Genesis Sermons from Gospel Chapel Ministries HOME SERMONS SERMON NOTES
#356 SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON #16 GEN 17:1
THE LORD ALMIGHTY
"And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect." GEN 17:1.
This verse has been read by many as a mere point of history without realizing the lesson and comfort contained therein for those who strive in spiritual warfare.
As Abram was growing in grace, the Lord led him through many trials of his faith to bring him to the spiritual maturity that made him the example of faith for Christs church. Abram became the monument of faith, but the greatest consolation for you and me is that these things are written for our learning.
If all we had was a biography of Abram telling how the Lord blessed him and commended him for his faith, you and I would despair because we come so short. So often, when a biography is written of a mans life, it consists mostly of praise for the man, telling what a wonderful person he was. That is not a true picture because they skip his shortcomings. A true biography must set forth the shortcomings as well as the strengths of the man. We have a full, unvarnished biography of Abram, revealing his failings and shortcomings. These recorded shortcomings are not to be used to justify us walking in sin; they are given to us to encourage us when we fall. Even Abram, the father of the faithful, came short in so many ways. When we slip or fall, we can take courage from a study of Abrams life and continue walking in the footsteps of the true flock of Christ. Our failures do not put us outside the path; they show us the effects of falling.
I talked with a man who had been in the ministry 50 years. At the time he was put out of the ministry for lasciviousness, he referred to Davids sin as his badge. He viewed Davids sin as his license to sin, but that is not the reason we are told of the shortcomings of great men of Scripture. They are told to us as a caution against the power of sin, and to give us encouragement when we do sin. The Lord delivered David and Abram. In their weaknesses they fell, and we fall in our weaknesses. We are to learn and profit from their examples as we see the bitterness and consequences that were brought into their lives when they fell. We are admonished and exhorted against falling even though we are not left without hope when we do fall.
Abram grew in grace and became an example to the church of Christ. We see this in GAL 3:8-9, "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." We have Abram as a guide for our lives.
If we were to plan a journey to New York from the opposite coast, we need to have a map and see some road signs to tell us we are on the right road. These guidelines will tell us we are heading east instead of west. After entering a new highway and seeing the first road sign, have you ever found yourself going the wrong way? When traveling, we need guidelines and road signs. "So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." We can also use the guidelines the Lord gave Abram to be sure we are walking in the footsteps of the flock, and to get back on the right path when we slip and fall.
The exercises of Abrams faith are written for our learning and comfort as we experience the trials of our faith, which are trials of obedience. Many people talk about the trials of their faith, citing 1PE 1:5-7: "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations [trials]: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ."
There are spiritual trials of faith to determine whether or not we have salvation, but I do not believe that is the message here. First, we must look at the context of those verses. Read verse 6 again: "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations [trials]." In other words, when the Lord brings you into a trial of faith, like Abram, it is a trial of obedience.
You are put into circumstances to prove your willingness to pay the price of obedience. Human reasoning says, "Im sorry, but I cant do it. It just isnt profitable at this time." Ive heard even pastors say, "Well, under these circumstances...," they cant obey. Why? They are unwilling to pay the price. That is not faith speaking. When the Lord brings us into a trial, we must obey if everything is lost. That is the trial. The reason for the trial is to prove whether you will obey without hesitating at the price.
Will we obey without putting a price on doing so? It was true of Abram when he put Isaac on the altar. He had to put his son, Isaac, on the altar knowing that in Isaac, the Messiah would come. He knew that his very salvation was at stake. He had to be willing to put even that on the altar to obey. That is a trial of faith that is more precious than silver or gold. When we find ourselves in such circumstances and are able to put everything on the altar, saying, what the Lord says is yea and Amen, there is no bartering. There is no price too great to pay. If it costs everything you have, put it on the altar if the Lord would have you do so. That is the way it must be, according to the Lords will. That is the trial of your faith.
The exhortation in "And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect." GEN 17:1, is not to be taken lightly. The Lord teaches us through the apostle Paul in PHI 3:13-14: "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." What is the prize? What is the mark toward which he was pressing? It was perfection. Does that mean we can attain it and walk in a presumptuous way in this life? No. We strive for perfection. We do not slight the least of His commandments because that slights the Lawgiver and the authority by which that commandment was given.
Now we see that Abram is being reproved. He is told to "...walk before me, and be thou perfect." We have reached a very important crisis in Abrams life, which again teaches the blessed faithfulness of our sovereign God. He had just spent thirteen years walking in rebellion against God and had obeyed what his wife told him to do. He had walked in disobedience to God. Now the Lord comes before him in GEN 17:1, when Abram was ninety-nine years old, to say, "...I am the Almighty God [Do you see the emphasis on His authority?]; walk before me, and be thou perfect."
The Lord is Almighty God. Abram must no longer slight His authority by submitting to his wifes human reasoning instead of to Gods Word! Abram was sharply reproved. He is then commanded to walk before God and be perfect.
It is so vitally important that we understand the significance of those thirteen years between the time Abram fell into human reasoning, hearkening unto the voice of his wife, and the next recorded visit from his God. A very important crisis had been reached in Abrams life, which teaches the blessed faithfulness of our sovereign God. We see nothing in Scripture from the time Abram obeyed his wifes command to take Hagar until thirteen years later. During this time, we see no communion or fellowship between Abram and his God.
Remember that when David fell into sin with Bathsheba, he would never have returned to the Lord had not the Lord moved first. The Lord returned to David. One sin adds another and another, compounding itself, which only separates us further from God. First, David took Bathsheba; next, he schemed and killed Uriah. Then he tried to cover his sin. Sin is added to sin, as he departed farther and farther from his God.
When we once get on the slippery slope and begin sliding into sin, it takes grace to restore us. This happened to Abram. In place of faith, he slipped into human reasoning, which only kept compounding until the Lord returned to Abraham. Now we see the Lord coming to Abram, not Abram to the Lord. "And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and spoke unto him [We do not see any reference to Abram saying something to the Lord, but before the Lord said unto Abram, he first reminded Abram of an important fact.], I am the Almighty God [Then God gave Abram a command. He was to return to doing Gods will, and human reasoning was to stop.]; walk before me, and be thou perfect."
It is vital that we understand that this interval of spiritual barrenness is passed over in silence. We have no record of what happened during those thirteen years; there is no record of any communion or fellowship with God.
Now lets analyze the significance of the number thirteen. We will see it is a symbol of rebellion and wickedness throughout Scripture. GEN 17:25 says, "And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin." Abram was ninety-and nine years old. The first time the number thirteen is used in Scripture is in connection with rebellion in GEN 14:4, "Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled."
There are a multitude of places throughout Scripture where the number thirteen or multiples of thirteen are all associated with rebellion, unbelief, and every evil way.
Turn first to EST 3:12-13. "Then were the kings scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded unto the kings lieutenants, and to the governors that were over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the kings ring. And the letters were sent by posts into all the kings provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey." The evil was contrived on the thirteenth day, and it was to be carried out on the thirteenth day.
This is also true in cases where the number thirteen is not specifically mentioned such as when Jesus specifies thirteen of the evil characteristics of the human heart in MAR 7:21-23. "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness [a list of thirteen evils]: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man."
Therefore, we must not overlook the significance of the thirteen years that Abram (the father of all the faithful) walked in human reasoning and unbelief. One may ask why the Lord left Abram in his rebellion so long before He again appeared unto him. The Lord uses time to teach people lessons they must learn, and He does it in His own way and time. The Lord returned to Abram first, not Abram to the Lord. Why were there so many weary years before the Lord again appeared to reveal His promise of giving Isaac?
Our text says the Lord told Abram, "I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect." Christs life teaches us how that perfection is obtained. We need to understand that the Lord has a procedure and a process that He uses to bring about perfection. Turn to HEB 2:10-11 to see how the Lord brings about this perfection and why He uses the time element to do so. "For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. [The Lord uses the state of spiritual barrenness in our struggles against our own sin for the purification process. That is how we learn the power and emptiness of sin.] For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren."
Why was it that the sons of Jacob came to him at the end of his life and told him that Joseph was yet alive? Jacob had deceived his father with his brothers coat. He suffered deceit all his life. At the end, when he discovered his son Joseph was alive, he realized the deceit he suffered was Gods reward for the deceit he perpetrated upon his own father. Now he could sit with his sons and fellowship with them saying, "Yes, I deceived my father as you deceived me." Jacob saw what bitterness there was in deceit. How would he ever have understood the sinful nature of deceit if it werent for the twenty years he spent grieving over the loss of his son Joseph? The bitterness of deceit was brought home to Jacob when upon hearing, "Joseph is still alive," he learned that his own sons had deceived him.
It is through suffering in times of barrenness that the Lord teaches us the exceeding sinfulness of sin. In all the twenty years of grieving, Jacob had not received one hint that Joseph was yet alive. He lived in barrenness to harvest the fruit of his own sin.
The Lord used that time element to allow Abram to live with a situation that caused strife in his family and in his own heart. Abram could separate from Lot so there would be no strife with his brethren, but now the strife was so close to home that he could not run from it. It was with his wife and son; he could not flee from the strife within his own household.
In those thirteen years, Abram learned to see the bitterness of having forsaken the counsel of the Lord. Do you understand now the significance of God saying, "I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect"? He was to stop using human reasoning and begin believing what God told him. The Lord is bringing Abram to an understanding of the nature of his sin.
HEB 2:11 says, "For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren." If we do not want Christ to be ashamed to call us brethren, we must come to perfection through suffering. We will learn to see the bitterness of sin. How did Christ learn the bitterness of the sin for which He would later atone? It was through suffering. He suffered for sin.
Through suffering, the reward of rebellion, sin becomes exceedingly sinful, and we are able to join the heavenly throng in righteousness. COL 1:12-14 says, "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of [What?] the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins."
How did God make Abram "meet" [or fit in character as it is in the original Greek]? The things Abram suffered made him fit in character. He was allowed to fall to accomplish this end. God allowed Abram to see the bitterness of sin; then in grace, God delivered him from it in order that Abram would become meet, or fit in character, delivered "...from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins."
Abram had to spend thirteen years suffering the fruit of his sin, suffering in the power of darkness before he was translated into the true service of the kingdom. Look how this pertains to us. We will learn a little bit about perfection before we understand a whole lot about forgiveness. First, God delivers us from the power of sin; then He translates us into the kingdom of Christ. Forgiveness is sealed, and we can receive the comfort and blessed assurance of that forgiveness. We will not have assurance as long as we trample upon His blood by continuing to live in sin.
Through these trials of faith, Abram became a proper candidate for the great calling God had in store for him. He had to go through the process of sanctification. See the calling God gave Abram in GEN 18:17-19 which says, "And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will [future, not present or past] command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him."
The Lord may not bring the promises upon a person walking in rebellion and contrary to the ways of the Lord. The Lord knew what He had planned for the future of Israel. The thirteen-year struggle with the power of his own sin would bring Abram to perfection. The Lord brought Jacob through a struggle of wrestling with the power of his own sin in order to bring him to sanctification. Therefore, He could make the promise because He knew what Israels future would be. The Lord knew these things because they were in His eternal decree for their salvation. God said of Abraham, "For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him."
Gods grace is displayed after all mans human reasoning has proven vain and empty. Then faith becomes established, and it is possible to walk by faith because human reasoning is eliminated. After Abram was delivered from all his human reasoning, he became strong in faith. ROM 4:19-21 says, "And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarahs womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform."
The apostle is speaking of the time referenced in our text: "And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect." After thirteen years of barrenness, Abram was strong in faith, "being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarahs womb." Abram knew God was able to do anything He promised.
The strength of Abrahams faith was not obtained until the Lord returned to Abram to deliver him from his unbelief and human reasoning. After God had brought him through His school at ninety and nine years old, then "...the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect."
Now Abram was able to believe in God without staggering in his faith. He saw the emptiness of all his human reasoning; the promises of God were believable; God would perform as promised. Faith is established after human reasoning is drained dry.
Gods opportunity is to be exalted is in mans extremity. After all hope of being saved by human reasoning was exhausted, Israel heard the blessed consolation we read about in EXO 14:13-14: "And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace."
Israel would not be delivered by human strength or reasoning. The Lord closed them in with a mountain on each side, the Red Sea before them, and the Egyptians behind them. The Lord placed them in a situation where they could do nothing but cry out to Him for help. In a seemingly hopeless situation, God came with His consolation. He commanded them to stand still and see the salvation He would provide. God is exalted in mans desperate situation, when, from mans human reasoning, there is no solution.
This is what God did for Abram. He waited until Abram and his wife were past the time of life. Abram was ninety-nine years old, and his wifes womb was dead. In such an extreme situation in which there exists no physical possibility of accomplishing the promise, God is exalted in their salvation.
God has very good reasons for His delays; He not only does the right thing, but He always acts at the very best time. He knows exactly when His action will bring about His decree. We see this same principle in GAL 4:4. "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law." The Lord has a set time for bringing about His purpose. Do you realize God promised Adam and Eve the Messiah would come, but look at the many years it took before it happened. Four thousand years passed before the birth of Jesus Christ occurred in the fullness of Gods time, at Gods set time. When we trace the history, we find "...the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations," MAT 1:17. Everything God has decreed will come in His time.
It is not until man has come to the end of self that God reveals His delivering hand. Lets consider the beautiful way this principle is put into words in PSA 107:23-29. "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. For he commendeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits end. [All human reasoning fails first, and then faith comes into exercise.] Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still."
When they came to their wits end, unable in their own strength to solve their dilemma, the Lord heard their cry and brought salvation. Remember Jonah. The sailors strove to bring the ship to shore, but when they came to their wits end, realizing they were not able to bring it to shore, they obeyed the Lord and put Jonah overboard. Notice how man first does everything he can in his own strength and knowledge before crying to the Lord for help in his troubles.
There is a tremendous difference between lip service and prayer. We can do a lot of lip service, but when we come to our wits end, like a woman in travail, to a point where there is no way out, then we learn the meaning of crying to the Lord. The shortest prayer Ive prayed became my greatest deliverance. What was it? "Lord, help me." I had not one thing left to say; I had no way to even explain my trouble before the Lord. The only thing I could say was, "Lord help me!" That was my cry in trouble, and He brought me out of my distress.
He answers; He delivers. First, we are brought to that extreme situation where there is no human reasoning left. When we come to our wits end, there is no consolation or solution in anything we try to do. In our extremity, God brings deliverance by making the storm calm and the waves still.
Gods clear purpose for these trials is to develop our patience, i.e., our ability to endure the trial cheerfully. The word "patience" as in ROM 5:4 comes from the Greek word "hupomone" which means "cheerful endurance." There is a great distinction between merely gritting your teeth and hanging on, and patiently waiting in total, unconditional surrender to the will of the Lord in the way of cheerful endurance.
We can rejoice in the deliverance before we receive it. JAM 1:2- 4 says, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
Do you see a similarity between that verse and what God told Abram in our text? "Walk before me and be thou perfect." Abraham walked in darkness for thirteen years for his impatience. When the Lord had not fulfilled His promise after ten years, Abram heeded the human reasoning of his wife, thinking they would help the Lord fulfill His promise. This brought nothing but confusion into Abrams life for the next thirteen years. "And Sarai Abrams wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee," GEN 16:3-5.
What the Lord told Abram when He said "...I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect," was to learn patience and not run ahead of God. Do what God says instead of obeying human reasoning. It was at this point that Abrahams faith was established.
We need to learn to have patience and cheerfully wait; we can rejoice in the promise as if wed already received it. It was the lesson Abram needed to learn. The promise God had given him was just as sure, and yea and Amen, before he left Ur of the Chaldees as it was the day He fulfilled it, even though Abram had lost his patience. He tried with human reasoning to help bring it about and thought he had actually accomplished his design as we see in GEN 17:15-18, "And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!"
Why are we to rejoice in diverse temptations, in the struggles and trials? It is, "Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience." That is the Lords purpose; He wants you and I to be able to joyfully and cheerfully endure the trial He has given us, knowing it is from His hand, for our good, for the fulfilling of our faith.
Our text says in GEN 17:1, "And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect." Do you see the emphasis on who God is?
The expression, "I am the Almighty God," must first of all be considered a reproof. Why? It says God does not need any of Abrams human reasoning or help to bring about His promise. He will perform it in His own good time. He is Almighty and can easily bring about His purpose in His own time and way. It also says that Abrams efforts have done nothing but bring grief and strife, bitterness and hatred, barrenness and darkness, none of which altered even slightly Gods purpose. Abram brought only grief to his own home.
We must observe this reproof in light of the original promise Abram received while yet in Ur of the Chaldees in GEN 12:1-3. "Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy fathers house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation [The Lord promised him offspring before he ever left.], and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."
The Lord waited to fulfill this promise until all human reasoning would say that it was no longer possible. Unbelief would reason that he must have deceived himself. Abrams faith was being tried. Would he cheerfully endure, believing and trusting in the Lord? Such trials go beyond all human reasoning.
Abrams human reasoning had called Gods ability to perform what He had promised into question for thirteen years. The apostle said in ROM 4:21, "And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform." But while Abram was obeying his wife and walking in human reasoning, he had not trusted. It was "...when Abram was ninety years old and nine [that], the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect." It was when Abram had learned to see the emptiness of his human reasoning that his faith was established.
Secondly, this expression, "I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect," must be considered as a token of love. See SON 8:7, "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned." All of Abrams foolishness, strife, darkness and grief had not altered Gods love. Even all of Abrams unbelief could not quench Gods love. PSA 107 tells of doing business in deep waters. Abram was doing business in deep waters, and the Lord told him not to worry; nothing had drowned out His love, but that love could not be purchased. It comes from the Lord of His own will.
The love of Christ endures through all our trials and backsliding. None of these alter His eternal love. The prodigal son is an example. He rebelled against his father and wasted his inheritance in riotous living. The father never provided him the best robe so he could use it to go back and feed the swine. The sons rebellion never altered the fathers love. When the son arose to return, his father saw him coming at a great distance and ran to meet him. He brought him the best robe. All the rebellion did not alter the fathers love.
Think of the consolation we have in the example of Abram. Gods love never altered in spite of all Abrams foolishness. When Abram came in repentance, the Lord showered Abram with promises, blessings, assurances, and favor. The Lord told Abram, "I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect." This was an admonition to come back into the service of the Lord. The prodigal son had to turn around and repent of his past actions to come back into his fathers service.
In JOH 13:1 we read, "Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end." Jesus didnt only love His own until they started backsliding. He loved them to the end, unto blood. He loved them until He had covered all their sins with His blood, and He came up from the grave to justify them with His resurrection. He loved them unto the end.
The revelation God made of Himself to Abram was well suited to the occasion. Lets look at that occasion. Our text says, "And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram." Abram was one hundred years old before his son was born, and Sarai was past the time of life. All hope was lost outside of an act of Almighty God! To the wicked, the name "Almighty God" is a terror, but to His people, it is their greatest consolation. The law is not a terror to good works. Our text says, "...walk before me, and be thou perfect," i.e., "...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure," PHI 2:12b- 13.
The Lord God is a terror to wicked works, but He is no terror to righteousness. He said to walk before Him and be perfect. The consolation is that in Christ, we are again able to walk acceptably in Gods sight. We see this in PRO 18:10. "The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe." That name of authority, "I am the Almighty God," was a consolation like a strong tower where the righteous run for safety.
This blessed Name, "the Lord Almighty," is still the same consolation for the New Testament church today. Read 2CO 6:17-18 to see how that name of authority is eternally unchangeable; it is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He does not alter His decrees because of our foolishness and backsliding. "Wherefore come out from among them [as Abram did from Chaldea] and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; [as Abram did with Hagar], and I will receive you [We must repent and return as the prodigal son.], And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
That name, "the Lord Almighty," is such a consolation because it comes with authority. He is able to perform whatever He says. Therefore, we are to come out from among the world and its human reasoning, and He will receive us. He will be a Father unto us, and we shall be as sons and daughters unto Him.
It is in that same Almighty God that we find our consolation in times of trial and temptation. HEB 7:25 says, "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." The Lord is able to save us to the uttermost from every trial and affliction, every sin, and the power of all our own foolishness.
It is because our God and Father is almighty to succor us that we read of that blessed authority which He has given unto His Son. God the Father gave that authority to His Son as Almighty God. What authority did He give His Son? See the answer in HEB 2:8: "Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him." In this life, we do not have the faith to see all. All the power of sin is put under Jesus feet, including all unbelief and backsliding. The Lord Jesus has authority over all these things.
In exercise of this authority, Jesus said in JOH 8:34- 36: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin...If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." Abram was exhorted in our text to "walk before" Almighty God; the children of Israel were exhorted to "walk after" the Lord. DEU 13:4 says, "Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him." Of Enoch and Noah, we read they "walked with God," Cf. GEN 5:24; 6:9. Of those who are members of the body of Christ we read in COL 2:6, "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him."
We see a distinction between these verses based on the little words: "walk before," "walk after," " walk with," and "walk in." We dont want to slight these.
Walking before is suggestive of a child running before his Father. To walk after depicts a servant following his master as in DEU 13:4. Therefore, we must walk before Him as a loving child and walk after Him as His servant. To walk with indicates fellowship and friendship, but to walk in denotes union and oneness. Now go back and reread each of those Scriptures with these distinctions in mind. We have all of these commands for ourselves. We must walk before, after, with, and in Christ because our will must become dissolved in the Lord Jesus Christ.
COL 3:1-3 says, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." Abram had to come to the point where he realized that he was dead and his wife was dead before life could spring up. He became dead to the flesh, dead to the human reasoning, dead to everything of self. When He says, "...walk before me, and be thou perfect," it is so blessed. Where are your affections? Set them upon things above, not on things of the earth, "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." Amen.
These on-lines sermons are a ministry of Gospel Chapel located in Conrad, Montana. We also have a daily devotion. For a list of sermons on cassette please visit our on-line tape catalog. See also, our sermon notes.