Updated: Sep 27, 2022
Happy New Year! We are officially well into January of 2022 and there's no turning back. I'm sure many of you, like me, have hopes, dreams, goals and plans for this year. Maybe you're still waiting on the ones from last year to come to fruition?
Throughout my season of waiting, God has led me to Abraham. A man also known as the father of faith. Was he perfect? No. Was he always patient in the waiting? Not exactly. Abraham is someone we can all relate to, He was human! Let's take a deeper look into his story...
"When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless." - Genesis 17:1
We are starting this journey in Genesis Chapter 17. (I do however recommend you start from the beginning of his story to get a more rounded picture, Genesis 11:27 onwards.) To fill you in on the details, thirteen years have passed since Ishmael was born. Who's Ishmael? Abram's son. Only the way Ishmael was born is a little bit confusing!
You see God promised Abram that He would make his name great. That he would be a great nation (Gen 12:2). He promised that he would make his descendants as numerous as the dust of the earth (Gen 13:16). He also promised that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars (Gen 15:3). If that wasn't enough God even made a blood covenant with Abram, passing through a selection of dead animals to signify what would happen to Him if He didn't keep his promise (Gen 15).
There was just one problem. Noah's wife was barren. She couldn't bear children. In those days there would've been no way to find out what complications Sarai may have had or what the diagnosis was. I'm sure she was devastated. One of the main roles we see of women in the Bible is the role of a mother. God was promising Abram all these things and Sarai seemed to be the one getting in the way of the blessing. So she thought she would take herself out of the equation by giving Abram what he wanted, a son, just not with her. Sarai gave Abram her maid Hagar as a wife and soon after she became pregnant with Abram's son, Ishmael. (Read the full story in Genesis 16.)
Although Sarai thought she was doing Abram a favour, her plan was not God's plan! Ishmael was not the son God was talking about. She just didn't know it yet. Thirteen years passed since Ishmael was born, he's now a teenager, Sarai's situation hasn't changed and God comes to Abram and speaks.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. - Genesis 17:1
God calls Abram to obedience.
Principle 1: God desires our obedience
"This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God."
- Genesis 6:9
"You shall be blameless before the LORD your God."
- Deuteronomy 18:13
"There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil."
- Job 1:1
"Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect."
- Matthew 5:48
"He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?"
- Micah 6:8
"And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless."
- Luke 1:6
The word perfect has always scared me. I look at it and often I'm discouraged because I think to myself, how is it possible for me, a sinner, to ever live a perfect life? Interestingly enough the Bible calls us to live perfect lives and also calls specific people in the Bible blameless like Job, Noah, Elisabeth & Zacharias.
When I think blameless, I think of someone who cannot be blamed for something they have done. In order for that to be true, does that mean they have never sinned? What does it mean when God says blameless?
We are sinful by nature and if it were possible for us to live sinless, perfect lives by ourselves, Jesus would've died in vain. The dictionary definition of blameless is 'innocent of wrongdoing.' Broken down that means living a life consecrated to God, a life of surrender. Recognising your faults and asking God to forgive you. It's living with a repentant heart, recognising that it's not you or anything you do that makes you innocent of wrong, but it's God who declares you innocent through the blood of Jesus Christ.
"And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” - Genesis 17:2
I find it so interesting that God continually reiterates His covenant with Abram. Looking back at all the promises above, this is the fifth time that God is telling him about this same covenant! It started with a nation, the sand, the stars, then God walked through the animals and now we see God giving Abram yet another assurance of His promise.
One thing to notice about this covenant is that it has terms and conditions. After telling him to walk blameless, God says 'and I will make My covenant between Me and you and will multiply you exceedingly.'
Abram's job is obedience, while God is working on his behalf multiplying his seed, giving him the desires of his heart.
Principle 2: Some of God's promises are conditional.
We need to recognise that if God gives us a conditional promise, we are not entitled to the blessing if we are not willing to do as He asks us.
Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying:"As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations." - Genesis 17:3-5
Abram - a high father
Abraham - father of a multitude
God gave Abram a new name. He is now known as Abraham. God changed his name to reflect the covenant between them. This is how faithful God is!
Principle 3: God declares things over our lives even before they have come to pass.
God knows what we can be even before we become it. God doesn't look at us and see us for who we are but He sees us for who we can be in Him.
"I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."- Genesis 17:6-8
What is a nation? A large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory.
God told Abraham that not just one nation but nations shall come from his seed. Abraham who had one child with his maid. Abraham who was ninety-nine years old. Abraham who's wife was barren, past menopause, with no hope of becoming a mother. Abraham who was living in a land God had told him to go to, that didn't belong to him. Abraham who had many possessions but was still just a nomad, let alone the father of a king!
God didn't even stop there, He went on to say that the covenant was not just between the two of them but between Him, Abraham and the descendants after him for generations to come. God promised to be their God, to give them the land in which they were strangers as an everlasting possession.
Principle 4: God's dreams for us are bigger than we can imagine.
Most of the things, if not all of the things God declared over Abraham were impossible. With human eyes, none of the things that God was promising made any sense. Unlike Abraham, we can read the rest of the story and see that every single thing God promised came to pass.
Abraham had Isaac when he was aged one hundred. Do you know what that means? After waiting ninety-nine years for the promise to come to pass, he was just one year away from seeing everything God had promised him come to fruition.
As we start a brand new year, with new dreams, new hopes, new possibilities and new challenges, remember this one thing. God has not changed. His love for you has always stayed the same. He is fighting for you and the blessings He has for you are beyond your wildest comprehension.
What are your goals for 2022? Let us know in the comments below or drop us an email.
Be sure to check out this blog post on this story from Sarah's view.