When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, "I am God Almighty. Walk before Me and be blameless.
Romans 7:23). And why at this point in Abram's history the emphatic "I am?" &c. The character of his life was faith (cf. Hebrews 11:6) resting on the promises made him (Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:16; Genesis 15:5). The last of these was a special instance of faith. But the triumph was followed by a fall - impatience, would not wait God's time (cf. Psalm 27:14; Psalm 31:15). An instance of a common fault - partial faith (cf. Matthew 4:4; Matthew 14:28-31). The result was disappointment. Thirteen years passed. Must we not connect this with his fault? Want of faith delayed the blessing (cf. Numbers 14:33). Then came the word of the Lord - a gentle rebuke (cf. Matthew 8:26), and a precept: "Walk before me," &c. Return to thy first faith; let it be perfect, not partial (cf. Proverbs 3:5; Matthew 17:20).
I. A LESSON FOR BELIEVERS. Watch lest faith grow cold. Some like not to retain God in their thoughts. They hide themselves from him amid the vanities of the world. But his people, who have known his love (1 John 3:1), why should they ever shrink from opening their whole heart to him? Yet, imperceptibly perhaps, there is a change. The faith is held, but the sunshine is gone. The desire to tell all to God is not there. Why? The man has set his heart upon something, and cannot trust God's love; or he is drawn to something he cannot approve, and listens to what can be said for it (cf. Romans 14:4); or he has fallen into self-sufficiency. Then reserve towards God. The hidden life becomes disordered. No longer the desire that he should know all and guide all. And thus uneasiness, reserve, distance. Then follow plans to quiet the uneasiness - business, ceremony, theology, or work in some other direction. But no real communion with God in all this.
II. THE REMEDY. "Walk before me." Recognize the evil. Believe the cause. Be not faithless. Bear in mind God's presence (cf. Psalm 62:1-7). Seek not to hide from him, or to justify self. And "be perfect," i.e. matured; not in any high or strange attainment, but in that which a child may learn in trusting God's truth and love; in bringing thoughts, wants, and wishes before him. Towards this active obedience and following Christ are means; and, above all, sincerity, and a real definite dedication of the life to God.
III. ENCOURAGEMENT. "I am the Almighty God" - all-powerful (Isaiah 59:1; Luke 1:37) and all-loving (Psalm 37:5; Romans 8:32). This, really believed, would remove anxious care. What is it that leads thee to seek another way? The consciousness of having wandered. Has he not made provision for this? (1 Timothy 1:15; 1 John 2:1). Or is it that the blessing long desired is not given? Some power, some opportunity for God's work, and still the door is closed; or it may be some spiritual gift, some token of growth in grace, and still the evil of thy nature is unsubdued. Be patient (James 1:4). Thy Father in heaven will not fail thee (Romans 6:14). Walk before him. Tell him all that is in thy mind. In his time thou shalt find peace (Philippians 4:6; 1 John 5:4; Revelation 21:7). - M
I. The sun, the moon, the stars, were the old gods of the East, the Elohim, the high and mighty ones, who ruled over men, over their good or bad fortunes, over the weather, the cattle, the crops, sending burning drought, pestilence, sunstroke, and those moonstrokes of which the Psalmist speaks when he says, "The sun shall not smite thee by day nor the moon by night." And these the old Easterns worshipped in some wild, confused way. But to Abraham it was revealed that the sun, the moon, and the stars were not Elohim, the high and mighty ones: that there was but one Elohim, one high and mighty One, the Almighty Maker of them all.
I. THE REVELATION: "I am the Almighty God." God is always sufficient. Enough for every being and occasion, responsibility and work. All knowledge, wisdom, authority, power.
The Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God: walk before Me, and be thou perfect.
1. The counsel to be mindful of God's presence might seem to be quite practicable for those who have to work merely with their hands. But work which involves thought seems to preclude the realization of the Divine presence at the moment of its being done. In answer to this we need only observe that all that is necessary is the consciousness that God's eye is upon us. Consciousness of a presence need not interfere with the most active operations of mind. The mind of a speaker may be intently occupied while he is making an extempore address, yet all the time he remembers that the eye of the audience is upon him. Consciousness of their presence forms the very groundwork of his mind.
II. The conception of God's presence will take different shapes in different minds. We may regard Him as locally present everywhere, the veil of matter screening Him from our view; or we may regard Him as having a certain intimate connection with our minds, as upholding momentarily in us the powers of life and thought.
III. In cultivating the consciousness of the Divine presence, we shall find it useful to catch at every help which our circumstances afford. If our hearts are right and true, we may find Christ — or rather may be found of Him — not only in the quiet country, but in the busy city, in the midst of the traffic of secular affairs.
II. THE REQUIREMENT: "Walk before Me," etc.
1. An onward and forward step.
2. The habitual recognition of God.
II. Merely to believe that there is one God is a dead faith, which will never be counted for righteousness, because: it will never make a man righteous, doing righteous and good deeds as Abraham did. Abraham's faith was counted to him for righteousness because it was righteousness, and made him do righteous deeds.
1. His faith in God made him brave. He went forth he knew not whither, but he had put his strength in God, and he did not fear.
2. Faith made him high-minded, generous, and courteous; as when he bids Lot go whither he will with his flocks and herds. Abraham was a plain man, dwelling in tents, but still, as the children of Heth said of him, a mighty prince, not merely in wealth of flocks and herds, but a prince in manners and a prince in heart.
3. Faith in God made Abraham a truly pious man, it made him the friend of God. His communion with God is the especial glory of Abraham's character. This gave him his name, "the friend of God"; or as his descendants the Arabs call him to this day, simply "The Friend."
III. Abraham believed God because there was in his heart something which there is not in all men's hearts — something which answered to God's call, and make him certain that the call was from God — even the Holy Spirit of God. Blessed is the man who has chosen his share of Abraham's faith: he and his children after him shall have their share of Abraham's blessing.
(C. Kingsley, M. A.)
1. To reward long trial and patience.
2. To reveal the Divine purpose more clearly.
II. ENLARGEMENT AND EXALTATION OF THE IDEA OF DUTY. The more we know of God, the more exalted and noble our conception of the duty we owe to Him. Our sense of the holiness of His law increases.
1. We have a clearer idea of the standard of duty. "Walk before Me." The moral character of God is proposed for our imitation.
2. We see what is the true evidence of duty. "Be thou perfect." Perfect obedience — completeness of spiritual character — respect unto all God's commandments these are the evidences that our duty has been rendered acceptably. The constant aim after perfection is a proof that our piety is real and sincere.
3. We have the Divine encouragements of duty. "I am the Almighty God." As we have infinite goodness to furnish us with an idea and an example, so we have infinite power to support us and to give us the necessary strength.
(T. H. Leale.)
I. In the original production of all creatures.
II. In the preservation and government of all creatures; and,
III. In the redemption of sinful man.
1. "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear" (Hebrews 11:3). They were not merely formed, they were created; they were made out of nothing, the matter of which they were formed was created; for "in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis 1:1); and these two words, "the heaven and the earth," include all the countless myriads of creatures and things which fill the universe, and far exceed the view of mortals. God alone can create.
2. The power of God, as it is displayed in the preservation and government of His creatures. The whole system is preserved in its beautiful order by the same Almighty hand which gave it being. He upholds all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). Mark the display of the same Almighty power in making constant provision for the vast family of the universe. The continuance, from age to age, of the various orders of animals, beasts, birds, fishes, insects, and all the multitudes of trees, plants, and flowers, must be ascribed to the same Almighty power. The moral government of God is still more wonderful. To His power in restraining evil spirits we owe much of our safety and comfort. We are more sensible of His power in restraining wicked men. But as the world is, it would be infinitely worse, if God did not withhold bad men from their purposes; but nil hearts are in His hand.
3. The power of God as it shines in the redemption of sinful men by Jesus Christ. Observe this power in the presence of the great Redeemer. When we consider the first planting of our holy religion in the world, by instruments so feeble, and notwithstanding obstacles so great, we shall see with what propriety the gospel is said to be "the power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16). But it concerns us most of all to trace the effects of Divine power in the application of the gospel to the heart, without which its publication to the world, and its preservation to this day, will not avail to our personal salvation. The gospel is designed to produce a great inward change. The corruption of our nature renders this change absolutely necessary; and it is a change so considerable, as to be called in Scripture a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17): this, of course, can be effected only by the power of God; and, therefore, true converts are said to be made "willing in the day of His power" (Psalm 110:3). Let us contemplate one more exertion of Divine power. When Moses saw a bush on fire, and yet that it was not consumed, he turned aside to behold it with admiration. In that burning bush he beheld the emblem of Israel afflicted in Egypt, yet not destroyed; and we may perceive in it an emblem of a true Christian, "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation" (1 Peter 1:5). And what but the power of God is sufficient for this purpose? What, then, shall we say to these things? What use shall we make of our meditations on the Almighty power of God? Let Him be adored; let Him be feared; let Him be trusted. Let Him be adored. He, and He alone, is the proper object of religious worship. Observe and admire His power wherever you see it; and where can you look without seeing it? Let this Almighty God be feared. Fear not man, who can do nothing but as permitted. Fear not man, said our Saviour, "but I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear; fear Him which after He hath killed the body, can cast both body and soul into hell: yea, I say unto you, Fear Him" (Luke 12:5). "Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him." Yes; "trust in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength" (Isaiah 26:4). What cannot He do who is almighty? "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14).
(G. Burder.)I. The first thing we shall speak about, upon this occasion, is SURE RELIANCE. The foundation of it is laid before us in the text. True confidence leans alone upon God, who declares Himself to be Almighty God, or God All-sufficient — for such is an equally correct rendering of the passage. All true faith hangs upon God, as the vessel upon the nail. Strong faith realizes the all-sufficiency of God, and that is the secret of its strength, the hidden manna on which it feeds and becomes vigorous. God is God All-sufficient; simple as that truth is for us to speak, and for you to hear, it is a deep unfathomable, and did we really grasp its truth and dwell upon it, it would have a very wonderful effect upon our whole conduct.
1. This blessed text, "I am God All-sufficient," may apply to us in times when we are inclined to shirk any service for God. "Thou art foolish, but I am wise. Give thyself up to My guidance: trust thyself in My hands, and thou shalt achieve marvels; and exceeding great wonders shalt thou accomplish by My power and grace."
2. This word may also be useful to those who are trembling under some present temporal trial and affliction.
3. The same may also be applied to each of us when we are under spiritual depressions. Inward tribulations are frequently more severe than temporal trials; the man of God knows this full well. "I am God Almighty," saith the Lord: "Therefore say thou unto the enemy, 'Rejoice not over me, for though I fall yet shall I rise again.'"
II. Secondly, our text goes on to speak of our RIGHT POSITION. The Lord says, "I am Almighty God," and then He adds, "Walk before Me." It is much easier for me to talk about this than it will be to practise it. The meaning is simple — the actual obedience grace alone can work in us. "Walk before Me." Not merely "think before Me," and "pray before Me," but "walk before Me." I know many find it easy to cultivate a sense of God's presence in their own study, or in the room where they are accustomed to pray, but this is the point — to feel it in business, and in the details of everyday life. Oh, it is a great word this — "Walk before Me." Its brevity is not so notable as its fulness. Surely it means realize My presence, and then, in general life and ordinary conversation, continue under a sense of it, serious, devout, holy, earnest, trustful, consecrated, Christ-like. But He meant more than that. "Walk before Me." That is, "Delight in My company." True believers find their choicest joy in communion with God; and did we always walk with God in a sense of communing with Him, our peace would be like a river, and our righteousness like the waves of the sea. "Walk before Me." Does not it mean just this, in a word, "Do not act as seeing anybody else except Me? Walk before Me." Now, Abram had walked before Sarah: he had listened to her, and much mischief had come of his so doing at different times. The dearest friends we have are often those who will lead us most astray when we take counsel with flesh and blood. "Do not allow your course to be shaped by regarding Hagar, or regarding Ishmael, or regarding Sarah, or anybody else. 'Walk before Me.'" I am persuaded that a regard for God, a sense of duty, a straight-forward following out of convictions, is the only true style of living, for if you begin to notice the whims and wishes of one, then you will have to do the same with another; and if your course of conduct is to be shaped to please men, you will become man's slave and nothing better; and no child of God ought to come into that condition.
III. But we must pass on, for there is another point, and that is, as we have considered our sure reliance and our right position, we notice next OUR GLORIOUS AIM: "Be thou perfect." Now, the connection shows us that the only way to be perfect is to walk before the Lord. If any man desires holiness, he must get it through communion. The way to be transformed into the likeness of God is to live in the company of God. First, God must be known as All-sufficient; thus He helps and enables His servant to walk before Him, and then, as a consequence, that favoured servant labours to obey the word of command, "Be thou perfect." "Oh," says one, "but how can we be perfect?" I will ask thee another question: Wouldst thou have God command thee to be less than perfect? If so He would be the author of an imperfect law. "The law of the Lord is perfect;" how could it be otherwise? I do not find that He bids us partly keep His law, but wholly keep it. And so the Lord holds up this as the standard of a Christian, "Be thou perfect." And does it not mean, let us be perfect in desiring to have all the round of graces? Suppose a man should have faith, and should have love, but no hope: he would not be perfect. He would be like a child that had two arms, but only one foot; it would not be a perfect child. You must have all the graces, if you are to be a perfect man. And as we have all the graces, so we should seek to have in our lives exhibited all the virtues, in the fulfilment of all our duties. It is a very sad thing when you hear of a Christian man that he is a very excellent deacon, that he is a very admirable local preacher or Sabbath school teacher, but that he is a very unkind father. That "but" spoils it all. A saint abroad is no saint if he be a devil at home. Now, I think I hear somebody saying, "How shall we ever reach such a height?" My dear brother, you never will do so except you remember the first part of the text — "I am the Almighty God." He can help you. If there be any sin that you cannot overcome yourself, He can overcome it for you. If there be any virtue you have not yet reached, He can lead you up to it. But I will not detain you longer, except to notice that last word. It is a very sweet word: "I will make My covenant between Me and thee." Oh, it is the man that knows an All-sufficient God, and that lives in the presence of God, and that endeavours to be perfect in his life — it is that man that enjoys intercourse and communion with God, such as no one else knows, for "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him." "There shall be a covenant between Me and thee."
( C. H. Spurgeon.)I. A DECLARATION — "I am THE ALMIGHTY GOD."
II. A COMMAND. — "Walk before Me." Think, act, speak, under a sense of God's omnipresence.
III. A FURTHER COMMAND OR PROMISE. "Be thou perfect," or, "Thou shalt be perfect."
1. As a command it imports, "Thou shalt be upright and sincere in thought, speech, action."
2. As a promise, "Thou shalt be perfect as thy state and nature can bear, in knowledge, holiness, happiness."
(J. Benson, D. D.)1. Rebukes our lack of unwavering faith.
2. Teaches us to leave with God all that concerns us.
3. Teaches us to practise perfect openness with God.
4. Is the remedy against all discouragement.1. To live as in His sight, and under His special inspection.
2. To realize, at all times, His presence and His Providence.
3. To feel the dignity of the godly life. We are not to walk behind Him, as if ashamed, but before Him, as conscious of the dignity of our high calling.
4. To feel the constant energy of spiritual life. We cannot fail with the Almighty power behind us.
5. To feel the love of God towards us.
6. To apprehend God's love by our faith.I. THE DIVINE SUMMONS. "Perfect" here means whole-heartedness — entire surrender of being. Such an attitude can only be maintained by a very careful "walk."
II. THE REVELATION ON WHICH THIS SUMMONS WAS BASED — "I am the Almighty God" — El-Shaddai. "All power is Mine, in heaven and upon earth. Of old I laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of My hands. I sit upon the circle of the earth; and its inhabitants are as grasshoppers. I bring out the starry hosts by number, calling them all by names, by the greatness of My might, for that I am strong in power: not one faileth. Hast thou not known? — Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth fainteth not, neither is weary?" All this is as true today as ever. And if any will dare venture forth on the path of separation, cutting themselves aloof from all creature aid, and from all self-originated effort; content to walk alone with God, with no help from any but Him — such will find that all the resources of the Divine Almightiness will be placed at their disposal, and that the resources of Omnipotence must be exhausted ere their cause can fail for want of help.
III. THE COVENANT WHICH WAS DIVINELY PROPOSED.
1. It referred to the seed.
2. It referred to the land.
3. It referred to the coming child.
(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
I. First, then, let us notice in the words of God to Abram, THE MODEL OF THE SANCTIFIED OR CONSECRATED LIFE. Here it is: "I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou perfect."
1. For a man to be thoroughly sanctified to the Master's service, he must first realize the almightines and all-sufficiency and glory of God.
2. True holiness is a walking before God. The saint feels that he must not, dare not, transgress, because he is before the very face of God.
3. The next words are, "and be thou perfect." Does this mean absolute perfection? Freely I do admit that the model of sanctification is perfection.
II. Secondly, THE NATURE OF THIS CONSECRATION as illustrated in this chapter.
1. Genuine spiritual consecration begins with communion with God. Note the third verse — "Abraham fell on his face, and God talked with him." By looking at Christ Jesus, His image is photographed upon our mind, and we are changed from glory to glory, as by the presence of the Lord.
2. The next point in the nature of this consecration is that it is fostered by enlarged views of the covenant grace. "As for Me, behold My covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations."
3. Note, in reading these words, how this covenant is revealed to Abram peculiarly as a work of Divine power. Note the run of the passage, "I will make My covenant between Me and thee." "I will make thee fruitful." "I will establish My covenant." "I will give unto thee." "I will be thy God," and so on. Oh! those glorious "wills" and "shalls." Ye cannot serve the Lord with a perfect heart until first your faith gets a grip of the Divine "wills" and "shalls."
4. Further, Abraham had a view of the covenant in its everlastingness. I do not remember that the word "everlasting" had been used before in reference to that covenant, but in this chapter we have it over and over again. "I will establish My covenant for an everlasting covenant." Here is one of those grand truths which many of the babes in grace have not as yet learned, namely, that the blessings of grace are blessings not given today to be taken back tomorrow, but eternal blessings.
5. In considering the nature of this consecration, I would observe next, that they who are consecrated to God are regarded as new men. The new manhood is indicated by the change of name — he is called no longer Abram, but Abraham, and his wife no longer Sarai, but Sarah. Ye are new creatures in Christ Jesus.
6. Note further that the nature of this consecration was set forth to Abraham by the rite of circumcision. Taking away the filthiness of the flesh.
III. THE RESULTS OF SUCH A CONSECRATING.
1. Immediately after God's appearing to Abraham his consecration was manifest, first, in his prayer for his family. "O that Ishmael might live before Thee!" Men of God, if you are indeed the Lord's, and feel that you are His, begin now to intercede for all who belong to you.
2. The next result of Abraham's consecration was, that he was most hospitable to his fellow men. Look at the next chapter. He sits at the tent door, and three men come to him. The Christian is the best servant of humanity in a spiritual sense. I mean that for his Master's sake he endeavours to do good to the sons of men.
3. The third result was, Abraham entertained the Lord Himself, for amongst those three angels who came to his house was the King of kings, the Infinite One. Every believer who serves his God doth, as it were, give refreshment to the Divine mind. I mean this, God took an infinite delight in the work of His dear Son. He said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," and He takes a delight also in the holiness of all His people.
4. Once more, Abraham became the great intercessor for others. The next chapter is full of his pleadings for Sodom. If we do but become consecrated to God, thoroughly so, as I have attempted feebly to describe, we shall become mighty with God in our pleadings.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(A. Fuller.)I. He saw the Lord again, and heard His voice calling him, as it were, anew. God was manifested to him in glory, and spoke to him in power. "The Lord appeared unto Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God" (ver. 1).
II. Abram is called to be perfect. Now, this word "perfect," or "upright," when applied to man, in the Bible, is not absolute, but relative. It relates, for the most part, not to the whole character of a man, but to some one particular feature of his character, some individual grace or virtue specified, in respect of which he is said to be complete or entire, consistent and sincere. In the instance before us, it is the duty of "walking before God," in respect of which Abram is exhorted to be perfect — "Walk before Me, and be thou perfect." Now, to walk before God, is to walk and live as in His sight, and under His special inspection: to realize, at all times, His presence and His providence; to feel His open and unslumbering eye ever upon us. Thus to walk before God is impossible, if there be not redeeming love on His part, apprehended by faith on ours; and to be perfect, guileless, and upright, in so walking before God, is the great duty of the believer. He alone can discharge that duty.
III. Abram has a sufficient reason given to him for his compliance with the command — "Walk before Me and be thou perfect." It is a reason founded on the nature of God Himself. God appeals to His omnipotence, as warranting His expectation that His servant's walk before Him should be perfect. "I am the Almighty God." "This is thine encouragement to act with entire frankness and unreserve in all thy dealings with Me, and to let all be open and undisguised between us. I have all power and all sufficiency; and all that concerns thee may be safely left to Me. There is no need of any underhand or circuitous mode of procedure, nor any occasion to resort to any doubtful walk of thine own for the accomplishment of all that thine heart desires. I am the Almighty God: walk before Me. Commit thy way to Me, and I will bring it to pass. What is it that troubles thee, and would tempt thee to try some device of thine own for relief? Is it sin? And hast thou found no Saviour? Then know that I am the Almighty God; and that, as the Almighty, I have all power to forgive sin. Let thy sin, in all its blackness, be laid bare before Me; for I am the Almighty God; I have a provision such as no resources but Mine could furnish — a provision of infinite wisdom, and power, and love, by which I freely cleanse thee from it all." In this way, Abram, when in danger of relapsing into worldly indifference, through the hardening influence of the deceitfulness of sin, and the yielding of faith to sense — of the Spirit to the flesh — is called authoritatively and peremptorily to repent, and do his first works. The process of awakening is simple and effectual, as every work of God is, and it is exactly suited to his case.
(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)Psalm 92:13).
(H. G. Salter.)ecognized: — An ordinary painter would have been satisfied with executing a picture of grapes which deceived even the birds; but the eminent artist who did so, was dissatisfied with his own performances. Pliny informs us that Zeuxis once painted a boy holding a dish full of grapes so well, that the birds were deceived and flew to the grapes to peck at them. Zeuxis, notwithstanding, was dissatisfied with the picture: "for," said he, "had I painted the boy as well as he ought to have been painted, the birds would have been afraid to touch the fruit." Thus does the Christian dwell more on his shortcomings than on his attainments, and the reason is, that "he who has much grace apprehends much more than others that great height to which his love ought to ascend, and he sees better than others how little away he has risen towards that height; and, therefore, estimating his actual love by the whole height of his duty, it appears to him astonishingly little." I once observed the following motto attached to a coat-of-arms on a gentleman's carriage, "Tout bien, ou rien," and it struck me as being peculiarly expressive of what ought to be the Christian's feeling.
(F. F. Trench.)
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