Moses and the people of Israel are in their darkest hour in Exodus 6. Moses has confronted Pharaoh. But Pharaoh is unimpressed. Instead of releasing the people, he increases his oppression. Moses expresses his frustration to God. In many ways, Moses seems broken. But God responds to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out” (Ex. 6:1).
Crucial to understanding this passage is understanding the antecedents of the pronouns. The “them” who will be sent out are the people of Israel. The “he” who will send them out with a strong hand, however, is not the Lord. It is Pharaoh’s strong hand that will send the people out. Pharaoh might insist that he will not let God’s people go. But God’s mightier hand will force Pharaoh’s mighty hand.
No matter how loudly the enemy might roar against God’s people, none can thwart the will of the Lord God Almighty. God is with His people, and He is mighty to save.
To emphasize this point, Moses is reminded of the Lord’s names: “I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them” (Ex. 6:2–3). There are two names mentioned here.
The first is the divine name Yahweh, usually denoted in English translations with the small caps “LORD.” This is the covenantal name the Lord gives to Moses out of the burning bush. There is a reflection of the covenantal transaction in which the covenant begins with the greater party declaring his name. The second name is El Shaddai, or God Almighty. This indicates that God is all-powerful. He is the God who can do anything He wills to do. There is no power greater than Him.
Here is the importance of these names. God is Almighty, and God is covenantal. If God were only El Shaddai, He would be powerful but would elicit only fear. Seeing Him would be like staring into the face of a tornado that is ripping houses off their foundations.
However, if God were only relational, then we could be comforted by His presence, but we would never know if He was able to do anything about our situation. He would be with us, but He would be impotent to save us.
God is not only El Shaddai, but He is also the covenantal God Yahweh. He is almighty, and He is with us. He comes alongside us to comfort us, and He is able to rescue us. Moses came to the Lord in his darkest hour, and God answered by declaring that He is mighty to save. In the darkest hour of our sin, the Almighty God of the universe heard our plea. He has come near to us in the person of Jesus Christ. The Lord hears our need, and Christ is both with us and mighty to save.