Article 4

The Ten Commandments, starring Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson, Yvonne De Carlo, Debra Paget, and John Derek, is a 1956 epic film that tells the story of the Hebrew’s exodus from Egypt.

The Ten Commandments, which was the last film that famed director Cecil B. DeMille presided over, is one of the most financially successful films ever made, grossing over $65 million at the US box office. If you adjust for inflation, this makes it the sixth highest-grossing movie domestically, with an adjusted total of $1,025,730,000 in 2012.

The film received seven Academy Award nominations including “Best Picture,” and won the award for “Best Visual Effects.” The American Film Institute (a.k.a. AFI) later voted The Ten Commandments as the tenth best film in the epic genre.

As epic as this film is in cinematic history, so too is this story’s monumental affect on man’s history and future. For it’s in this saga of the Hebrew’s exodus from Egypt that we see the formal beginning of God’s salvation and redemption of humanity on display, and where we see a subtle visual of one of God’s earliest of names — El Shaddai.

I realize that for most the name “El Shaddai” is more closely connected in our thoughts and minds to the very popular song written by Michael Card and more famously performed by Amy Grant, rather than the story of the Exodus, but grant (no pun intended) me just a moment and I’ll explain the association.

“God of the mountains” or “el shaddai,” was a Mesopotamian term that was used in reference of a divine mountain. This name was but one of the patriarchal names for the tribal god of the Mesopotamians. Now in Exodus 6:3, “El Shaddai” is seen identified solely with the Creator — the God of Abraham — and with His name, Yahweh, which is why this particular name of God (El Shaddai) could be derived from the Hebrews experience of seeing God’s fire atop Mount Sinai and from hearing God’s thunder from the Israelite camp at the base of the mountain. It could also explain, in part, the more popular interpretation of the name “El Shaddai” as meaning “God Almighty,” but linguistically this interpretation comes many years later from the English translators of the Septuagint (i.e. the Greek translators of the Old Testament).

These English translators determined that “Shaddai” came from “shad-ad,” a root verb that means “to over power” or “to destroy.” It’s also seen translated in the Latin Vulgate as “omnipotens,” which is where our English word “omnipotent” comes from. Yes, God is everywhere. Yes, God is all-knowing, and all-powerful, therefore God is Almighty. But while this is very true of God, I don’t think this quite reveals the essence of what this name really means. Also, long before Moses and the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt, God makes use of this very name when introducing Himself to the Hebrew patriarch, Abram.

In Genesis 17:1, our Creator used the name “El Shaddai” when He confirmed His covenant with Abram, and his descendants, and renames Abram to Abraham. The more popular name of “God Almighty” certainly could apply here, as God is mighty enough to make this promise and fulfill it, but there appears to be more implied here. Especially if “Shaddai” is seen as a compound word within a compound name.

“El Shaddai” is one of 27 compound names known as “El constructs.” The names are formed by combining a shortened form of the name “Elohim,” meaning “Deity,” with some other name or title, in this case the name “Shaddai.” Split apart “Shaddai” and we get two smaller words: “sha,” which means “who,” and “dai,” which means “enough.” So, a closer look at the Hebraic practice of shortening a name of God (El from Elohim), and combining that shortened name with a descriptive attribute (i.e. Shaddai), and we begin to see that “El Shaddai” could translate as “God who IS Enough.” Pause and ponder that name for a moment (selah) — God who IS Enough!

What an amazing revelation of God to Abraham, and to us. Yahweh wasn’t just making us aware of His might in this covenant. God was saying He was, is, and always will be sufficient to fulfill His promises to us, in us, and through us. Yahweh, is mighty! Yahweh, is enough!

We see another example of El Shaddai as being all sufficient in Genesis 49:22-26, as Jacob (Israel) is blessing his son Joseph. In this verse Israel says:

“Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall. With bitterness archers attacked him; they shot at him with hostility. But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One [El Shaddai] of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, because of your father’s [Israel’s] God, who helps you, because of the Almighty [El Shaddai], who blesses you with blessings of the heavens above, blessings of the deep that lies below, blessings of the breast and womb. Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers.”

See how God is described by Israel to be the mighty provider of Joseph’s blessings? God is shown to be Joseph’s strength to endure hardships. God is shown to be Joseph’s strong moral and spiritual foundation. God is shown to be Joseph’s sustenance and nourishment; not just to him, but to his children too. All in all, El Shaddai is Joseph’s “God who IS enough.”

So, how about you? Is God your strength in hard times, your foundation of truth, your sustainer in all you need, both physically as well as spiritually? Is God enough?

Do you allow God access to all areas of your life? Do you really have a deep enough relationship with God; one in which you can call upon El Shaddai in confidence? Do you really know “God who IS enough”?

Selah (Pause/Reflect).

I’ll leave you with this word from God to the Apostle Paul. It comes as a response to a painful plea that Paul made to our Creator to have a “thorn” removed from his life. God’s answer to Paul was not to remove the torment from his life, but to reveal Himself to Paul through the affliction. In this answer came an understanding; Paul came to know El Shaddai even more upon hearing and accepting these divine words:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

His Name Is . . . by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jasonmin.wordpress.com/.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Cecil B. DeMille‘s The Ten Commandments Copyright © 1956 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved. TM ® & Copyright © 1999 by Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

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Article IV, part 1



I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. . . . Where!?” This is probably how most of us would respond to the concept of joy — with a question.

Imagine suffering through some great physical ailment, such as cancer, and being counseled with these words from James 1:2, “Count it pure joy, my brothers [or sisters], whenever you face trials of many kinds.” You’d probably fight back the urge to slap someone by firing back with a great big “What!?” “Count this bone breaking, gut wrenching, painful curse as what!?” “Joy?” Or, imagine suffering through an unexpected divorce after twenty-plus years of what you thought was wedded bliss and hearing someone say these words from 1 Thessalonians 5:16, “Be joyful always.” You’d probably exchange a cross-eyed glance for a moment, only to ask, “Be joyful when!? Now!?

We all realize that life is hard and that suffering is bound to catch up to each of us at some point. And some of us know that God wants us to experience joy in all aspects of our lives. So, why is it when suffering enters our lives do we not only question the suffering but also the idea of being joyful in the midst of it?

It has to do with our thoughts. We were incorrectly taught that bad things are meant for bad people and that good things happen to good people. And who can be more good than we Christians, right? After all, we are God’s adopted children (Ephesians 1:4-5), are we not? Well, let’s examine this ideal more closely.

What makes us believe or think that bad things happen to bad people? From an early age we were told stories and shown movies that depict the message that “crime doesn’t pay” or “good conquers evil.” In the Bible we read such verses as: “The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the people with justice” (Psalm 9:7-8). We also learn that our own laws here in America — based on the Ten Commandments, our Constitution and the Bill of Rights — will bring justice and will punish those who intend to do us harm. Yes, we learn these things, read such verses, and study such ideals, but who or what defines for us what is good and what is bad? The answer is: our Creator, the great “I Am” — God.

God defines evil and righteousness. To be evil is to take on the attributes and spirit of Satan (Galatians 5:19-21), but to be good is to take on the attributes and Spirit of Jesus Christ, God’s Son (Galatians 5:22-23). Is this not why we think of Christians as good people? Don’t we expect Christians to act as Christ would act? After all, doesn’t popular Christian culture teach us to always ask “WWJD” (what would Jesus do)? Why ask this question if we aren’t expected to act on it?

For American citizens, living within the boundaries of our laws determines if we are good citizens or bad citizens. And though it is true that we are counted as good citizens if we obey the law, and though it is true that we as Christians are expected to act as Christ did, there is another truth we must come to terms with, and that is, “There is no one righteous [good], not even one” (Romans 3:10). None of us are good. Obey the law perfectly; we can’t. Be as righteous as Jesus; a daily struggle all Christians should aspire to accomplish, though not likely to happen.

So, why bother? Why care enough to try? Because even though we can’t be righteous on our own, Christ’s Spirit living in us can.

“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known to which the Law of the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.” (Romans 3:21-24)

Jesus’ Spirit in us gives us the strength to be good; to do good things (Philippians 4:13).

You have read that no one person is good; yet you see that we can be good with God’s help. You may even grasp the overall concept, but how does this truth answer our question from earlier regarding suffering and joy? In this way: we must stop thinking that “good” people won’t and shouldn’t suffer. None are good and life is hard. Just as Jesus suffered for living a righteous life, so too should we expect to suffer. Listen to the apostle Peter’s words: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12-13). Did you catch that? Suffering in this life is not strange or abnormal, but very much the norm. And even better, if we rejoice in our participation (as hard as it will be, have the right attitude of worship — your choice, remember) then we can be overjoyed, totally thrilled beyond our wildest imagination, when God’s glory is revealed to us in heaven! Joy within suffering is our choice and a marvelous avenue to experiencing true worship and God’s glory. So, how do we do it? How do we choose to be “joyful in all things”? We must first realize what this principle of worship really is and what joy really means.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “joy” as:

(noun) a feeling of great pleasure and happiness: ‘tears of joy’/‘the joy of being alive.’ Also as (verb) [heart.] poetic/literary — rejoice: ‘I felt shame that I had ever joyed in his discomfiture or pain.’

And, The Life Application Study Bible (NIV) defines “joy” as, “(noun) emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune: gladness or delight.” I find both of these definitions to be inadequate; well short of accurate. Allow me to explain why.

The definitions we just read are lacking, because they ascribe to joy the same attributions of happiness. Though these definitions define joy as both a noun and a verb, which it is, they really are ascribing no more depth to the word than if it were simply the word “happy” (an adjective). But happiness is really nothing more than an emotion. Something we occasionally experience, because it is fleeting. Joy is not a temporal emotion, but an actual attribution of God’s character — a part of His being; a “fruit” of His Spirit, according to Galatians chapter 5 verse 22.

Nothing about God is temporary. “In the beginning God . . .” (Genesis 1:1a); “In the beginning . . . was God” (John 1:1); “I am the Alpha and the Omega . . . who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). God and His characteristics always have been, are now, and always will be. Happiness is not one of the fruits of His Spirit, but joy — real joy — is! Real joy can never be temporal or fleeting because it is a source of power and strength (Nehemiah 8:10b). Joy, can only come from God’s love for us and our obedience to Him (John 15:9-11). And joy, everlasting joy, can only come from God’s forgiveness and our restoration to, and peace with, Him (Luke 15:8-32).

Best-selling author C.S. Lewis once said that “joy is never in our power and pleasure [or happiness] often is.” If it’s in our power, then it’s fallible, temporal, of us and not of God, and definitely not real joy. Only a facsimile befitting the simple definitions ascribed to it from any dictionary on any shelf. We must understand what joy really is. It is eternal, a source of power for us, an attribute direct from God our Creator, Himself. Let’s now look deeper into what joy means to us and how we can apply real joy to our everyday lives and our everyday worship.

In our next post, we will fully disclose what joy means, and will expose how to correctly apply it to our everyday life and worship. Article 4, part two, will take the word “joy” and dissect it; cutting into what we said it is and looking around inside it — finding what lies at its core. To do this we will literally examine the word letter by letter, and when we are done, the acrostic we end up with will be a simple and applicable tool with which you can allow God to bring real joy to you daily.

The Joshua Project by J.Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jasonmin.wordpress.com/.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Down In My Heart (I’ve Got the Joy)” by George Willis Cooke, pub.: Unknown, Copyright: Public Domain

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.