These are the notes for the word I will be delivering today at the Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle. I place them here primarily for the use of my church family as we consider these things together.
Do you know Who God is?
In Genesis 17:1-2, we gain insight into His character and nature. This is the first use of the name El Shaddai. This aspect of God shows us that God is
- a nurturer,
- brings fruitfulness,
- and is sufficient.
In at least two places we hear claims that El Shaddai has removed blessing or brought on affliction.
Naomi as she returns from Moab
20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”
The other “place” is all throughout the Book of Job. In fact, most occurrences of the name El Shaddai are in Job.
This makes sense because our understanding of God as El Shaddai is that He is where blessing and fruitfulness comes from. So if they are missing then He must be absent or angry. Bad theology by the way! Basing your sense of the approval of God wholly on your circumstances is a chief weapon of the enemy. [Note: Naomi is broken. Why? Because she lost her sons and her husband: previous evidences of blessing of fruitfulness.]
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. 2 I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”
A. 13 year gap in Abram’s story
B. 24 years since He first heard God’s call and received the promise of an heir
C. He’s long into the process of waiting on the Lord.
D. Here he’s 99 and now, at least in the natural, age has become a factor
E. Abram has been faithful
Then God said to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.” 2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. 3 Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.” 4 So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the oak at Shechem.
5 Then they set out, and the terror of God fell upon the towns all around them so that no one pursued them. 6 Jacob and all the people with him came to Luz (that is, Bethel) in the land of Canaan. 7 There he built an altar, and he called the place El Bethel, because it was there that God revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother. 8 Now Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died and was buried under the oak below Bethel. So it was named Allon Bacuth.
9 After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him. 10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So he named him Israel. 11 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. 12 The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.”
13 Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him. 14 Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. 15 Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel.
A. He’s not ready.
B. Called back to Bethel where God reveals to him that He is El Shaddai.
C. Jacob had been there years earlier when he was running from Esau, but he didn’t settle there!
3. God wants to come by.
A. He does come by! In what condition does He find you? In Phil 3 Paul says that he wants “to be found in him!”
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
B. When you are “found out” by God, what will it look like?
C. You cannot buy this relationship with God, and yet it will cost you everything!
D. Paul now considered (ἥγημαι/hegemai) things to be loss that he had previously thought to be gains. This Greek Word “hegemai” is where we get our English word “hegemony” which is to have superior influence over others. So Paul is saying that he took a survey of these things that he had once thought were gains for him or profitable to him, and he compared them to “the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ (Phil 3:8), and he exerted influence over his thoughts (echoes of 2 Corinthians 10:5) and former understanding and made the assessment that, compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, these things are all loss!
4. If I were you . . .
If you have been faithful like Abram, keep trusting Him. He will come by again and bring to pass all He has desired to do in you.
If, like Jacob, you are “not ready,” ask Him to let this place today be your Bethel. Then when He does, make the decision to settle there!
Know this: the more times El Shaddai comes by and you put Him off because you are too busy, or finishing a TV show, or whatever it is that distracts you—those are your false gods by the way—the less likely you will be in the future to hear Him when he knocks at your door.
“Today if you hear his voice, harden not your hearts” the writer of Hebrews said (Hebrews 3:7-8).”