SERMONS ON GENESIS: 43 SUNDAY MORNING 28 NOVEMBER 2004 Reading Genesis 17 and Romans 4:13-25 TEXT: GENESIS 17:1-8.

THE COVENANT CONFIRMED – ‘ABRAHAM!’ There was a covenant already – before this! (Gen 15) Gen 17:2 in Hebrew = not ‘make’ but ‘give’ / ‘put’ – perhaps give what I promised. Gen 17:7 in Hebrew = not ‘establish’ but ‘confirm’. To confirm a covenant is more than to repeat it. It strengthens it and perhaps develops it. God is moving forward, taking his purposes on one more step. 1. Gen 17:1. God Himself – EL SHADDAI (a) What does EL SHADDAI mean? Some – ‘the God who is sufficient’ Most – the root of Shaddai is Shadad, ‘to be violent’ and thus it means the God who has all power and might. THE ALMIGHTY. God begins by revealing Himself. His great power. He is Creator (source of life); He is the End to which we all come. By revealing Himself, he shows Abram i) his privilege – ‘walk before me’ = live in my presence; like a son who can live in his father’s house, not an outsider who must look on. ii) His obligation – ‘be perfect’. The word means complete; it is the duty of uprightness and faithful obedience. Matt 5:48: Therefore you shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. Heb 12:14: the holiness without which no man shall see the Lord. Abram prostrates himself. (As Isaiah did – Isa 6) What a great moment in Abram’s life. (b) Notice the contrast with Abram’s weakness. Gen 17:1 = 99 years old. See Rom 4:19-21 – it was hopeless; he was as good as dead; and Sarah! The Bible repeatedly notices this. Isa 55:1,2; Ps 105:12. HERE IS THE FIRST LESSON: DON’T LOOK AT ABRAM, LOOK AT GOD! Chinese Evangelist, Leland Wong, had three Bible verses on his letterheaded paper: “The sun stood still” (Jos 10:13); “the iron did swim (2 Kgs 6:6); “This God is our God (Ps. 48:14). 2. Gen 17:2-8. The Promise of Multitudes (a) This is what God emphasizes to Abram   Gen 17:2 and 6: ‘exceedingly’ – in Hebrew doubled for intensity. 17:4,5 = ‘a father of many nations’ – what a weak (anaemic) translation. Hebrew says: the father of a noisy, jostling tumult of nations’ = a crowd, not of men, but of nations. This = Matt 8:11,12

The biggest crowd you can ever imagine. Can we fill the Millennium stadium? No! We will fill the earth! Here is God’s covenant = his statement of his vision and purpose for the whole earth = to have a mighty, holy, rejoicing, dancing host covering the face of the earth = his inheritance in the earth. (b) Notice Gen 17:7-8 repeats YOUR SEED and FOR EVER. This will not end. (c) Notice in the middle of all this, God changes his name: AB-RAHAM = ‘father of multitudes.’ Conclusion 1. Do you know this God, the Lord Almighty, Abraham’s God? Do you know His violent power? He created; He sustains everything; he brings his purposes to pass. Ps 29: the voice of the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon. He divided the Sea; he raises the dead; he shatters the walls of Jericho. Ps 66:5: Come and see the doings of God – fearful in his works to the sons of Adam. 2. Do you know that he chooses our weakness that he might act? He hates human strength and boasting. Judges 6:1 – the Midianite hoards had overrun Israel. Gideon asked, ‘If the Lord is among us, where are his miracles?’ See Judges 7:2 = 30,000 men are too many for the Lord to act. 1 Sam 17:47 – the Lord saves not with sword and spear. 2 Cor 12:9: Paul was glad that he was weak! Because Christ’s power would be seen. God shows His power and wisdom to the angels and demons in his work in the church (Eph 3:9-10) 3. Do you know what the church is really like? Do you think it is a weak minority? A failing religion? Persecuted? Hopeless? Already there are the spirits of just men made perfect. At the resurrection of the dead, there will be such a mighty host! It will be victory! Do not be downcast as a Christian. God is Almighty.