When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said,I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.Genesis 17:1
After thirteen years of silence, God appears to Abram in a new revelation and with a new name—God Almighty. In the Hebrew it is El Shaddai, which essentially means
the God who is sufficient, the all-competent God, the adequate God who knows what He is doing and how to do it. This is an indication that Abram has learned something from his recent bitter experience. God says, in effect,
You have been learning for thirteen years the total inadequacy of your own efforts through Ishmael. Now learn a new thing about me. I am El Shaddai. You have discovered by sad experience how futile your plans and efforts can be without me. Now learn how capable I am to do everything that I desire to do, whenever I desire to do it.
Would that we could all discover this truth! We need desperately to recover the reality of El Shaddai, the God who is sufficient for whatever we are going through right now! This is what Abram learned.
In this new light from God came a new demand from God.
Walk before me and be blameless. In the King James Version, this word blameless is translated
perfect. The root meaning of the word is
Walk before me and be perfect, wholehearted, God says,
because I am El Shaddai. That is,
I am all-sufficient to make you blameless. Walk before Me, therefore, and be blameless.
I remember a time when I was a boy, and I was looking through the iron bars of a large gate at a beautiful estate full of flower-bordered walks, eyeing it with a great deal of envy. Suddenly, before I saw him, another boy about my own age rushed up from the other side and gave my arms a jerk. The bump I received taught me the foolishness of trying to be on two sides of a fence at once.
This is a truth that is often brought before us in the New Testament. We are so constantly trying to serve two masters, to please self and Christ. We are quite content to serve Christ, if we can also serve self at the same time. But God says to Abram,
This can no longer be permitted. You have come to the place where your dual allegiance can no longer be tolerated. Walk now before Me, appropriating what I am, and be wholehearted, be wholly on my side, be mine! This is what a circumcised life means, as we shall see in our next study. It is Christ asserting his practical lordship in our lives.
When you became a Christian, you did so by recognizing the right of Jesus Christ to be Lord in your life. You did not, of course, understand what that would involve, but you saw that His willingness to save you involved His right to control you. For a time, though you knew you were essentially different, you lived much as you did before. You made decisions on the basis of how you felt and what you wanted to do. Then the Holy Spirit begins to put on the pressure. He says to you,
Stop this! or
Start doing that! All He is really doing is asserting the lordship of Christ in your life. He is beginning to cut the ties that bind you to the world and the self-life within you.
Lord, I see that You are God Almighty. Teach me to submit all that I am and all that I hope for to You.
Self-serving is really denying that our Lord is all-sufficient. Are we learning to trust His liberating control of all areas of our lives?