"And I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her." Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, "Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old?
And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?" And Abraham said to God, "Oh that Ishmael might live before Thee!" But God said, "No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him." (Genesis 17.16-19).
If you are sensitive to the word 'failure,' more than likely you have faced a lot of criticism in your life. Failure is one word these people stay far away from. They often are perfectionists. They don't dare to fail. Some of it is that they don't want to face criticism but more of it might come from the sense of need to prove how good they are. "I'll show them how good I can be." But not everyone can always succeed. Sometimes even the perfectionists fail. If their pride is burst, then they can feel totally worthless.
We often think God treats us in ways that we have been treated by our parents. How fortunate we have in Abraham's life how God deals with failure in our lives. Abraham failed to wait upon God, a mess developed, and yet God helped him back up again to keep waiting until the promise was fulfilled.
ABRAHAM - CONSEQUENCES FOR NOT WAITING
Abraham stopped waiting. He had a son by another woman. The reasons for this were many.
Abraham had waited a long time for the fulfillment of God's promise to him. Years and years went by as people laughed behind his back about God's promised son to him. And even when he did take that bold step of going into his wife's handmaid, his wife encouraged him to do it. (1)
So Sarai said to Abram, “Now behold, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children through her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. (Genesis 16.2)
Abraham and Sarah were past time to bear children and had given up waiting upon God. But once they took the matter into their own hands, they actually failed God. This not only brought a lot of extra turmoil into his marriage but brought long lasting consequences. Ishmael was born and from him arose Israel's permanent enemy right up to this day. (2)
WAITING FOR TRAINING
God didn't leave Abraham in his failure. After he failed God, the Lord in His goodness clarified matters. Even after a good while, Abraham still saw the fulfillment of the promise in Ishmael. But God rejected Abraham's assertion and instead reinstituted and clarified the promise.
"Abraham said to God, "Oh that Ishmael might live before Thee!" But God said, "No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him..." (Genesis 17:19).
They again were positioned to wait for God's timing of fulfillment.
We can see through this that God was training Abraham and Sarah in faith. They of course thought God's promise would have been fulfilled long ago. But God knew even when He gave the original promise that it would be many years later before it was fulfilled. However, He put no time clause in it.
He never told Abraham. God was more interested in developing Abraham's faith rather than protecting him from scoffing. When the real test came to offer up Isaac, Abraham passed with flying colors. God brought a host of blessings into this world through that faith of Abraham.
Then the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, "By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore;
and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. "And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice." (Genesis 22:15-18).
God was looking for that faith and found it. We can further learn from this that even if we have failed to wait as God wanted, we should get up, pick up the pieces, and by God's grace He will give us another try at it. He is our Father and is training us. But oh, may we live and not fail. We have enough bad consequences surrounding our lives that we need not any more!