Read Genesis 17
My nephew Kody and his friend Eric, who he served with in Iraq, stayed with us for a few days this week. During their stay I marveled at how close they are to each other.
There’s a bonding that occurs between men in combat that others can’t understand. It comes from fighting together, shoulder to shoulder. It comes from surviving together in the face of a life threatening enemy. The bond is especially strong toward one who gives everything he has for his fellow soldiers. This is a story about such a man.
For the last several years he gave everything he had to his comrades. He helped them endure through great battles. He helped them to overcome many great challenges. They survived many attacks from the enemy together. They accomplished great things together. They had bonded the way soldiers bond. They were friends on a level others couldn’t understand. Yet here came one of them, one of his friends, to expose him to the enemy — for money.
Realizing he was about to be betrayed, his heart sank, he felt sick at the thought. Betrayed by a friend. As his friend approached the man gave him one last chance to change his mind.
Must you betray me? he asked.
His friend didn’t reply but just signaled the enemy forces, revealing him, exposing him.
He could have escaped right then. There was a window of opportunity when he could have run. But he sensed that this was a way he could complete his mission. So he purposed in his heart to go. He was determined to be faithful to complete his mission.
He was carried off by the authorities. Once in their control, they attempted to trick him into a confession, they lied about him, they spit on him. But he persevered. He was determined to be faithful to complete his mission.
They asked him questions, insinuating questions. They mocked him, they ridiculed him. But he endured. He was determined to be faithful to complete his mission.
More questions, more insinuations. They beat him, they punched him. Finally, desperate to break him, they beat him to a bloody pulp. But he would not break, he would not give up! He was determined to be faithful to complete his mission.
He was determined to die because dying was the only way. So he carried his cross and allowed them to nail him to it. He hung there in shame, in pain, while people mocked and ridiculed him.
He hung there, God’s own Son, the very last person who deserved to be nailed to that cross. The only truly innocent one. The only one who walked before God faithfully and blamelessly would die in order to complete His mission.
Finally he said the words, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
As you look over Genesis 17 notice how everything that God says to Abraham is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. God’s approach is right out of Philippians 4:8! His words are nothing but good and full of blessing. He says to Abraham, “Walk before me faithfully and be blameless…” “You will be the father of many nations.” “I will make you very fruitful…” “kings will come from you…” (Genesis 17:1, 4, 6)
Concerning Sarah God says, “I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” (Genesis 17:16)
But the one paragraph where Abraham opens his mouth he laughs at God’s promises and he whines about God’s distribution of blessings: …he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” (Genesis 17:17-18) Now we have to keep in mind that Romans 4:20 says of Abraham that he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God. So it may be that Abraham was laughing with delight at the great promise that God gave him. I have to confess that most of the Bible teachers I follow and respect ascribe to this thought. But I can’t help but wonder if God, as He so often does, isn’t demonstrating His grace toward Abraham in Romans 4:20, in a similar way to how He showed His grace to Sarah when He included her in the hall of faith. (Hebrews 11:11) I suppose we won’t know the answer until we’re over on the other side.
Either way, God responds with grace toward Abraham. He displays yet more faithfulness toward Abraham…
“…your wife Sarah will bear you a son.” and “as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him…” (Genesis 17:19, 20)
Here’s the reality: God is faithful but people are not. God is faithful but people are not. God is faithful but people are not. Abraham and his children fell short in keeping their end of the covenant. They didn’t walk before God faithfully. They didn’t lead a blameless life.
But God was faithful anyway.
God was faithful to Abraham, to Sarah, to Isaac, and to Ishmael in spite of their shortcomings.
And God is faithful to you and to me in the same way.
Jesus was and is faithful to you. He was faithful to die on the cross for your sins. In spite of the betrayals, the lies, the mocking, and the beatings, Jesus was faithful to complete His mission for you and for me.
He was faithful to you. He died so you could experience eternal life. He had to die on your behalf because the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23 KJV)
That should have been me up there on that cross, that should have been you. But Jesus took your place.
He laid down his life for you.
Listen to your heart right now! You know what you need to do. You need to come to him, to Jesus Christ, and ask him into your life, into your heart.
So do it right now! Ask Him in. Pray along these lines, “Jesus, thank You for dying for my sins. I believe in You. Please be my God, my Savior, my King, and my Friend. Amen.”
It’s oh so much more about God’s faithfulness than it is about your faith.
The bottom line is that He is faithful, He loves you, He will save you.
You have but to ask.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”
Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”
Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”
God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”
Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”
Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.
On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, and his son Ishmael was thirteen; Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that very day. And every male in Abraham’s household, including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised with him.
Genesis Chapter 17
Jon Couson’s Application Commentary, Volume 1
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