Devotional & Reflection

Week 2, Mar 2002

Genesis 17: Still Waiting, But Soon
By Pang Hee Hung, Director & Trainer, Katartizo Resources & Ezra Resources

Gen 17:3 Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, 4 "As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5 No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.
15 God also said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her."
17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, "Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?" 18 And Abraham said to God, "If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!"
19Then God said, "Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac.

Recently, my printer produced smudgy prints. So I did the print head cleaning and maintenance as suggested by the printer manual. But it still produced stained results. Then I looked into the manual again and saw that I needed to clean the rollers. But after cleaning the rollers, which looked clean in the first place, the problem still persisted. My wife and I were scratching our heads. What can we do? I thought we did shoot arrow prayers to God asking for divine help to solve this printer problem. But after cleaning here and cleaning there to no avail, I went shopping for the cheapest printer since we needed a printer desperately for our work. It was so difficult deciding which printer to buy. From the shopping centre, I called my wife to consult with her about which to buy, as I could not really decide. But then she felt that we should wait - hold back the decision to buy the printer. As I walked out of a departmental store, a thought came to my mind. Maybe I should just try to check on one other part of the printer that was not even listed in the manual to check for in the event of smudgy prints. When I reached home, I checked that one other part and found black ink and dirt there. I cleaned it and that solved the problem and saved me some money.

Sometimes the solution to our problems requires us to wait. We don't know why God wants us or "allows" us to wait. But if we have to wait for the divine answer, we know it is better to wait. Just like we know it is better to wait for a fruit to ripen before we pluck it.

Abram was 75 (Gen 12:4) when he left Haran to journey to the land of promise. God had promised Abram that he was to be a father of a great nation (Gen 12:2) and a son will come from his own flesh (Gen 15:4). He waited for ten years. But still there was no result and no fruit. That was when Sarai conceived of a plan to conceive a son through a surrogate. Abram was 86 years old (16:16) when Ishmael was born. In Gen 17, Abram was 99 years old. He had to wait for 24 years, nearly a quarter of a century, for God's promise to be fulfilled.

But the waiting was not in vain - even in the face of humanly impossible circumstances. Already Sarai was barren in her younger days. And now Abram was 99 and Sarai was 89 - an age even more unimaginable for child-bearing. Indeed God is All Mighty as He has said (17:1 - El Shaddai). And He will make Abram fruitful (17:2 & 6) - recalling the blessing to all humanity in Gen 1:28 & 9:1 and Abram in 12:2.

Sometimes we see no visible fruit now. But like Abraham (now re-named by God), the fruit did come - in the form of Isaac. But that is just the immediate fruit. Through the years, Abraham's seed led to kings culminating in Jesus - leading Matthew to trace the genealogy of Jesus as being rooted in the son of Abraham (Matt 1:1).

We can only see so far into the immediate future. But God has eternal spectacles. We need to trust Him more. Oftentimes, we need to be patient and learn to wait - resisting the "do it now" culture.

1. What are you waiting for right now? How difficult is it for you to wait?
2. If you now know that God has an everlasting covenant of love for you, how does that help you to wait longer?
3. How would artificial insemination from a donor's sperm or egg (other than from your spouse) be like or unlike Sarai giving Hagar to Abraham?

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