Do you ever wish you could start over? Maybe you have convinced yourself that a fresh start would take away all your problems and allow you to live happily ever after? The truth is that simply starting over is only a short term solution because soon you will find yourself wanting to start over again. What you need, is not a fresh start, but an Almighty God who will bring you a new identity. In our sermon this morning, we see God Almighty graciously bestowing blessings on a man needing a fresh beginning.
- An Almighty Command (vs. 1-2). Thirteen years after the events of Genesis 16, the Lord appeared to Abram and said: “I am God Almighty; walk before Me and be blameless.” It is noteworthy that God called Himself El-Shaddai (God Almighty) and commanded Abram to be blameless. In other words, the Almighty One is giving an almighty command to live a life free from blame. The reason for this command was because God was going to “make My covenant between Me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” God revealed Himself as El-Shaddai in order to show Abram that only the One with all might can bring this wonderful promise of offspring to fruition.
- An Amazing Promise (3-8; 15-21). Abram and Sarai would not only have a son, but new names that reflect new identities. Abram (Exalted Father) is now Abraham (Father of a multitude). Sarai (princess) is now Sarah (princess) because the new name reflects the new identity of being the mother of many offspring. Also, Ishmael will be cared for, but he is not the heir. God told Abraham: “Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish My covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.” This amazing promise is only possible through the power of an Almighty God because Abraham’s body “was as good as dead” (Rom 4:19) and Sarah was barren.
- An Applicable Sign (9-14). El-Shaddai gave Abraham “a sign of the covenant between Me and you.” The sign of the covenant was related to the promise of the covenant. The promise was that Abraham would have a son through Sarah and circumcision was a visible reminder that the son was a gift from God. Also, circumcision was a reminder to be holy and blameless before the Lord. Any males who were not circumcised according to the covenant “shall be cut off from his people.”
- An Appropriate Response (22-27). Abraham has a new name, a difficult task, a command to be blameless, and a promise by God Almighty that his greatest hope would soon come to pass. Abraham responded to all of this by obeying God. Romans 4:20-21 says that Abraham believed God and “no unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised.” While the sign may seem difficult, obedience distinguishes true faith from false.
Do you want to start over or do you want God to help you? Fresh starts and new beginnings are simply shallow solutions that offer only a temporary reprieve. What we all need is to submit ourselves to God Almighty and walk before Him blamelessly. This can only happen through faith in Jesus Christ.