After the sixth day of creation, God gave Adam “dominion over ... every living thing that moves” (Genesis 1:28). This dominion included the right and responsibility to name each of the animals in the Garden (Genesis 2:19-20). Similarly, as parents, my wife and I had the right and responsibility to name our precious babies. The act of naming implies the authority of the namer over the named.
Two millennia later, just before God gave Abram a new name, “the Lord appeared to him, saying, ‘I am God Almighty. Live in my presence and be blameless. I will set up my covenant between me and you, and I will multiply you greatly’ ” (Genesis 17:1-2). The Creator and Namer, Almighty God, had authority over the one He named.
“Hello Abram. I’m El Shaddai! God Almighty! I’m gonna give you children and grandchildren, lots of them!” God declared His authority, His limitless capabilities, boundless power, and wondrously inexhaustible resources. For God, nothing is impossible. God Almighty asserted His authority over Abram and his family.
“Abram was ninety-nine years old” (Genesis 17:1) when El Shaddai appeared to him saying, “You will become the father of many nations” (Genesis 17:4). At ninety-nine, Abram and his wife had no children. Sarai, eighty-nine, was hopelessly barren and far beyond childbearing.
The Hebrew name Abram meant “exalted father,” but God declared, “I will make you the father of many nations” (Genesis 17:5). “I will indeed bless you and make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore” (Genesis 22:17). God said, “Look at the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them... Your offspring will be that numerous” (Genesis 15:5). “Your name will no longer be Abram; your name will be Abraham” (Genesis 17:5). El Shaddai declared that Abram, “exalted father,” was to become Abraham, “father of multitudes.”
“As for your wife Sarai, do not call her Sarai, for Sarah will be her name” (Genesis 17:15). Sarah means Princess. Abraham’s wife was about to become the royal mother of kings and nations.
Sarah recognized God’s announcement as ridiculous. She laughed at the thought. Ha! “But the Lord asked Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh, saying, “Can I really have a baby when I’m old?” Is anything impossible for the Lord? At the appointed time I will come back to you, and in about a year she will have a son’ ” (Genesis 18:13–14).
Is anything impossible for the Lord? Nope! Just over nine months later, bouncing baby Isaac was born! Isaac, meaning “laughter,” fathered Esau and Jacob. Jacob had twelve sons who became twelve tribes, who became countless multitudes.
Abraham and Sarah learned that there is nothing impossible for El Shaddai!
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.