Who is our God? What is He like?
He is a demanding God.
As we enter the seventeenth chapter, we come to the place where God establishes the parameters of the Abrahamic covenant. As He introduces the particulars to Abraham, we can’t help but notice how He first introduces Himself.
And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. (Genesis 17:1)
He is “El Shaddai” which is a Hebrew term that means God Almighty or All-sufficient One. It is a title that describes Who He is based on what He can do. He can do anything that He pleases. Nothing is outside of the realm of His might or sufficiency. And what He is about to do is something that could only be done by the One Who possesses such power. He is about to fulfill His promise to bring forth a seed from Abraham and Sarah. Abraham, one hundred years old, with a wife of ninety, who is barren, is about to have a baby. A miracle is what will be required, and a miracle is what happened. God Almighty is able.
That is truly an amazing thing, however, I would like you to notice something about God Almighty that is equally amazing and at the same time terrifying. The Almighty God is a demanding God, and His expectations are overwhelming. He demands, “walk before me, and be thou perfect.” The word “perfect” here is the Hebrew “tamiym” which means “to be entire, complete, whole; to have integrity.” The Almighty God expects Abraham to fulfill his part of the covenant. God is certainly going to be faithful to accomplish all that He has promised, why should His expectation for Abraham be any less?
Some might think that the standard is too high, too unattainable. Let’s not forget He is God, Almighty God, and He sets the standard. And at the same time that He sets the standard so high, and demands so much, He also makes provision for those things which we are incapable of accomplishing. In the case of Abraham and Sarah, they were physically and biologically incapable of bearing a son, but God Almighty stepped in, and the rest, as they say, is history.
God Almighty is no less demanding in your life or mine. In fact, His demands are downright terrifying. He demands righteousness. His standard is holiness, “without which, no man shall see the Lord.” How can we meet such a demand? We can’t, but He can, and just as He stepped in to bring life to Sarah’s dead womb, so too, He steps in to give eternal life (completion, perfection, wholeness) to those who were dead in sin.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (Ephesians 2:4-5)
Behold our God!