Monday, October 10, 2011

From Infertility To A Mighty Nation

Did you ever realize that all of Israel's patriarchs struggled with infertility? What an amazing thought! God was creating his own special people that he promised would be innumerable like the stars and the dust - and he started by choosing forefathers for Israel who could not even have children. He chose the most unlikely candidates for his plan; the very opposite of what any of us would choose. First, an old man with a barren wife(Abraham and Sarah – Genesis 15:2-3; 17:17; 18:11-12). Then his son 'happens' to also marry a barren woman (Isaac and Rebekah – Gen 25:21). And, finally, his grandson continued the legacy (Jacob and Leah – Gen 29:31; 30:9; Jacob and Rachel – Gen 30:1-2; 22-24)! God would later be known as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and all of these men had barren wives. As Mark Dever noted about Israel, “These people shouldn’t even exist!”
In this light, Exodus 1:7 should hit us like a ton of bricks. This infertile family had over time grown to 70 people, and had migrated to Egypt. Then God began to work:
But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them. Exodus 1:7, ESV
In this short verse five phrases are piled together to scream to us about God's faithfulness. This people who came from infertile forefathers had a population explosion!!! And it was all just as God had promised. As Ligon Duncan points out, this verse borrows language from God's promises in the book of Genesis:
  • Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. Genesis 46:3, to Jacob
  • I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven. Genesis 26:4, to Isaac
  • I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. Genesis 17:6, to Abraham
  • And I will make of you a great nation… Genesis 12:2, to Abraham
  • And you, be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it. Genesis 9:7, to Noah
  • And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.. Genesis 1:28, to Adam
The borrowed language emphasizes to us that God is obviously working mightily for his own glory! He has promised things that looked impossible, and yet no obstacle can stand in the way of the sovereign God, who is creating a people for his own glory! Infertility is no match for the Almighty. It was no coincidence that all the patriarchs had this struggle; for when God overcame this 'impossible' obstacle he alone would be glorified!
In fact, God would conquer infertility again. After he multiplied the people of Israel, he sent his Son through their line. And Jesus, the promised Rescuer, was born of a virgin (Luke 1:31-37)!

Christ described our salvation as being “impossible with man,” but “possible with God” (Luke 18:26-27). God loves to create and allow impossible circumstances and situations and obstacles to rise up so that he can glorify his name when he does the impossible!
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. [27] But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; [28] God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, [29] so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. [30] And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, [31] so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, ESV
Rejoice! God is faithful. He will do all that he has said, and no obstacle will be able to stand in his way. He will use unlikely people with seemingly insurmountable problems. And he will be glorified forever!

(References: Promises Made: The Message of the Old Testament; Mark Dever; ©2006, Crossway Books.
Sermon by Ligon Duncan: Church Growth;

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