Abram and Sarai were blessed by God with promises and new names. Abraham and Sarah. They became the father of a multitude and his princess. Patriarch and matriarch who were commissioned with a challenge to walk faithfully and blamelessly after God…
1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. 2 Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”
3 Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, 4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5 No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”
15 God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”
Genesis 17:1-8, 15
It was around 10 years after God first initiated his promises to Abram that he, once again, reiterated it and actually changed Abram’s name to match the promise. Abram was renamed Abraham, which means ‘father of a multitude.’ God reiterated his promise of a multitude of descendents, and the promise of the everlasting possession of the land of Canaan.
Sarai was also renamed Sarah, which means ‘princess.’ Her former name meant ‘quarrelsome,’ so there is a sense of redemption in Sarah’s name. She will become the mother to nations, and her name was changed to reflect her matriarchal position and the blessing of her role.
What’s in a name? Apparently to Hebrew people, there is a lot to a name, because every name has a meaning. In our culture, a name is more of a pleasant sound or a sound which carries an impression or emotion. For me, and perhaps for you, the name change is relevant to the story, yet it’s the presence of God which makes the difference.
Abraham and Sarah are changed and commissioned into God’s service in a manner of speaking through God’s presence and blessing. Name change was part of it, yet God’s activity in their lives is what activates the meaning behind the names.
Notice that God gives a command to them even before he brings the blessing. Walk before me faithfully and be blameless. That’s the requirement. Then I will… Even before he lays out the blessing he requires their faithfulness and righteousness.
And I will end with that underscored. If we expect God to use us and fulfill his blessing of mission for us, we must be faithful and righteous. We’re not going to be perfect. God knows that. He is a holy God, however. And his plan includes taking regular people and making them holy like him.
Abraham fell face down before God as he listening to God’s blessing. With a reverent posture we will receive God’s blessing. And with a faithful and blameless walk we will live in it.