God's People: Abraham

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. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.” Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you, and to your offspring after you, the land where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan, for a perpetual holding; and I will be their God.”
God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old, including the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring. Both the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money must be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.” ~ Genesis 17:1-14

Abraham means "father of many nations." Already, even before God's covenant with Abraham - before his name was changed - God had told him that he would be a blessing to the nations.

But up until this point, the son that Abraham believed would be the fulfillment of that promise had not materialized. He had fathered Ishmael through Sarah's servant, but Sarah was still barren.

And yet God persisted.

God persisted with Abraham over and over again. And over and over again, Abraham looked for ways to force God's hand or to go his own route. To try with his own effort to fulfill the promise.

Perhaps he got tired of waiting. He kept getting older. Sarah kept getting older. How long did God expect him to wait for that son to come?

But it was God who had initiated the covenant and it was God's promise that would make Abraham a blessing to the nations.

God persisted. Not in Abraham's time, but in God's.

God persists still. Not on our time, but with God's.

And it is hard often to reconcile with that. It's hard to be patient with God's time when we live in a culture where "now" is one of the most important words, or even when it feels like there is too much that needs to be fixed immediately.

But God persists. God persists with the promise because the promise isn't about Abraham.

It's about God's care for all of God's people. It's about God wanting all of God's people to be blessed.

And that takes time. God's time. Not ours.

Prayer: Grant me patience when I expect your time to be mine. When I seek my way over your ways. Amen.


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