Summary: Abram is 99 years old, his wife at 89 is well past menopause. Abram has no children through Sarai. And now, God doesn’t just speak up but SHOWS up and says, ’I am God the almighty provider and nourisher! And I am going to make you the father of a mighty
Encountering God – Part 10: Seeing God
We had been looking at encountering God in worship, and are now moving to real-life examples from the bible of what happened when certain men encountered God. Last week we looked at Abram’s first encounter with God, and this week, we will look at another encounter he has with God.
Genesis 17:1-8 NLT: When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, "I am God Almighty; serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. 2I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to make you into a mighty nation." 3At this, Abram fell face down in the dust. Then God said to him, 4"This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of not just one nation, but a multitude of nations! 5What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram; now you will be known as Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations. 6 I will give you millions of descendants who will represent many nations. Kings will be among them! 7"I will continue this everlasting covenant between us, generation after generation. It will continue between me and your offspring forever. And I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8Yes, I will give all this land of Canaan to you and to your offspring forever. And I will be their God.
This is Abraham’s 4th documented encounter with God.
During his first encounter, (which we talked about last week) he hears God’s voice in some manner, and he obeys. He obeys God’s call to leave his old life behind, all he knew, all he built his life upon, and followed God to a land he didn’t know, a future he didn’t’ know, a provision he didn’t know. And, he receives a great promise to be blessed and to become a blessing to the entire world.
He has several subsequent encounters with God’s voice (that I will not describe in detail today) that I will refer back to that include:
By the time of this passage of Gen. 17, at least 14 years have elapsed in Abram’s life since God was last recorded as speaking with him.
During that time, Abram figured that maybe he needed to give God some help in creating a son, so he lays with his wife’s slave Hagar. The resulting son, Ishmael, is a boy of 13 by this time. Abram and Sarah had grown to the age of 99 and 89 which made them to old to hope for a child of their own.
The covenant promises of over a decade ago had faded considerably in Abram’s mind and especially those about Abram and Sarah having a son.
Not only that, but this period of silence was the longest pause in God speaking to Abram since Abram had arrived in the land of Canaan.
Let’s look at V1: “Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram…”
Now, at this encounter he doesn’t just hear God, but he sees God in some form or fashion.
Up till now, Abram’s encounters with God have been limited to simply hearing this Voice that told him what to do and where to go .
But this time, he sees some visible manifestation of the divine presence, most likely the Shekinah or radiant glory of God.
The Glory of God Revisited:
I want to briefly revisit the principles of the visible manifestation of God that I taught about a 6 weeks ago…for those who weren’t here as well as for those who may not have fully comprehended it the first time I mentioned it.
The Glory of God, as we understand it, is the visible manifestation of the Divine Presence – God, who is invisible Spirit becomes visible in some majestic manner as He intrudes into our material world of time and space.
I shared some weeks ago about how the glory of God and the presence of God are two ends of a spectrum of God’s revelation of Himself to us. (chart).
If you are a Christian, the bible says that you have God’s presence, every time two or more gather in the Name of Jesus.
If you are not a Christian, you still have a very limited experience of God’s presence, because the total absence of God’s presence would be “hell” itself.
Moving along the spectrum, God’s presence, which is intangible, felt and subjective, can be increasingly intense, including hearing His voice.
At some point, God’s presence moves from being merely subjective to being objective, and we call that the visible Glory of God. The visible Glory of God occurs when God steps into our space and time and often involves an interruption of the laws of nature that He Himself has set up.