Summary: along with illumination brings human obligation. Abraham was given some practical instructions. In verse one we see that God says walk before me, and be thou perfect.
Speaking with God.
Genesis 17. 12/22/04
At least 14 years have elapsed in Abraham’s life since God was last recorded as speaking with him. During that time, Ishmael, Abraham’s son by Hagar had been born and grown to a boy of 13. Abraham 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 had faded considerably in Abraham’s mind and especially those about Abraham and Sarah having a son. This period of silence was the longest pause in God speaking to Abraham since Abraham had arrived in the land of Canaan. So it had to be a most welcomed occasion indeed for Abraham when God broke the silence and talked with him. God spoke more with Abraham in this session of speaking than at any other time He is recorded in Scripture as speaking with Abraham. From verse 1 of this chapter until verse 22 where the Scripture says, "and he left off speaking with him," there are only two vs., 17 and 18 which God is not speaking directly to Abraham.
Today God speaks to us through the written Word. In Abraham’s day, God spoke through visions and as here also through the spoken word. We need to make sure that we are always on good speaking turns with God. We need to be faithful in obedience to his way so that his word will always speak to us and will never become a closed book to our understanding.
In our study of this the longest one since we began, we want to begin first of all by looking at THE PRELUDE IN THE SPEAKING. You find this in vs. 1 -- 3.
It is God’s desire that we grow in knowledge regarding him and his will for us and he always provides opportunity to do just that. God places no premium on spiritual ignorance. He has spoken to Abraham in the past, and now he speaks again to Abraham to increase Abraham’s knowledge about God himself and his will for Abraham. We want our children to grow and develop, and God also desires that his children grow and develop. The problem with many Christians today is that God is more interested in our learning of his character and his will than we are. Christians strive to gain knowledge of many other things, but when it comes to spiritual knowledge, I’m afraid they put forth small effort. But the Bible warns us that there is great danger in disinterest and deficiency in spiritual knowledge.
Again we see a divine habit in this speaking of God with Abraham which we have observed in previous occasions when God spoke with Abraham; namely, that a message spoken by God is designed to fit the circumstances of the one to whom it is spoken. God reveals himself as water to the thirsty, as bread to the hungry, as strength to the weak, as healing to the sick. Here, God reveals himself as the Almighty God to support the fact that the covenant which God has with Abraham would be fulfilled though at the time it looked impossible to natural man.
As we look in our text what we see is an enlargement upon that which God has already spoken about to Abraham in the past. And we can learn a lesson from this; namely that truth is learned a degrees. We do not learn calculus in our first day in first grade, but we must go to class day after day and year after year to learn it. The same is true spiritually. So don’t be discouraged when you do not learn it all in a few weeks. God intends for us to keep at it faithfully and we grow stronger in spiritual knowledge.
But along with illumination brings human obligation. Abraham was given some practical instructions. In verse one we see that God says walk before me, and be thou perfect.
When one walks before someone, he is walking in the sight of that person. That is the picture here. It is true that God can see us no matter where we walk. But to walk before God is an attitude of a continual awareness of God seeing all that we do.
He also tells Abraham be thou perfect. This is the standard and goal that Abraham is to have. You will seldom, if ever, achieve above your goal. Now we probably will never become perfect, but we ought to aim at that goal in character. To many people want to lower their standard rather than raise them.
The text tells us that Abraham bowed very quickly when God spoke to him. The quickness with which he bowed indicated that God did have priority in Abraham’s life. When God wanted to speak to Abraham, Abraham did not put God on hold. You put God on hold and he will hang up on you. Remember this, we will have little revelation without reference.