[Genesis chapter 17]
Twenty four years after He had called Abraham (then known as Abram) God told him, “I want you to be perfect”!
Apparently, God is never in a hurry. That’s too bad for we law guys, those of us who want things to happen instantaneously and for people to change at the drop of a hat (while conveniently overlooking the fact that nothing is changing in our own lives!)
So after 24 years God tells Abraham He wanted him to become perfect. God had a perfect reason for that, though. He wanted Abraham perfect because God’s time had arrived to bless Abraham with a spiritual blessing. In the very next year, God intended to give Abraham the son He had promised him (chapter 18).
Now, as an aside here, let me point out that there are many interpretations in contemporary Christianity as to what Abraham’s real blessing or what God’s promise to him really was. The majority are materialistic, with an eye on all that wealth that Abraham had.
Well, let’s just say it was a spiritual blessing that God had promised Abraham. After all, Abraham already had a son, Ishmael, and he loved him like his own self. But Isaac was not just a son. God had spiritual business He wanted to accomplish through Isaac. He never promised Abraham Ishmael. Isaac was therefore a spiritual blessing.
That’s the way God views anything that He gives us. If He gives you a car, God does not see that metal and leather toy that you are so taken up with. He sees something that will be of value to His Kingdom, something that will work for the advancement of His Kingdom; and God’s Kingdom is spiritual.
But, on the other hand, God is not as legalistic as everything we hear sounds. God is spiritual all right, but He is willing to give us all the rope we need to arrive at where He is. He is prepared to give us even things that are totally unnecessary. Not many of us would be that magnanimous!
God allows us to enjoy the things He blesses us with in this world, even though many of them will never see the light of heaven. I am not a rich man, but I have enjoyed my wife’s natural beauty and grace for 20 years, and I am sure God has no problem with that. But the Bible tells us that “in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven”! (Mat. 22:30)
All these things that God allows us to enjoy down here is a result of the riches of the grace of God. There is no one who could possibly be as free and generous as our God. The “riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering” (Rom. 2:4) are unsearchable!
It was for this same reason that God told Abraham, “OK, I will bless Ishmael also” (verse 20) – even though we know Ishmael would never be included in God’s plan (Galatians 4:23).
Ultimately, though, God wants us to arrive at the place where we can see things exactly as He sees them, which is in the Spirit. Whatever anything turns out in the natural, if it does not come down to us as a spiritual blessing, then it has nothing to do with God’s promise and in that sense it is not of the Kingdom. It might not necessarily be sinful, but still it is not of God’s Kingdom.
In the next section we shall go ahead and see what we begun to discuss above about why God desired Abraham to be perfect and the importance of that to the promise that God was about to fulfill in his life.