Here is, I. The time when God made Abram this gracious visit: When he was ninety-nine years old, full thirteen years after the birth of Ishmael. 1. So long, it should seem, God’s extraordinary appearances to Abram were intermitted; and all the communion he had with God was only in the usual was of ordinances and providences. Note, There are some special comforts which are not the daily bread, no, not of the best saints, but they are favoured with them now and then. On this side heaven they have convenient food, but not a continual feast. 2. So long the promise of Isaac was deferred. (1.) Perhaps to correct Abram’s over-hasty marrying of Hagar. Note, The comforts we sinfully anticipate are justly delayed. (2.) That Abram and Sarai being so far stricken in age God’s power, in this matter, might be the more magnified, and their faith the more tried. See Deut. 32:36; John 11:6, 15. (3.) That a child so long waited for might be an Isaac, a son indeed, Isa. 54:1.
II. The way in which God made this covenant with him: The Lord appeared to Abram, in the shechinah, some visible display of God’s immediate glorious presence with him. Note, God first makes himself known to us, and gives us a sight of him by faith, and then takes us into his covenant.
III. The posture Abram put himself into upon this occasion: He fell on his face while God talked with him, Gen. 17:3. 1. As one overcome by the brightness of the divine glory, and unable to bear the sight of it, though he had seen it several times before. Daniel and John did likewise, though they were also acquainted with the visions of the Almighty, Dan. 8:17; 10:9, 15; Rev. 1:17. Or, 2. As one ashamed of himself, and blushing to think of the honours done to one so unworthy. He looks upon himself with humility, and upon God with reverence, and, in token of both, falls on his face, putting himself into a posture of adoration. Note, (1.) God graciously condescends to talk with those whom he takes into covenant and communion with himself. He talks with them by his word, Prov. 6:22. He talks with them by his Spirit, John 14:26. This honour have all his saints. (2.) Those that are admitted into fellowship with God are, and must be, very humble and very reverent in their approaches to him. If we say we have fellowship with him, and the familiarity breeds contempt, we deceive ourselves. (3.) Those that would receive comfort from God must set themselves to give glory to God and to worship at his footstool.
IV. The general scope and summary of the covenant laid down as the foundation on which all the rest was built; it is no other than the covenant of grace still made with all believers in Jesus Christ, Gen. 17:1. Observe here,
1. What we may expect to find God to us: I am the Almighty God. By this name he chose to make himself known to Abram rather than by his name Jehovah, Exod. 6:3. He used it to Jacob, Gen. 28:3; 43:14; 48:3. It is the name of God that is mostly used throughout the book of Job, at least in the discourses of that book. After Moses, Jehovah is more frequently used, and this, El-shaddai, very rarely; it bespeaks the almighty power of God, either, (1.) As an avenger, from sdh he laid waste, so some; and they think God took this title from the destruction of the old world. This is countenanced by Isa. 13:6; and Joel 1:15. Or, (2.) As a benefactor s for asr who, and dy sufficient. He is a God that is enough; or, as our old English translation reads it here very significantly, I am God all-sufficient. Note, The God with whom we have to do is a God that is enough. [1.] He is enough in himself; he is self-sufficient; he has every thing, and he needs not any thing. [2.] He is enough to us, if we be in covenant with him: we have all in him, and we have enough in him, enough to satisfy our most enlarged desires, enough to supply the defect of every thing else, and to secure to us a happiness for our immortal souls. See Ps. 16:5, 6; 73:25.
2. What God requires that we should be to him. The covenant is mutual: Walkbefore me, and be thou perfect, that is, upright and sincere; for herein the covenant of grace is well-ordered that sincerity is our gospel perfection. Observe, (1.) That to be religious is to walk before God in our integrity; it is to set God always before us, and to think, and speak, and act, in every thing, as those that are always under his eye. It is to have a constant regard to his word as our rule and to his glory as our end in all our actions, and to be continually in his fear. It is to be inward with him, in all the duties of religious worship, for in them particularly we walk before God (1 Sam. 2:30), and to be entire for him, in all holy conversation. I know no religion but sincerity. (2.) That upright walking with God is the condition of our interest in his all-sufficiency. If we neglect him, or dissemble with him, we forfeit the benefit and comfort of our relation to him. (3.) A continual regard to God’s all-sufficiency will have a great influence upon our upright walking with him.
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