We come today to the last term God applies to himself in verse 8 – “the Almighty.” It’s a translation of the Hebrew words El Shaddai, which occur for the first time in the Bible in Genesis 17, verse 1. God is speaking to Abraham. He says, “I am God Almighty. Walk before me and be blameless.” The formula, “Thus says the Lord Almighty” or “The Lord Almighty says this,” occurs again and again throughout the Old Testament. But here in this last book of the Bible, God is again holding before us the fact that he is the all-powerful One.
The Greek translation of the Hebrew words El Shaddai means “the omnipotent,” which is the word that John uses in Revelation 19:6: “Hallelujah! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns.” In the New International Version, our translation, it says, “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.” That’s the word and attribute that John wants to leave with us as we move from this introduction into the amazing revelation that it’s the purpose of this book to unveil.
What does it mean when we say that God is the Almighty? It means that God is God. It means that God is sovereign over his creation. It means that because God is Almighty, God does as he pleases, he does only as he pleases, he does always as he pleases. His great concern is the accomplishment of his own pleasure and the promotion of his own glory. He is the supreme being, and therefore the sovereign of the universe. The unbelieving world hates this doctrine because it stands opposed to the desires of the human heart, which are to do whatever the sinner wants to do and to promote his own glory. But for the Christian it’s altogether different.
Knowing that God is sovereign does a number of things. One thing that it does is deepen our veneration of the living and the true God. What kind of a God would he be if his will were constantly being thwarted by man’s disobedience or the evil designs of Satan? What kind of a God would he be if his sovereignty were restricted so that he couldn’t invade the citadel of the human will to bring a rebellious sinner out of the death of sin to come to love and trust Jesus Christ? A God like that wouldn’t be worthy of our worship. In fact, a God like that wouldn’t be God. A God who is never frustrated by either human beings or the devil is a God to be joyfully sought after and worshiped and obeyed.
Knowing that God is sovereign also gives comfort in the midst of trials, temptations, and sorrows. If we were to face them with no certainty that they’re controlled by God ultimately, or designed by him for his own good purposes, then they are without meaning, and the whole of life is without meaning. But if by contrast the troubles as well as the good things of life are sent and controlled by God, we can trust that God is accomplishing a good purpose for us in them and be both comforted and strengthened.
And, finally, knowing that God is sovereign will afford us a deep sense of security. If we look at ourselves, we’ll have no security at all because we’re weak, fallible, sinful creatures. If we look to the world around us, we are going to be utterly dismayed because the world is hostile. We look to the sovereign God, the God who is Almighty and eternal, and is able to save us from all ills and preserve us, and has, indeed, promised to do so. So we say, as the Apostle Paul did, as he came to the end of that great eighth chapter of the Book of Romans: “…I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And to that God’s people have always said, “Amen.”