If we are honest there have been times in our lives that we thought God had either has forgotten about us or that He was never going to deliver on His promises. Days and years go by and you think that God is somehow playing a cruel joke on you by saying one thing and the opposite seems to happen than what you thought.
Today we are going to see a promise God made to Abram and how in Gods perfect timing the promise was fulfilled. We are going to see the different things that Abram experienced so that we do not make the same mistakes as him.
Genesis 15:1-6 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue[a] childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son[b] shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
God was re- telling Abram the promise that he would be a mighty nation. He reminds Abram that God is his mighty shield and so you can trust in Him and in His ways. God is promising Abram a great reward for leaving everything and following God and reminding Abram that He has not forgotten him.
Abram thought originally that the promise of being a mighty nation would be through his own children but then he thought God had another plan. To claim your slaves as part of your family and therefore your liniage was not uncommon. Abram had a trusted relative or slave and thought God might be using one of them instead of Abrams own flesh and blood.
Notice God does not rebuke Abram for his doubt, but only reminds him of the promise that He has already made. God tells him to look at the stars and tells him it will be through his own son that this nation will form. God wanted Abram to have a visual that he would see and be reminded all the days of his life of the promise God made. Similar to the Rainbow God showed Noah so God uses His creation to be a reminder of what was promised and would soon be fulfilled.
I think we sometimes do not have open dialogue with God and miss out on the relationship we can have with Him. We become frustrated that God has not acted the way we think He should act and we then grow discouraged and try to come up with our own plans instead of relying on His promises to us. Because Abraham was considered a friend to God he was able to talk to God openly and honestly. This relationship they had God wants to have with each one of us and that was made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
There was nothing disrespectful in Abrams tone of voice just a legitimate complaint from someone who thought thing s would be different by now. The Bible says that Abram believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. The Word Grace gets left out of the Old Testament yet people forget that God’s Grace has always existed. The Old Testament is not law and the New Testament is grace. No, they both demonstrate Gods grace that is available to those who place their faith in God.
When Abram believed God it was counted to him as righteousness because he would have faith that God would send the Messiah to pay for our sins. When we believe in Jesus Christ it is counted to us as Righteousness because Jesus Christ has already came.
Genesis 15:7-20 is about a sacrifice God made as a promise guarantee to Abram of the covenant He made. Animals would be cut in two and the parties would walk through them was like saying if I break my oath, may I be like this dead animal. If you read the passage you will not find Abram walking through the dead carcasses only God. God is the only one who can keep His promises and He knew Abram, just like us, would fail everytime. That is why we do not believe in our own works to get us into Heaven. Abram trusted the promise that God made by faith. Just like Jesus Christ sacrifice was accredited to us if we believe so Abram was credited the sacrifice that God made.
Romans 4:1-6 What then shall we say was gained by[a] Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in[b] him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,
- See Also Galatians 3:6 and James 2:23
Genesis 16:1-6 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children[a] by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3 So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. 4 And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.[b] 5 And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” 6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.
2) Bad Advice
What Abram did was not uncommon but it was not the way God had intended. Abram already thought God was going to use someone else earlier but God said it would come from Abram so then Abram thought it would not be with Sarai. Ten years have passed as Abram waited on God and because he was impatiant he began to look for answers from others. The advice Abram got was sound advice from a worldly perspective but it was not from God. Abram was trying to force the nation by doing things his way instead of waiting for God.
We do the same thing when we say “The end justifies the means” to make something work that we know is the right thing to do. It is another matter of faith that Abram failed just like when he went into Egypt and did not trust God. Because of his lack of faith it brought problems to his household. The strife that started in the house was overwhelming and it caused Hagar to take her son and flee.
We are just do something people, but if the things we are doing are not the God things we should be doing, then we are only going to bring heart ache in strife into our families. How much better it would have been for Abram to get away and pray than to try and rush and make a decision. This is why I do not buy into the philosophy of do something even if it’s wrong.
When we do not do the hard work of Prayer we opt for the consequences of poor decisions.
Many believe that this is where Islam started because Ishmael was the oldest son of Abraham and so Isaac being the second born would have submitted under him.
See also Galatians 4:21-31
Islam as a religion was established by Muhammad, a member of the Arabic Quraish tribe from the West-Central part of the Arabian Peninsula in the region of present-day Mecca. Muhammad is a real person who lived from AD 570-632. He claimed to receive a revelation from the archangel Gabriel in AD 610 to be a prophet to the Arabic peoples promoting monotheism and a belief in Allah. His movement started slowly, but when he moved to Medina, it began to gain momentum. Later, Muhammad returned and conquered Mecca. By his death, his troops had conquered much of the Arabian Peninsula. By physical force and persuasion Islam spread across North Africa and the Middle East, reaching India by about the 11th century.
The Old Testament claims that Ishmael, son of Abraham moved into the area we now call “Arabia.” It claims that the Arab peoples are the direct descendant of Ishmael. Muslims agree that this is true. They believe that the promised son of Abraham in Genesis is actually Ishmael, not Isaac. They claim that Abraham traveled to Mecca with Ishmael and worshipped the one true God at the Kabba, a stone idol in Mecca. There is not external verification of this claim and no evidence that Abraham made this journey. What we can say for sure is that Ishmael definitely did not establish the religion Islam because he died over two thousand years before the religion was founded by Muhammad. Muhammad himself definitely did not claim that Ishmael founded Islam, but he did claim that he was a prophet in the spirit of Abraham, Ishmael and Moses.
There is much written about this but to say that conflict arose out of this relationship of Ishmael and Isaac is easy to see. There is also Esau and Jacob and when you trace the History of the origins you can see where the conflict started that we now hear about that is taking place in the middle east.
Genesis 17:1-8 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty;[a] walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, 4 “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram,[b] but your name shall be Abraham,[c] for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. 8 And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”
Do not miss out on the grace of God in this story. To walk blameless meant to be God focused or all in with God. God does not want halfhearted commitments but people that are fully devoted to Him. To “Walk before me” means that it is a continual action.
Gods servants are always in need of reassurance (Genesis 17:1; 28:3; 35:11; 43:14; 48:3; 49:25) Abram did things his own way but God had made a promise that He intended to keep it.
This was 13 years after Ishmael was born and 23 years after the original promise.
I am the God almighty = I am enough
Notice how we look for God to do things for us instead of just God Himself. God is what will make your life complete not all the things this world has to offer.
Abram = High Father to Abraham = the father of the multitude
In Genesis 17:16 God promises Abraham that He would give him a son through Sarah. God promised Abraham a son but this is the first time He promised the son through Sarah. God does not always reveal the whole plan and you have to trust Him in the process. God is a God of relationships and He does not want you to just know His will and go and do it, He wants you to know Him and His Will and walk through it together
Genesis 18:1-2; 9-15 And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks[a] of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. 2 He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him…They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” 10 The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard[d] for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied it,[e] saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”
God does not have to go by the natural order of things. This is one of the complaints of Atheist because they believe that nothing can go against the natural order of this world. The idea of Supernatural always means above the natural order of things.
Sarah focused on her age and not on her God and we do the same when we focus on the obstacles instead of the God who can overcome them. Jesus and the Angels visited Abram as more of a test of Sarah than for him. Abraham was not able to convince Sarah of Gods promise and so now God is developing the faith of Sarah. God is about the relationship and the journey, not just the end result and God wanted Sarah to trust Him as much as Abraham.
How many of us look at our situation and just assume it is hopeless instead of turning to God?
He is the creator of these things and can intervene any time He wants to overpower them. Naturalist have a hard time with these parts of the Bible and that is why they write the Bible off as a fairy tale. Even as Christians we sometimes forget that God can intervene however He sees fit. We laugh at God, maybe not out loud like Sarah, but we laugh by not trusting that He can do anything and intervene at any moment. The Bible is full of stories of God overcoming the natural order of things whether it is calming a storm, walking on water, people being healed or being raised from the dead. Does God work that way all the time? No, but He can whenever it fits His purpose and plan.
“Is anything too hard for the Lord?
Read Genesis 21: 1-7 The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. 2 And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. 3 Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac.[a] 4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. 6 And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” 7 And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
5) The promise fulfilled
In the midst of all that Abraham went through God did not break his promise to him. This is why we believe in Grace and not works because if our acceptance of Gods promise was based on our perfect behavior we would all be in trouble.
Isaac means Laughter and in genesis 17:17 Abraham laughed for joy with belief when God told him and Sarah laughed in disbelief.
Hebrews 11:11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.
Somewhere along the way Sarah believed God because God developed her faith.
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
God is developing our Faith in Him as we walk through this life. Patience, bad advice, disbelief can happen to all of us as we wait. In order to overcome that we have spend time with God and remember His promises. We have to trust God as our shield and our provider that He will come through.
Where is your faith?
Have you grown frustrated with waiting on God?
Are you trying to make things happen instead of waiting on God to make them happen?