Gems from Genesis: Chapter 17

This chapter of Genesis is just another sparkling treasure trove, as God continues to speak into the life of the Father of our Faith, so I’m just going to sit on these first few verses for today’s gem. You’ll have to read the rest of the chapter to discover the others.

The man of faith is growing older:

When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord 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.” Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 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 17:1-5 ESV

God can speak to us at any age.

As a person who likes to follow a timeline, I appreciate that Moses gives us Abram’s age at this point in the story. Abram has got some years on him, mileage under his belt, so to speak, and yet, even at what we would consider an “advanced age,” God appears and speaks. This is just a reminder that none of us are too old for God to speak to us and expect something more from us. The Lord needed a man who lived rightly in order to establish his covenant with him, not one who kept doing things his own way.

God is calling Abram to a new level of walk:

  • Before God—knowing God is watching
  • Blameless—a reminder of the verse we know to be holy, for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:16)

When God speaks, what is our response?

Verse three tells us that for Abram, it was to FALL ON HIS FACE. Abram knew he was seeing and hearing the God of all Creation, and it required an immediate move to humility and worship. This is a true turning point in the relationship between these two. It’s been thirteen years since Abram agreed to Sarai’s plan and took Hagar into his tent. He’s watched the son, not of the promise, grow and be a part of his life, though not a part of his life. He’s lived with the guilt of having taken matters into his own hands. He knows he was wrong, but he still loves the boy.

But God wants more. He wants Abram to remember who is in control and that he expects those who follow him to live differently and not according to their own timetables. When God speaks, Abram reacts in the only way that is worthy—complete submission.

God marks this moment with Abram.

All through Scripture, we see moments when encounters with God are marked by a stone and a special name. The man is God’s stone, and this time, God names it: Abraham. The man has moved from a name that meant “father of many” to that which to those who heard it would sound impossible: “father of many nations.”

Abraham, the father of not yet even one son of the promise, would forever be called a father of many nations? How could this be? I wondered what people thought when Abraham shared his new name. I can imagine it would be much like those who heard and watched Noah build a boat on dry land. Crazy, comes to mind. Presumptuous also works. The thing that is interesting though is this: We have no record that Abraham ever rejected using his name or laughed at it or doubted.

Abraham believed, and God credited it to him as righteousness.

This is what we see in this encounter—a man who meets with God, worships God, and believes God. Do you take God at his word? Are you even open to him speaking to you at this point in your life? Or, do you say something like:

  • I’m just a kid, God speaks only to adults.
  • I’m so busy just trying to keep my head above water, I know he’s not going to speak to me now.
  • I’m too old and past my prime; I’ll let the younger folk listen for him.

Don’t try to do things your own way when God wants to hold you to a higher standard. Walk before him and be blameless: It’s possible by the grace he gives us in Christ. As you obey, worship, and believe, be prepared for him to mark the moment. He did that with Jacob and later on with Simon the fisherman, and ultimately, he’ll do it for all who will give him an ear:

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.

Revelation 2:17 CSB

Grace and Peace

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