Summary: How God changed Abram
A Study of the Life of Abraham
A Fresh Encounter With God
In this passage there is a definite challenge to Abram to move to a new level of trust and faith. At a time when Abram may have thought that his best years are behind him, God asks him to move up. This call to move higher reached Abram at a point of weakness and inability. It is amazing to consider that when we think it is all over, God may be thinking about beginnings.
Abram is now ninety-nine years old. It has been twenty four years since he received God’s promise and left the land of Ur. It has been thirteen years since the events recorded in the last chapter (Gen 16). So far as we can tell God has not spoken since He encountered Hagar on her way to Eygpt. Thirteen years of silence!
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. (2) And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and (I) will multiply you exceedingly.” (3) Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: (4) “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. (5) No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. (6) I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. (7) And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. (8) Also I (will) give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” Genesis 17:1-8 (NKJV)
Thirteen years earlier Abram had taken a wrong turn and for thirteen years there has been silence from heaven.We have reason to suspect that these were years of unhappiness and unrest in the household of Abram. The presence of Ishmael in the home created contempt and bitterness, envy and strife. God used these thirteen years to teach Abram the cost of acting on his own. Time used to teach Abram of the consequences of serving God in the flesh and acting presumptuously. For thirteen years he has lived with the fruits of his impatience.
It could be that you have had some similar experience most of us do. A time when God has allowed you to have your own way, and the results have been distressing. You are permitted to go your own head-strong way that you might learn the folly of acting apart from God. One of the most frightening things in life is that if you insist on having you own way, God may let you have it, until you are sorry you asked for it.!
I. A New Revelation of God
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.”
After thirteen year of silence, God appears to Abram and says, “I AM God Almighty.” In Hebrew the name is “El-Shaddai,” which essentially means “the God who is sufficient” and is used to emphasize His infinite power. It is the first time that God has been called by this name.
How great is our God, El-Shaddai? How mighty is He? What can he do? In the very next chapter God again promises the son and fixes the time for his arrival. Genesis 18:14 (NKJV) The angel says to Sarah and Abraham, “Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” That is an excellent question, “Is anything too hard for God?” The answer is, of course not, He is El-Shaddai, Almighty God. The prophet Jeremiah says, Jeremiah 32:17 (NKJV) “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.”
The contemporary Christian song puts it well, “El Shaddai, El Shaddai, El El Ya Na, Adonai, age to age you still the same by the power of the name.” ( Michael Card, 1982, Mole End Music.)
How great is our God, El-Shaddai? An angel comes to a young woman named Mary and tells her that she is with child and that He shall be the Messiah. She asks, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” Luke 1:34 (NKJV). The angel responses with, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” Luke 1:37 (NKJV) Why is this possible? Because He is El-Shaddai, Almighty God.