Reading For Wednesday Genesis 17:1-21

Abram grew impatient and attempted to "help" God keep his promise. He and Sarai devised a plan that would bring a child into their family through a servant named Hagar. Faith is not perfection but the plan of Abram and Sarai ended in pain and disappointment. Instead of trusting God and taking him at his word, Abram listened to his wife and fathered a child through a servant. Waiting is a most difficult task and now as we pick up the story in chapter seventeen, thirteen years have passed, and they still do not have a child of their own. God is patient and long-suffering and even when his children disobey, he does not forget. He comes to a ninety-nine-year-old Abram with an illegitimate teenager and shows his faithfulness and renews the covenant with him. 

God's presence and grace are so amazing that Abram responds appropriately with worship. What an amazing God that he would keep his covenant in spite of disobedience. What an incredible God that can do anything including give children to a barren family. What a loving God that pursues Abram in spite of his rash attempts to make things work in a more timely fashion. This covenant is accompanied by the command to obey. This may seem like a legalistic Old Testament expectation, but Jesus said that he measured our love for him through obedience. We are saved by faith alone, but it is not a faith that stays alone. Abram recognizes God's authority and falls to the ground. God reminds him of the promise and changes his name to Abraham which means "father of a multitude". Sarai also received a name change and became Sarah or "princess". These name changes show that Abraham and Sarah had changed status and were now living under God's covenant blessing. These two went from barren to blessed! These two would indeed be the mother and father of a multitude of people innumerable. This covenant with God would be to Abraham and his offspring. Offspring is singular and is collective but Paul, in Galatians, would later explain that Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of the singular word. 

Circumcision is only a sign of the covenant, and that is why later it was not required of Christian converts. The power for salvation and belonging to God's covenant people is not in the sign; it is found in the faithful God that keeps the covenant. Abraham’s reaction consisted of a wide range of human emotion. Initially, he fell to his face in reverential awe, but it does not end there as Abraham laughs, reasons, and then makes an urgent plea. Abraham's laughter is repeated later by Sarah at the Annunciation of Isaac (18:12), which explained the meaning of the name “Isaac” which means "he laughs". Abraham reasons that their elderly state prevents her pregnancy. Sarah would later repeat the same type of doubts (18:12). Abraham presents to the Lord a counterproposal by pleading for Ishmael’s acceptance. Abraham’s request is somewhat granted by the Lord, who continues to show patience and Ishmael receives a blessing. 

Thing To Consider:

  • What do you do when prayers are not answered quickly?  
  • What does obedience have to do with faith?  
  • How do you deal with your emotions when it comes to faith?  
  • How does our identity in Christ relate to faith?