Genesis 17:17 NLT
Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. “How could I become a father at the age of 100?” he thought. “And how can Sarah have a baby when she is ninety years old?” So Abraham said to God, “May Ishmael live under your special blessing!”
Abraham and God have a long history at this point. God has pulled him through many situations. But, it has been a very long time since Abraham was promised a son.
Outwardly bowing, inwardly laughing
In Chapter 17, God introduces Himself as God Almighty. Next, God warns Abraham to serve Him faithfully and live a blameless life. Then God declares Abraham and Sarah’s future and legacy. When Abraham heard God’s plans for him, he bows. Bowing before the Almighty should have been an act of reverence. But, as soon as Abraham’s knees hit the ground, he burrowed his chin into his chest and snickered. Obviously, he was challenged by all this information and couldn’t wrap his mind around it
It’s just that this promise was made so long ago. Time has taken its toll on Abraham’s and Sarah’s bodies and they are both sterile. The emotional high from the joyful expectation of a son had turned into utter disappointment and despondency. Dismissing everything he was told, Abraham simply asks God to bless Ishmael.
God rectifies Abraham’s understanding
Rude, huh? I didn’t read that a thunderbolt struck Abraham as the earth swallowed him up. Lost hope had compromised his faith in the integrity of God’s word. God understood where he was coming from and reaffirmed His promise to Abraham. Once again, God demonstrates His love for this man by rectifying his erroneous understanding and reigniting his hope.
Genesis 17:19 NLT
But God replied, “No—Sarah, your wife, will give birth to a son for you. You will name him Isaac, and I will confirm my covenant with him and his descendants as an everlasting covenant.
What about Ishmael?
Abraham is concerned about Ishmael’s future. Out of His respect for Abraham, God blesses Ishmael.
Genesis 17:20 NLT
As for Ishmael, I will bless him also, just as you have asked. I will make him extremely fruitful and multiply his descendants. He will become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.
A promise and a timeline
God completes His conversation with Abraham with a promise and a timeline.
Genesis 17:21 NLT
But my covenant will be confirmed with Isaac, who will be born to you and Sarah about this time next year.” When God had finished speaking, he left Abraham.
When God is finished speaking
Let me paraphrase ‘when God had finished speaking’. In other words, when Abraham understood God’s plans and accepted His terms; only then did He leave. What was God doing? He was restoring hope, the fervent expectation of a promise to be fulfilled (1). God loved Abraham and kept working with him until he got on board.
God can only be El Shaddai, Almighty God, when we agree to work together with Him so we could move forward in His plans and purposes for us.
Father, I admit that there are promises in Your Word that I have waited so long and lost hope in ever seeing fulfilled. I ask You to rectify my thinking and clarify my understanding concerning Your will for me. Thank You for working with me until I understand Your plans. Thank You for restoring my hope. I agree to work together with You so Your plans and purposes for my life are fulfilled. In Jesus name, Amen.
© 2019 Foundedonthebible.com