Genesis 17: The Two Way Street Of Faith!
In the last chapter we learned, Abram and Sarai tried to help God to fulfill His promise to them and that’s why we have Ishmael in the story. We talked about this last week as to how Sarai got a little impatient and helped Abram to help God. Well, it eventually only caused a problem between Sarai and Abram. Jealousy, fear, anger and all kinds of other emotions played out in Hagar running away.
This whole drama must have been exhausting and scary for all parties involved, Sarai feeling down, Abram feeling guilty, Hagar feeling rejected and scared. The Poor child, Ishmael, in the midst of it all became homeless.
God understood the fears and worries of all involved. Therefore God does what was the right thing to do with Hagar, Abram, and Sarai. He makes a covenant with Abram and not just Abram, as we listen more we see him making this covenant between God and Abram and then his children and children’s children, to generations to come. God promises justice for generations to come and forever.
God’s Covenant with Abram was not without anything in return from Abram. What was required of Abram was his obedience. Abram’s obedience was important in the story and required. But in my opinion, all God wanted was the love from his children including Abram. Obedience becomes easier when it is love that is expressed in obedience.
God in a way maybe a little needy. I know many people don’t like needy people. But then that’s what we all are. We are all needy for various reasons, but more when it comes to love. It proves the fact that we are, for sure, children of God who is needy and wants our love. For God will and have gone to great length to break the natural law to get Sarai pregnant. God, of course, can do whatever but He went to great length to make sure his promise and covenant with Abram are kept. All that he asks in return is that Abram and his children and children’s children love him and give God the first place.
I believe many times God loses patience with people in the Old Testament when they don’t love him and give him the first place. He had already told them that plain and clear, He wants to be the only God they should love, worship and live for. It is not that God did not make it clear. He did. But then being me, I said to myself, what kind of insecure God is that? But then senes came to me. I think the whole world runs on that fuel of wanting to be loved.
According to Karl Barth, a theologian “God defined: ‘The One Who Loves.” So, if we want to be like God, there is only one choice, become the one who loves like God. The fallen angels did not have that grace. They fell from grace because it was the power that they were seeking. Well, I am sure love has this reciprocal requirement that to experience real love you have to give love, love in return. If you don’t give love, you won’t experience love. That’s when all the problems begin. Love is never a one-way street. It goes both ways and that’s all that the Lord is asking to Abram and Sarai. It is not an abstract request God makes here. He names people to be loved. God The Almighty, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Ishmael, Hagar. It is particular, personal and direct.
So this chapter is much more than the story of Abram and Sarai and the covenant. It is setting in stone how that covenant is kept namely obedience in love for God. Stories after stories say that God did keep his promises.
God demands love because God gives love. Love is only experiential when we give it and not simply take it. Many in the world take love but forget to give it. The fabric of faith and family fails when love is not returned but only taken.