Do You See Feminine Characteristics In God?
We all know that names are very personal. We name our children names that we love or are associated with someone we love. But we also take lots of time and thought in making sure those names will not scare them for life!
Well, most of us do anyway. I seriously do not know how to explain a name like Apple or Pear, unless you have an uncanny attachment to fruit? But most of us think very carefully about a name before assigning it to a person we love, even if the name is a family name and we may not necessarily love it.
I believe that God is SO MUCH BIGGER than our human minds can conceive! He is BIGGER than all of the names we can name Him. He is also BIGGER than any image our minds can conjure of a single gender!
One of my favorite lines about God is: “God is God and I am NOT!”
It is not my job to figure out who God is in every aspect, it is my job to KNOW Him!
My prayer in this series, ‘WHAT’S IN A NAME?’ is that we will get to KNOW God better.
To know God is to spend time with Him. To read the Love Letter He wrote to us and to pray for His spirit to fill us and to give us His wisdom and understanding. All of these things are promised to us when we have Jesus! So it only seems right that we look at the names of God to learn more about His character.
The dictionary definition of a name is: “A word or combination of words by which a person is designated, called or KNOWN.”
Did you catch that?
“…by which a person is known!”
KNOWN is such a great word! Since words are after all my Love Language, and I feel loved and demonstrate love through words, I would love to spend several Blogs covering the depth of the word KNOWN. For now, let’s just explore a few significant descriptions of this word for this Blog series sake.
KNOWN = “To perceive or understand as fact or TRUTH; (that is another favorite word of mine…Truth with a capital T, as in The Truth,) to apprehend clearly and with certainty!”
AKA – To KNOW the situation fully!
Oh, how I love word studies! Please bear with me. It is so amazing the way God reveals Himself to us through His words!
KNOWN =”To be cognizant or aware of.”
AKA – To KNOW it!
KNOWN = “to understand from experience or attainment.”
AKA – to know how something works or functions!
And finally, the best is saved for last…
“Drum roll please, as my grandson would say,…”
KNOWN = “To be acquainted with by sight, experience or report!”
AKA – To know God because you have spent time with Him!
Could I make it any more clear? Or should I say, could GOD make it any more clear to us?
To KNOW God, in part, is to understand the names by which He is called.
This week we start with ‘El Shaddai.’
Not only did Amy Grant, (Now I realize I just lost most of you under the age of 40), write a beautiful song with this very title, but the Word of God speaks this name of God many times. It is in Genesis, Isaiah, the Psalms, as well as Matthew.
It has been studied and said of this particular name of God, that ‘El Shaddai’ comes as close to capturing the feminine characteristics of God as any.
Now, I told you I love Word Studies, so hang with me! I believe it is important for us to comprehend as best as we can, what the intent of this name of God is.
In Hebrew, names are given as descriptions of people as well as a title.
For example, Simon bar Jonah, whom Jesus later names Peter, is Son of Jonah.
When Jesus changes his name to Peter, it is also descriptive. Jesus calls him ‘The Rock,’ on which He will build His church!
In Hebrew the name Elis shortened from Elohim, it is defined as the strength and might, the excellence of God. Shad is defined as “breast.” The words together, Shaddai, picture the bounty or fullness of God; His tenderness, His generosity, and His desire to make us fruitful and to fulfill us.
In one name, El Shaddai, the attributes of both might and tenderness are brought together in beautiful unity.
It was ‘El Shaddai’ who appeared to Abram and told him He would make him the “Father of many nations” inGenesis 17:5.
It was ‘Elohim Shaddai’ who gave birth to the nation of Israel in Genesis 42:14.
Jacob, when he is pronouncing God’s blessing over his son Joseph, says, “Because of the El and the Shaddai, may you have blessings of the breast and the womb” in Genesis 49:25.
Clearly we are learning that God in His infinite wisdom and character is beyond our grasp of both male and female. To know Him is to be fully complete in both, lacking nothing!
Do we see feminine characteristics in God? I believe we do. The name El Shaddai holds both for us in a divine and spectacular way!
My favorite of all is depicted in the Psalms. The psalmist is feeling like a weaned child when he writes,
“Why am I being deprived of what, from my point of view, seems so good and right?” Psalm 131:1
“But their souls are still and quieted like a weaned child with his mother.” Psalm 131:2
A Mother’s tender love is revealed in the character of El Shaddai.
The name of God, El Shaddai, holds the beautiful heart of a mother. As she demonstrates care and compassion for her child, she tenderly nurtures and cares for him/her. As her child grows and is weaned she demonstrates strength and wisdom as she continues to hold her child close to her heart while at the same time letting go of that child to grow on his/her own.
This is a MYSTERY my friends. One that I intend to ask of my God face to face someday.
Loving, nurturing, sacrificing for and caring for and then letting that child go. It is as unnatural as loving and caring for your child in the first place! Yet we are called to do just that.
“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are old they will not depart from it.“
This verse implies that we are to “train them up“, and then let them go!
It does not take a phycologist to tells us that holding on too tightly to our children is not healthy for them, for us, or for anyone else in a relationship with us.
Why then does it feel like our heart is being ripped out when they leave us?
Because we have loved them like our Father, El Shaddai, has loved us! With true sacrifice, compassion, care and love, and then we have let go with a strength that only He can give us.
And we survive “letting go” because we have our Heavenly Father, the Great El Shaddai, who is Almighty, and strong, holding us close to His heart and tenderly loving us through it!
Cling to Him my friends, call out His compassionate and tender name, ‘El Shaddai,’ and allow Him to hold you close and take you through whatever you are going through!
He cares for you! He is the Great El Shaddai!
Speak Truth Love