Now 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.’ – Genesis 17:1, NASB
God spoke this to Abram long after the covenant of the promised child was given, an as-yet-unfulfilled promise wherein Abram was told he would be the father of many nations, hence the eventual name change from Abram to Abraham.
Abram had been walking in Canaan for roughly 25 years when God spoke the words above. Abram and Sarai, in their attempt to “help” God with the promise, compromised their faith through an intimate encounter between Abram and Hagar, resulting in a world of hurt through the birth of Ishmael. Yet God affirmed his promise, and called Abram to “walk before me and be blameless.“
In our age of near-instant gratification, we do well to remember that El Shaddai, God Almighty is the God of covenant, with the power and integrity to fulfill every promise, despite the objections of science, nature, or the passage of time.
There is a construct in the Hebrew phrase translated as “before me” that is a bit of an oddity, and more closely translates as “in advance of my face,” or “my eyes.” It is the same term God used with Moses when he said, “You shall have no other gods in advance of my face,” or “before my eyes.” (Exodus 20:3)
God is calling Abram, and I believe us as well, to walk before his face.
Life with God is not a passive adventure where we don sunscreen and sit drinking mimosas all day. It is an active life where we strive after holiness, because the God we serve is holy.
By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. – 1 John 2:5b-6, ESV
As Christ-followers, we walk in such a way that God’s face is always before us. In doing so, we strive after holiness, completeness, blamelessness. We do nothing to inhibit or corrupt our walk with the Heavenly Father.
Oh that My people would listen to me, That Israel would walk in my ways! – Psalm 81:13, ESV
From the very beginning, Genesis 3, God walked with humanity in the garden, “in the cool of the day.” God has always desired our companionship, conversation, intimacy. He delights in us and we in him. Enoch “walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him.” (Genesis 5:22, RSV)
Jesus frequently walked with his disciples in the same way, with companionship, dialogue, intimacy. The Holy Spirit of God indwells the believer – how can we possibly get more intimate than that?
Many years ago, while ministering to students at Kansas University, I began referring to a certain class of believer as “butt-Christians.” These were those who wore the name of Christ, but the sum of their walk with Jesus was to come to the church assembly on Sundays where they sat on their butts for about 90 minutes, and then were done for the week. This is not the “walk” to which God calls us.
Regarding his walk with the Father, Jesus said, “I always do what pleases Him.” (John 8:29, BSB)
Walk, but do not walk aimlessly. Rather walk in a way that pleases El Shaddai, God Almighty. Strive to leave a smile on God’s face as he muses to himself, “That’s my child!”