Abram had messed up. He had doubted God's promise to give him a son from his own body. Instead of remembering that the two shall be one and waiting patiently on the Lord, the patriarch acted in response to his wife's misgivings -- that the promise only applied to him, not Sarai. So through polygamy Ishmael was born. Not only did he set a false precedent for God's people having multiple spouses; he also created a controversy that is warred even in our time in the beautiful land of Palestine.
This is the Abram whom God approaches thirteen years later in Genesis 17, to whom He says: "I am the Almighty God. Walk before me and be perfect, and I will establish My covenant with you."
First, God declares Who He is. To Moses He said, "I am that I AM." A speaker at GYC paraphrased it this way: "Pure existence." To Joshua, The Lord said, "As Captain of the host of the Lord am I now come." He is the General, the Commander-in-chief of the heavenly army -- of angels that excel in strength. He knows how sweet victory is. And so to His chosen servant, the God of the universe says: I AM Almighty.
So He tells Abram how he can taste that victory too. I know you messed up. I know you doubted Me. I know that you are a struggling sinner. But even still, "Walk before me and be perfect."
No matter where I may have been before now, no matter what my imperfections are, I can be perfect. God does not say that I will simply look perfect or be called perfect. He says I can BE perfect. Just as surely as He exists -- I AM, He says -- I can be perfect.
The work of becoming and then staying perfect does not happen overnight. So God gives us a clean slate by calling us perfect. He did the same for Abram and Sarai. You get a new name, He said; one that does not reflect you past state. You will be the progenitors of many nations - that's My promise to you. So I will name you accordingly. Abraham and Sarah: father and mother of many nations.
God changes my name too. All over Revelation, He makes promises to those who overcome. He wants me to be among that number. So you know what He calls me?
"And He said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob [supplanter, deceiver, child of the devil] but Israel [overcoming one, prince, child of God]: for as a
prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." (Genesis 32:28).
My Creator has so much faith in me. He so thoroughly believes that I can attain His plan for me that He is willing to put His name on the line. I say "on the line" because both He and I know that on my own, I cannot do this at all. But He knows that with Him, all things are possible. So in His name, He both has justified me and is sanctifying me.
And so I live for Him. Psalm 23:4 says, "He restoreth my soul; He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake." I live for Him to glorify His name, the name through which He has so graciously chosen to save me. I live for Him and do strive to walk the paths of righteous that it may be known that His name is Almighty, that truly all things are possible with Him. Restoration is possible with Him. Transformation is possible with Him. Perfection is possible with Him.
Are you with Him?