Last weekend a play opened at the college in our town. It’s a comedic farce and early in the show as one of the characters, Mr. Waldgrave, is introduced, he tells everyone to call him Ticky. Silliness of the nickname aside, Mr. Waldgrave is inviting the other characters into a relationship with him by giving them this special name. It’s a name he reserves for family and close friends.
Later in the play when his frustration is at a high point, one character calls him Ticky. Waldgrave quickly responds, “That’s Mr. Waldgrave,” signalling the end of any friendly relations.
In Genesis 17 as God reaffirms His covenant with Abram, He begins with His name, Almighty God. In the Hebrew, it is El Shaddai. In that name came the reassurance that God was not only willing, but fully capable of accomplishing all that He was promising to Abram.
Better than the promises of land or even becoming a great nation was the fact that the limitless Almighty God was personally knowable, not some distant entity who must be appeased periodically, like the Canaanite gods of the surrounding nations. And unlike Mr. Waldgrave, God will never dissolve the relationship in a fit of aggravation.
By giving Abram the name, El Shaddai, God demonstrated He desired to be known, that He invited men, this man Abram in particular, to know Him. He was extending an offer of friendship, of relationship, and of intimacy. Because of His great power He can do that. Because of His great grace and love, He continues to do that. Today and every day, El Shaddai invites us into an intimate relationship and we can rest in the confidence in His mighty power.