Genesis 16 -- 18
Eleven years had passed since Abram put his faith in the promises of God and left the "good life" with all its material satisfaction in the land of the Chaldees (Genesis 11:31). Then his nephew Lot took advantage of him by choosing all the flat and fertile land for his cattle and leaving Abram only rocky hills. It was after these major decisions that Abram received a promise from the Lord that He would make Abram's seed (descendants) as (numerous as) the dust of the earth (13:16). But, as the years passed, Abram and Sarai remained childless. Abram was 85 years old and still had no son. Since they had no children, Sarai said to Abram . . . the Lord has restrained me from bearing . . . go in to (take) my maid (Hagar, the Egyptian, to be your wife); that I may obtain children by her (16:2). At the age of 86, Abram did receive a son Ishmael by Hagar.
Thirteen years passed after the birth of Ishmael (16:16; 17:1). Then God again spoke to Abram: I am the Almighty God. . . . your name shall no longer be called Abram, but . . . shall be Abraham (meaning father of many nations). . . . I will establish My covenant between Me and you . . . for an everlasting covenant. . . . I will give . . . to your seed (descendants) . . . all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. . . . As for Sarai your wife . . . Sarah (meaning princess) shall be her name. . . . I will bless her, and give you a son also of her. . . . As for Ishmael . . . I have blessed him. . . . But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year (17:1-21).
Abraham was now 99 years old and Sarah was 90. At her age, it was humanly impossible for Sarah to have a child. But God revealed to Abraham: I am the Almighty God, meaning the One who is All-Sufficient in wisdom and power, in contrast to man's weakness and inability to even know how to best plan for tomorrow. But God always has a perfect time to accomplish His plans. Through Abraham, God would teach us how our faith can be strengthened when He said: I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He has spoken of him (18:19).
One of the great tests of our faith is waiting upon the Lord. It may take two weeks, two years, or, as in Abraham's situation, 25 years. The Holy Spirit led the Apostle Paul to write concerning Abraham's faith that he, being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness (Romans 4:21-22).
God had said to Abraham: Walk before Me, and be perfect (meaning upright and without blame) (Genesis 17:1). We too have a responsibility in our covenant relationship with God. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
16:6 dealt hardly = treated harshly; 17:1 perfect = blameless; 18:7 dress it = prepare it; 18:12 waxed = grown; 18:28 peradventure = suppose.
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