Abram to Abraham

Pastor Josh Combs

“No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.” Genesis 17:5

At 99 years old, Abram’s life was far from finished. God still had great plans for him. Twenty-four years earlier, Abram and his wife, Sarai, had left the pagan lands of Mesopotamia, journeying to a country that God had yet to show them. The Lord had promised Abram, “I will make of you a great nation, and…make your name great” (Genesis 12:2). But how? More than a decade would pass and Abram and his wife were still childless. Where was the great nation? Where was the great preservation of the family name?

Abram decided to take matters into his own hands. He and his   wife agreed that her servant Hagar would bear Abram an heir (a culturally accepted practice). Hagar gave birth to a son, Ishmael, and instantly a difficult situation became worse. Thirteen years later, God appeared to Abram. Abram was nearly a century old, but God was about to make a radical change. God confirmed the covenant with this great saint and then proclaimed, “No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations” (Genesis 17:5). Abram simply means “exalted father,” while Abraham means “father of a multitude.” Abram’s longing was to be a father, but God’s plan was beyond what he could even imagine. No longer would Abram be simply a wealthy, successful father of one son. God was going to make him, now called Abraham, the father of a multitude. Abraham had acted within the range of his limited human scope, but God was impacting the centuries to come, changing Abram’s destiny. He would forever be Abraham. This was not only a name change, but a completely new identity—and the plan of God was further revealed.

This is the power of God that leads to radical transformation. Abram has become Abraham. He was a childless man of Ur, who is now the father of a multitude and in covenant with the one true God. The Creator of the universe may not come and change your name, but He does, in fact, want to change your destiny, particularly your eternal destiny. God called Abram out of spiritual darkness, just like He calls to each of us. The Scripture tells us that Abram “believed the Lord, and [God] counted it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). Abraham had the faith to believe the word that God had spoken and the courage to follow the command that he was given. We are called to do the same. We are called to leave our sinful lives behind, which is repentance, and then to believe the Word of God. God changed Abraham’s name to symbolize the complete transformation that was taking place. “If anyone,” the Bible says, “is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18).

Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 11:26–17:21

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