El Shaddai"

BIBLE READING: Genesis 43-45

     You can almost feel the anxiety in the room as Jacob debates within himself what to do.  If he does nothing, he loses his son Simeon who is being held hostage in Egypt.  He also risks the entire fate of his family due to the famine.  If he says yes, he risks losing the only connection he has left of his beloved Rachel in their son Benjamin.   The famine has been severe, and they are quickly running out of food.  If Jacob doesn’t do something quick, it is possible that his entire family would die.  This may very well be the most difficult decision of his life.  In the end, Jacob decides to allow Benjamin to go with the other brothers back to Egypt and purchase food.  But, how does he make this decision?  What was the deciding factor that led him to choose this option?  It could be that he just put his trust in God and let Him handle the situation.  Notice what Jacob says, “Take your brother also, and arise, go again to the man.  May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin.  As for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved” (Genesis 43.14). The term that Jacob uses to describe God is very significant; in Hebrew it is “El Shaddai”.  It was the same word that God used to describe Himself before Abraham in Genesis 17.1 to reaffirm his promise to him that he would have a son.  In this passage Abraham was 99 years old at the time and God had yet fulfilled his promise to him.  Even when things looked bleak and past human understanding, God just reminds Abraham that He is “God Almighty”.  Maybe those words were passed down from Abraham to Isaac and then Isaac to Jacob as a way of reminding them that even when things seem as though they are not going to work out, they must remember that God is Almighty.  As those final words of Jacob are said to his sons before they leave, he simply just places His trust in God and allows thing to happen as God wants them to happen.  Maybe in times of stress and the anxiety we have in making difficult decisions, we just whispered those words “El Shaddai” as a reminder that God is all powerful and will do what is best for him. 

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