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Living by Faith (Vol 32) - Abraham: God of the Impossible

Sunday English Service - 24 MAR 19


Hebrews chapter 11 verses 11 and 12. By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars in the sky in multitude— innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. Genesis chapter 17 verses 1 to 8. When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” 

We’ve been studying from Hebrews chapter 11 about the life of faith. Hebrews chapter 11 lists the great heroes of faith and teaches us about the life of faith. It's a New Testament teacher teaching the New Testament audience, particularly Jewish converts to Christianity he’s teaching and therefore takes the Old Testament stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Noah, and Abel and Enoch and so on. And most of the space in that chapter 11, where all these great names are mentioned, and things are said about them, large amount of space has been given to Abraham. From verse 8 to verse 19 it's all about Abraham. So, we've been studying about Abraham. And the story of Abraham, I believe is divided in the mind of this author into four sections, or four stages of faith.

The first stage is what you call the call of Abraham. Abraham lived in a place but he did not know the living God, came from a family of idol worshippers. Historians say, the tradition says it seems, that he grew up in a family which made idols and sold them. And not only worshipped them. Came from such a background, lived totally ignorant of God. And he had an amazing experience one time. Stephen in Acts chapter 7 says it. He says, “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham.” A very remarkable event in his life took place when this living God appeared to him and called him, gave him promises and said, “Leave your country, leave your people and go to the place which I will show you.” And God promises all kinds of things to him. It must have been a tremendous call. It must be an amazing experience, a powerful experience for him because the man packed up everything he had. All his cattle, all his servants, and his family and got out of there and started traveling. And they say, the distance must have been at least 1,000 miles from where he was to the land which God will show him.

To travel 1,000 miles in those days just think what kind of effort it is. A man will not just pack up and just go 1,000 miles in those days. Today, we pack up and go 10,000 miles without even thinking about it because in the morning, you can leave in 20 hours you can be there in America or somewhere, totally across the other side of the world. But back in those days to travel 1,000 miles by foot and cross some dangerous areas and travel under very difficult circumstances, such a great consideration for a person to undertake that kind of a journey. And here, Abraham undertook that journey and went on it because of the tremendous experience he had with God, the call was real.

So, that is the first stage of Abraham's faith. This is comparable to the call that we have for salvation. We also lived in ignorance of God, we didn't know God. We sometimes worshiped all kinds of things as our forefathers did. But then there came a day when we met the living God, had an encounter with Him, and heard His voice in some way through a preaching, through someone sharing about Christ. We gave our lives to the Lord. And we departed from our former life of sin and slavery to Satan and practices of our former life and began a journey to a new life. So, this stage of faith is something that we have also experienced, the call of God.

The second stage we've been talking about the last two weeks, is the stage where he went and lived in the land of Canaan. There he learned some lessons of faith. The main lesson of faith that he learned is that God is his source. He had to deal with two things there. One is the famine I showed you. He had to understand that God supplies all his needs, that even in the midst of famine, God can bless him and even make him rich. The other is, the war he had to fight against four kings. See, Christian life, we do not say that when you become a Christian, when you become a follower of Christ, everything will be easy. We still live in an evil world, fallen world where things are not right. Everything is not just, everything is not right, things can go wrong here.

And in this difficult world, we have many battles to fight and we will not survive these battles if we don't put our faith in God and learn this great truth that the Bible teaches, that the battle is the Lord's. It's not our battle. The battle is the Lord's. And we need to depend on God to win the battles that we face in our lives. So last two weeks I showed you that how Abraham learned. That's the second stage of faith. And that is a stage that we all go through also. Some of us have crossed it, some of us are in it, facing battles of life. Some of us are learning how well and wonderfully God can meet our needs. We’re experiencing God's amazing intervention in our lives in the midst of our needs and problems and difficulties.

Now, we're going to look at the third stage. From today, for the next few weeks, we're going to spend on the third stage, an amazing stage. The third stage is where Abraham had to go higher in his faith life, learn something greater than he ever learned before. The third stage is called learning that God is the God of the impossible. Abraham’s story in Genesis begins with chapter 12 and goes all the way through chapter 24. But chapter 12 until 17, Abraham has not really experienced a real miracle. He has not faced a situation where things were impossible, not quite that way. He has had some wonderful experiences. God has been with him. God has fed him in the midst of famine even made him rich and so on. God has even given him victory over four kings when he went and fought it and so on. But even though they are wonderful situations where God gave him victory and God's presence was there and so on, I wouldn't say that this was an impossible situation.

The third stage of faith Abraham learned the most important lesson in his life, that God is the God of the impossible. You remember, Joshua was fighting a battle when they entered into the Canaan land with the people of Israel, and he needed some time, he didn't want the sun to go down. Because if it becomes dark, you cannot fight the battle. So, he asked for the sun to stand still. And the sun stood still, the Bible says. The sun stood still. You remember, one of the prophets in the Old Testament, one of his disciples was doing something with a borrowed axe, and it fell into a pool of water. The man said, “Oh my God, this is a borrowed thing.” And the prophet said, “Where did it fall?” The man pointed the place and said, “Here.” He threw a piece of wood in it and the axe started floating and the man picked up. So, the sun stood still, the axe floated, and the psalmist in Psalm 48 he says that, “This God is our God.”

Our God is the God of the impossible. Amazing. Axe floating on water, sun standing still for a man so that he can get the job done, and the psalmist says, “This God is our God.” Everybody say with me, this God, this God of Abraham is our God. And we also, I believe have to learn this important faith lesson in our life, we have to reach that stage and cross that stage, it's good for us that we experience and learn these things in our lives because in our lives we will come across situations that seem impossible. Everybody will say that it is impossible, but God says it's possible. And we need to learn that what the world calls impossible becomes possible because God is the God of the impossible.

So, Abraham was about to learn this. He was about to learn that God is the God of the impossible, He’s the God of miracles, that He can do anything. See, Abraham and Sarah had difficult time learning it, I'll show you. They were not perfect people, neither are we. We also learn, we also make mistakes. We also hesitate, we falter. Our faith journeys many times stalled by our unbelief. We fail to believe the way that we should believe. But thank God, Abraham has become our model of faith that we can learn from him. That we don't have to go through everything that he went through, we can just simply learn from him and we can watch out. And we can be even more successful than him in learning faith and walking by faith. That is why these things are recorded.

The Bible records the failure of these people also, the mess that they created by failing to believe in God. All this is recorded. Bible is one of the most sincere books that you will ever read. It doesn't hide anybody's fault. It reveals their sins, it reveals their unbelief. It reveals their failures, everything. Because Paul says in the New Testament that all of these things serve as a model for us and they teach us something. So that we may learn from it, the Bible mentions all of these things truthfully, not hiding anything, not giving us some perfect picture. It gives the real picture so that we can learn from it. So, that's why we have all kinds of things in the Bible.

So, God tells Abraham that, “Your wife will have a child,” and so on. At 99 years of age and his wife was 90 years of age, God tells Abraham that. But before that, God told him when he left, when he heard the call from God, when he was living in Mesopotamia in ignorance, did not know God when God appeared to him first. He gave him certain promises. One of the promises was that He will make him a great nation. But Abraham did not even have a child. So, how can you become a nation because he doesn't have any descendants? So, the promise was given back then.

Then in chapter 15 of Genesis, again God appears to him in a vision. God speaks to him and Abraham laments to God saying, “Look, You made me rich. My servant is going to take everything that I have. I don't have seed, I don't have descendants. What will You do for me?” God says, “Come out here and look at the stars of the heaven.” And he looks up. God says, “Can you number them?” Of course, you can’t number them. And God says, “So shall your seed be.” The Bible says Abraham believed. But something happened when he went home. For a lot of us something happens when we go home. There’s someone else there, very highly influential people. The wife. They have power called influence power. We have power over here, but they can have power without the brute muscle power. They have tremendous power. They can influence you just in a minute like that. He went home and the wife told him, “Look, already you are 85 years old.” At that time when God spoke to him in chapter 15, he was 85 years old. It's been 15 years since the time God first spoke to him. “He has not done anything so far. Why nothing has happened? Let's solve this problem quickly.”

And so, they decided to give a slave girl that they had picked up from Egypt, to Abraham so that he can have a child through her. And all this mess they created. But God has been good. Through all of these things God has been good. One of the questions that Abraham and Sarah had was something that was never answered to them at that time, “Why God delayed so much?” 15 years by the time you reach chapter 15. And God has not done anything. He told him when he was 70 years old, He will make him a great nation. Nothing has been done. No seed. So, they hurried and they came to this conclusion that they’ll help God solve this problem easily.

But that is not solving problem, that is creating more problem. That is what they did. But, why did God delay? Have you ever thought of that? A lot of people have asked me the question, why did God delay so much? 70 years old He promised him. Should he wait till 99 years old to even work this out and try to give him a child at 100 years of age? I mean, you wait for 30 years to give a child to a man that you promise that you will give him? You should be able to give it to him 30 months. 30 years is too long a wait. Why did you have wait? I'll show you why God wanted the wait to go on for that long.

See, these people who are saying, “Well, 85 is already too late. Let's have quickly. Let's finish it. So, by 86 he had a child with Hagar who’s a slave girl. Next 13 years God kept quiet. Chapter 17 says, in Genesis, at 99 years of age, God appears to him and says, “Well, let's get the job done.” Such a late stage in life. Why did God not do anything about it? Even after Ishmael is born, 13 years he waited. Why? Why so many years? I'll tell you why. Because God wanted him to get really old. At 86, he was doing pretty good. He took a young lady and had a child, not a bad old man. He still had something left in him. So, God said, “Well, until you can do it, I won't do anything. I want you to reach a place where everyone will certify, the doctor will look at you and certify as good as dead.” That's what we read in Hebrews chapter 11 verse 12. Having a body that is as good as dead he gave birth to a child. Nobody will then say that Abraham with his power, with his physical prowess produced a child. It is not possible. It was impossible.

God said, “I'll wait until then because all glory should go to Me.” Plus, I'll show you later on, God wanted so many other lessons of faith to come out through that. Because he's the model for faith. He was creating a model that everybody will follow for centuries to come. So, it's worth the wait. God says, “Let me wait until you are old and real old.”  When the Bible says you're old, you're really old. It's not like when we call a person old. God said, “We'll wait till you're really old, really impossible. Your wife is 90, you are 100, yeah, let's get it done now. This is a good time to do it.” Because then, through that God can teach and I'll show you that later on. All right.

So, we're going to look at how this whole thing happened. How did God wait so long and then give him a child at 100 years of age and wife 90 years old? How did faith work? What is faith? How does it work? How does it deal with situations that are impossible and make it possible? How does faith turnaround things? That's what we’re going to see today and next few days. But today I want to do one thing. I want to give you the background and show you how difficult the situation was. So, you got to show the darkness then only you will appreciate the light. Before we talk about how faith worked and turned the situation around, and they had a glorious miracle at age 100 he had a child, before I tell you that, before you can appreciate that you must first understand how difficult the situation was, how impossible the situation was. So, today's message I want to talk about how impossible the situation was. God made it so that it will become really impossible. So, I want you to understand how impossible the situation was, then only you will understand how God is the God of the impossible, how He turns around situations.

So, let's look at it. In chapter 17 of Genesis, where we read, in the first few verses you will read that God came to Abraham at 99 years of age and speaks to him. And lo and behold, He changes his name. He changes his name from Abram to Abraham. Now, we all know that Abraham means father of multitudes. But before we go into that, we all know Abraham, and the name and all that. But let's deal with the original name to understand the impossibility of the situation. The original name was Abram, remember without the H, Abram. What did Abram mean? Abram meant father of many.

Now, that's not a bad name. These days, when they're telling us one child is enough, father of many is already a very good name. Father of many, nobody will object to it. Father of many, that's not a bad name. It's not father of none, it’s father of many. At least you have some children. But there was a problem. For him that was the problem. His name was father of many, people will ask him, “What is your name?” He’d say, “Abram” and it means father of many. “How many children do you have?” He had none. 70 years old he had none, 85 years old he had none. So that was the problem. The father of many had no children. And that's the key to the story that this man even though he had a name like that, he was a father of none. Even though God had promised him at 70 years of age that he’ll make him a great nation, till this day he has not had any child, he is the father of none.

Now, in the western countries if you had no child, it's no big deal these days. People deal with it very easily. They don't make a big deal about it like we do in the eastern culture. Culture can be divided simply as western and eastern culture, basically. The western culture and the eastern culture are many times so different from one another. In the Western culture not having a child is not a big deal, no problem. But in the eastern culture, not having a child is a real problem. In the eastern culture, people are very polite. So, when the westerners get together, they are all talking about nothing. They can carry on talking about the weather and this economy and this and that and so on.

But our people, the eastern culture, is not like that. So, when you get together with people, they end up asking you very personal questions, they don't know what to talk. Have you ever realized that? They end up asking very personal questions. First, they'll say, “What's your name?” There you go. So, you got to tell your name and after you tell your name, then they'll say, “Where are you from?” And then Abram would have said, “I'm from Mesopotamia originally.” “When did you come here? How long have you been here?” Just like our country, I think. “Why did you come here in the first place? Why did you move over here? Is all this your stuff? Are all the cattle your stuff? Not bad man, you're doing very well. You're a rich man. You got a lot of wells and a lot of cattle here and you're doing pretty good.” That's the way they will talk with him.

And so, the story goes like that. And they ask questions, personal questions, whether all these things belong to him and what business he was doing, whether he's making good money. In our country, I remember back in those days, they’ll plain ask you what your salary was, which you can’t do it in western countries. You don't do that. And then finally, because they remember his name is Abram, they'll naturally ask the question, “How many children do you have?” This is way too many questions for western culture. But for eastern culture, this is nothing. You ask a man, “How many children do you have?” And you’ve got to answer. And this can be very irritating. Everywhere Abraham went, after he got through introducing himself and told about his business and told about what he was doing and all that, then he had to come around explaining the fact that does not have any children because the question will invariably be, “How many children do you have?” Then he's got to explain, “No, I don't have any children.”

Just imagine how irritating that thing would have been to Abraham. And the location where Abraham lived in the Canaan land, when he came and settled down in the land that God showed him, it was a very strategic location. Travelers, from various areas passed through this way. Back in those days there were no hotels, they will stay in a place like Abraham's place. Here Abram was, he had many servants, he had cattle, he had wells. He can make food for them, he can have his servants serve them and so on. So, he had all the facilities. Because there's no hotel, they'll stay and pay for food and pay for the service to the cattle and all that. So, people will stay, travelers will come, business men will come loaded up their camels with all kinds of stuff and stop there and rest there a couple of days. And one of the things that they will do, it seems, in the evening, is to go into the tent of the owner of the place to pay a courtesy visit. And when they paid the courtesy visit once again, this is the thing, they will ask all kinds of questions. And the question about his name will come and then invariably he'll be asked how many children he has, and then Abraham will have to again explain how that he doesn't have a child. And one author writing very imaginatively about what the situation would have been says that there would have been a lot of chuckles, lot of laughter behind the scenes. They would have talked to him nicely but went out laughing went out ridiculing this whole situation because the man's name did not match the man's condition.

I heard about a man in America that had a name... in western countries, they have names like black, white, brown, and so on. So, their names are a little different. So, I heard about a man named Wrench and people would always ask him, “Are you related to monkey wrench?” And left-handed wrench and so on because the name was such it became a point of ridicule for people. They'll take that and play with it. So, Abraham became a subject of ridicule because he will say, “My name is Abram.” Meant father to many. He had no children. So, people when they talk to him, they appeared nice, but when they went away, they'll be gossiping. They'll be talking about, “What's wrong with him? Is he a real man?” Or, “Is he virile or is the problem with this wife? Why are they not having child? Is the problem with the woman or the man?” All kinds of discussions. You know the eastern culture how they’ll talk. “Whose problem is it? Why are they not having children?” All these things would have gone on.

And the servants, of course, shared in the gossip and Abram had plenty of servants. One author says that he had 318 people that were ready to go to war with him, that worked for him. And with that, he estimates that he had about 2,000 people dependent on his business that was working for him and living around him. So, that entire community was gossiping and talking about this whole matter and laughing and so on. And this is not just imagination. This must have been real because look at what Sarah did. She went through all of this for a long time, and she couldn’t take it. That's why she reaches a point that she blew up and she says, “Listen, everybody's laughing about this whole thing. Let's fix this. We have a girl named Hagar. Nice girl from Egypt that we have brought. Young girl. She can have a child with you. Let's fix this problem. Take this girl, have a child. At least you will have a son. So, when people ask you what your name is, you can say, ‘Abram.’ How many children? You can say, ‘I have a son,’ and they'll probably shut up because that is satisfactory that a man has an heir to all of his properties and assets. That will fix the problem. People will not laugh at us.”

So, that shows that this situation created such a tremendous tension. So, finally, Hagar was given to Abraham and I can imagine all the tents buzzing with gossip. In the tents it's not like walls. What you speak inside the tent is available for everybody. It's like telecasting. And all the tents buzzing with the news that, “Abraham has been given Hagar. This old man, look at this old guy, 85 years old taking a young lady. He’s going to have a child with her. He’s going to try to have a child. Is it possible? Can he have? Is he too old? Will it happen? Will it not happen?” Hello. You can imagine. And they waited a few weeks and months. And yeah, lo and behold, that girl conceived a child. Once she conceived a child, Abram was able to lift his shoulders up, head up high, walk like a man because now he has proven that he's got it. That he is a man. In that society that is important. He’s walking around with his head high, he’s proud that he’s been able to produce a child at that grand old age of 85 years old. He has made a woman pregnant. So, he’s walking around probably lifting up his head.

But there was problem for Sarah because now people found out who the problem was, why they haven't been able to have a child. “The woman is the problem.” So, they despised her. See, this was part of the culture. This is all cultural problem. They despised her. We read about it here. She was insulted. People talked about her how that she could not prove her womanhood and not worth her womanhood and so on. Insulting words were going around about her. And finally, at the appointed time, the child was born. And lo and behold, it was a boy. And there was a great celebration. The birth of a boy in the house of Abraham was a very important event. For any man it's a very important event; for Abraham who has not had a child until the grand old age of 86, this must have been a very important event.

I've gone to some birthday celebrations. Nowadays, it becomes virtually impossible sometimes because everybody's having birthday celebrations. And I have to eat in every birthday celebration. That's why I become like this. That's a problem. Back in those days, when we are just a few people I used to go to birthday events and I went to a birthday event where it was arranged in a grand manner, in a nice hotel and so on. Somebody said, “My goodness, they spent lakhs of rupees to arrange this birthday event.” I said, “Did you know that they had a child after six years?” After six years of waiting, and wondering whether you'll ever have a child and then by God's grace you have a child. It's all right to have it in a five-star hotel because it's time to celebrate. It's a moment to celebrate really because it has happened finally.

Just imagine what Abraham’s celebration would have been when Ishmael was born. Finally, a child, it doesn't matter it's a slave girl, but his child was born. And they were celebrating, and everybody was joining in the celebration. Then the boy grows up. It seems like there was no talk thereafter from God. Abraham thought that God has switched off the subject. Remember in 15th chapter when he was 85 years old, God came to him and Abraham lamented about how he doesn't have a child and his servant is going to take all his property. God said, “No. Someone will be born to you and Sarah. He'll be your heir.” Definitely God said that. But now, the next year Hagar gave birth, and then 13 years have passed. Now Abraham is 99 years old, and that is where chapter 17 of Genesis begins. Verse 16 of chapter 16 says Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram. That's the last verse of 16. First verse of 17 says, When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.” 13 years he thought, the matter has gone off the shelf. God has forgotten it, He’s not going to raise the subject. Plus 13 years of silence he thought God is satisfied now that he's got Ishmael as a child, that God can bless Ishmael and raise up descendants through him and make him a great nation, thereby fulfill all the promises. So, Abraham was kind of at rest. Everything's fixed, it's alright. It's my son after all born to me. So, God can bless this child, make him a great nation, fulfill all the promises and so on.

But 99 years of age, after being off for 13 years not hearing from God, 99 years of age, God appears to him in a vision and says, “Abraham. Hello?” He thought the subject will be something new. God says, “I'm Almighty God.” And then He gets back right into the subject. And through the whole chapter God is dealing with him about him and Sarah having child.

Abraham was so sick and tired of this whole thing, “My God, I thought we have forgotten that.” At one point, look at verse 15 of chapter 17. Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.” In verse 5, He changes Abraham's name and 15 He changes Sarah's name. “And I will bless her and I will give you a son by her.” See, God is again back on the subject. I'll give you a son by her. “Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.” She'll give birth to kings. Kings will come out of her, it says.

Listen to this. Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed. Listen to this. He's laughing because he’s saying in his mind, “God, I thought you forgot about this. Don't you know I have a child? I have Ishmael as my child.” Laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” Literally laughing, ridiculing the whole idea, saying, “Shall a child be born to a man 100 years old, and a woman 90 years old? It's impossible.” And Abraham said to God, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!” He is saying, “God, my prayer is changed. I'm not praying for a child anymore. I got a child. Please take this child. Bless this child. Use this child. Raise up descendants through this child. Do Your work through this child. Whatever you want to get done, use this child, please. We got the child problem solved. Don't need child.” But God wouldn't listen.

Verse 19. Then God said: “No.” Are you listening to God? He says, “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son.” God is a God who never changes. 13 years is nothing for God. He has not forgotten. He has not changed this plan. God says, “Hey, you may be 100 years old, you think it's impossible. Your wife may be 90 years old and everybody thinks it's impossible. But I am Almighty God. And you are going to enter into a new phase of your faith. You’re going to learn. I'm going to show you something that I am the God of the impossible. When everybody says this is impossible, I say it is possible, and I will make sure that I show you how it's possible.” “No, Sarah, your wife shall bear you a son. Sarah, your wife shall bear you a son.”

Why? A lot of people can't understand that. I remember, in the days when we were studying this kind of passage, people asked the question, “Why not Ishmael? What's wrong with that? It’s Abraham’s son. God could have used. Why is God insisting on Sarah having a child? Why?” Turn with me to Galatians chapter 4, I'm not going to deal with it now, but I'm going to read you a passage there, very interesting passage. There is more to it than what your eyes can see right there. Look at the New Testament author, the Apostle Paul, and where he takes this subject. Chapter 4 verse 21.

See, God not only waited so long to give Abraham a child because God wanted to show that it is all by God's power. That is one thing. Not man's power, not man's wisdom, man's cleverness, it is God's power. But then God wanted to show through that. See, this is used as an example of talking about salvation, how that salvation is not man's idea. It is not man's power that produces salvation. It is not man's wisdom that produces salvation, it is not anything that man could do that produces salvation for man or mankind. Salvation is totally and absolutely and completely a work of God. All glory belongs to God. It is by grace alone and by faith alone, that salvation is given. Paul uses to teach that truth, very important truth. And a lot of people don't even realize that. Very difficult for Abraham to realize that. Abraham at that stage could not foresee all these things. But God was trying to take Abraham and his life and what happens to him, and make it an object lesson for centuries to come, so that people, when they learn about salvation, when they learn about grace, grace versus works and so on, that they will come back to Abraham and see that salvation is the work of God's grace. It is not a man's work. It is not by man's wisdom, cleverness and planning and scheming that salvation happens. It is by God's grace.

And Paul uses this in that way extensively. Galatians chapter 4, let me read to you verse 21. I'm just going to read that and just hint at something, but we'll look at that in the days to come. Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? He's upset at the people who are coming and teaching the law to the New Testament Christians. You see, it's not just teaching the law or the Old Testament, they are saying that the demands of the law apply to this New testament Christians. In other words, very plainly, they're saying, “It's not enough that you got baptized and joined the Christian faith.” See, these are all Gentiles in the Galatian area, in the churches that Paul established. He preached the gospel, many converts came, and they were baptized, added to the church. Now, Judaizers come, the Jewish Christians come, and they think the laws demands also must be met. In other words, you must become a Jewish person before you become a Christian. You cannot straight away become a Christian. So, they’re coming and saying, “You're baptized, you're not circumcised so you got to get circumcised also. Baptism is not enough.” So, Paul is rebuking that and Paul is coming against that whole idea in Galatians and he says, “You who are followers of the law,” he says, “don't you hear the law?”

And look at what he says verse 22, For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through the promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is. In other words, very simply, I'll go through the details later on. Because I'm going to deal with this passage. But Paul simply says, “Listen, Abraham had two sons. One through Hagar, the bondwoman the other through Sarah, the freewoman, the wife. It has a very deep meaning,” he says. The meaning is this, “That the present-day Jewish people that you see,” he says, “in Jerusalem, the Jewish community and the Jewish people belong to the Jewish faith, they are all like the children of Hagar born under the bondage.” He compares them like that. But we are all Christians. We who are born again in and through Jesus Christ and His work, we're all born like Isaac, children of promise.

What is the difference between Hagar’s son and Sarai’s son? Hagar’s son was born out of human fleshly attempt to produce a child. It was Abraham’s strength in his old age, whatever strength he had left produced that child. It was Abraham's effort, the wife’s counsel, the wife’s decision, the wife’s planning and strategy, and Abraham's effort that produced that child. It was all human effort. It was all by the flesh. It was all by man's idea it was produced. That is how Ishmael was produced. That is why Ishmael will not do because he doesn't stand as a prototype of what God wants to show. He is what man has produced, man's wisdom has produced. He's what Abraham has produced along with his wife Sarai, with their clever planning, with human flesh and blood they have produced it. No God's miracle there. God's power is not there. No, it's all man's power that produced Ishmael.

What is the difference in Isaac? Man's power was not available. His body was now as good as dead, his wife’s womb is as good as dead. No man's power. Man would never have planned it because no man would plan to have a child at 100 years of age with his wife 90 years old. Abraham said no 100 times. It’s all God's planning. It’s all God's power. It is all God's strength. It is all God's might that produced Isaac. Paul says, “Christians are produced like that.” Hello. You are not here as a child of God because of your power, because of what you did, because of what you planned, because of your wisdom or anything like that. You are here because God saw you before the foundation of the world, marked you for Himself and came searching for you, gave His son for you, and delivered you from the hand and the power of Satan. Everybody says it's not possible and look where you are today. You are a child of God. It is a work of God's grace and God's power and nothing to do with man's power. Man's wisdom would have said it's not possible.

Even John's Gospel says like that. In John's Gospel chapter 1, the tremendous passage. In verse 12 it says, But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born. Listen to this. What is the difference between born again Christians and others? Born again Christians were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Hello. Not a product of man. Society didn’t reform us, they didn’t heal us from our sin. They didn't deliver us from our bondage to Satan. Nobody came and did anything for us. But God sent His Son. It's all God's wisdom, God's power. It's all God's doing. Salvation is entirely by God's grace. That is why you receive it only by faith.

You had nothing to do with it. It’s all God's work. Let's leave that subject for later. But I took you there just to show why God insisted that Ishmael will not do. That son has to be born to Sarah. Because God all this time is wanting to show through the birth of Isaac the whole truth about being born again, how people will be regenerated, how people will be saved, by His grace and through faith. How it's going to happen only by grace and through faith. God was making Abraham and Sarah the model for it. So, God said, “No, Ishmael will not do. He will not serve my purpose. You are the father of faith. I'm going to put you before people. Paul is going to write today in Romans, Galatians, James and then the author of Hebrews, all of them are going to use Abraham to teach faith.” Just imagine. There'll be nothing to teach about faith if this was not done like that. That is why God said, “Not Ishmael, but Isaac. Not through Hagar, the bondwoman, but through the freewoman, your wife, Sarah. Not at a young age when you can have the power to produce a child, and all is lost and all your power is gone when the world certifies that your wife’s womb is dead and you are as good as dead, then I want to produce because I want to show that's what salvation is like.” Amen.

I hope you get a glimpse of this whole thing. So, 99 years of age God appears to Abraham and gets his name changed. Just imagine what happens when Abraham was finally convinced. He said, “No.” He tried to cancel the plan, everything. God said, “No, no, no, your wife is going to have a child. This is the way we'll do it.” “At this age?” “Yeah,” God says, “that's a perfect age. Because you are yourself saying it's impossible. So, when the child arrives, you know that you didn't bring the child into the world, it's not your power. There is nothing to boast about.” “Where is boasting then?” Paul says. There is no boasting. No man can boast about salvation and no man can boast about their works and how they arrived where they are through their works. “When the child arrives, you will know and the whole world will know that this is God's doing,” God says.

So, there is a very great truth in this and also the way faith works is demonstrated here beautifully. You will learn about how you can take impossible situations and apply the word of God and the promises of God and turn the impossible situations around by faith in a very practical way. So, Abraham, after having this encounter with God tried to persuade God out of it, but God is not to be persuaded. So, finally Abraham is persuaded. The Bible says so, Paul says so. He was fully persuaded. He said, “All right. I'm ready God. You’re going to do it at 100 years of age. All right, I'm ready. So far, I've trusted You. I'm going to be all right with it. I'm going to take it.”

And he goes home, and he calls everybody says, “Look, I'm going to change my name.” Just imagine the laughter, the chuckles that went on. Everybody would have said, “Hey, did you hear that? He's going to change his name. Why is he changing the name? Because I think it's bothering him that his name is Abram, he’s the father of many, but has only one child and there's no chance of other children coming. So, this man is disturbed by this whole thing, that name he doesn't want, he wants to go to something general. So, he's going to change his name to something that doesn't reflect this meaning.” And they're all talking among themselves, the gossip is spreading, “The boss is going to change his name. Our boss has made a decision to change his name. What is the name going to be?” They’re guessing.

And then comes the breaking news. He says, “I'm going to change the name to Abraham.” I’ll talk more about the name later on but let me just say this, “Abraham is going to be my name.” What is the meaning of Abraham? verse 5 says that he's going to be the father of nations. Some translations say father of multitudes, not just many, but multitudes. Now you can hear the chuckles again. All the tents buzzing with gossip. They’re saying, “My God, man, I thought he's going to change the name to something general that will not talk about how many children he has and so on. I thought he's going to go to some other name. But look at the name the man has chosen, he’s going to be father of multitudes. Craziness. The old man doesn't understand anything. The world is going to laugh at him more than ever. Why did he do this? We can't accept this.”

The world says this is foolishness, but you know what the Bible says in 1 Corinthians chapter 1 verse 25, the foolishness of God... See, when God does something, it looks foolish to you. Right? When God says something, it looks foolish to you. It's talking about that when it says foolishness of God. That's what it says. When God does something and it looks foolish to you, the foolishness of God is wiser than men. Hello. It is greater wisdom than all the wisdom of men. The foolishness of God is wiser than men. And the weakness of God is stronger than men. Abraham began to understand that. He said, “Everybody thinks it's foolishness because God said it. The foolishness of God is wiser than man. God who is all wise is going to do something. Even if everybody laughs, I don't care about it. Let everybody laugh. I am not going to worry about it. I'm going to accept it.”

And from that day, he took on the name. Taking on the name and agreeing for this new name meant that he has taken by faith this thing that God has promised and agreed to work with God and see it through and see it to reality. When he accepted the name it meant, “I'm with you, Lord, do it. I'm here. Use me, use my wife. Demonstrate Your glory to this world. Show to this world that you are the God of the impossible. Everybody will laugh when I say it but I'm going to wait for You to show forth Your glory.” And today, we're preaching about Abraham. He’s so famous. Nobody is laughing at Abraham. Even in his day they stopped laughing at him because he's such a successful person. So, he took on that.

I tell you today, God's promises come to us like that. It looks foolish to us sometimes. But remember, what looks foolish to this world, if it comes from God, it's wiser than men. People will laugh at you because you believe in God. People will laugh at you, ridicule you because you believe a certain way. People will laugh at you because you believe certain things. But remember, the foolishness of God is wiser than men. Stand on it. Let God reveal His glory, let God do what He wants to do. We have a God that can show that He is the God of the impossible. So, He can take the promises today, He can bring the promises to us and those who receive the promises like Abraham, those who say yes to the promises, the promises of healing, the promises of well-being, the promises of blessings, the promise concerning anything in life, victory and success and all of that, the promises that God brings to you, you must receive it. Because it is a promise from God. The world thinks it is foolishness but when you receive it, I’ll tell you, God is the God of the impossible. He can take the body that is as good as dead and a womb that is good as dead and produce not just one child out of it, but make nations come out of it and kings come out of it. Hello. Are you there?

It's a faith challenge. Do you believe God? Do you believe that God's promises in your life can come to pass? Take it on. God can take the barren womb, a womb that everybody has certified as it will not produce, God can take a man who’s as good as dead and literally infuse His life into him and His strength into him and make that womb produce nations and kings out of it. This God is our God. The God of Abraham is our God. I believe in the God of Abraham. From a very young age, I've heard people pray, “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Nowadays, I wonder whether people understood what they were talking about, ‘God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Do you know what God of Abraham is all about? To me when I say God of Abraham it means this, God of Abraham translates to me the God of the impossible. God of Abraham means to me that for Him nothing is impossible. God of Abraham to me means that He is the one that called me from the fallenness in the fallen condition into a marvelous light and reveal Himself to me and brought me into this new life. And He is the one that will demonstrate to me in this life that He is the God of the impossible. He will do what is not possible by man in and through me. His purposes for my life will come to pass because He's the God of the impossible. Amen.

Now, that is how you live by faith. When you live by faith, you cross many situations where everybody says it's impossible, and you cross it, it's possible. I've seen in my life again and again, that what people said it's impossible is possible because with God all things are possible. This is the thing that Jesus talks about in the New Testament when He came. He said, “Do you believe?” “To him that believes all things are possible” He said. “Do you believe?” He says, “If you believe, all things are possible.” Amen.

So, I say to you today, your failure can turn into success. You may be down and out and lost everything and called a gone case and people may say that you will never come back, never rise again. But I tell you, the God of Abraham is alive today. He is our God today. Put your faith in God. Trust in God, He will raise you up. He will help you. When He helps you, no man can stop it. He will turn your failure into success. He will turn your sickness into health. He will turn your mourning into joy. He will turn your bleak present life into a glorious and wonderful future because He is the God of Abraham. He's alive today. Glory to God. God of Abraham. I'm so thankful that I'm a preacher of this God of Abraham. There is something to preach to this world. The world has too much hopelessness, has too many hopeless people but we have a message of hope to this world, that our God is a God of Abraham.

You want to see what God can do for you? Read Abraham. You want to see what God will do in your life? Come over here and I'm going to preach about how a childless man and his wife at 100 and 90, him 100 years old and her 90 years old produced a child and nations came out of them, and Jesus came as their descendant and salvation came through them. The history of the world was changed through them. You want to know what God can do for you? Look at the promises that God made to Abraham, look at the blessing of Abraham.

Jesus walked into a synagogue, saw a woman bent over 18 years, healed her. People questioned, “How can you do that?” He said, “This is a daughter of Abraham.” Jesus believed that healing is the birthright of Abraham. Abraham is God's man. Healing is the promise that is given to him. He said, “The daughter of Abraham.” So, He looks at her and says, “Woman, I loose you.” Because the blessing of Abraham says that you will not be a slave to anything. It sets you free. How many of you are children of Abraham today? You are the seed of Abraham, the Bible says. And I'll tell you, never compromise on that. Stand on that. In the midst of every situation, stand on the fact that you are the seed of Abraham. And I'll tell you great things will happen in your life.

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