SERMON TITLE: El Shaddai (God Almighty)
TEXT: Genesis 17:1-14 ESV
SPEAKER: Cody Ohnmeiss
Watch the sermon here
Take notes here
Good morning Gateway Church! It’s always a pleasure to gather each weekend with one another - no matter if you’re here at County Road 9 Campus or gathering at North Main Campus - I want to welcome you today.
I don’t know if this is a coincidence, but Pastor Josh, this is the 3rd year in a row that you’ve scheduled me to preach on Mother’s Day. Which is no big deal, just thought it was kind of funny. Kelly Green and I were laughing about this last week and he said, “I guess you’re just a mama’s boy…”
I will admit, I am relieved to be preaching on the topic that I am today. Mother’s Day for many is joyful, uplifting, and cheerful - yet two years ago when I preached on Mother’s Day, I was assigned Psalm 7 - which is an imprecatory Psalm. And if you don’t know what that means, those are the prayers that someone would pray if they were seeking judgment for their enemies. That Psalm specifically said:
12 If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; 13 he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts. 14 Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. 15 He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. 16 His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends. Psalm 7:12-16
Thankfully today, our topic is much lighter - and a little more encouraging - as we continue in our series on the Names of God. If you have a Bible, go ahead and pull that out and meet me at Genesis 17.
As you head there, a quick recap from this series thus far. Pastor Robert began this series back in March preaching on ‘Jehovah Shammah’ or The Lord is There. And I was super encouraged by Robert’s wisdom that he shared with us - wisdom that he’s gathered over many, many, MANY decades of pastoral ministry.
Then our junior employee, Adam preached on ‘El Roi’ or The God Who Sees Me. And Adam encouraged us with a great word that God always sees us - even when we don’t think he does, God sees us. Something Adam left out though, is that God also sees us even when we don’t want him to. Like, when we do something dumb. Unfortunately for Adam, God saw him drive his van through his garage door just a couple weeks ago. I don’t know if anyone else saw it, but God did!
But really, if you missed either of those sermons - please go check them out on our website and be encouraged.
Now today - we’re picking back up this extended series - Names of God - and today we’ll be looking at El Shaddai which means God Almighty.
What it means for God to be Almighty is that:
As we go on through this sermon, keep those pieces in mind for what it means for God to be Almighty.
By this point, you’ve probably found Genesis 17. Let’s go ahead and dive into our text today - Genesis 17 starting in verse 1.
17 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, 4 “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. 8 And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.” 9 And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13 both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.” 15 And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” 19 God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. 20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.” Genesis 17:1-21 ESV
So as I normally like to do when preaching through a text - let’s get our bearings here in this passage by answering the question “What’s going on here?”
If you’re familiar with the life of Abraham, you’d know that pretty soon after we are first introduced to him in the book of Genesis, God makes this promise with him. We first see this back in Genesis chapter 12 - God says to him (Abram, at this time still), that he has great things in store for him and his descendants - it includes land, wealth, fame, and blessing - he tells him to travel down from Haran down to Canaan - and while there, God appears to Abram and tells him ‘This is the land that I will give to your descendants.’
So there’s the initial promise - the initial calling of Abram and his family. And as we know, our God is not just a promise maker, but a promise keeper - so in Genesis 15, a few chapters later, God speaks to Abram in a vision and tells him that, despite Abram’s doubts, he will have a son of his own who will be the heir to all that he possessed and that God would bless his descendants to be as numerous as the stars in the sky.
In that moment, the scriptures say that Abram believed the Lord and it was counted to him as righteousness. And that day God made his covenant with Abram, and the promises he had outlined before were sealed in the covenant God had made.
And that brings us back to our passage - God has made his initial promise to Abram, he then established his covenant with him, and now he’s confirming this covenant through family signs - name changes for both he and his wife - and the institution of the mark of the covenant, circumcision, which was to be the descendents of Abraham’s continual responsibility - their way of obeying this covenant that God had set before them.
There’s the background - why is ANY of this important? And why does God name himself El Shaddai when he appears this time.
I mentioned earlier that God isn’t just a promise MAKER, he’s a promise KEEPER. And the promises that God made with Abraham were substantial. Think about it! God is making a promise to a NINETY-NINE year old man and his EIGHTY-NINE year old wife that they will have a son together - and that son will carry on this long list of descendents.
This seemed so unlikely that in the chapter in between, chapter 16, we see Abram and Sarai act out of doubt. Sarai tells Abram to take Hagar, her servant and sleep with her so that they can have a son that way because she didn’t think there was any chance they’d have a son together. But that’s not what God had promised.
And even after that act of unfaithfulness by Abram and Sarai, God still remains faithful to his end of the promise - and reiterates it yet again in chapter 17. Still, this was so unbelievable - that Abraham, while bowing to the ground out of reverence for God, couldn’t help but laugh at the sound of this promise! (Genesis 17:17)
So with all that happening - God makes his power known to Abraham by appearing to him in the name “God Almighty.” What he’s doing is assuring him - that no matter how crazy it seemed, no matter how unlikely these promises seemed - that because he is God Almighty, he will not fail to go through with his promises because of who he is.
I was scrolling through social media a few weeks ago and came across a video of a guy - some form of wildlife expert - who goes to different places around the world in search of insects and other species like that to have them bite or sting him while on camera.
Now he says it’s educational, I’d say it’s crazy - but after he takes the bite - he always covers the creature back up under a container and then rolls around on the ground just wincing in pain. Sometimes even yelling or screaming.
It’s almost comical to watch this part - while he’s yelling, wincing, breathing super hard - his cameraman just says things like, “Describe your pain to me.” Can you imagine being in so much pain that you’re rolling on the ground yelling and the first thing your buddy says to you is, describe your pain to me…
But what really shocked me was when I opened the comments section on the video and started to read what others were saying. Some were saying what I was thinking - things like - well that doesn’t seem very smart to do… But others were admiring him:
“Wow! He’s so strong.” “Oh my gosh he’s so brave!” “This man is a legend.”
One person even made a comment and said, “I’m convinced this man is immortal.”
Here’s what’s crazy - and I realize this is an assumption - but I’m sure a number of the people making these comments don’t believe in God and his almighty power - yet praise a man who is subject to the Creation of God Almighty - even some of the smallest things in his creation - like ants, wasps, and spiders. And believe me, I realize how some small things in this world can pack a huge punch - but that just goes to show how not mighty we are and how much we need the power of God Almighty in our lives.
And boy am I thankful that God displaying his Almightyness does not come in the form of getting bit by a bug to show how tough he is - rather he shows his almightyness in being all sufficient and all powerful.
He shows his sufficiency in being the One who makes promises and keeps them. You may think that I’m really hammering this idea of God showing his almighty power through promise keeping - and you’re right - but the reason I’m doing that is because God himself did to Abraham, Issac, and Jacob - then again to Moses.
Genesis 28:1-4 ESV (Issac speaking to Jacob)
Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and directed him, “You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women. 2 Arise, go to Paddan-aram to the house of Bethuel your mother's father, and take as your wife from there one of the daughters of Laban your mother's brother. 3 God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. 4 May he give the blessing of Abraham to you and to your offspring with you, that you may take possession of the land of your sojournings that God gave to Abraham!”
Genesis 35:11-12 ESV (God speaking to Jacob)
11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. 12 The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.”
Genesis 48:3-4 ESV (Jacob speaking to Joseph)
3 And Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, 4 and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a company of peoples and will give this land to your offspring after you for an everlasting possession.’"
Exodus 6:2-8 ESV (God speaking to Moses)
2 God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself known to them. 4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. 6 Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. 7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord.’”
So not just to Abraham does he appear as God Almighty - but to Abraham’s son, Issac - to Issac’s son, Jacob - and then hundreds of years later - to Moses. Each time - emphasizing that he will keep his promise to them.
Now, I know that some of you might be thinking something along the lines of: “I don’t know Cody, when I think of God Almighty, I don’t really think of promise keeping - that seems a little underwhelming to me…”
I’m so glad you brought that up! Let me tell you why it’s absolutely NOT underwhelming.
Here’s how I want to do this - I want a show of hands - from everyone who has NEVER broken a promise in their entire life. No matter how long you’ve lived, I want you to raise your hand - raise it high if you have never in your life broken a promise. (Take an unnecessary amount of time to *count* the ZERO hands).
So none of us are capable of perfectly keeping our promises - but I’ll take it one step further. This is me personally, but I’m sure some of you will relate to this - here are some promises that I have failed to keep, just recently.
I’m sure many of you have done something almost identical to one of these 3 things - you see how easy it is to fail at keeping promises!
The sad thing is, these things were tiny compared to the promises that God made to his people - and I couldn’t even keep those.
So consider it in that regard - that God can promise things that seem so impossible, yet he always delivers on them - WHY?! because he is God Almighty.
So this begs the question: What else does God promise? I mean, it’s great that God promised these things to the people of Israel thousands of years ago, but does God promise ME anything?
Another fantastic question! Thank you for asking it - for believers in Jesus - there is a long list of amazing, spectacular, hope-filled promises that are ours in Christ. In fact, every promise of God’s is ours in Christ. But how can promises made to God’s people in the Old Testament be also for New Testament believers?
Look at what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1,
18 As surely as God is faithful, our word to you does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” 19 For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says. 20 For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory. 21 It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, 22 and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us. 2 Corinthians 1:18-22 NLT
Let me explain what Paul is saying -
If you remember during the last supper, Jesus raised his cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood.” (Luke 22:20 NLT) And what Christ did there in that moment was he purchased all of the promises that belong to God’s covenant people.
So that means for anyone who has put their trust in the blood of Christ:
So according to Paul, the conversation between God and his people is a “Yes-Yes” conversation. God initiated his “Yes” through his promises - the ultimate “Yes” being the promise of salvation in Christ. And our response to God is an AMEN, a “YES” in Christ.
If you’re a believer in Jesus - I hope that you praise God Almighty for the promises that he offers you! Check out this amazing list!
So, with all of this in mind, how do we respond? How do we respond to the truth that God has promised us so many good things, and that he is faithful to fulfill those promises?
As we just saw, our response to God’s promises is Amen - and this isn’t a quiet, subtle Amen - this is a LOUD, JOYFUL, CHEERFUL, ECSTATIC AMEN!
Consider the Psalmist’s words in Psalm 100 - super short, but so good:
1 Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! 2 Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. 3 Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation. Psalm 100:1-5 NLT
Just in those 5 verses, the Psalmist says to:
And in verse 5, he says WHY we should do all those things - “For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation”
I think another way we could say that last part is “For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his promises continue to each generation.”
In response to God’s promises to us - we must sing, and shout, and acknowledge him with joy, and gladness, and praise. Because through this, we are praising him and thanking him for his sufficiency and his power - we are praising God Almighty.
Additionally - in response to God’s all sufficiency and all powerfulness, we WORSHIP him.
This is worship that should be never ending. If we consider what it truly means for God to be all powerful and all sufficient, we should never want to stop worshiping. God being all powerful and all sufficient means that his sufficiency and power are always the same - there’s no scale - you can’t increase it or diminish it - God is always and forever perfectly powerful and perfectly sufficient.
With that in mind then, our worship of God shouldn’t be hit or miss - it shouldn’t be when we do or don’t feel like it - we must worship God always and forever because he is our Almighty God always and forever.
When I say worship, I’m not just talking about singing worship songs - you don’t have to walk around 24/7 just singing - that would be a little weird.
But I mean we must be in constant reverence of God. We must always be in awe of him, always thanking him, and always meditating on his Word and character.
And we must live lives that reflect that - because worship of God Almighty is not just an hour or so each Sunday, but a way of life.
We get a small glimpse from John of what worship looks like in the throne room of heaven in Revelation chapter 4. Now I want to remind you that Revelation is apocalyptic literature - it can stretch the imagination - so try not to get hung up on some of the details here and let’s focus on the centerpiece of this passage - the one who sits on the throne.
Revelation chapter 4 starting in verse 1,
1 Then as I looked, I saw a door standing open in heaven, and the same voice I had heard before spoke to me like a trumpet blast. The voice said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after this.” 2 And instantly I was in the Spirit, and I saw a throne in heaven and someone sitting on it. 3 The one sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones—like jasper and carnelian. And the glow of an emerald circled his throne like a rainbow. 4 Twenty-four thrones surrounded him, and twenty-four elders sat on them. They were all clothed in white and had gold crowns on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder. And in front of the throne were seven torches with burning flames. This is the sevenfold Spirit of God. 6 In front of the throne was a shiny sea of glass, sparkling like crystal. In the center and around the throne were four living beings, each covered with eyes, front and back. 7 The first of these living beings was like a lion; the second was like an ox; the third had a human face; and the fourth was like an eagle in flight. 8 Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.” 9 Whenever the living beings give glory and honor and thanks to the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever), 10 the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever). And they lay their crowns before the throne and say, 11 “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.” Revelation 4:1-11 NLT
The first 7 verses in this passage help to give you an idea of what John is seeing in this throne room - and I know that it’s some pretty wild things - but they all are meaningful.
These are meaningful descriptions to have in mind as we read verse 8 - beginning in the middle of the verse it says, regarding these 4 creatures:
Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.” (v. 8)
These 4 living creatures ceaselessly circle the throne praising God for his amazing characteristics - his Holiness, his Power, and his Eternity. That three-peat of the word Holy, we also see in Isaiah 6 in a parallel passage to this one. One commentary says in regard to this chant that it’s “the highest worship affirmation in Scripture. To double something makes it emphatic; to triple it makes it ultimate.” (NLT Illustrated Study Bible - p. 2347)
Whenever the 4 living creatures circle the throne and sing, the 24 elders fall face down, take off their crowns and say,
“You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.” (v. 11)
Believers in Jesus, this scene in Revelation 4 gives us a wonderful picture of worshiping God at a fundamental level - being in amazement of his characteristics - his magnificence, his glory, and his grace. I say it’s fundamental, because God’s magnificence, grace, and glory should be the center of our worship of God as well.
A quick review of the characteristics represented in this passage alone that lead us to praise God:
How about I just sum it up with these words, GOD. IS. ALMIGHTY.
We joyfully praise God Almighty for his sufficiency in keeping his promises.
And we worship God Almighty, day and night, forever and ever for his power and glory displayed in his character.
As we wrap up our time, I want to share a story of a conversation I had with a friend last summer. This is a guy who I’ve been close with for quite some time, and who used to be one of my closest brothers in Christ. We would study the Bible together, constantly have great conversations about the faith, and encourage one another in our walks with Christ.
A lack of proximity ended up lessening the conversations we’d have. But I would still check in on his faith during regular texts and calls - and his answers to my questions would get more and more vague as time went on - until finally one day he admitted to me that the Christian faith is simply something he doesn’t believe anymore.
And I had suspected that was coming based on the vagueness of our conversations over the previous months, but of course, I had to ask WHY?!
As you can imagine, he had quite the list of things but one of the things he really zoned in on was this - and I believe this is nearly word-for-word what he said. “There’s no evidence of God using his so-called power to affect things in the world.”
I remember at that moment feeling a wave of emotions: sadness, anger, shock, confusion. We discussed several ways that I disagreed with him - over the course of several hours - we talked about how and why he thought that God’s power is not on display in the world.
Ultimately I did not change his mind, and I pray that God will change his heart. But for anyone here that doesn’t believe in the existence of God - please hear this.
There have been many scientists, physicists, and other people who have, in some way or another, set out in their lives to disprove the existence of God - many have gotten to the end of their work and admitted that they were no closer to disproving God then as they were when they had started. And I think that reason for that is because the proof for the existence of God is undeniably, everywhere! It’s everywhere because God Almighty intentionally made sure that it is everywhere.
We see God’s power all over his Creation
We see God’s power in creation by how set apart humans are from the rest of creation
In addition to much more evidence for the existence of God, there is also so much evidence for the resurrection of Christ - I encourage you to check out one of these resources if you have interest in learning more:
As sad as it was for my close friend to renounce his faith in Christ and deny the existence of God, what’s even more sad is that there are people out there who claim to be believers in Jesus, yet deny his Almighty power or struggle to believe that he is all sufficient and all powerful.
If that’s you, let me take you on a journey through the Bible where we see God’s Almighty power at every turn.
I pray that no one here has any doubt as to whether or not God is Almighty. Unfortunately, I’m sure there is now, but there will come a day when there will be absolutely no doubt.
Because the final promise that God has made is that he will come again to rescue his people. And “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11 ESV)
When that day comes, there will be no doubt about his sufficiency, no doubt about his power, and no doubt that he is Almighty.
For everyone - receive this benediction:
May we all go from here and live our lives praising and worshiping God - who is all sufficient, all powerful - who is God Almighty. Amen - You Are Sent.
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