“And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.”
– Genesis 17:1 KJV
Not a god. THE Almighty God!
That is enough to get you excited right there. Yet, on the other hand, what does that really mean? The word “god” itself is actually pretty vague to us and is relatively new in it’s usage. It comes from the German word “gott” and actually just means “supreme being, the creator or ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority.”
In any study of the Bible involving names however, it is essential to understand that a name was not only for identification, but was, in fact, an identity as well. Names had, among other purposes, an explanatory purpose (e.g., Nabal, whose name means “fool,” is the target of Abigail’s explanation to David: “For as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him.” – 1 Samuel 25:25 KJV).
Throughout Scripture God reveals Himself to us through His names. When we study these names He reveals to us in the Bible, we will better understand who God really is. The meanings behind God’s names reveal the central personality and nature of the One who bears them.
In studying Genesis 17:1, something very interesting and exciting becomes understood when considering the words “Almighty God.” As with many Hebrew words and the corresponding English translations (including several of the names of God listed in the Old Testament), there is some speculation as to the actual origin and definition of the word. At first the two primary theological interpretations seem at odds but upon scriptural interpretation, it paints such a powerful picture of our Father that we need to get into our spirits and into our minds!
Without going into the word study in detail in this short article, allow me to summarize the two interpretations.
The old Jewish sages say that the combination of Hebrew letters probably derive from two root words. One that basically means “mighty, powerful, great” and a word meaning “breast.” Combining these results in a picture of the nurturing nature of our Father who supplies everything we could possibly need and takes care of us in every area of our lives like no one else could even imagine.
The other interpretation (including such scriptural study aids as Strongs Exhaustive Concordance) translate the word “almighty” in Genesis 17:1 as deriving from the root word shadad which means “to be burly, powerful, to ravage, utterly lay waste.”
Wow! Those are completely opposite descriptions! How could they both be accurate?
Very easily! In Hebrew, the concept of chesed explains how this can be accurate and it is found 248 times in the Hebrew Bible. It means “eager and ardent desire.” It is translated as “mercy, kindness, lovingkindness and goodness.”
To get an accurate picture of what this word actually means, I am always reminded of an illustration my spiritual father used years ago. If you were in the wilds of Africa and you came across a big, ‘ole mama elephant with a baby, you might observe that mama elephant take care of that baby. She feeds that baby and makes sure it’s needs are seen to and are well provided. However, if you attempt to approach that baby, you are about to see the other side of that mother’s love! Her eager and ardent desire will switch focus from providing needs to stomping you into a mud puddle! Notice though that both “eager and ardent desires” are for the same outcome (the benefit of her baby) even though the means to achieve that outcome are demonstrated drastically different!
I want you to know, my brother and sister, that it was that eager and ardent desire to supply your every need – spirit, soul, body, financially and in every other area of your life. It was this chesed that sent Jesus into hell where He demonstrated the second interpretation of “Almighty!”
I mean, He went through hell, and He laid waste! He destroyed him who HAD the power of death, that was the devil! He forcefully ripped the keys to death, hell and the grave from satan’s possession and made him crawl through the caverns of hell on his belly! He made an open show of all the demons of hell and satan himself and made him an absolute zero – for YOU!
Satan watched helplessly as Jesus loudly proclaimed that ALL power has been given to Him both in heaven and earth and under the earth! Satan watched helplessly as Jesus then turned and, by giving us the power of attorney to use His name, gave that power to us! Satan saw the Almighty God raise Jesus up from the depths of hell to His very own right hand and then, to his utter horror, watched Him raise you and I up together with Jesus and watched Him seat us in Jesus at His right hand FAR above him and all of his demons and then give us His very own name!
That is what the Lord was communicating to Abraham when announcing to him His covenant name! It is no wonder that we are told in Proverbs 18:10 KJV, “The NAME of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous run into it, and is safe” (emphasis mine). Inside that name…inside that covenant, we are safe! We have everything we could possible need or want from the nurturing, caring side of our Father and our enemy and all the forces of hell have been utterly destroyed and brought to nothing by our Almighty God!
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