Aloha Friday Message – July 5, 2013 – My Old Friend, Abraham.

1327AFC070513 – My Old Friend Abraham

Read it online here, please.

“Abraham lived to be 175 years old. Even at that ripe old age, he knew he would not see the promise of his descendants living in the lands promised to him at age 76. He was 99 when God told him Sarai would bear him a son to be named Isaac.” (From 11326AFC062813 – Righteousness for Real)

Genesis 17:1When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai–‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.”

Of all the Names of God in scripture, El Shaddai is my favorite. This passage in Genesis is the first time it is used in scripture. Remember, now, that Moses isn’t going to be on the scene for around 400 years, so Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Esau, and all the sons of Jacob – heads of the twelve tribes – did not know the name of God as Jehovah (YHWH). They knew him as El Shaddai. The name EL signifies strength, power, and might in the ultimate degree, and it is the root of the name ELOHIM. In Genesis 1:1 we read, “In the beginning ELOHIM (אֱלֹהִ֑ים) created the heavens and the earth.” The name SHADDAI is most often translated as Almighty or All-Sufficient. It is related to a word that can mean “mountain” or “breast” and carries the connotation of supplying and satisfying every possible human need. Hence שַׁדַּ֔י אֵ֣ל is read as God All-Sufficient, God Almighty, and God Omnipotent. And, for Abram in this first revelation of God’s Name to him, Abram learns that God has the power to be merciful and forgiving.

You will remember that Abram had believed in the promise of God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. But Abram and Sarai decided perhaps God needed a little help getting started on that promise, so Sarai gave Abram her servant Hagar, and Hagar gave Abram a son name Ismael. In today’s passage, God is coming again to Abram and reminding him “I don’t need your help. I am God-Almighty. I can do anything and everything for it is within the power of my will. I am EL SHADDAI. Do what I tell you and stop trying to second-guess me. Let me be God and I will let you be Abraham.” Abraham needed some reminding later on in Genesis 35:11.

El Shaddai is a Sovereign God. “Sovereign” is a word we hear fairly often, especially when we are talking about governments of nations and states.  Some synonyms for sovereign are: Independent, autonomous, self-determining, supreme, predominant, matchless, self-sufficient, and peerless. A Sovereign God is, by definition, in a class by himself. There is none like him, none beside him, none before him, and none after him. In Isaiah 49:9-10, God states quite clearly, “Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.

In 1 Chronicles 29:11-12, King David is informing the public that Solomon will be the one to build the Temple of God. He praises God in the presence of the people gathered there, O Lord, you are great, mighty, majestic, magnificent, glorious, and sovereign over all the sky and earth! You have dominion and exalt yourself as the ruler of all. You are the source of wealth and honor; you rule over all. You possess strength and might to magnify and give strength to all.”

The Apostle Paul also testifies to the perfection of God’s plan of Salvation in Ephesians 1:11-14 when he says, “Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God,[a] for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.” Paul understood that God’s plans are ineffable, inexpressible, indescribable, and simply beyond words or understanding. While Paul acknowledged that God’s plan is so perfect that we will never fully understand it in this life, he was impatient with people who questioned not only God’s Divine Plan, but also God’s right and power to make such a plan. Look at Romans 9:19-20: “You will say to me then, ‘Why does he still find fault? For who has ever resisted his will?’ But who indeed are you—a mere human being—to talk back to God? Does what is molded say to the molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Why indeed?

We are all familiar with the adage, “Let go and let God.” There is wisdom in that, a kind of wisdom we often allow to slip away because we forget to be wise. When we come to some petty adversity in our lives, we bristle, and pout, and shake a fist at God. We are like the man who traverses the living room in the dark while going to the kitchen. He bangs his shin on the coffee table, screams a curse using God’s name in vain, and kicks the table hard enough to overturn it and bruise his foot. The “LET GO” in this adage does not mean to let loose some invective blaming God. It was not God who hit the man in the shin; it was that coffee table the man had placed there of his own free will and then discovered in the darkness by banging his shin against it. In short, God doesn’t stop us from being stupid if that is our choice, so there’s no point in blaming him for the consequences of our stupidity. “Let go and let God” means we should stop holding onto our own “wisdom” and allow the Wisdom of God to guide us. We must submit to the Sovereignty of God.

To do just that, I would add a couple of words to this familiar adage: Let go and let God be God. Remember, “All things work together for good …” “All things” means all things. Nothing happens without his knowledge or permission. God alone knows what God knows, and whatever he wills to happen will happen and whatever her permits will become reality. In everything that he asks of us and everything that he allows to happen to us his plan includes the entirety of creation – the universe and all that is in it (including all earthlings). When we don’t get our way or when we don’t understand our suffering or the suffering of others, we become audacious, imprudent, and disrespectful. As we were recently reminded, “Don’t give God instructions — just report for duty!” And don’t complain about it either.

“How can a loving God allow this to happen? That’s not the kind of God I want!” Really? I do. I want a God who is always in control of all things always and all ways. If God is not always in control of all things always and all ways, then that is not “being God.” It is especially not being El Shaddai. Abraham eventually submitted to God’s sovereignty, after several reminders, and El Shaddai did with him as he promised; he was true to his Word. I know so many people whose lives are filled with pain and suffering and yet they can say “God is on his Throne and all is right with the world.” They know the sovereignty of God! In these past couple of weeks with fires, floods, loss of life, treason, persecution, war, martyrdom, and all kinds of mayhem around the world, we might ask, “Where is God in all this? How can you say ‘all is right with the world?’?” All is right because God is on his throne. I would much rather be on my knees before the Throne than standing in the dark kicking a wall. I just have to remember to “Let go and let God be God.” When I do that, I have a much better likelihood of doing what God asked of Abraham: Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

chick

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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