Genesis 17:1-14 In His time, He makes all things beautiful

Genesis 17:1-14

Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him,
“I am God Almighty;
Walk before Me, and be blameless.
2 “I will establish My covenant between Me and you,
And I will multiply you exceedingly.”
3 Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying,
4 “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you,
And you will be the father of a multitude of nations.
5 “No longer shall your name be called Abram,
But your name shall be Abraham;
For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.
6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you. 7 I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. 8 I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”

9 God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. 12 And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants. 13 A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”

Background

13 years have transpired since Ishmael is born to Abraham under Sarai’s surrogate scheme. These are 13 years of barrenness and protracted disappointment for Sarai. Throughout this time, Abraham has also grown to accept Ishmael as the heir of God’s promise. Even as God has remained largely silent these 13 years, He has laid the necessary foundation for the next phase of Abraham’s covenantal partnership with God. In this chapter, God brings Abraham from a passive recipient to an active partner of the covenant. In today’s devotion, we learn the importance of not running ahead of God, but to walk with Him while waiting for His perfect time. In patient stillness and in sanctification, we hasten the entering into God’s fullness and perfect plans. For in His time, He makes all things beautiful.

Observation

I am God Almighty;
Walk before Me, and be blameless.
I will establish My covenant between Me and you,
And I will multiply you exceedingly.

God appears to Abraham and introduces Himself as, “God Almighty” (El Shaddai). Melchizedek is known as the priest of “El Elyon”, God most high. And Hagar calls God as “El Roi”, God who sees meShaddai is often used in connection with the God’s promises of innumerable descendants through which a powerful nation will arise. It may be implied in God’s self-introduction, “I am God Almighty: who will multiply you exceedingly.” However, the qualifying condition to the promise on Abraham’s part is to walk before Me, and be blameless. Drawing from the words used to describe Enoch and Noah who walked with God (see Genesis 5:22, 24, 6:9), it connotes total obedience; to orient one’s life with God as the centre. To walk before God is to live in His presence, with His passion, power and purposes. Every inclination of Abraham’s heart, his decisions and actions must be aligned to the course of God’s purposes, passion and power. Blamelessness connotes integrity and purity of heart as opposed to sinlessness. Abraham, if he is to experience the promises of innumerable descendants (I will multiply you exceedingly) must continually walk with God in purity and remain faithful to His vision.

As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you,
And you will be the father of a multitude of nations.
No longer shall your name be called Abram,
But your name shall be Abraham;
For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.

God’s promise to make Abraham the father of a multitude of nations must be understood in a biological and spiritual sense. The numerous cultures that practice circumcision today attest to the pervasiveness of Abraham’s descendants. Abraham’s biological descendants are recorded elsewhere: Abraham takes another wife Keturah and bears children after her (see Genesis 25:1-4). Hagar’s son Ishmael’s descendants are also recorded in Genesis 25:12-18. In the spiritual sense, the New Testament asserts that the nations represent those who are of the faith of Abraham. Therefore, the nations” refers to Abraham’s descendants, the Gentiles whose faith God justifies and blesses.

Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” Galatians 3:7-8

Abram, renamed Abraham, the father of a multitude of nations designates him as a quintessential model of faith to the nations. Abraham will father the children of faith through his life of piety and blamelessness.

And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.

In summary, Abraham, having become an active partner of the covenant must “Walk before Me, and be blameless,… and to circumcise every male.” The command to make an irreversible mark (an everlasting covenant) on the organ of procreation is in fact an outward expression of the circumcision of the heart (see Deuteron0my 30:6). Therefore, the law of circumcision translates into the command to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul so that God’s people may experience the promise of abundant life.

Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. Deuteronomy 30:6

Truth

The believer’s success lies in God’s timing that works all things according to His plans.

Abraham and Sarah have waited in total of 23 years (after settling in Canaan) before the conception of Isaac finally comes. By this time any shred of hope of Sarah having a son will have vanished. However, God foreseeing the rigours of parenting an heir of faith must wait until Abraham and Sarah are up to the task. In God’s grand scheme of things, timing is the essence. At the right time, God appears to Abraham when he is 99 years old to make him an active partner of the covenant. His primary task: to bring up Isaac to walk with God so that he may become the seed of faith and blessing for the nations.

Abraham’s story tells us that God is able to make all things beautiful when believers are willing to wait it out, fully entrusting all things into His hands. In Abraham’s case, God is seen defying the course of nature in revitalising the couple’s aged body to full fertility. Indeed, nothing is too difficult for God! Therefore, believers must set aside their human instincts and presuppositions and let the incomprehensible plan of God take its course.

Many born again believers who are sincerely invested in the vision of God’s kingdom fail to live up to their full potential because they run ahead of God’s time. They grow impatient and in mistaking God’s silence as consent, they venture out on their own initiative. The silence of God is in fact a clear signal to wait and to bloom where one is planted. Human instincts tend towards haste and to fashion one’s future according to his own understanding. The outcome usually spells collateral damage, wasted time and resources. You may be searching for a marriage partner or a job opening in a certain industry without much success. You may be seeking a thriving ministry or the ability to operate in certain Spiritual gifts but are unable to. You may even be like Sarah who seeks an overdued pregnancy. What are the possible reasons when God tarries? Here are a few:

  • When people are not yet ready for prime time – When people do not yet possess the necessary maturity and experience to enter into active partnership with God, He tarries. While God is ready to set His plans into motion, people are not always ready to play ball. An immature and ill-disciplined person is the devil’s pet formula to cause confusion and every kind of stumbling. Power and resources in the hands of the immature precipitates selfish ego and destructive pride. Unless a person takes joy in tending to God’s bidding on a daily basis, he cannot take on greater exploits. Godliness, faithfulness and discipline are inseparable elements that bring God’s anointing for success. What is supposedly a two-week journey from Egypt into Canaan becomes a 40 year affair because the people that come out with Moses lack the necessary foundations to enter in. Nevertheless, it is God’s desire for all to be saved and to enter into active partnership with Him today; He declares through His prophets: Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2, see Isaiah 49:8). However, when today comes, we must not be found lacking in the foundations of godliness, faithfulness and personal discipline.
  • God’s grand scheme of things – God orchestrates events beginning with the grand scheme of things. While man tends to see things from his own narrow perspective, God has in mind the greater humanity. God tells Abraham that while He will dispossess the Amorites from the land of Canaan in favour of Abraham’s descendants. That will not happen until the magnitude of the sins of the Amorites reaches the threshold of destruction (see Genesis 15:16). For that reason Abraham’s descendants must tarry in Egypt for 400 years before they resettle in Canaan. Therefore, believers will do well to always be focused on discipling the younger generation so that they may be ready to enter in when the time comes.
  • Delays due to spiritual battles and hindrances – The book of Daniel chapter 10 offers us a rare glimpse into the possibility of delays caused by hindrances in the spirit realm. Daniel awaits an angelic messenger who is delayed for a few weeks because of demonic obstruction. Angel Gabriel who immediately sets off upon Daniel’s request is unable to get pass the prince of Persia. However, the timely intervention of angel Michael frees him to continue on his journey to Daniel.

The path to glory demands a life of faithfulness and blamelessness.

God tells Abraham in no uncertain terms that if he is to see the fulfilment of his promise to be father of a multitude of nations, he must walk before Me, and be blameless. One’s capabilities, giftedness and ingenuity has no bearing towards reaping the divine promise of eternal life, the glory that is characteristic of Christ. To walk before Me, and be blameless is to above all pursue righteousness, godliness and faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. The apostle Paul instructs Timothy to pursue righteousness through which he lays hold of eternal life,

But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called. 1 Timothy 6:11-12

Many churchgoers suppose that Christ has accomplished the work of forgiveness are not motivated to pursue godliness or to fulfil their calling on earth. They are falsely taught that Christ’s righteous virtues and glory are fully imputed into them at the point of “conversion” and are summarily exempted from judgment. The preacher of Ecclesiastes teaches, in view of the universal judgment that applies to every person (believers and unbelievers alike), we must fear God and keep His commandments.

The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

How do we fear God and keep His commandments?

  • Believers must revere and love God by reading the word daily and to walk in His truth.
  • Believers must unite themselves as a church to worship God and to make disciples.
  • Believers must walk in purity and put to death the desires of the flesh.
  • Believers must seek to understand in greater clarity their calling and to fulfil it.

In doing so, we will not be ashamed at Christ’s coming and will certainly receive the promise of eternal life (see 1 John 2:28).

Application

Are you constantly preoccupied with the “greater” and more “glamorous” aspects of ministry and career? Are you struggling with the mundane things of work, family responsibilities and reading of the word? Unless one successfully exercises positive influence over his own body, he can never expand his influence into the world.

Do you have difficulty discerning the timing and the intentions of God? A muddled mind and an unstable spirit is apathetic to the things of God. A person who is constantly preoccupied with personal welfare or with his personal direction, even though he constantly prays about it does not yet possess adequate faith for greater exploits. In preparation to become an active partner of God’s covenant, the believer must discipline his life like clockwork while setting his mind on the stabilising stillness of the word.

Dear Lord, I praise you for your wisdom in preparing me to become an active partner in your great commission. I desire to be moulded in conformance to the likeness of Christ. Help me to become wiser, more faithful and more forthcoming in experiencing the power of your Spirit in my daily endeavours. Do not forget me but include me in your plans to bring salvation to the earth. I will bloom where I am planted to establish your values in my community and to destroy the works of the devil. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: