Sunday, March 05, 2006


Genesis 17 (Synopsis)

Today's Sermon 9-25-2005

My readers will be disappointed not to see the text of my sermon here. (or perhaps not). Once again the tyranny of the urgent caught up with me. I preach only on the Sundays when I've worked the night before 11-7 (2300-0700) and do the final writing and printing and transfers to email and blog during slow times at work. Last night there were no slow times. A difficult admission followed by my coworker having an insulin reaction and rushing to the Emergency Room left no time for the extras. So I used my research and spoke mostly extemporaneously. Let me summarize briefly:

Genesis 17

God is referred to for the first time as "El-Shaddai". One of the strangest and most wonderful names for God. "El" meaning "God" and Shaddai... that's what's interesting. Shad is the Hebrew word for breast. Shaddai meaning "breasted one". No friends, El-Shaddai does NOT mean God is a goddess. The "El" is male. It means that God is not just Creator and Judge he is also Sustainer, Provider, and caregiver of his children, loving them and providing for them as a mother does an infant. Unfortunately the translators into English from the Hebrew recorded El-Shaddai as Almighty God. The name "El" already carries that meaning, we lose the richness of the original language in that translation.

The other point in Chapter 17 being that Abram, here renamed by God Abraham, laughs when God tells him at the age of 99 he will have children. Often this is misinterpreted as meaning he laughed in derision, but not so. The meaning is of laughing out with joy at God's promise being repeated and God breaking the silence of 13 years that followed Abraham's disobedience by fathering a child, Ishmael, with the servant girl Hagar. This understanding changes the whole meaning of the chapter.

That is all I remember as I sit at the keyboard, I'll try to do better next time.
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