(15) And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. (16) And I will bless her, and give her a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. (17) Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is a hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? (18) And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee. (19) And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed, and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant and with his seed after him. (20) And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee, Behold I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly, twelve nations shall he begat, and I will make him a great nation. (21) But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. (Genesis 17: 15-21)
How many of you ever got frustrated waiting on the promise of God? I can raise my hand high on this one. It can be frustrating waiting for God to deliver on what he said that he would do. Twenty four years prior God had appeared to Abraham who at the time was known as Abram and told him that he would make him a great nation that he would bless him as well as make his name great. ( Genesis 12) There was something that I learned in the exchange between Abram and God back in Genesis 12 and that was when God makes a promise. He will often do it when we’re in a place of barrenness. I talked a little bit about this in my blog Against All Hope! I do however,want to reiterate the fact that God will often put a promise in our hearts for greater when we are at nothing. I believe that he does this for a reason. He does it to show us that he can and will do what he said that he would do. I also believe that he does it to see if we truly believe that he can do what he said he would do when years have passed and we see no signs of the promise ever coming to pass.
(15) And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name be. (16) And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.
In the beginning of Chapter 17 God told Abraham that he was changing his name from Abram to Abraham. Now in verse 15 he informs him that Sarai name will also be changed from Sarai to Sarah. In order for Abram and Sarai to receive what God had for them he had to change their name. The changing of the names was more than a mere signing of a legal document. It represented a change of perspective. Sarai in Hebrew meant argumentative. Where God was taking them, she couldn’t take that argumentative nature with her. God can’t lead us into our destiny if we’re combative with each and every step. It’s okay to ask God where he’s leading us. It is even okay to tell God when your fearful when it doesn’t seem as if the promise he’s given you will ever come to pass. What isn’t ok though, is arguing with God every step of the way. Usually when we’re argumentative it’s because we either want things our way or because we think that we know of a better way. Some of us (myself included) have spent years arguing with God over what we think is best for our lives. It’s when we let go of the how and the when and the having to have it our way that God begins to move. God may not physically change our names like he did for Abraham and Sarah. He will however change the way we look at our circumstances. He will change our mindsets to prepare us for what he has for us. I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. I want to encourage every one who felt that they had to wait longer than the next person for their dreams to come to fruition. Sometimes the reason why God has you in the holding pattern for so long is because what you’re about to give birth to is greater than what you’ve could ever imagined! I’m sure that Sarah grew frustrated and discouraged watching the women around her bare children like it was nothing. I’m also sure that she plastered on a smile and murmured the right words of congratulations, but I’m also sure that their were times when she couldn’t fake happiness for someone else. Often times what others around you take for granted can be your biggest source of pain and frustration. I’m learning though, that the bigger the frustration the greater the blessing. Sarah carried something inside of her that the other women around her didn’t. She carried nations and kings inside of her. Don’t be discouraged when it seems as though everyone around you is ten steps ahead. You’re carrying greatness inside of you that takes time to cultivate and develop.
Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah that is ninety years old, bear. And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee. And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed, and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold , I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he begat, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.
Have you ever waited so long for God to bring his promise to pass that when he tells you that he’s about to do what he said that he would do. You respond like Abraham. Which was to laugh in disbelief. Abraham made mention of both his age as well as Sarah’s age. He was looking at the impossibility of it. When God first appeared unto Abraham some twenty-four years earlier. What God had promised wasn’t so far-fetched? He gave him the promise when yes he was barren, but Abraham could see the possibility of it coming to pass. Often times God places the dream in us and in our finite mind we’ll sometimes put a time period on it. Or we’ll mentally try to imagine how it will play out. Sometimes God will give us the dream and shut down every way imaginable how we think that it ought to come to pass. God is a God who likes to show off and show out what he can do. So he’ll wait to when it looks impossible from our standpoint. The thing is that if God would have fulfilled his promise within that year or even five or ten years. Those around the couple and even Abraham and Sarah themselves would not have credited God for the blessing. Sometimes when God makes us wait its to bring glory to his name. Had God would’ve done sooner what he promised the celebration of Isaac would not have been so widespread and talked about. So God had to wait until it looked impossible from a human stand point. The scripture says in Luke 18:27 And he said, the things which are impossible with men are possible with God. Another thing that Abraham did that caught my attention was in verse 18 when he brought up Ishmael.
O that Ishmael may live before thee.
How many of us have been guilty of this same thing? God specifically told Abraham in verse 15 that it would be Sarah in whom the blessing would come, but because it seemed impossible that Sarah in her old age would conceive. He brings up the son with whom he had with Hagar his wife’s maid. He’s still thinking with his limited mindset. I think that we’ve all been there, God tells us specifically what he’s going to do, but because it doesn’t make sense we try to rationalize and think oh you meant you’re going to do it this way. No! If God says that the blessing will spring forth from Avenue A quit looking for it from Avenue B. I love God’s patience with us though. He reminded Abraham that it was through Sarah that the blessing would come. I love how he said And as for Ishmael I have heard thee. God was telling Abraham that I have heard your prayer for your other son and I will bless him as well. I want for you to get the significance of what God was telling him. I’m going to bless that which you tried to make happen on your own. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac. God can bless that thing you tried to do in your own strength, but his covenant comes through what he has promised. The thing is God is not obligated to bless what we try to make happen on our own, but he is obligated to prosper what he has promised.
I’m going to close with this. A year before the promised child was born. God called him by his name. Isaac. Big deal you might say. I want for you to get the power of this. Your promise has a name even before it is born. Isaac means laugher. The name is fitting because Abraham and Sarah went through years of mourning. They went through years of frustration and heartbreak. It was time for them to laugh and be full of joy again. the scripture says in Psalm 30 weeping may endureth for the night, but joy cometh in the morning. The thing about the morning though is that it comes at a set time. Be encouraged and know that God has not forgotten about you or what he has promised you!