“I am El-Shaddai- ‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.” Genesis 17:1
In Genesis chapters 15 and 17 we read of God’s promise to Abraham; that He would bless him with many decedents. It is interesting to notice that God spoke promise into Abraham’s life at a time that did not make sense. Not only does God choose to make these promises at an unordinary time; He makes promises that are monumental. As we read in the passage, we notice two distinct reactions to God’s promise. His initial reaction is to seek assurance and his next reaction is disbelief. The God of the Universe – capable of doing all things; unrestrained by time – meets the mind of His servant, Abraham.
God’s promises are divine and powerful; supernaturally pushing through the limits of reality. They are breathed by God and carried out by His dominion throughout the earth. His promises are righteous and trustworthy. What is most beautiful is that whatever God promises is always fulfilled; regardless of the weakness in humanity. Despite our questions and disbelief, whatever God says can be completely trusted because He is God Almighty. His timing is perfect and His promises are honorable. It seems like quite a lot for our human minds to comprehend: the righteousness God being fulfilled through heaven and earth out of perfect love for us.
Then God said to him, “This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations!” Genesis 17:3-4
God had promised Abram a son, and along with divine protection and descendants as numerous as the stars. In doing this, God changed his name from Abram to Abraham, which means, “father of many.” However, Abrahams current circumstance did not match up with the blessings he would soon inherit.
Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. “How could I become a father at the age of 100?” Genesis 17:17
It seemed impossible for Abraham to have a son at his age. Doubts were manifesting and all seemed lost. Nevertheless, we have a God of the impossible who does not work from a human’s point of view.
And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith. Genesis 15:6
Whatever circumstances you are in, that you might feel is too hard or that there are too many obstacles in the way; know that what God promises, He fulfills. God eventually blessed Abraham with his first son; therefore, hold steadfast and believe in the Lord and you will see it come to pass, just as Abraham did.
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. Genesis 16: 1-2
If we camp out here in this passage, we begin to notice a reoccurring trend. Abram and Sarai’s biggest insecurity was rooted in their desire to conceive a child, and their inability to do so forced them to again, forgo their trust in God. When Sarai declared that, “the lord has” we can speculate that she has done two things, they being that Sarai superimposed her own understanding of God’s covenant with Abram, and as a result, acted outside of that promise for the both of them.
In the previous chapter, God presents Abram – and by extension Sarai – an infallible promise that Abram will have children as numerous as the stars in the sky; yet, Abram and Sarai both forget the covenant God made with them, and again, began to work with their own understanding. As a result, God through an angel, had to intervene and remedy the situation Abram and Sarai brought unto themselves.
Faith is so invaluable, because even when He promised Abram and Sarai children, they in the moment could not see when, where and how His promise would come to be. What makes God so objectively trustworthy and reliable, is that when He makes a promise, it is kept; as we learn a chapter later. However, this is why faith is important, because all of scripture is a testimony of how God’s promise is always fulfilled. It is our faith in His promises that keeps us rooted in Him.
“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Genesis 16:1
Sarai and Abram were promised a child, however, doubt flooded their hearts, and they decided to take things into their own hands and this action was not done by asking the Lord’s counsel. As soon as doubt had entered, God’s almighty power could not present itself. As followers of the Lord, we each experience times in which our patience and faith is tested. But we ought to pick up our cross and hold fast to the hope we have in Jesus. Sarai and Abram did just the opposite. False hope is dangerous because it distracts us from God’s infinite power, and places our attention on the problem that lies before us. As false hope starts manifesting itself, it’s often very difficult not to want to take the reins and try to make things happen our way. Just like in the story, this only ends in sin and conflict. However, let us not be like Sarai and Abram, but rather choose to put our hope and faith in the Him, and by doing so, we will experience His power and perfect will at work in our lives.
Genesis 14: 14-16 The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted.
Abram understood what God’s promise to him meant, and when he conquered the kings and land before him, he denied what he had learned, choosing instead to have faith in what He promised. That promise God made to Abram was meant by faith, and not by means of man. Abram refused what he rightfully won, and chose instead to believe Gods promise for his life.
Abram chose instead to give up the lands he conquered in favor of letting God fulfill his promise by faith; not Abrams hands alone.
What we need to realize is that God will never forget his promises. Sometimes it’s difficult to put our faith in God because we do not know if he is going to fulfill the promise that he has made us, and we see that man may fulfill that promise instead. What we do instead is try and find a way to do it for him. That is what causes us to fall. Abram chose instead to give up the lands he conquered in favor of letting God fulfill his promise by faith; not Abrams hands alone.
Abram was told he could have all the goods of the king of Sodom; all that the king wanted were the people. Abram understood what it would mean if he were to take these things, because God made a promise Abram, and he did not want to attribute the fruition of His promise to man. Abram needed to have faith in God’s timing.
Why is it that we sometimes allow earthly desires take advantage of us and our decisions, or we do not trust in His timing? We hunger for these earthly possessions, so much so that we forget they are temporary. As believers, we need to allow ourselves to give these belongings up for the glory of God. Do not allow this life be a barrier between you and God, instead give them up and allow that to eulogize the name of God.
God granted Abram a destination that was good, and he was asked to go. As seen in the passage, he was then blessed by Him.
Doubt gave birth to fear and other worries began the fall from this promise. Instead of trusting the Lord in what He promised, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation” (Genesis 12:1-2) Abram went so far until something began to worry him. This in turn caused turmoil on Pharaoh. A lie that could’ve been avoided, ended up swindling the promise of God.
How many times do we screw up the path or take a ‘shortcut’ in the promises God trusts us with? God does not expect perfection from man or women, even though the amount of trust He grants says differently, a perfect being isn’t anyone but Christ, Jesus himself. Hence the reason why Holy Spirit and the Bible is present and here today, so promises like these – God to Abram – don’t have to be screwed up because of doubt or worry; but rather, guided by something greater and more perfect.