Uh-oh!! There’s about to be trouble in Canaan!
Abram acted just like we do sometimes. Have you ever had a promise from God and then tried to “force it to happen” by your own planning? I have. And it doesn’t work that way. When God says he is going to do something, He is perfectly capable of bringing it to pass.
Abram knew that God had said he was going to have an heir, but he thought that Sarai couldn’t conceive. So he took his wife’s advice and decided to have a son by her maid, Hagar. Big mistake. That’s not what God meant.
So Abram had Ishmael and created contention between Sarai and Hagar. God still protected Hagar and her son. Then He said something which may seem strange, but if you think about it, you will recognize that spirit in the middle east today. God said that Ishmael will be a “wild man; his hand shall be against every man and every man’s hand against him.”(Gen. 16:12). Think about that.
Another 13 years went by, and Abram was 99 years old. Once again, God appears to Abram and offers a covenant. If Abram will walk with God and continue to be faithful, there will be great blessings upon him. He will have many descendants – and His covenant will continue throughout Abram’s lineage.
Then God up’s the ante. He says for Abram to circumcise himself, his children, and every male of his household as a sign of the covenant. So God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, which means “Father of Many Nations.” And He changed Sarai’s name to Sarah, which means “Beautiful Princess.”
As this special covenant continues to develop, God finds it necessary to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Their evil had increased to epic proportions. (In all of these dealings, remember that God’s intentions were not to destroy, but to save his righteous people. The influence of evil can destroy the world, so God judged them for the sake of His people.
Since He is in covenant with Abraham, God tells him His plan. Then Abraham tries to intercede for the city where his nephew Lot lives. He says, “Would you destroy it if you find fifty righteous?” God says, “No.” Then Abraham continues to wind down to 10. And God said He would not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if He found 10 righteous people.
Think what a close walk Abraham had with God. It had been 25 years since God had called him to leave his homeland. There had been promises many times, and the covenant had been developing over the years. Abraham wasn’t perfect (no man is), but to the best of his ability, he remained faithful to God and their relationship increased as time went on.
Do you see yourself in these pages? I hope so.
Jesus is still introducing this new Kingdom to the people, and boy, does it sound strange to many. Yet they were hanging on every word. There was really something unusual about this Man.
One of the most significant principles of the new Kingdom is that we decide our outcome. “With the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”(7:2) There is a law of God which says that we decide “how much we receive back.” My husband calls this the Law of Measure. You want a teaspoonful of love? Give out a teaspoonful. Do you want a truckload? Give a truckload.
This doesn’t necessarily happen the next day, but over a lifetime, you will see patterns. You will see certain people who seem to have great favor. Take a look at what they have given out.
Then Jesus takes this a step further. He says what you continue to seek, you will find. If you continue to ask, seek, and knock for a closer walk with God, it will be given unto you.
Do you want to be really close to God? You will be in the minority. Don’t look for the path everyone is walking down; look for the way God is showing you. If you really want a close walk, you can’t just let the crowd persuade you, you have to have your own conviction about your life. It may seem hard sometimes, but the reward is tremendous!
When my son was a little boy, he had a t- shirt which I loved. On the front were some colorful fish swimming upward. And on the back it said, “Any Dead Fish Can Float Down Stream. Go Against The Flow.” Sometimes we do have to do just that if we are to walk closely with God.
The chapter winds up with another admonition. It’s not enough to “hear the word.” We have to “do it.” Many people may listen. They may memorize scripture and be able to recite it on the spot. However, if they are not “doing” what they know, they are not truly disciples of the Lord.
The stakes are high, aren’t they? He is looking for people who are truly His. I want to be in that crowd, and I know that you do too!
P.S. This photograph was taken by Mickey Estes Photography http://www.mickeyestes.com