Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Genesis 17: 1

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

Why am I just looking at the first verse of this chapter today? Well, truthfully, I’m running late and the cleaning lady is coming today, so, naturally, I need to clean up first! But, mainly, because there is so much here in just this verse, we could spend two days here! :)

Yesterday we saw Hagar head back to submit to Sarai - and she had her baby, Ishmael. Well, in this next chapter, Ishmael is already 13 yrs. old!! It had been more than 13 years since Abram had encountered God. What was God doing all that time? Had He taken a break? Had He forgotten Abram? Abram must have wondered if he had forfeited the blessing by taking matters into his own hands with Hagar. Jon Courson points out in his commentary that Abram is called the friend of God, so you have to wonder why the silence. Well, Courson says, it’s because he’s also called the father of faith, and faith grows best when we have to exercise it. It is in the silences, the hard times when we don’t FEEL the presence of God - when we have to just BELIEVE that He is with us and that He is still working on our behalf - that our faith is both challenged and strengthened.

Finally, God comes to Abram again and reminds him, “I am God Almighty.” This is the first use of God’s name, El Shaddai. The word El speaks of God’s might, His right arm of strength, while Shaddai apparently comes from the word for breast, signifying the nurturing love of God. He is both all-powerful and tender - He is not only ABLE, but He is also WILLING to be everything we need: our rock, our shield, our defense, our provision, and our Abba Father! We’re going to note that hist encounter between God and Abram is ALL about God and what HE will do. Twenty-four times we read “I will...” as God makes it very clear that this covenant He’s about to make is all HIS doing, even though Abram participates in it.

Tomorrow we’ll get into the actual covenant, but we need to first remember that it is only a valid covenant because the One who makes it is El Shaddai, our Almighty God! If you feel like you have been in a period of silence from God, and you are not sure WHAT, or even IF He is doing anything in your life, hold on! You may just be in for an encounter of your own. And the best place to meet Him? In His glorious Word!!

Meet you here tomorrow!


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