The Sign of the Covenant
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.’ Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, ‘As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.
God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.’
Reflection by Duke Yaguchi
Well, I must say, I'm quite skeptical about taking this scripture literally. Back in the day, if people lived to be forty or fifty, they were quite lucky. Between wars and famine and lack of practically any medical care or even reliable food sources, it is difficult for me to believe that Abraham lived to be 99, let alone have children at that age.
Even through my skepticism, I wonder what is the point that God is making here? Could it be that God can shower blessings on anyone? That kings can come from anywhere? Or can it mean that it matters who your parents are?
God renames Abram to Abraham, which means father to the multitude. God is proclaiming the fulfillment of his promise to Abraham. Eventually, from a long list of generational offspring will come Jesus, the King of Kings.
Was Abraham really 99 years old? If everyone else around him lived to be 30 or 40, who would know? How would they know? In the grand scheme of things, I don't think Abraham's age is important. The important piece of the story is that God had a plan, and God's plan is fulfilled.
So the important take away for each of us isn't can we live to be 99. The important piece for our story is can we help fulfill God's plan for us?
Dear Lord, help me do your will. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.