A Promise Kept
Devotional Reading: Isaiah 5:1-6
Lesson Scripture: Genesis 17:15-17, 18:9-15, 21:1-7
Lesson Aims: To summarize God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah, to recognize and appreciate God’s patience with us and to always remember during life’s ups and downs that God will do exactly what He says.
Background: Scripture did not record why God chose Abram in chapter 12 of Genesis. When the call came, Abram was following his father, Terah from Ur of the Chaldeans to Haran. This “was a flourishing caravan center located in Paddan Aram, present day northern Iraq” (Richards’ Complete Bible Handbook). When God called him, He made covenant (solemn promise) with the nomad. This was different from other covenants of that time. Instead of a two sided agreement, God bound Himself to Abram. There were no conditions that Abram had to keep at first. The initial covenant was seven “I will” statements (Gen. 12: 2,3, and 7). Throughout the Old Testament, God was referred to as “the God of Abraham.” Calling Abram and making the promise was the first time God spoke to him.
It was during God’s third encounter with Abram that He promised that his seed would be more numerous than the dust of the earth (13:16) and stars in the heaven (15:4-5). God spoke to him again telling him that his heir would come from his flesh. It is important to remember that God will expand the original covenant. God spoke a fifth time, again giving Abram the name “Abraham,” which means exalted father in 17:5.
Lesson: In chapter 16, Sarai decided to address her barrenness by sending Abraham to her maid. The child, Ishmael is born. During this fifth talk God also establishes circumcision as the sign of the covenant. Then God changes Sarai’s name to Sarah (princess) because she will give Abraham the son of the promise. He laughs to himself, “How can an old man do that?” Time passes. Abraham gets a visit from three angels (some translations say it was God and two angels) in chapter 18 to announce that by next year Sarah will have a baby boy.
Listening to the conversation, she laughs. The question is raised, “Is there anything too hard for God?” In the New Testament, Mary and Elizabeth also realize that nothing is impossible with God!! One of the angels confronts her laughing. Being fearful, she denies it. The response to her is, “You did laugh.” Sure enough, a year later Sarah has a baby boy! This time her laughter is joyous, not cynical, for God has allowed two people beyond child bearing years to have a son. God was patient with both of them and at His appointed time the promise is fulfilled.
Application: God does not merely do things to confound us. Instead, He makes promises and keeps them according to His timetable, not ours! What then are we to do? As the recipient of the promise, you must keep the faith and continue to live. “Living faithfully does not mean to do nothing. It also doesn’t mean to take matters into your hands, like Sarah and Abraham. One who is faithful will live every day normally, knowing that God keeps His Word. Sometimes you may need to go to school, volunteer or do something else with your life, just don’t lose hope! The key here is to remember that God is faithful. The hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” says it all. God bless and keep you.