Summary: This is the 29th sermon in our series on the Book of Genesis. In this sermon we examine God's grace in providing assurance to Abraham in-spite of his mistakes.
Blessed Assurance (Genesis part 29)
Text: Genesis 17:1 – 8
By: Ken McKinley
Thirteen years have passed in the life of Abraham since the last time we looked at him. Ishmael is a teenager now, and Abram has pretty much resigned himself to be content with Ishmael as his son. We know that because of what he says in verse 18, and we’ll look at it a little closer in a few minutes, but again… here we have this guy Abram, whose going to be called Abraham, and who Paul says is the father of our faith… and he’s believed God in the past, but now… he’s struggling.
And what this chapter of Genesis is about; is the personal, spiritual renewal of Abraham. You know… sometimes we need to be recharged. We need a boost to our spirits, so to speak. The cares of the world tend to pull at us, and drag us down, and our eyes have a tendency to drift away from Jesus and instead focus on the pain and suffering and problems of the world, or worse, they sometimes just focus on ourselves and all that seems to be going wrong in our lives. And we get caught up in the day to day grind and the mundane things of life. And if we’re in spiritual decline for too long, then we find ourselves in trouble. It makes it easier for sin to get a foothold in our lives. And if our eyes aren’t focused on Jesus then the deceitfulness of riches and the cares of the world can easily choke out the Word and make it unfruitful in our lives. And that’s kind of where we find Abram in our text today. He’s almost to that point where he’s ceasing to look for God’s fulfillment of His promise.
So first of all, let’s look at verses 1 – 3 again (Read). Here we see the appearance of God to Abram, and we see that the way that God revives our faith, is by revealing Himself to us in His Word. The Book of Romans tells us that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Now keep in mind that Abram didn’t have a Bible that he could open up and study. God’s Word came to him from direct revelation from God Himself. And we might have a tendency to think, “Man! That would be ideal!” But it’s been over 13 years since God last spoke to Abram. Whereas you and I can go to God’s Word any time we like to find comfort and strength. And not only that… he’s 99 years old. So for close to 70 years or so, he had to carry that name Abram, which means “exalted father” in the Hebrew and yet he didn’t have a son, or any child. And when he did have a son at the age of 86, God tells him, “No… that’s not what I had planned.” So God comes to Abram, and He again speaks this great, sweeping promise to him, and reminds him of the covenant, but even after God says all of these things, in verse 18, Abram says, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you.”
Abram had gotten to the point, where he was growing content with the things of this world… he was almost to the point where he was ceasing to look for the promise. And that brings me back to what I was originally saying. He was tired. In other words, Abram needed a personal revival. He needed to be renewed in his “inner man.” Now God knew that, and that’s why the Lord appears to Abram here. And that’s why we see in verse 1, when the Lord appears to Abram, God says, “I AM, Almighty God…”
You remember last time, we saw that God was revealed as El Roi, ‘the God who sees,’ and it had to do with His omnipresence. Now God is revealing Himself as El Shaddai, the God who is Almighty, and it has to do with His omnipotence. He is all powerful!
That’s what He’s saying to Abram. “Abram, there is nothing too hard for me!” But then the very next thing God says to Abram is, “walk before me and be blameless.” Now that’s not God telling Abram that he’s going to merit the promise. We’ve already talked about how God is faithful, even when we are faithless. What this is… is a call to live a life that was fitting for someone who was in covenant with God. He was to live his life “coram deo,” before the face of God. Basically God is saying, “Abram, I’m Almighty God, I can do all things, and I’ve already entered into covenant with you… remember how I passed between the animals? And so Abram; you need to live your life in light of these truths!” Now that’s easy to see how that could apply to us today.