1When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” 3Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, 4″Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations.
The first phrase of Genesis 17 is “When Abram was ninety-nine years old…”. The last verse of the previous chapter says “Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.” There are thirteen years between any recorded communications from God to Abram.
Was the silence caused by Abram’s sin regarding Hagar? It seems so. The first thing God says to him is “walk before me and be blameless…” God had told Abram that he would make him great. He told him that he would be the father of a vast multitude. Abram, it seems, thinks that the only way God can keep His end of the deal is for him to help him out a little with the details.
One can hardly blame him. Who of us would think that two parents in their eighties would be able to conceive. Imagine Abram lying in bed at night wondering how in the world this “father of a great nation” thing is possibly going to happen. And he concludes that maybe God wants him to conceive with someone other than his wife. But God had given no indication that it would be with another woman.
Abram took matters into his own hands without consulting God so God closed off communications for thirteen years. We must never run ahead of God.It will make things worse. It will create a barrier between us and God.
The beauty of this story of course is that God does not forget His covenant with Abram and even though thirteen years seems a long time to us, we are reminded in this account of the great faithfulness of God. He keeps His word, He cannot lie and He will not start with us. What a relief for Abram it must have been when God finally spoke to him again.
Whatever it is that tempts you, know this. It is not worth interfering with the relationship between you and God. The pain of that will be greater than the pleasure you get from sin. At least it will if you are a real believer.