Thought for February 1st. “I APPEARED … AS GOD ALMIGHTY”
Our reading in Exodus ch. 6 today presents us with a puzzle. “God spoke to Moses and said to him, ‘I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty (Heb: El Shaddai) but by my name the LORD (Heb: Yahweh) I did not make myself known to them.” [v.2,3]
Yet we can see that the Hebrew word Yahweh occurs in the early chapters of Genesis (from ch. 2 v.4) and that Adam used it in speech (4 v.1, see also v. 26). The solution to this conundrum that occurs to us is – remember our thoughts yesterday – that, at the burning bush, God attached a special meaning to his name YAHWEH. He expanded it to mean – “I will be what I will be.” – and we see that this phrase with its meaning could not have been expressed before that time – because the event which “created” that meaning was only then about to happen.
In Gen 17v.1 the text says that “the LORD (Yahweh) “appeared to Abram and said to him, I am God Almighty (El Shaddai) walk before me and be blameless …” and indicated his almightiness toward Abraham, in saying “you shall be the father of a multitude of nations” (v.4) – not just Israel, and thus “God preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham.” [Gal. 3 v.8] completing that preaching after he was ready to sacrifice Isaac (Gen. 22 v17,18).
In Old Testament times God is not addressed as Father – apart from a passing comment referring to him as ‘our father’ in Isaiah 63 v.16 and 64 v.8. When he became a Father with the birth of Jesus; that was then the name by which believers are privileged to address him. Do we appreciate that enough? But the ‘name’ we use to address the Creator is secondary to the perception in our hearts and minds of what God must be – it should grow into a perception that overwhelms us! It is most powerfully expressed by Paul in our Roman’s reading today. “Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord … For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” [11 v.33,34,36]
Let us all say ‘Amen’ to that – an ‘Amen’ we utter from our hearts, not just our minds, remembering what Paul told the men of Athens about “The God who made the world and everything in it” that “he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being ‘” [Acts 17 v.24,27,28]
Let us appreciate to the full the unlimited power of God that surrounds us – and that he wants us to address him as ‘Father’ – and the event that made that possible – and the reality of the faith we should develop as a result..