1. Hello, our listening friends.
2. If you are joining us for the first time, we are in the midst of a study about the life of Abraham.
3. In our last broadcast, I promised that I would tell you more about Abraham between the ages of 86 and 99.
4. And that age was between the end of chapter 16 and the beginning of chapter 17 in the book of Genesis
5. And there is absolutely nothing recorded in the word of God.
6. Only those words,
7. Verse 16,
8. “Abraham was 86 years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.”
9. then in verse 1 of chapter 17,
10. It says that “When Abraham was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him and said ‘I am God Almighty, walk before me and be blameless.’”
11. If you have your Bibles with you I want you to mark in your Bibles.
12. There is a thirteen-year period of silence between Genesis 16 and Genesis 17.
13. The Bible does not tell us... why there is such a long silence.
14. Please understand what I am trying to tell you.
15. This is only my own conjecture.
16. There was nothing important during those 13 years that was worth recording.
17. and in the same way,
18. There is nothing significant that happens in your life... when you are out of the will of God.
19. When Abraham and Sarah tried to interpret the will of God... by what seems to be natural...
20. they marched right out of fellowshipping with God.
21. The moment they marched out of the will of God...
22. Ishmael was born and their spiritual growth was stumped.
23. This is the second time we see Abraham wander into a period of spiritual stagnation.
24. Do you remember... when did Abraham go out of the will of God the first time?
25. Since I started making conclusions about the 13-year period of time in the life of Abraham... I might as well continue.
26. During that period of time;
27. Most likely Abraham became more successful than ever.
28. Most likely his influence in the community became great.
29. Most likely his reputation of being a hero for rescuing Lot... made him an important citizen.
30. But most of all... Abraham thought everything between him and the Lord was just great!
31. He probably thought that after he helped God fulfill his promise...
32. he was living a perfect life of a gentleman farmer...
33. no hassles...
34. no testing...
35. no family crisis...
36. no financial crisis...
37. Abraham was probably thinking “God must be pleased with me.”
38. Everything must be A-OK because the waters of life were smooth.
39. My dear friend, I want you to listen very carefully to what I am going to tell you.
40. The times when the waters of your life are smooth...
41. it is a time when you should be concerned about your relationship with the Lord.
42. Abraham failed to recognize that smooth waters don't always mean that God is pleased with us.
43. Sometimes when the waters of life are smooth...
44. it could mean... that spiritual stagnation has set in.
45. The hours when you are struggling and facing crisis after crisis and you feel you are learning by feeling the wind at your face...
46. these are often the times when you and I are growing the most.
47. God does not necessarily want comfortable Christians.
48. Read Acts 13...
49. and you will see how the apostles in spite of harassment were "filled with joy and with the holy spirit."
50. When circumstances seem to be easy... and comfortable...
51. it can mean that spiritual progress is at a stand-still.
52. I think that the main reason for Abraham's peace of mind during those 13 years...
53. was the fact that he lived with a false premise.
54. He thought that Ishmael was the fulfillment of God's promise.
55. And the Lord had to reprogram Abraham... out of his self-satisfaction.
56. The Lord had to re-orient Abraham... to the painful truth.
57. The Lord had to re-introduce Abraham... to the big picture.
58. So... on Abraham's 99th birthday... God pays him a visit.
59. Now if you have been keeping records... you would have noticed that it had been 24 years since God had given Abraham the promise in Genesis 12.
60. But here in 17:1 for the first time God identifies himself as “El-Shaddai”.
61. In other words he is saying to Abraham “I didn't need your improvising... I only needed your obedience.”
62. Then He commands Abraham; ... “walk before me and be blameless.”
63. You might ask, why has God given this command to Abraham?
64. God is saying to Abraham "don't keep on making the same mistake over and over and over again
65. There is a note of comfort here for all of us.
66. God's promises are never affected by our failure.
67. Our failure is painful for us.
68. Our failure stunts our spiritual growth.
69. Our failure hurts those around us.
70. But thank God... His promises remain the same.
71. Here we are, we find Abraham at 99 and Sarah at the age of 90...
72. and God is about to renew His work in their lives.
73. He changed the name from Abram to Abraham...
74. and he changed the name Sari into Sarah.
75. Not only that...
76. But He is about to bless them with a son of their own.
77. Don't ever think that you are too old to accomplish great things for God.
78. I don't mean having babies at old age...
79. but you could have spiritual children at any age.
80. Even if you are physically unable to get around... you can pray... and intercede better than most people
81. I want you to look very carefully at the first 8 verses of Chapter 17, of the book of Genesis
82. while God is talking to Abraham about the fulfillment of his promise of a child by His supernatural intervention...
83. Abraham was thinking all the time about Ishmael.
84. But not until you get to verses 15 and 17 that you realize what is happening here
85. God was telling Abraham: “I will do the impossible.”
86. The Lord was thinking of Sarah as well.
87. All of a sudden... Abraham probably stopped half-way through his thought and says... “What?”
88. "No you don't really mean that God.”
89. “You have already given me a son by Sarah through Hagar.”
90. “Lord... Ishmael is already born... surely he is the boy you want."
91. Have you ever thought you have heard the Lord... when you basically have heard the voice of your desire?
92. Have you ever thought you were in the will of God... when you were actually doing what you wanted to do?
93. Have you ever been convinced about something to be the will of God? ... then you face a rude awakening that it was not the Lord at all!
94. Poor old Abraham.
95. Now every bit of human wheeling and dealing for the past 13 years are going up in smoke.
96. Why do you suppose God waited for so long?
97. Because geriatric maternity wards are not commonplace...
98. and often God works when the very last human possibility has been exhausted.
99. Only when you come to the end of your tattered rope... that He leads you and hands you a silken cord.
100. Only when your small boat begins to sink in the middle of the ocean that He would invite you aboard a large ship.
101. For 13 years Abraham pinned his hopes on Ishmael...
102. but now his heart is throbbing with heartache...
103. and probably to soften the blow in verse 21 God says;
104. “My covenant I will establish with Isaac when Sarah will bear you a child at this time next year.”
105. We have come to the end of our time with you this broadcast.
106. Please tune in next time, we will learn more about what this visit from the Lord meant.
107. Until then, I wish you God’s richest blessing