The ninety-ninth year of Abraham was a very significant year. It was the year he became aware of whom he was to be. When God called him out of the land of Ur, He said He would make Abraham a great nation (Genesis 12:2). But now in his ninety-ninth year God says He will make him a father of many nations. Let’s look at this account in the seventeenth chapter of Genesis.
Genesis 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord (Jehovah) appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God (El Shaddai); walk before Me, and be thou perfect.
It is interesting to note that God reveals Himself to Abram as Jehovah and El Shaddai. Very often God gives Himself a name according to the way He wants to be known by His people. He wants us to know Him as El Shaddai, the Almighty God.
The Lord appeared to Abram. The Greek word for “appeared” is ra’ah, which more accurately means “was being seen of.” This could very easily have been by way of a vision or even in a dream. In some way God revealed Himself to Abram and said He was the Almighty God. We must not forget that the Word says no man has seen God at any time (John 1:18).
God said to Abram, I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou perfect. This must not be seen as a commandment only but also as a provision. It would be impossible for anyone to be perfect of himself. So God is not telling Abram to be perfect apart from Him; He is telling him that because as Almighty God He is able to make Abram perfect. “Abram, I am Almighty God. You will walk before Me and I will be right behind you to help you every step of the way. You will be perfect because I do a perfect work. You will fall on your face many times and make many mistakes, but I the Almighty God is with you. I have begun a good work in you and will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). That came to pass for Jesus said, Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it and was glad (John 8:56).
It is important for us to understand how God speaks. When He says something to us like He did to Abram, many will set themselves to walk before the Lord perfectly. No one can do that so what usually happens is that the person will get totally frustrated trying to do something he cannot do or he will put on a religious façade and fall into deception. It is not a commandment to be accomplished apart from the Lord. Rather, we must trust the Lord to make it a reality by Him coming forth in our lives, removing all the obstacles, and creating the life He desires for us.
Genesis 17:2 And I will make My covenant between Me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
The Hebrew word for “make” is Nathan, which more correctly means “to give.” Therefore, God is literally saying, “I will give My covenant.” That means He is setting in operation the things promised in His covenant, and these things will cause Abram to multiply exceedingly both naturally and spiritually. In Genesis 13:16 God said Abram’s seed would be as the dust of the earth (natural seed). Then in Genesis 15:5 God said his seed would be as the stars of heaven, meaning his spiritual seed. Abram would be multiplied naturally and spiritually.
Genesis 17:3-4 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
4 As for Me, behold, My covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
God will make Abram a father of many nations. Naturally speaking, Abram is the father of the Israeli nation. He is not the father of any other earthly nation. Thus, we understand that God is speaking of spiritual or heavenly nations. The Apostle Paul explains this in his Epistle to the Galatians. That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith…Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of One, And to Thy seed, which is Christ…And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise…Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. Galatians 3:14, 16, 29, 7-9. Jesus also spoke of this. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the Kingdom of heavens. Matthew 8:11.
Genesis 17:5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
God gives Abram a new name. God will no longer call him Abram. The name Abraham means the father of a multitude. In verse one we saw that God wanted Abram to know Him as the Almighty God, and now God is saying that He will know Abraham as the father of a multitude. A tremendous change took place in Abram. He became a new person. Therefore, he needed a new name. It was not hard for God to see Abraham as a father of many nations, for God knew what He was going to do. But it would be a little more difficult for Abram to see Himself as an Abraham. There was nothing in Abraham’s life, naturally speaking, to give evidence that he was a father of many nations. He had to believe without ever seeing it. God’s truth had to be his truth without ever seeing it manifested during his lifetime.
Do you have a new name? Thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name (Isaiah 62:2). Do you know who you are in the Lord? Every member of the many-membered Christ is given a new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows saving he that receives it. Revelation 2:17. I did not say that every Christian receives a new name, but every member of the many-membered Christ. The one that overcomes receives a new name. You will notice that when the Lord Jesus said that He was talking to the church. Everyone in the church is not an overcomer, but the ones who are overcomers are given a new name.
It is important for us to know who we are in the Lord. Do you know yourself after the flesh or in Christ? Many Christians only know the Lord after the flesh, as Jesus the Nazarene. We should no longer know Christ after the flesh and we should no longer know one another after the flesh. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more. II Corinthians 5:16.
Look at the last portion of verse 5: A father of many nations have I made thee. The verb “made” is perfect tense; it is a completed action, but there is no actual evidence. God, who quickens the dead, and calls those things which be not as though they were (Romans 4:17). Thus, the verb “made” is called prophetic perfect. Though it is not yet manifested, it is a done deal because the Almighty God has spoken it.
Maybe you have not received your new name yet. Maybe you are not even an overcomer yet. Nevertheless, God has a new name for you. Must you know you are an overcomer before you can receive your new name? Abram did not know he was an Abraham; he did not know he was going to be a father of many nations. It was necessary for God to tell him so he could start believing the Word of Almighty God. Seek the Lord. Ask Him about your new name. How are you going to become what He wants you to be if you don’t know what it is? How are you going to believe if you do not know the Word of the Lord for you? Seek Him! Hunger after the Lord! Give Him no rest until you become what He wants you to be (Isaiah 62:7). If you do not have enough faith to believe, use His faith! Without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6. Make this your ninety-ninth year!
Copyright © 2011 by Henry DuBose