No longer shall your name be called Abram but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. Genesis 17:5
In our last study we saw that God blessed Abram and made him wealthy and Lot his nephew also become wealthy so much so that their livestock cause contention between the herdsmen. At Abram suggestion Lot move away from Abram and settled in the Jordon valley and Abram settled in the land of Canaan. Verse 13:13 tells us that Lot moved as far as Sodom and that the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners before the LORD. At so point a confederation of Kings under the leadership Chedorlaomer king of Elam, several kings including the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah for they had been in servitude to Chedorlaomer but after twelve years they rebelled and Chedorlaomer went up to fight them and the king of Sodom and others fought Chedorlaomer in the Valley of Siddim. Chedorlaomer was victorious and he took all the possession of Sodom and Gomorrah as his spoils of war, Lot, his family and all that he had were taken as well. When Abram found out that his nephew had been taken he took his men and attacked and defeated them and brought back all the possessions including Lot. Abram is blessed by Melchizedek who is described as the king of Salem as well as the priest of God Most High. Melchizedek is a type of Christ, for Christ is King, Prophet , and Priest. It is amazing to read the story of God working out His plan of redemption. He raises up men who become a part of that plan and what they do, the office that they hold points to the Savior who is to come. Abram called out of paganism to become the progenitor of the people from whom that Savior would come. In Hebrews 7:11-25 Jesus is compared to Melchizedek. 1 Peter 2:5 says you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. We are to be holy priests offering up spiritual sacrifices to God. God had not set up his elaborate duties that the priests of the nation of Israel were to carry out. The establishment of the Tabernacle, the many rituals and feats that God ordained, the solemn conduct of the priests ministering in the temple, designing what they wore to perform their duties including bells on the hem of their outer garments so that those who were outside could hear the bells and know that the priest was still alive. God was establishing His holiness in the midst of a people who were unholy. I Peter 2:5 states that we are holy priests before God. It speaks to the holiness of God, of reverence for the Most High God. In chapter 15 of Genesis God makes a covenant with Abram and God tells him of His plans that will take place of Israel being in bondage for 400 years, before they will take possession of the land He is giving to Abram. God also tells Abram that one of the reason the people will not inherit the land sooner is because the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete. When Israel is brought out of bondage by Moses and through the leadership of Joshua God instructs them to wipe out the whole population of the Amorities (which can mean all the people of Canaan). The fullness of the iniquity of the Amorities had come and God was using Israel to minister His wrath upon them. God does the same thing to Israel when their rebellion against God had reached a certain point the Assyrian Empire captured Northern Israel and took them into exile (2 Kings 17) and because this did not cause Judah to repent they were captured by the Babylonian Empire and taken into exile. (2 Kings 25). There is a limit that God places on rebellion against Him, and He can use various means to get our attention. God will not be mocked. The reason many churches no longer preach this type of message showing that God is Holy and that He has wrath as well as love is because it is uncomfortable. People do not believe that all that is not necessary, I am not talking about the world, but it is Christians that have run preaching the whole Bible out of church and replaced it with signing so called gospel songs, rap, mime, dancing, anything that we feel comfortable with. Preach about how I can be rich, preach about politics, preach about worldly affairs but don't preach about a Holy God.
In Genesis 16 we see Sarai taking things into her own hands. God had promised Abram that he would have a son. Sarai is not getting pregnant so she suggests that Abram gain a child by her servant Hagar. Hagar gets pregnant. Hagar feels proud because she has given this great man a Son and she looks upon Sarai with contempt. Ishmael is Abram's son by Hagar.
In Chapter 17 Abram is 99 years old, he was 86 when Ishmael was born. God appeared to Abram and said to him "I am God Almighty, walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly." (17:1-2) It is at this point that God changes Abram's name to Abraham. Abraham was to be the Father of many nations, it speak to of course the nations from Ishmael, from the other children he had through his second wife and through the son of promise who was to come, Isaac. On the spiritual level, God's promises although initially focused on Israel were intended to include all people - for from different tribes and languages, and nations would God bring out people to Himself, and of course we see that the true Offspring of Abraham was Jesus Christ. God is working His plan. Abraham is used of God to fulfill His promise made in the garden of Eden.
Then Abram fell on his face. Notice Abram's response to God. He fell on his face. If God Almighty appears to you - you will fall on your face. In Isaiah 6 it is recorded Isaiah response when God Almighty appeared to Him: he said "woe is me! For I am lost; for ... my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" Isaiah's fear causes him to pronounce a curse on himself. Abram reverenced God Almighty, if we desire the faith of Abraham we also need the reverence of Abraham.
God institutes circumcision as a covenant sign. All males were to be circumcised. God Tells Abraham that this was an everlasting covenant, it is the mode of administration has changed from Israel to the Church, and Baptism has replaced Circumcision as a sign of the covenant.
God also changes the name of Abraham's wife from Sarai to Sarah (both mean princess) and God also promises to give Abraham a child by her. Abraham fell on his face and laughed saying can a man who is 100 years old and a women who is 90 years old bear a son? (both Abraham and Sarah laughed in disbelief)
God chose Isaac and not Ishmael. He could have chosen Ishmael, he was Abraham's son. But again we see the sovereign choice of God. It seems God wanted to make His point, He wanted Abraham and Sarah to see for their own selves that with God nothing is impossible. He wanted them to tell Issac and for him to tell his children, that we have seen proof that with God nothing is impossible. God has recorded these things in the Bible so that we might know that with God nothing is impossible. You want Abraham's faith - Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Hear the Word preached, read the Word, preach it to yourself, believe what God says. Faith is a gift from God. We have it. we increase it by Romans 10:17. And remember this Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. Abraham and Sarah experienced what was impossible.
Speaking about things that are impossible we see another incident in Matthew 19 which speaks about Jesus' encounter with the rich young man who when offered to come and follow Christ refuses because he did not want to give up his riches, to which Jesus said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. Verse 25 says When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus responds in verse 26: But Jesus looked at them and said, "with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Peter and the other disciples believed if anyone could be saved certainly it was the rich, they are blessed because they have become rich. This verse says when asked this question, Jesus at first looks at them, I would imagine in the time of that look, He was letting it sink into their hearts the gravity of that question, as He looked at them certainly with compassion and love, He lets them know that salvation is not of man. If He would have left the answer at that point - what misery, what terror, what utter ruin, but He did not stop there, He said that salvation is possible with God. OH the Great Mercies of God!!, the unspeakable Love of our Dear Savior!! The Compassion of the Eternal God. It is impossible for man to gain salvation yet just as Abraham and Sarah experienced Divine Mercy, so have we experienced the impossible!! He has made a way of salvation. We see it unfolding before our very eyes as we study His Word. Sinners and Rebels look to Jesus - He is the impossible made possible.
Thank God for His Mercy, Compassion, and Love for us!!