What Is the Good News of Yeshua? (Part 5)
Because the descendants of Adam had become earth’s sinful citizens, God destroyed the world. Oath-bound and grief-stricken, the Creator washed away His creation, cleansing it in the waters of a purifying, violent Flood. Yet above that deluge, God lifted up Noah to save a remnant of life from off the earth. Through the narrow doorway to a lifeboat of grace, God had preserved humanity in one righteous soul. Adonai was initiating His redemption plan for the heart of sinful man, and with a covenant, He began to prepare the way by which anyone could be saved.
According to God’s blessing, the sons of Noah were fruitful and multiplied, yet the generations of Noah’s descendants were disobedient, rebuffing God’s word to spread out and “teem in the earth” (Genesis 9:7, mjlt). As they remained together, Noah’s nomadic kin eventually came to settle on a plain where they built dwellings of brick and mortar. Enamored by their technology and abilities, they had in mind to construct an enormous city, and within it, a tower that reached to the heavens. They sought to satisfy their pride by making a name for themselves, as they entrenched their refusal to disband. But God saw the city and the tower, and that the people were united in their efforts to glorify and fortify themselves. So Adonai confused their language such that they could no longer understand one another, and—in fulfillment of His intended design—He scattered them all across the earth (see Gen. 11:9).
The dispersed people of the earth continued to multiply. Ever increasing in the diversity of their ancestral lines, the prideful progeny of Adam and Noah divided into numerous nations. For ten generations after Noah, God bided His time—until the day when He would pluck one ordinary, flawed human being from obscurity, selected seemingly for no special reason at all. Out of a world of nations separated from God and one another, the Creator would continue His reconciling work by setting apart one unremarkable man—one peculiar people—for Himself.
Abraham was hardly a peasant, yet he lived in his father’s household for the first seventy-five years of his life. Surrounded by a large extended family, Abraham was married, though his beautiful wife Sarah was barren and unable to have children. One day, with no advance notice of any kind, Adonai came to Abraham, telling him to leave his father’s house for another land which He would show him. And unquestioningly, Abraham did as he was told, having received God’s amazing promise:
“I will make you become a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great; and you will be a blessing. And I will bless those blessing you, and him who is despising you I will curse, and blessed in you will be all the families of the ground of the earth.” (Gen. 12:2-3)
The man with no children would “become a great nation,” the descendant of those desiring a name for themselves would have his name be made great, and the blessing or cursing of all the families of the earth would rise or fall on the treatment of him—and his seed. In return for these promises, God required of Abraham precisely… nothing. God’s covenant with Abraham had commenced—all Abraham had to do was go.
So Abraham took Sarah and they left the land of his father. Having brought him to the promised land, God covenanted with Abraham that it would one day belong to his descendants—that his seed would be more numerous than the dust of the earth and the stars in the sky. Though they found the land already inhabited, and old-aged Abraham yet had no heir, he believed in Adonai—the God of Promise—and Adonai considered his faith as righteousness (see Gen.15:6).
After living for ten years as immigrants in that promised land, Sarah, being old and still childless, had grown frustrated with the absence of motherhood. Faulting God for her barrenness, Sarah convinced Abraham to take Hagar as a second wife—to father a child with Sarah’s foreign slave-girl (see Gen. 16:2ff). With no resistance to the proposal, Abraham simply did as Sarah said. And at eighty-six years old, the father of a nation finally had a son—though still not an heir of the promise.
More than another decade had gone by, and Abraham was nearly a hundred years old—with Sarah not far behind at ninety—when Adonai appeared and broke His quarter-century silence over the matter of the unfulfilled covenant. As Abraham fell on his face, Adonai reiterated His promise regarding the possession of the land and Abraham’s uncountable descendants (see Gen. 17:1ff). And “at the promise of God, [Abraham] did not stagger in unbelief, but was strengthened in faith… having been fully persuaded that what He has promised He is also able to do” (Rom. 4:20).
It would not be by the son of the slave-girl that God would form Abraham’s great nation. Rather, God chose instead to open Sarah’s empty, ancient womb. By an inconceivable conception, God would extend Abraham’s covenant only to the son by Sarah. Through the laughable and the ludicrous, the seemingly absent God of Promise would surely live up to His word.
For, even in the deadness of the womb, “is anything too wonderful for Adonai?” (Genesis 18:14, mjlt).