God Works In Our Waiting

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” (Genesis 17:1-2)

Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran (Genesis 12:4), and 86 when the son Ishmael was born of Hagar, the servant (Genesis 16:15-16). He had waited some 25 years for the fulfilment of God’s promise to give a son through Sarai.

Now, when he was 99 years old, the LORD appeared to Abram. This was another appearance of God in the person of Jesus, who took on a temporary human appearance before His incarnation on earth.

God Works In Our Waiting

God’s first words to Abram made an introduction and declared His being: I am Almighty God. By this name El Shaddai (God Almighty), God revealed His Person and character to Abram.

There is some debate as to what exactly the name El Shaddai means. Derek Kidner claimed it means, “the God who is sufficient.” Adam Clarke said it means, “the God who pours out blessings.” H.C. Leupold thought the sense was, “to display power.” Donald Barnhouse took the approach that the Hebrew word shad means “chest” or “breast.” It may have in mind the strength of a man’s chest (God Almighty) or the comfort and nourishment of a woman’s breast (God of Tender Care). The Septuagint – a translation of the Hebrew scriptures into Greek before the time of Jesus – translates Almighty with the ancient Greek word pantokrator, meaning the “One who has His hand on everything.”

Whatever the exact meaning of El Shaddai, after the proclamation of that name, God then told Abram what was expected of him: Walk before Me and be blameless. The word blameless literally means “whole.” God wanted all of Abram, a total commitment. The order was first revelation and then expectation. This communicates the principle that the believer can only do what God expects when they first know who He is, and know Him in a full, personal, and real way.

The last time we are told the LORD communicated with Abram directly was some 13 years before (Genesis 16:15-16). Seemingly, Abram had 13 years of “normal” fellowship with God, waiting for the promise all the time. It would be understandable if, at times during those 13 years, Abram felt that God forgot His promise.

But God had not forgotten the covenant. Though it had been some 25 years since the promise was first made, and though it maybe seemed to Abram that God forgot, God remembered His promise.

The years of waiting were not an accident. They served a purpose in Abram’s life with God. Abram was becoming a great man of faith, but great faith isn’t created overnight. It takes years of God’s work, years of ordinary trusting in the LORD, perhaps interrupted with a few special encounters with God.

God worked in Abram’s waiting, and He will work in your waiting.

Click here for David’s commentary on Genesis 17

Click Here for Daily Devotionals from David

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