Today’s Reading: Genesis 15-18:15
It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith – for he was a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God. – Hebrews 11:8-10
Abram’s life is a great example to us of what it means to daily obey and submit to God’s plan, following Him wherever He leads. Sometimes this means leaving “home” like Abraham and sometimes it means a career change, going back to school, a new ministry position, etc. Responding in obedience to God’s call requires a great amount of faith, which is exactly what Abram had. But Abram also had to deal with some fear. He had to learn how to trust God to protect him and to fulfill His promises. He had to overcome his fear in order to grow in his faith.
Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.” But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.” – Genesis 15:1-3
God promised Abram that his descendants would be as numerous as the dust of the earth (13:16), but Abram was confused by the fact that he was still without a son of his own. He called God “Sovereign Lord” showing that he recognized God was in charge. God reminded him – My will, my way, in my time. God confirmed his promise again to Abram, telling him his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky (15:5). And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith. – Gen. 15:6
God reminded Abram that the promise for his descendants included the promise for a territory or inheritance. Abram’s response – “O Sovereign Lord, how can I be sure that I will actually possess it?” Abram again recognizes that God is in charge and God again confirms his promise (15:8,18-19).
The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave wife and one from his freeborn wife. The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born out of God’s own fulfillment of his promise. – Galatians 4:22-23
GOD’S WILL / MY WAY / IN MY TIME
At times our faith is handicapped by our fear. We believe in God’s promises but we panic and attempt to force God’s plan into action. Sarai tried to force God’s will her own way in her own time by having Abram lay with her servant girl, Hagar. My heart goes out to Hagar, a young Egyptian girl who for some reason had become a slave to foreigners instead of living out her own dreams of a husband and family. Now she was being forced to have sexual relations with her master. Hagar’s fear grew into anger when she realized she was pregnant with his child. Sarai’s fear turned into jealousy and she began to treat her servant harshly.
Hagar ran away, leaving the safety of the camp. She found herself sitting by a spring of water in the wilderness but she was not alone. “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?” (16:8). God SAW Hagar’s pain and met with her, but sent her back to Sarai. It was not time for her to leave. God made it clear – My will, my way, my time.
There have been too many times in my life when I have made a human attempt to force God’s hand and made a mess of things like Sarai. What a great reminder this morning that God has a plan, God has a way and God has His own timing. I can rest and relax in His Sovereignty!
“I am El-Shaddai – ‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.” – Genesis 17:1-2
God again confirmed His promise to Abram. He changed his name to Abraham, which means ‘father of many’ and changed Sarai’s name to Sarah, stating He would bless her richly and make her the mother of many nations. At ages 100 and 90, what God was promising seemed humanly impossible but God is Sovereign and for Him nothing is impossible.
GOD’S WILL / GOD’S WAY / IN GOD’S TIME
Abram loved Ishmael and asked God to fulfill His promise through his son. This was God’s response:
God’s will: “No – Sarah, your wife will give birth to a son for you. You will name him Isaac, and I will confirm my covenant with him and his descendants as an everlasting covenant…” (17:19).
God’s way: “But my covenant will be confirmed with Isaac, who will be born to you and Sarah…” (17:21)
God’s time: “…about this time next year” (17:21)
Three men appeared to Abraham one day to once again confirm God’s promise (possibly the Lord and two angels): “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!” (18:10). Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent and laughed silently to herself saying, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master – my husband – is also so old?” (18:12)
Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” – Genesis 18:13-14
Sarah struggled in her faith but she did not stay in that struggle. It is possible that Sarah always looked back with regret at her initial response to God’s promise and to the mess she made when she tried to force God’s promise through her servant, Hagar. But she did not stay in the struggle to believe or the shame of her mess. Listen to what the writer of Hebrews says about this woman loved by God.
It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead – a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them. – Hebrews 11:11-12
What a great reminder to start off my day! With a hot cup of morning coffee on this cold morning and a word from the Lord, I’m eager to face what is ahead. All of the “How?” questions rattling around in my brain have the same answer – God’s will, God’s way, and in God’s time.
El-Shaddai, I place my day in your hands.
God Almighty, I place my life in your hands.
Sovereign Lord, I let go and let you decide what happens from here.
I long to experience your will, your way, in your time. Amen.