Last week was a big week for Abram. As most of you know, we’ve been going through the life of Abram over these past few weeks – learning from him as he learned to walk with God. And the focal point of pretty much the entire story of Abram revolves around God’s promise to give him a son.
Abram and his wife Sarai had been unable to have children together – even though God had specifically told Abram that his family would become a great nation. In fact, God had promised that Abram’s descendants would inherit a huge chunk of land which we’ve come to know as “The Promised Land” and they would be as numerous as the stars!
Well, last week Abram & Sarai found themselves, at the ages of 85 & 75 respectively, to still be without child. And so they came up with an idea of how to finally get a son for Abram. Sarai gave her servant Hagar to Abram as a wife in hopes that she could have a child with Abram. Of course, having a child through a servant back then was fairly common practice and was certainly social acceptable, but as we pointed out, it didn’t seem to line up with God’s established design for families – that being one man and one woman.
Well anyways, their plan worked…. Sorta…. Hagar did indeed become pregnant and have a son. But this whole scheme was not what God had in mind when He told Abram that he would have son, and so instead of this pregnancy being this great blessing from God that would bring joy & delight to this family, their scheme instead brought conflict and hostility and resentment. And that really shouldn’t come as a surprise, because anytime we act outside of God’s design and God’s will for our lives, there are always negative consequences.
However, as we pointed out last week, this in no way derailed God’s good plans for Abram and his family. God would take this mess and he would use it for good and as a showcase of his love & mercy.
And so that’s where we pick things up today. We’re in Genesis chapter 17 this morning, and we will begin at verse 1.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. 2 I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.” Genesis 17:1-2
And let’s just stop here for a minute. These two verses are the setup for the rest of the chapter, so I just want to point out a couple things that you’ll want to remember as we go forward.