The God of Might- El Shaddai

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Almighty God is the next great name that Abraham knew God as. The Israelite’s knew God as a Mighty Warrior!

“Almighty” is the way the early Greek Septuiagint translators of the Old Testament, understood it. They translated the Hebrew noun shadday with the Greek word pantokratōr — literally “he who holds sway over all things, the ruler of all (from pas, “all” + krateō, “to have power, be master of, rule”).

God first revealed himself as El Shaddai to both Abraham and Jacob.

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” (Genesis 17:1-2)

“And God said to him, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will come from your body. (Genesis 35:11)

Testament is as “The LORD of hosts” (Yahweh-Sabaoth), which appears nearly 250 times. The plural Hebrew noun is ṣebā’ōt, “armies, hosts.” It’s quite possible that Yahweh-Sabaoth became a technical term that referred to Yahweh the mightiest Warrior or Yahweh the all-powerful King,6 which explains the consistent NIV translation as “LORD Almighty.” However you take the term, Yahweh-Sabaoth portrays God as a mighty war commander, able to bring to bear innumerable hosts or armies wherever and whenever he desires!!!!

Look at Joshua 5:13-6:2. It takes place just before the march around Jericho. Though the Israelites have defeated kings on the east side of Jordan, Jericho is the city they must take if they are to conquer Canaan. It is a fortified, walled city, and its king has spared no effort to prepare its defenses against the Israelites who have been encamped a few miles east of Jordan for many months. To take this stronghold will require a miracle of God!

5:13Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, ‘Are you for us or for our enemies?’

14’Neither,’ he replied, ‘but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.’ Then Joshua fell face down to the ground in reverence, and asked him, ‘What message does my Lord have for his servant?’

15The commander of the Lord’s army replied, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did so.

6:1Now Jericho was tightly shut up because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.

2Then the LORD said to Joshua, ‘See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.'” (Joshua 5:13-6:2)

The Commander’s words are nearly identical to those of Yahweh to Moses out of the burning bush a full forty years before (Exodus 3:5). The Commander is none other than God himself — God the Warrior.

When Joshua challenges him with, “Friend or foe?” why does the Commander answer, “Neither”? Isn’t he for the cause of Israel’s army? No. Israel’s army must be enlisted in his cause. He is the Commander, not they. When things are difficult we wonder, “Is God on my side?” When we really should be asking is, “Am I on God’s side?”

Some people argue that it could not have been God the Father who Joshua saw, scripture may not be specific, but clearly it is God’s presence Joshua feels and he knows it full well. Like his forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God had now appeared to him and he lies prostrate on the ground before his Lord.

When Joshua gets up from the ground the Commander is gone. But Joshua can now go into battle assured, because he knows that God will be with him who told him, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). God has made that same promise to us in the New Testament, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). But sometimes we doubt. Where are you God? Where are you when I need you? Have you left me? Will you save me from this thing I am going through?

The Commander was at the Battle of Jericho was with Joshua. And though unseen, he crumpled the walls, destroyed the city, and crushed the army, leaving only a little for Joshua’s army to finish. Our Commander is with us in that very same way!

What is the significance of the Commander’s presence? He identifies himself as Commander of the host or army  of the LORD. Here is the supreme commander of the heavenly host, the angelic army that has appeared in God’s behalf throughout history. Here are a few of the many passages in Scripture referring to the LORD of hosts and the armies of heaven:

“Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God’s host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim” (Genesis 32:1-2).

“Then Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, with all the host of heaven standing beside him to the right and to the left of him.'” (1 Kings 22:19,)

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying….” (Luke 2:13)

“Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is the King of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
he is the King of glory.” (Psalm 24:7-10)

“Listen, a tumult on the mountains
as of a great multitude!
Listen, an uproar of kingdoms,
of nations gathering together!
The LORD of hosts is mustering
an army for battle.
They come from a distant land,
from the end of the heavens,
the LORD and the weapons of his indignation,
to destroy the whole earth.” (Isaiah 13:4-5)

“But David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.'” (1 Samuel 17:45)

This phrase “the LORD of hosts” is used in most translations. The NIV translates it “the LORD Almighty,” which captures some of the greatness and glory of God!

Almighty God is also a Mighty Warrior.

Rather early in Israel’s history we find a very vivid statement in the Song of Moses celebrating God’s victory over the Egyptian army at the Red Sea.

“The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name.” (Exodus 15:3).

“Warrior” here is made up of two words, îsh, “man” and milḥāmā, “war, battle.” Several modern translations  render it quite appropriately as “warrior.” Others retain the more literal but less vivid phrase “man of war”

When Jeremiah becomes fearful of those who ridicule him and want to destroy him for prophesying, he remembers the Lord who is by his side:

“But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior;
so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.” (Jeremiah 20:11a)

The phrase “mighty warrior”  “dread warrior” , or “dread champion”  here consists of two words: gibbôr, “mighty, strong, valiant, mighty man … heroes or champions among the armed forces;”7 and ‘ārīs, ” mighty, awe-inspiring, in great power, strong, terrible, violent,”8 “inspiring, terror-striking.”

“The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory” (Zephaniah 3:17)

Finally, we see the wonderful image of God as a victorious king returning home from war, before whom the city gates are opened. This king is the  valiant warrior, the champion, the same as the LORD of hosts (24:10)

“Who is this King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
the LORD mighty  in battle.” (Psalm 24:8)

When God calls Israel to arms against an enemy, it is because of the enemy’s moral degradation. In such conflicts, it is the Lord who does battle on Israel’s behalf. The battle is the Lord’s! Nevertheless, the soldiers of the physical army must also join the battle and fight alongside the Lord. Even though their land has been deeded to them as an inheritance, they must conquer it in battle (Exodus 23:27-33)

What good does it do to learn about God as El Shaddai, Almighty God, LORD of hosts, Mighty Warrior, Yahweh-nissi? None, unless it inspires us to take action. There are two important lessons that disciples must learn from these names of God:

  1. The battle is the Lord’s. He will fight for us.
  2. We, too, must prepare ourselves to fight

The Lord will fight for us!. Again and again the Israelites made the mistake of trusting in their own military might to save them. Again and again, God taught them the important lesson: the battle is the Lord’s. He will fight for us.

David to Goliath: “And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’S, and he will give you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:47)

A prophet to Jehosaphat: “This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20:15b)

Hezekiah to people: “With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.” (2 Chronicles 32:8)

“You are my King and my God;
you command victories for Jacob.
Through you we push down our foes;
through your name we tread down our assailants.
For not in my bow do I trust,
nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes….” (Psalm 44:4-7a)

“The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.” (Proverbs 21:31)

“Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, ‘Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the LORD will act for us; for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.'” (1 Samuel 14:6)

“But I will have pity on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the LORD their God; I will not save them by bow, or by sword, or by war, or by horses, or by horsemen.” (Hosea 1:7)

See also Exodus 14:14, 25; Deuteronomy 1:30; 3:22; Joshua 10:14, 42; Jeremiah 21:5; Nehemiah 4:14; and 2 Chronicles 20:29.

Never the less, we must participate in the battle. We are called to war against the spiritual enemies of God that we face. So many Christians are passive in the face of a still-strong foe. We must be armed spiritually; we must be ever-wakeful, ready to fight with God at our head!. In the New Testament sleep and lethargy are the opposites of vigilance. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus roused his disciples: “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Luke 22:46). These New Testament passages summon us to the battle:

Fight the good fight of faith.” (1 Timothy 6:12, cf. 1:18)

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

“Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs — he wants to please his commanding officer.” (2 Timothy 2:3-4)

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)

“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:11-13 and through verse 17)

“The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:12)

“… In truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left.” (2 Corinthians 6:7)

“But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” (1 Thessalonians 5:8)

We will follow our God, the Mighty Warrior, Almighty God (El-Shaddai), the Commander of the Armies of the LORD, the LORD of Hosts (Yahweh-Sabaoth). And he shall win the battle!

Prayer: Almighty God, we put our trust in your might and power. We feel safe from the enemy with you on our side. Help us to arm and be part of the battle, your battle, ever trusting in you, the Commander of the armies of the LORD. In Jesus’ mighty name, we pray. Amen.

Stand!! Never be fearful, never falter for God is strong and mighty in and onyour behalf!

Stephanie

Some aspects of this study are taken from Ralph Wilsons “Names and Titles of God”

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