God introduce himself as almighty, all-powerful, omnipotent. In Exodus 6:3, Moses heard God say that though he appeared to Abraham (Gen 17:1), Isaac, and Jacob (Gen 35:11), he did not make himself fully known to them. Even without this complete revelation, God and Abraham (and his descendants) entered into a covenant. This covenant, as one would expect, turned out to be a pretty big deal! While we don’t necessarily know of God revealing himself as El Shaddai between Jacob and Moses, we do know that God was not silent or inactive during this time, especially when considering the life of Joseph (starting in Gen 37). Sometimes He calms the storm. Sometimes He calms His child. However, after hearing the cries of the persecuted Israelites, God reached out to Moses.

This brings us to Exodus 6, verses 1-12 (NIV):

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.” God also said to Moses, “I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty (El Shaddai), but by my name the LORD [that is, I AM] I did not make myself fully known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they resided as foreigners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant. “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.’” Moses reported this conversation, this promise for help and relief, this declaration to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his country.”

Moses was unconfident. The Israelites were demoralized due to harsh labor and living conditions. But El Shaddai kept his promise! His mighty works demonstrated to Pharaoh led to the freeing of the Israelites with Moses as their leader. God equipped those whom He called. He didn’t leave Moses to his own accord. He didn’t ignore the cries of the Israelites. He didn’t just sit quietly in Heaven and wait for things to play out as they would. No, God was with Moses and Aaron as they led the Israelites out of Egypt! “By day the LORD went ahead of [the Israelites] in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night” (Ex 13:21 NIV).

The same is true today. God doesn’t leave us to our own means to serve His kingdom, His will. He doesn’t give us a word to build a church, and then make us build it single-handedly, brick-by-brick. He doesn’t put a burden on one’s heart to take care of orphans and expect that selected individual to save the world alone, Lone Ranger style. No! God pairs us with people who can help, such as Aaron helping Moses, or Deborah helping Barak (Jdg 4). God gives us the resources we need. God gives us His grace! Grace can come in the form of tangible donations, such as money, bricks, food, etc. Grace can also come in the form of the intangible, such as people donating time and labor, as well as God giving us a sense of peace, a sense of calmness, or simply a good night’s sleep when stress levels are really high. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV).

God is with us because He loves us! God equips us because He loves us! God is El Shaddai, one on whom we can lean, because He loves us!

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