BE BATTLE READY!: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, ...” (1 Peter 5:8-9a)
Jan 13, 2021, 11:41 AM
When God revealed Himself to Abram at their first encounter He spoke in these terms: “I am God the Almighty, walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your members.” (Genesis 17:1-2) It must have been such an awesome revelation for Abraham that he fell flat on his face, stunned. On that occasion God did not only make Himself known, but changed Abram’s name to Abraham. Actually, God added part of His name ‘Ha’ to that of Abram. Thus his old name which meant ‘exalted father’ becomes ‘father of many’. “No longer will you be called Abram, for I have made you a father of many nations.” (Genesis 17:5)
Besides the name change, God announced a miracle He was about to perform to a rather apprehensive Abraham when He declared: “I will make you fruitful; I will make nations of you: and kings will come from you.” (Genesis 17:6) By calling him ‘father of many nations,’ God was announcing how Abraham’s offspring was going to play an important role in His plan for humanity.
However in Abraham’s mind he had no clue how this could happen. To make it very clear God stated in no uncertain terms: “As for Sarai your wife (whose name God also changed to Sarah – note the added ‘h’) I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of people will come from her.” (Genesis 17:15-16) At this time it all seemed like a joke and Abraham laughed at the idea.
It was utterly funny for Abraham that he questioned: “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” Surprisingly the answer came back from God with such firm assurance: “Yes, … your wife will bear you a child and you will call him Isaac.” (Genesis 17:19)
This prophetic declaration later reached the ears of Sarah during a visit made by three ‘angelic’ visitors and provoked the same reaction from her. Yes, Sarah also laughed and remarked: “After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have the pleasure?” (Genesis 18:12) Could this be possible? Both Abraham and Sarah doubted.
It could not end at that. God asked Abraham: “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old? Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14)
Certainly Abraham and Sarah were past chid-bearing age and could no longer derive any pleasure making love. Therefore for them, something was amiss in the equation, - the reason why they doubted. With reference to the covenant relationship that had just been established, the ink had not quite dried when God was going to make a move. God, the Almighty, had barely introduced himself to them and they hadn’t the slightest inkling what He was capable of accomplishing. They had to take Him on His word, there and then but wasn’t He asking too much of them?
They probably would have thought it was a sales gimmick to win them over. One thing was clear though; they had become instruments and channels of this great event and did not know it. Already they were restricting God to motions of the human mind and what was feasible in their mind’s eye. It was premature for them to know at this stage that it was not about them but about God. When we look at things from a human perspective, and with the naked eye rather than from a spiritual point of view, we are walking by sight rather than by faith.
Abraham and Sarah were impeded in their thinking by the physical whilst God was operating in the spiritual. To assist the couple further God had calmed the fears of Abram when the latter harboured doubts of being childless, that it would not happen that way. God took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him ‘So shall your offspring be.” (Genesis 15:5)
The Bible account tells us that “Abram believed the Lord and He credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)
When therefore did Abraham begin to have doubts about God’s ability to match His words with action? Why couldn’t he have believed that God’s word was His bond?
God in His divine wisdom bids His time. From the moment He made the promise to His servant Abraham to its fulfilment, twenty five years had elapsed. Had Abraham’s patience waned? Was God going to see His promise through despite the long wait, despite the odds?
Abraham and Sarah did not wait, could not wait. Time was of the essence and it was fast running out. God had not moved as was expected, therefore they had a plan B that they were going to put into operation.
Staunch believers do not doubt, they hang on to God’s promises, firm in the belief that He never comes late and never misses an appointment. “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should change his mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfil? (Numbers 23:19)
Probably like Abraham you have been waiting long for your breakthrough and it is snail-pacing, you want to induce the process. Could it be out of disbelief or out of doubt? Would you be that anxious for a transformation from a cocoon to a butterfly that you would not wait for the process to mature?
In 2021, let us walk before God and be blameless and listen to Him as He directs and guides our steps. “He is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or think according to His power that is at work within us …” (Ephesians 3:20)