Abraham: Chosen And Called By God
1And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. 2And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. 3And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, 4As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. 5Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. 6And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. 7And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
In Genesis 17:5 God changed Abram’s name to Abraham which meant ‘father of a multitude.’ He had been a father-like individual. He also led a large entourage of camels, herds and workers. He was a prosperous and influential merchant. Now he would become the influencer of nations.
As recorded in Genesis 17:6-7 – These verses emphasize the extent to which God had covenanted to use Abraham. Abraham’s influence would extend to nations for generations to come. The covenant was perpetual, governmental and civil in scope.
The power of an individual’s devotion and faithfulness to God extends far beyond himself. The influence of one life anointed and called of God can reach even the nations and leaders of the world.
16But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. 17And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. 18In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.
1And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken. 2For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. 3And Abraham called the name of his son Isaac that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. 4And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.
Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
When Noah emerged from the ark, he faced an empty, but cleansed world. Among other things, Noah was told to replenish the earth. The human race multiplied; the people soon forgot the lesson God had taught them through the flood. It did not take long for man to assert once more his independence of God.
The Tower of Babel, built in the area we now call Mesopotamia, became the symbol of arrogance and rebellion against God, but God caused that effort to cease when He confused the languages of men. Among all this strife and contention, God determined to raise up a new nation, to hasten the day when His Divine mercy would be offered to all men through a Savior.
The man God chose and called to begin this new nation was Abram, later to be known as Abraham. For some time, Abram lived the life of a nomadic shepherd in Canaan, moving wherever he had to in order to find pasture for his flock. It was during these wanderings that God finally revealed to him that Canaan was someday to belong to his seed.
And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.
In time, a famine forced him to leave Canaan and go to Egypt. His faith faltered when he was tempted to lie about Sarah’s being his wife, but God watched over Abram in spite of sin and brought him back to Canaan where He allowed him to accumulate substantial wealth. The wealth, however, especially the large flocks, proved to be a source of trouble between Abram’s herdsmen and Lot’s herdsmen, Genesis 13, below. Strife between the two men and their servants would have been dangerous because they were surrounded on every side by Canaanites, but they found a solution as each man took his family, his flocks and his servants and went his separate way.
1And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. 2And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. 3And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; 4Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD. 5And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks and herds, and tents.6And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together.
7And there was a strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land. 8And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen; for we be brethren. 9Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.
10And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. 11Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.
12Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. 13But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.
14And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: 15For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. 16And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. 17Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.
18Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain and of Mamre which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD.
God had previously made a covenant with Abram. That is, He made promises to Abram that He would fulfill if Abram followed His guidance and submitted to His will. This covenant was reconfirmed at different times. One of those covenant renewals was made about 24 years after Abram’s departure from Haran, when he was 99 years of age. Most of what we know about Abraham happened in the latter part of his life, but advanced age does not preclude the possibility of being used by God.
The first thing God reminded Abraham of was His power and presence. In Verse 1 of Genesis 17, above, God declared that He is “the Almighty God.” God was calling him to have faith that the covenant originated by Him would be fulfilled by Him.
God said in Genesis 17:1, above, “Walk before me, and be thou perfect.” The key to that walk and perfection is of necessity centered in God. In Genesis 17:2 God renewed this covenant call to Abraham and Sarah and was promising once again that they would be a source of blessing. God said to Abram, “I will multiply thee exceedingly.”
They had almost given up on receiving the promise, when God, in fact, was promising them an abundance. This renewed promise of blessing was so overwhelming that Abraham fell down before the LORD (Genesis 17:3, above).
No doubt, he was so overwhelmed by the presence of the LORD. The power of the Divine overtook his finite being; then also, he was perhaps overwhelmed by the profound grace of the LORD. Despite their doubts and their tragic misjudgment in attempting to fulfill God’s promises to them through Hagar, they were still to receive God’s promise to them, by His grace.
God in His infinite grace still offers His covenant to believers today. The reaction of the believer should be similar to that of Abraham. Humility and repentance are the appropriate response of undeserving individuals in the face of a loving and gracious God.
God answers our prayers and desires with a “yes,” “no” or “wait.” Waiting is one of the hardest things to do. Abraham had to learn the secret of patience. After he had been in the land of Canaan for 10 years, he still had no heir. In a moment of weakness, he took Sarah’s servant, Hagar, thus beginning a problem which has beset the world since that time and is not finished yet. The killing recently in Israel attest to that.
The Arab people are in part descended from Ishmael whom Hagar presented to Abraham. There has been a continuing struggle between the two peoples for almost 4,000 years all because Abraham did not wait for God to fulfill His promise.
God has a time cycle, for the birth of a child, for the development of a plant, for the fulfillment of a promise. Until the answer comes, we must train ourselves to wait.
For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
God does not select certain ones and answer only their prayers while the rest of humanity sits with unanswered requests. Obtaining answers is not a matter of doing certain things, but of being a certain kind of person. God did not love Abraham, Moses, Peter or Paul more than any one of us, but when they met the conditions, they received the answers.
On our United States coins are the words “In God we trust.” What a great thing it would be if this were a reality and not merely a slogan. When faith may begin to waiver, then, it is time to look beyond the promise itself and remember the One who made the promise. God has never failed and He will not begin a program of failure with us.
If you are out there hanging on a limb, don’t forget WHO made the tree!
Though we sympathize with the plight of the Arab people, the Bible shows that the promise of the land was given to the Jews. It is part of the covenant with Abraham.
15And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. 16And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. 17Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? 18And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! 19And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. 20And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget and I will make him a great nation. 21But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. 22And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.
The Arab-Israeli conflict goes back to the time of Abraham. Though God promised to bless and multiply Ishmael, God said His covenant would be with Isaac. See Genesis 17:19, above. God’s covenant with Abraham was also a covenant with Abraham’s wife and family. It would be from her womb that the promised heir would be born.
Her new name, Sarah, given to her by God, indicated the influence and the leadership she would have as a person and a mother. Along with Abraham, Sarah’s influence would extend to future generations, including nations and kings.
Abraham would have been 100 years old when the child was born and Sarah 90. The sheer impossibility of the circumstance no doubt prompted his laughter.
God’s choosing to fulfill His promise through Isaac witnesses to the fact that God’s ways are not necessarily the way of man. God often uses things that are thought to be entirely out of the question to fulfill His plan and purpose. Time is irrelevant to the One who created it. If God wants to use a person, young or old, to further His will, He can do so.
God made a covenant with all of mankind. It does not matter what a person’s personal life, heritage or race may be. God still offers eternal life to all. Accepting Christ as personal Lord and Savior is the key to receiving the benefits of God’s covenant in Christ.