I love reading about Jesus’ interactions after His resurrection. One of the things that really stood out to me this year in reading these post-resurrection accounts is that, in the midst of the commissioning and sending, He set priorities for His disciples: love Me, follow Me, feed My lambs. It’s not anything different than the pattern we see all throughout the Scriptures already, yet I think we’re keen to invert the list.
I heard something recently that sent me on a hunt. While listening to a podcast that was unpacking Genesis 2, they referenced how God’s name of El Shaddai (first occurring in Genesis 17) was interpreted by the Jewish sages much differently than how the Septuagint or Latin Vulgate translators interpreted its meaning.
Those translators came to the conclusion that El Shaddai must mean “God Almighty,” tying Shaddai to the Hebrew word shadad – which means “to overpower.” Though God is almighty, it is not a sufficient interpretation of Shaddai. The Talmud (a comprehensive text organizing oral and written Jewish commentary on the Torah and Scriptures) says that “Shaddai” actually stands for a phrase (a common occurrence in Hebrew). The phrase is “Mi she’Amar Dai L’olamo” (Hebrew: מי שאמר די לעולמו) – “He who said ‘Enough’ to His world.” (The sages were primarily referencing His wisdom in establishing the Shabbat).
So what did they mean? As we look into the book of Genesis, the first few chapters give us a glorious window into the way the King brought all of the world and all of the creation that filled it into being. His power is evident, His creativity unending, His vision without match. After the King brought the universe into created existence, He did something remarkable.
The exact act is articulated in Hebrew as the act of Shabbat (to stop). It was a total pull of the reigns and a change of position from creating to reigning and delighting. He stopped creating on the seventh day- it was a supreme example of His power, His Kingship, His sufficiency, and of His unending wisdom.
“I AM” was showing His “Shaddai”-ness. He truly is “He who said ‘Enough’ [Dai] to His world.” Now, “Dai” is also seen in a word we say at Passover (which we just celebrated). Toward the end of the Seder meal, we sing or say Dayenu – literally, “it would have been enough” – in reference to His generous provision and love and His mighty hand that brought the Jewish people out of slavery in Egypt.
In all of His acts during that Exodus account, we reflect on each one and say back and forth to one another around the table that with each act, it would have been dayenu because He is the very God of enough.
Now, my dear friends, the Sabbath (shabbat) is a gift our King established in the DNA of creation because He is a God who knew when to say, “Dai.” It is a day to worship the King and do what the King does, so the invitation for us is to join Him in saying, “Dai.”
As the posture of our hearts transitions from creating and achieving and accomplishing, we move into a posture of delighting and enjoying the One Who is Enough. What we achieved this week, Dai. What we didn’t achieve this week, Dai. Where we succeeded, Dai. Where we failed, Dai. What we brought to completion, Dai. What is waiting to be completed, Dai. Sabbath rest, as it is modeled by the King, invites us to say, “Enough.” because He is enough and He isn’t asking for MORE of our performance or unending achievement. He just delights to be with us.
I think back to the priorities Jesus reminded the disciples of before He ascended to the Father. El Shaddai was telling them to remember, first and foremost, that He wanted their hearts and their eyes set on Him before their hands did anything for Him. There was to be an order to how they went about their commission, and it was to begin from a place of relationship, nearness, and rest.
Easter weekend is a big weekend, and the days after are just as big because we have a big mission that we are called to. There is no question, feeding the lambs is our high calling.
But my dear friends, may we not invert the priorities El Shaddai set. He stopped. He rested. In His divine wisdom, He knew when to say “Dai.” I hope today that you look to the King, consider what the King does, and remember that His greatest delight is not in what you do for Him, but in your trusting relationship with Him.