Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Promise

When Abram was already an old man – 75 years old, God called him to take his wife Sarai and his possessions and travel away from his family and country.  Travel to a new land God would give to Abram and his descendants.

But Abram had no descendants.  He had sheep and goats and tents and servants, but he and Sarai were childless.  Still he packed up and left his father and family because he trusted in God’s promise

God said, I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." (Genesis 12:2-3)

A year passed.

Two years passed.

Most of a decade passed.

Abram was living in the land God promised.  Abram and his wife Sarai and their many tents, and hundreds of servants, and great flocks lived in the land and grew very wealthy indeed.  But they still had no child.

Abram looking over all his wealth thought that perhaps he would need to adopt his chief servant, Eliezer as his heir.  Perhaps that would be the way God fulfilled his promise – through adoption.

One night he was out looking at the stars, and wondering if God remembered the promise, and if Eliezer would have to be his heir.  Then God spoke to him, “Look at the stars and count them – if you can!  That’s how many descendants you will have – from your son.  Your son will be your heir, not your servant, and I will keep my promise through him.

And Abram stared up at the stars – so many stars.  And he trusted God’s promises.

Another year passed.

Maybe two.

It was now 10 years after God promised to make Abram the father of a great nation.

Abram wondered why God was so slow.  Sarai longed for a child.  They began to doubt the promise.  They began to think they misunderstood.

So they decided to do what was common at that time when a couple was childless – Abram would have a child be one of Sarai’s servants and she would adopt the child as hers.  At last, at 86 years old, Abram became a father. 

It was not the best decision they could have made.  Sarai became jealous. Hagar her maid began to think maybe Abram would marry her instead of Sarai.  Abram’s heart broke over the trouble in his household.  He wanted Hagar’s son to be his heir. 

A year passed,

Two years passed.

Thirteen years passed.

Abram was now 99 and Sarah 89, and still did not have a child of their own, when God appeared to Abram again.   Hagar’s son was not the promised child.  Sarai would have a son.  To reaffirm the promise, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham – father of nations – and Sarai’s name to Sarah – princess – to emphasize the trustworthiness of the promise.

 And Abraham laughed….laughed at God. 

Abraham also had questions.  How could a couple so very old possibly have a child?  It was absurd.  And what about Hagar’s son, whom he loved?  What would become of him?

God assured Abraham that Sarah would indeed have a child.  And Hagar’s son, while not the child of promise, would be blessed and also become a great nation. 

Abraham trusted God and his and all the males of his household were circumcised as a sign of God’s covenant, as God commanded.

A month passed

Maybe two.

Maybe three.

Abraham had visitors.  After asking Sarah to get a feast ready for the three travelers, he sat down to talk.  Little did he know that he was entertaining angels and they visitors had astounding news – Sarah would have a son by this time next year. 

Sarah laughed.  How could she, eighty-nine years old have a child when she couldn’t have one when she was young?

Is anything too wonderful, too difficult, too hard for God?

A year passed.

Well at least nine months.

And Sarah held in her arms the proof of God’s faithfulness – Isaac her son. 

That night, Abraham thought one star shone just a little brighter.

Centuries passed.

One thousand years.

A little over two thousand years.

Abraham’s descendents did become a nation.  And God continued to be faithful to them, even when they were not grateful, when they complained, when they doubted and were confused, and even when they downright didn’t trust God.

One night some of Abraham’s descendents were out in the fields watching their sheep when a star blazed brightly and angels told them about the birth of the promised child, who would indeed bless everyone on earth, through his life, death and resurrection.

Centuries have passed.

One thousand years
A little over two thousand years.

God’s promise continues.

Sometimes, the children of the promise find it easy to trust. 

Sometimes, we doubt. 

Sometimes, we’re confused and impatient.

Sometimes, we make our own plans.

Sometimes, we just plain don’t understand.

But always, God is faithful.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! You really brought me into the ancient story and then suddenly it was God, here, today, still. And isn't that the good news?

    Thank you!