It’s a familiar refrain, isn’t it, the promise that God will make Abraham the father of many nations? It’s one of those tenets of our faith that slides off the tongue like water off a duck’s back—slick, smooth, clear, and acknowledged in a blink.
But the English Standard Version puts it this way: “I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you.” The passage says of Sarah that “she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”
To be made into nations—what does that even mean? And to be told that kings will come from you—what would it feel like to hear that?
These are two people past childbearing age, the barrenness of Sarah her ongoing shame for years. Now they are told they will not just become parents but be made into nations—and not just made into nations but that kings will flow forth from them.
How are they to hold such news? How would you hold it if it were you? And how does such a thing happen?
Perhaps being made into nations happens through the royal order this promise carried with it. We’re told this lineage of nations and kings was no definite outcome. God told Abraham, “Walk before me, and be blameless” (ESV). Could this be how a person is made into nations—through blamelessness and walking one’s life before God?
The condition of Abraham’s life and heart determined what would happen beyond him and through him. If Abraham honored the royal order of how nations and royals are made, God would bring it about. A life that’s blameless, that walks steadily before God each day—are these conditions you would agree to meet if it meant the same outcome for you?
Help me, God, to follow the blameless path you desire me to walk. Bring your nations and kings from my faithfulness. Amen.
We cannot earn God’s love. Going back to the time of Abraham, God’s blessing has been based on faith. God chose Abraham for a covenant not because Abraham was perfect but because he believed God. The psalmist reminds his audience of their ancient relationship with God and expresses the hope that it will continue through future generations. In Romans, Paul reinforces the centrality of faith. Following the law was not bad, but no one should believe that following the law could earn God’s favor. Some of Jesus’ disciples share with him an experience that mystifies them. Trusting God means surrendering everything in faith.
Read Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16. What is the basis of your relationship with God? How comfortable do you feel in it?
Read Psalm 22:23-31. Where do you find hope in troubling times?
Read Romans 4:13-25. How easily do you live in God’s grace? In what areas do you find yourself “reckoning” your righteousness?
Read Mark 9:2-9. Do you ever find it difficult to believe in things you may not fully understand? What helps you to trust in God?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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