TRUSTING & OBEYING God DAILY has GREAT REWARDS
January 6 Bible Reading: Genesis Chapters 16-18
"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. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly." 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." (Gen. 17:1-5)
Abram was 75 years old when he came to the land of Canaan (12:4), and when he became the father of Ishmael, he was 86 years old (16:16). Then thirteen more years had passed without a son being born to Sarah. From Abram’s perspective, God was taking a long time to fulfill his promise that He had made to him at various times in the past (see 12:1–3; 15:3, 5, 13, 18). However, during those quiet intervening years, Abram continued to walk with God and serve Him. Although God’s promises were unconditional, Abram’s temporal participation in God’s blessing was conditioned on his faithfulness and his obedience to God’s commands. Abram withstood the test—he had believed and obeyed God without any hesitation (15:6).
Now, for the fourth time, the Lord appeared to Abram after he came to the land of Canaan (12:7; 13:14–17; 15:1; 18:1) introducing Himself for the very first time as El Shaddai (the “Almighty God”). The reason why God introduced Himself in this manner was to assure Abram that He had all the might and power to fill in the void that Abram had in his life – a child that was promised to Him through Sarai. This divine name may signify God’s universal dominion. It occurs frequently in Job, and in the patriarchal narratives, often when the covenant promise of progeny is stressed (Gen. 28:3; 35:11; 43:14; 48:3; 49:25).
Furthermore, Abram had to realize that though he was old and seemingly senile, and his wife Sarai was too old to have a baby, God was all-powerful and able to do the impossible to fulfill His promise that He had made to Abram many years ago. God’s words to Abram in may have been a veiled way of saying that he should stop trying to work things out in his own strength and let Almighty God work for him. Another reason for God to introduce Himself with this name was to remind Abram what He had spoken to him many years ago: "Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son." (Gen. 18:14)
Abram was then commanded to walk before God just as Enoch had walked with God earlier (5:21–24). He was to conduct his life as an open display of faithfulness to the Lord. Immediately afterward God renewed His covenant and changed the patriarch’s name from Abram (“exalted father”) to Abraham (“father of a multitude”). The patriarchal narratives will show how this was realized when the descendants of Abraham become the progenitors of whole nations. The change to Abraham was further evidence of divine determination to fulfill the covenant. The promise points far beyond those who were to be his physical descendants and looks forward to the families of the earth that was to be spiritually blessed in him (Gen. 12:3).
God expects an attitude of obedience and trust from us every day! Abram obeyed God without any hesitation throughout His life, and trusted in the faithfulness of God to fulfill His promises even though many years had passed by and it appeared almost impossible for Abram and Sarai to have a child of their own. This is the reason why God blessed Abram with a new name Abraham (that means “Father of a multitude”: Gen. 17:5), a new relationship (“Friend of God”: Jam. 2:23), and a new honor (“The Father of all believers”: Rom. 4:11). Let us also strive to obey and trust God daily like Abram, for that has a wonderful promise of great rewards for us!