Continued from this post.
Does Abram continue to make mistakes, or wrong choices? Yes, we see him attempting to help God out in fulfilling His promise given at the very beginning of Abram’s journey with God;
Genesis 12:2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
It has been ten years since that promise and Abram does not have any children at all, at 85 years old, surely time is running out… So Abram and his wife, Sarai decide to “help” God. This shows small faith on Abram’s part, and this from the man whom is said to “believe in the Lord” and is counted righteous for it.
It would be easy to judge Abram for his lapse of faith here; but how often do we fail at believing God entirely to fulfill His promises? Yes, we can say that Abram has seen God do mighty and wondrous things, but so have we. Abram just experienced a great victory and move of God in the rescue of Lot and seemingly inters immediately into a trial that exposes a lacking faith. With this scenario all who walk honestly with God should be familiar. It often appears that following our greatest victories are our worst failures.
Our failures, just like Abram’s, do not take God by surprise; for He knows our end from our beginning.
As the story unfolds we see Abram produce an offspring with Hagar, Sarai’s handmaid as an attempt to begin that great nation. In reality like all our attempts to assist God it actually only produces hardship and strife. ALL our sins bring only hardship and strife. This particular sin is still producing pain and anguish to this day in the strife between the peoples of the middle east.
But God was not caught unawares by it, nor was His purpose or plan thwarted by it, notice what the Lord tells Hagar in Genesis chapter 16:
Genesis 16:11-12 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. 12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
Oh but I would have us see in this exchange a special revelation of God towards us! Abram is the father of the Hebrew peoples, the chosen of God. Hagar then is here a Gentile and yet in verse 13 we are given another name/title of God, another revelation of His attributes;
Genesis 16:13 And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?
Thou God seest me: El Roi- The God who sees, and specifically the God who sees ME. Hagar is being used to show that God sees each of us, personally. And is working intimately in each of our lives, ours is only to respond.
Thirteen years pass and God visits Abram again with an incredible declaration of Himself. Abram now 99 years old and still without the promised heir spoken of in chapter 15.
Genesis 15:4-5 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. 5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
Thirteen years since the birth of Ishmael, twenty-four years since leaving Haran and now God is going to reiterate His promise! How can this be?
It can be because God reveals to Abram (and to us) that He is El Shadday- ALL MIGHTY, ALL POWERFUL, ALL SUFFICIENT God.
So far Abram has come to know God as Creator God, Eternal God, the Most High God, Lord and Master God, the God who sees, and now Abram is being shown that God is Omnipotent God…
Genesis 18:14 Is any thing too hard for the LORD?…
The answer is no. Nothing is too hard for God.
But for Abram to see this (and for us to know it as well) he had to change. God worked in Abram up to this point much changing of mind and attitude. Firstly, Abram had to respond in obedience to God’s call. Abram had to leave his idolatry and that of the peoples around him when he left Ur of the Chaldees.
He then had to recognize God as Supreme in his life, above all else. He had to submit to God’s authority and trust Him. Now God is calling for Abram to separate himself from all that he was. No longer is he to be the man Abram, he is now changed, he is now Abraham. No longer is he “father” only, but now, “father of many nations”. Abram must cut himself off from His old life and from all around him to be set apart, wholly devoted to serving God, and God alone.
For Abram this cutting was literal as well as figurative, the sign of God’s covenant with him is circumcision, this circumcision of the flesh, a suffering, a shedding of blood, a surrendering to the Will of God and a submitting to His authority while making a declaration of allegiance to God alone. This was not to be for Abraham alone, but for his entire family, for all the peoples of Abraham. Sarai (possibly- she who strives) is now to be Sarah- Princess, as she is now to be “mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her”. (Gen 17:16) Every male among the men of Abraham’s house was to be circumcised. How clear is the command of God that when we enter into a covenant relationship with Him that we must surrender all that we are to Him and hold nothing back from our lives towards His authority.
Now some may immediately question the authority of God. Some may declare this too harsh, too demanding. Perhaps some doubt lingers in the house of Abraham? God makes yet another appearance and another revelation of himself, chapter 18. God reiterates His promise to Abraham and Sarah that they will indeed have a child, and He then reveals to Abraham that He is the Judge of all the earth who is just and merciful.
We see a dialog between God and Abraham where Abraham stands in the gap between God’s Righteous judgment and Lot and the peoples of Sodom and Gomorrah. And we see that God is just and merciful, willing to spare these cities whose sin is very grievous, if only ten righteous people be found there.
Genesis 18:20-21 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; 21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.
Genesis 18:32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.
In the recounting of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah we notice several things concerning God; He is merciful- He saved Lot and those that would listen. He is just- the cry of the sin of the cities had become very great. He is true- His wrath will be poured out upon sin and those that refuse Him.
We also learn that the effects of our sin and our sinful choices are long reaching with the incest of Lot’s daughters producing long standing enemies of Israel- the Moabites and Ammonites.
Sodom and Gomorrah served to show the judgment of God upon sin in a very direct way for all the peoples of the area.
God warned Abraham of the impending judgment, as He warns us today. As we meditate on God’s dealings in Abraham’s life, as He deals with us in ours, I would have us consider that warning, and compare the result of Sodom and Gomorrah in these next verses from Genesis, with the verses that follow from Revelation.
Genesis 19:27-28 And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: 28 And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.
Revelation 14:6-11 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. 8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. 9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
As surely as God poured out His wrath of judgement upon the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, completely destroying them, he is going to pour out the cup of His wrath, without mixture- without dilution (Revelation 14:10), upon creation itself. Will we be among the righteous found at that time?
We can be. All due to what comes next… Jehovah Jireh!