Abram was 99 years old. Most people of that age hope for 100 and, in Australia at least, a congratulatory telegram from the Queen. But Abram encounters El-Shadai, God Almighty, God, the One of the Mountains. “Walk in my presence, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you and will make you exceedingly numerous.” Abram fell on his face in holy awe in the presence of God, fearful of the task before him. He’s 99. How much longer did God expect him to live?
God promised Abraham a son by his ninety year old wife Sarah. Abraham fell on his face again. This time he laughed – and perhaps with good reason! The situation God outlined seemed impossible, absurd. But it is in the nature of God to make absurdly impossible promises and to keep them… Abraham was called to have faith in the future.
Abraham believed in God’s absurdly impossible promise and faithfully did what God had called him to. We say Abraham was obedient. When we speak of obedience we mostly regard it in a forensic or legal sense: obey or be penalised/punished. Abraham’s obedience, as with similar situations of ‘obedience’ in the Old Testament, was not of this order but rather a faith response from the core of his being to God’s covenant promise.
God continues to make absurdly impossible promises. Our response ought not be out of fear of penalty/punishment but a faith response from the core of one’s being to follow the difficult way of Jesus: to lose our lives in him.
© Jeff Shrowder, 2012. More for Lent 2B…