Posted by: Terry | April 15, 2009

The best is yet to come!

What is holding you back? Are you too old? Have you failed in the past? Do you have physical inadequacies? When logic and the world say no, God says “the best is yet to come.”

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty”
(Gen 17:1 NIV)

Abraham was old, past his prime. Sarah was old, far too old to have children, and a lifetime of trying to conceive just emphasized her physical inadequacy. All of their attempts to make God’s promise a reality had only produced chastisement from the king of Egypt and a son that was not theirs. Their wealth and power could not remove the troublesome sense that the promise God made to them twenty four years ago was just not what they expected.

But God is El Shaddai, God Almighty. This name for God proclaims his power to perform whatever he wills. El Shaddai has the power to build from Abraham and Sarah a physical and spiritual nation that is larger than the geography of the Mid-east, and it will last forever. It is a people of faith because it is all God’s doing and none of man’s.

To seal the promise Abraham received the sign of circumcision, a permanent reminder that his attempts to protect and produce the descendants that God promised him were misguided and wrong. The covenant was that God would produce a people, not a people that Abraham would plan; circumcision would be a reminder to future generations of men that their very existence was a result of El Shaddai working a miracle, not Abraham’s virility. When they forgot the meaning of circumcision is when they turned to false gods and brought destruction on themselves and their nation.

God gave Sarah the same promise that he gave Abraham, “she will be the mother of nations, kings of peoples will come from her.” Her sign was that she would bear a son, she needed no other. It was the same sign that every woman since Eve has experienced. The child that Sarah would bear was the next critical step in the redemption that was promised to Eve. (See Gen. 3.15) After the birth of Isaac his presence would remind her daily of God’s miracle. Faithful daughters would be reminded every month as well as every time they bore a child of the miracle of Isaac, and of a woman’s role in God’s plan for reconciliation.

Future generations of men needed to be physically circumcised to be counted as part of the covenant people; women were included in the covenant through birth or marriage. God gave each a peculiar sign that reflected their place in his plan. Yet both men and women must place their faith in God individually, as neither circumcision nor childbirth produce righteousness; only faith can make a person right with God.

Abraham and Sarah give encouragement to all of us who may feel that God has passed them by, that the failures of the past are fatal, or that personal limitations are defining. God will continue to use us until we go to be with him in glory, all that he requires is that we “Walk before him and be blameless.”

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