What Does Genesis 17:1 Mean?

Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless.

Genesis 17:1(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

Little by little throughout scripture God gently and gradually unveils His gracious character and His eternal attributes.. first to one person and then to another. To David, God proved Himself to be his Shepherd. To Hagar, God was revealed as the all-seeing One. He became a Banner and Standard to the wandering Israelites in the wilderness and to the frightened Gideon He became Shalom - the Lord is my Peace.

There was one occasion when the Lord revealed Himself to Abraham as his Provider, but in this unique and touching episode, God disclosed Himself to the aging Abraham as: Almighty God (El-Shaddai). 

'EL' adequately speaks of God's tremendous work of creation and the mighty power He displayed during the great deluge of Noah's day. It speaks coherently of His majesty, strength, greatness and power, as further exhibited in the tremendous plagues that ravaged Egypt's fertile plain. And yet the name, ‘El Shadai’, identifies our heavenly Father as the all-sufficient God - the God Who is totally adequate to provide ALL we need according to His riches in mercy.

Insufficient emphasis has been placed on the meaning of the nourishing nature of the word ‘Shadai’ in this astonishing revelation of God. While the word 'EL' signified the strength and power of the great Creator EL-ohim, the word 'Shadai' additionally speaks of tender nourishment; gentle reassurance and the provision of strength that a tiny babe derives from the comforting breast of his mother.

Abraham had been promised the Seed through whom all the families of the earth were to be blessed. His advancing years appeared to contradict God's former Word. It seemed impossible that the 90-year-old Sarah and her 100-year-old husband could parent a child, as God had promised some time before. Yet, in this gracious encounter, God reveals Himself to Abraham, in a new and wonderful way - as 'God Almighty' - 'El Shadai' -  the All-Sufficient God. He gently admonished His doubting child while giving Abraham ample reassurance that His Word is true, and would be fulfilled in His time, and His way.

And as it was with Abraham, so it is with all of God's people. The All-sufficiency of God enriches, empowers and provides for all God's children. The precious promise of God's all-embracing sufficiency, is equally relevant today as it was in those dim and distant days, when God called a pagan Gentile, out of  Ur of the Chaldees.. to leave his land, his wealth and his relatives, and go to the land God promised to show him.

The young Abram had obeyed the Lord many years earlier and his faith was already credited to him as righteousness. But many years later, when that same man of faith was ninety-nine years of age, the Lord appeared to him in a new and special way. Abraham was granted further revelation into the essential nature of the God, in Whom he had placed his trust so many years before... for there were still lessons for this man of God to learn. There were many truths that had not yet been disclosed to this man of faith. "I am God Almighty", he was told. "I am El Shaddai - the All-Sufficient One. Walk before Me, and be blameless".

The same Lord nourishes, multiplies and makes abundantly fruitful the seed of faith that is planted in the heart of each of His children. And in the same way, that He overshadowed and stirred the womb of the elderly Sarah and empowered old Abraham to father this child, so God is able and willing to work His all-sufficient grace in the lives of each of His children.

If God has placed a seed in your heart, never doubt that He is All-sufficient to carry it through to its final delivery - for He Who started a good work in you has promised to bring it to completion, by transforming you into the likeness of the Indwelling Seed - the lovely Lord Jesus, in Whom we trust.

My Prayer

Loving Father I recognise Your almighty power and great glory - for the heavens declare its truth and Christ proved it with outstretched arms on Calvary's cross. But You are also my great Provider for which I thank You. Your gracious provision is All-sufficient and I long to serve You faithfully, and to live a blameless life before You. Lord, I know that living blamelessly before You is only possible as You provide the sufficient grace and power through the Holy Spirit's work within. Bring to fruitfulness the seed that You have planted in my heart, that I may live as You desire - this I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.

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