When it comes to remembering a person’s name I just met, I suddenly have amnesia.
I can remember what they look like and the conversation we just had, but their name quickly escapes me. It’s as if their name went in one ear and out the other. If this is how it is now, imagine when I get older!
Recalling a person’s name is important because names matter. If I called you by the wrong name, you would have grace for me and gently correct me. Now, if I continued to call you the wrong name, you would be offended. Rightfully so! Your name represents who you are.
In biblical times, a name not only carries the identity of that person, but the meaning of the name itself reveals its character and purpose. The Lord renamed Abram to become Abraham, meaning ‘father of many nations.’ This name change was to fulfill God’s purposes for ‘all peoples on earth to be blessed through you [Abraham]” (Genesis 12:3). What was the pinnacle of this blessing to all people? Our salvation! The Messiah – Jesus Christ – was a direct descendant from Abraham. Through all this, the Lord intentionally wanted Christ to be named Jesus, meaning ‘to save,’ since “He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Since Jesus overcame death on the cross, this is what it says about His name:
“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:9-11
There is power in a name. As the verse suggests, there is no greater name than the Name of Jesus!
It is in Christ that we have our salvation, calling, and hope. Since Jesus is God, it is vital to understand the names of God revealed in the Old Testament. Each name God reveals will give you a greater understanding of who He is for you. As you will see, when God wants a person to know Him in a more profound way or a new aspect of His character, God often will do so by disclosing a new name. God is not only interested in you fulfilling His will, but He wants you to know Him in the process!
Let’s go back to Abraham, or better yet, before his name change – Abram. This glorious promise of blessing found in Genesis 12:1-3 states that God will make Abram into a ‘great nation.’ This blessing is an incredible promise since, at this time, Abram has no children and is already up there in age, 75 to be exact. No one knows what he is thinking, but I imagine he believed the promise would be coming soon. Abram and his wife Sarai do not have that much time left, so that word is going to come to pass immediately, right?
Not exactly. In fact, time goes on, and Abram and Sarai are still childless. When we look at Genesis 15:1-3, it seems Abram is feeling hopeless. Abram reveals what has been in his heart this whole time to the Lord in verse 2, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?”… “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” It hasn’t turned out the way Abram thought it would so he is losing hope.
You might be facing a dilemma where you’re barely hanging on to the last thread. It could be a situation that has stayed the same for years, and you have only experienced silence rather than the answer you have been waiting for. Perhaps you feel trapped, not sure how you are going to get out. If you are feeling hopeless, keep reading, for this word is for you.
Abram was vulnerable with the Lord with his thoughts. In response, the Lord was gracious to specify the promise in more detail, “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars- if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” – Genesis 15:4-6
The Lord will not fail in His promises. In our finite reasoning, the promise looks delayed or, worse, completely forgotten. But the Lord’s timing is perfect timing. God’s purposes are more than to fulfill that specific promise in your life; it is to meet you in the process. As you wait, you cry out to the Lord, and He will meet you in your distress. There’s a drawing to the Lord in times of difficulty where God is more real than ever before. There is a ‘delay’ so you can prepare to handle that promise when it comes. Don’t give up, for it will come! “For the revelation awaits an appointed time… though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3).
“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.” – Isaiah 64:4
Yes, and Amen! Wait on the Lord!
But… waiting can be so tiresome! Lengthy bouts of waiting can lead to discouragement and disillusionment about if and when the promise will come to fruition. Thoughts of doubt creep in as time continues on.
With our boy Abram, I wonder if he got tired of waiting. His wife, Sarai, suggests that Abram can build a family through her Egyptian slave named Hagar. Abram agreed to this, and next thing you know, Hagar’s pregnant. He has a son named Ishmael at the age of 86, but this is not the child of promise that the Lord spoke of. Oops!
I appreciate this portion of the passage because it shows Abram’s humanity. When looking at heroes of the faith, it can be easy to marvel at them with their accomplishments. Abraham is considered ‘the father of faith’! What we see instead is a misstep. He listened to Sarai and rationalized how the promise could come about.
Even through this, God delivers on His promise. Our gracious God is willing to forgive us for our mistakes – all he looks for is a repentant heart. He wants what is best for us and to trust Him through it.
After more years of silence, God spoke to Abram 13 years later at the ripe age of 99; the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty – El Shaddai – walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” – Genesis 17:1-2
Amid hopelessness, God appears. “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”” (Romans 4:18). The promise still stands.
I realize you are facing incredible obstacles that can leave you in despair. Perhaps it seems too long in waiting for your breakthrough – to solidify a career, to find a mate, to see your children come back to the Lord. When the situation looks impossible, God makes it possible. And it is in the moments of complete anguish and defeat when the Lord shows up as …
El Shaddai means ‘God Almighty’. We need an almighty God who can do what no man can do! There was physically no way Abram and Sarai could have a child on their own. God wanted to reveal to Abram a new aspect of His character, the One who is strong and mighty when we are weak. The One who can break through and make a way when there is no feasible option. El Shaddai shows up when the odds are the greatest so He alone can get the glory. The promise still stands.
Imagine what the Lord wants to do through you! If it seems like your promises have been prolonged, have patience and wait on the Lord. There is a reworking and refining He is doing inside you through the Holy Spirit. Pruning can be painful, but it will produce Christlikeness. Pray that the process will be complete so that you are thoroughly prepared when the promise is delivered.
Within a year of God’s revelation as El Shaddai, Abram (Abraham), and Sarai (Sarah) had a son named Isaac. Abraham was 100 years old. The promise is fulfilled!
I pray that you will not give up on that what you are hoping for. If you have already shelved that promise, I ask that you would believe it again. Take time to confess and cry out to the Lord for that promise to be fulfilled. “Those who hope in God will not be disappointed” (Isaiah 49:23).
You can put your faith in El Shaddai today. He knows you, loves you, and He will strengthen you as you trust Him to fulfill those promises He has for your life.
Have a blessed week!