Friday, February 4, 2022
“But Sarai was barren; she had no child” (Genesis 11:30 KJV).
How will the LORD God prove Israel is His miracle nation?
Taking matters into their own hands, Abram and Sarai schemed to “help” God do what He apparently failed to do! Using Hagar as a surrogate mother for Abram’s son seemed like a good idea—until they all began suffering the complicated problems resulting from their sin. Firstly, pregnant Hagar fought most bitterly with childless Sarai (Genesis 16:4-11). Abram fathering Ishmael meant Abram could still work in his flesh, perform and strive—and this system of law conflicted with God’s grace. Ishmael, the son of the bondwoman, is not God’s promised child and not the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant.
In chapter 17, some 13 years later, Abram is now 99 years old (verse 1). Having waited at least 25 years (but possibly as many as 50 years!) for the promise, Abram (like Sarai) is now unable to reproduce. Will this be a difficulty for the LORD? Of course not! Here, the LORD appears to him with a message. Abram is renamed “Abraham:” he was “high/exalted father,” but now he is “father of a multitude” (verses 4,5). God orders him to be physically circumcised, signifying his righteousness he has had by faith since chapter 12, and also denoting his cutting off from his flesh or abilities to “help” God (see Genesis 17:6-14; cf. Romans 4:9-22; Galatians 4:21-31).
With Sarai barren, and Abraham sterile, neither party can “assist” the LORD now! Having intentionally delayed until they are reproductively powerless, God in His grace intervenes (Genesis chapter 17): “ And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.  And I will [grace!] bless her, and [I will] [grace!] give thee a son also of her: yea, I will [grace!] bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her….  And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will [grace!] establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.”
Yet, Abraham’s flesh will again disrupt God’s plan for him….