God's promises are wonderful, and he is able to
By Jon W. Quinn
"I am God Almighty;
Walk before Me, and be blameless.”
In a fallen world, life sometimes seems like a race of endurance. When God
spoke the words above to Abraham, it had been about 25 years now that he had
lived in Canaan, having been directed by God to leave Haran and go to "a place
I will show you." There had been the promise first given so many years ago
(Genesis 12:1-3). Then, the promise had been renewed (Genesis 15:1-5). The
promise had been to bless Abraham with many descendants and to ultimately make
these descendants into a great nation, and then to bless the whole world
through one of them.
But Abraham and Sarah have gotten older. Perhaps God meant to fulfill His
promise through Abraham’s servant, Eliezer. No. It would be through Abraham
and Sarah, even though that was so unlikely to happen considering their
Of course, Abraham does finally have a son, Ishmael, by Hagar, Sarai's
handmaiden. This arrangement, though Sarah's idea, led to trouble. Perhaps
this would be the way God fulfills His promise to Abraham! Again, no. It would
not be through Ishmael that the blessings of the covenant would be fulfilled.
Rather it would be through aged Sarah’s yet to be conceived child.
Of course, the promise is fulfilled, both physically and spiritually, for
Abraham's descendants through sons Ishmael and Isaac do incorporate many, many
nations. Then, beyond that, there are the spiritual children of God, those
with faith like Abraham's faith born into God's family through Jesus Christ,
also a descendant of Abraham (Galatians 3:26-29). These we find today
scattered throughout the nations of the world.
The Promise to Abraham
What we have in Genesis 17 is the renewal of that original promise made about
13 years after the last renewal of the original one made many years before.
Abraham, while faithful, has been rather impatient. He is now 99 years old.
Several points are made in this passage (Genesis 17:1-7).
First, God changes Abram's ("high father") name to Abraham ("a father of
Second, Sarah will be the mother (Genesis 17:15-16).
Third, there is the power that will make all this happen. It is "God Almighty"
If God promises something, be sure of it! God makes no promise He cannot or
will not keep. (2 Corinthians 1:18-20). The best promise of all is that He
will freely give us eternal life if we trust and abide in Him by faith (Romans
The Hebrew word translated into “God Almighty” in Genesis 17:1 is “El Shaddai”.
Jehovah, in using this name with which to identify Himself, reveals Himself as
a God of power. "El Shaddai" - "The God who controls nature and subdues it."
This name is used to refer to God only 6 times in the book of Genesis. The
point here to Abraham is this: It does not matter at all to God that Abraham
is 99 and Sarah is 90. They are going to have a child.
If we think it is too wonderful of a promise to possible be true, we have
under-estimated God's power. Do not let doubt find a home in your heart!
Remember the Creator and His power (by the way, both Abraham and Sarah had to
fight this battle in their own hearts - GEN 17:17-19; 18:10-15). As difficult
as it was to believe, because God said it, Abraham believed it. He did have a
problem with the "how" God might do it; perhaps through Eliezer the servant or
Hagar the handmaid; but he never doubted that God would succeed in His promise
Face to Face
Abraham’s response to “God Almighty” needed to be, in God’s words, to "walk
before Me" (Genesis 17:1). The Hebrew word used here is panyim and means "the
face". This same term as used in the 10 commandments: "Have no other gods
before Me". It would mean that Abraham is to “live out your life's day's
beholding ‘my face’ and the commandment would demand "Let no other gods get
between My face and your face".
That's exactly how the tragedy of falling away from God begins. It is a
process of letting things get in between us. God should fill up our lives; His
character and love for us, His power to fulfill His good and gracious
promises; His providence and grace… an awareness and acknowledgement of these
things is how we behold the face of God… or "walk before
Him". We see the glory of God in Christ Jesus as we walk by His gospel (2
Corinthians 4:6; Colossians 1:10-12).
Nor do we allow anything to come between us and the face of God. We do not
need distance here; we need close fellowship with "God Almighty". In fact, we
have instructions given to those who have done so (James 4:7-10) Can one find
their way back? Yes! (James 4:6).
"I am God Almighty;
Walk before Me, and be blameless.” (Genesis 17:1)
Now, how will it be so that God will consider me blameless? Again, just as He
did with Abraham. He counted Abraham's faith as righteousness. That is where
Abraham found grace. That is where we find it as well (Romans 4:22-25). God
Almighty calls. Will you hear Him? Will you walk before Him? And by His grace,
will you be found blameless?
From The Bradley Banner 3/11/2012
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway