The names of God #1: El-Shaddai, the first name revealed

The first name of God         Exodus 6:3

The name recorded here was evidently the first name God revealed to men. At this point it has been in use for approximately 2500 years. Being first, it evidently is foundational to a right understanding of God.

N.B. the use of Jehovah in Scripture previous to this is simply explained as they were written by Moses after the revelation of that ‘new’ name. Since it is the same person in view it is not wrong to use that newly revealed name even when writing of the past. Moses is writing for a people whom he is educating in the character of the God who has redeemed them and will bring them to Canaan.

I  GOD MUST REVEAL HIMSELF TO MEN.

It is a simple fact that men by nature are ignorant of God. He must reveal Himself to them.

  1. I appeared… v3. God showed Himself to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Even such men as these must have God reveal Himself.
  2. His name is part of this self-revelation. The names of God are instructive. They are a special part of the knowledge of God communicated to man. Our name is inseparable from our identity. Each name reveals some facet of the character of God. The single Divine Being I here revealed Himself initially by the name El-Shaddai and now is adding further knowledge by the use of the name Jehovah.
  3. A limitation on knowledge. There is a reminder here of how limited our knowledge of God may be. By His own sovereign determination, the Lord withheld other aspects of His identity from the Patriarchs. Even such men of God, even Abraham (Gen 18:17-19) were limited in this regard. Cp 1Cor 8:2, Job 26:14.

II  THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE NAME EL-SHADDAI

He is the Almighty. The Hebrew name ‘El-Shaddai’ used here indicates several things:

  1. Devastating power and massive strength. This idea is conveyed in two ways:
  2. The Hebrew name El. This conveys the idea of irresistible power, destructive power.
  3. One aspect of the meaning of Shaddai relates to the mountains. What massive pinnacles of strength there is to be found in God. Cp Ps 18:2, 121:1, 1Sam 2:2.

iii. An implication. There is a consequent duty to live in the fear of God. Cp Gen 17:1. At this point it is 25 years since Abraham came into the land. God is still the same and still requires the same fear/reverence.

  1. Nourishment, provision and care. Especially in view is a mother’s nursing care and provision for her infant. It refers to God’s bounty, exuberant giving and liberality — the inexhaustible stores of His mercy shown to His children. Cp e.g. 28:3, 35:11, 43:14where this same title is used. See the connection with abundant blessing. Is the pilgrim life worthwhile? Consider this name of our God to find the answer!! Cp James 1:17.
  2. Composite meaning. Bringing the two aspects of the name together indicates that He is ‘the mighty one who is sufficient/enough’. The power of God will ever be gently exercised to provide His people with all they need as He sees fit. Ultimately this tender power produces the Saviour and all we have in Christ. Cp Gen 49:25.

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