By Robin Sam
Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram (Genesis 16:16).
ABRAHAM was 75 years old when he left Haran to go to Canaan according to what God had told him. Genesis 12:5 says: ‘Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan.’
We do not know when Abram got married to Sarai. So we do not really know how long Sarai remained barren. But, when Abram set out from Haran to go to the Promised Land, Sarai accompanied him. So it is safe to assume that the two were either married sometime before that or around the time that Abram got the call to move on to Canaan.
Before the Great Flood of Noah’s time, people lived up to 900 years and usually they bore children at the age of 60 or 70 or 90 or even 100.
If you go through the lineage of Adam in Genesis 5, you would come across these verses:
Seth lived 105 years, and begot Enosh.
Enosh lived 90 years, and begot Cainan.
Cainan lived 70 years, and begot Mahalalel.
Mahalalel lived 65 years, and begot Jared.
Jared lived 162 years, and begot Enoch.
Enoch lived 65 years, and begot Methuselah.
Methuselah lived 187 years, and begot Lamech.
Lamech lived 182 years, and had a son.
And Noah was 500 years old, and Noah begot Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
Becoming a father at the age of 65 or 70 or 90 or 100 was quite common before the flood. But, after the flood the lifespan of man was shortened and as a result the age when men attained fatherhood was also greatly reduced.
Shem, Noah’s son was 98 years old when he was in the Ark. Two years after the flood, at 100 he had a son named Arphaxad. Now, turn with me to Genesis 11 to see a pattern emerge.
Arphaxad lived 35 years, and begot Salah.
Salah lived 30 years, and begot Eber.
Eber lived 34 years, and begot Peleg.
Peleg lived 30 years, and begot Reu.
Reu lived 32 years, and begot Serug.
Serug lived 30 years, and begot Nahor.
Nahor lived 29 years, and begot Terah.
Seven generations passed by after the flood and in each generation the age when men attained fatherhood was the thirties. Just as it is in our days. A pattern was emerging.
And, then something inexplicable happened. Genesis 11:26 says: ‘Now Terah lived seventy years, and begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran.’ Terah lived up to 205 years and died in Haran.
In this light, it is safe to assume that Abram must have got married to Sarai in his seventies, just like his dad.
If the pattern of siring a son or daughter in the thirties had continued till the time of Terah, Abram’s father, the patriarch’s life would have been considered abnormal. That’s when God chose to change the pattern. To make Abram’s abnormal look normal, God made Terah sire children only at the age of 70.
Child of God, when you look at your life you see only the abnormality of your circumstances. The impossibility of the situations may make you balk and go weak in your knees, but remember there is a God who changes the patterns to make your abnormal, normal. Hallelujah!
If you think childbirths are a natural and normal progression of a marriage, talk to couples who have remained childless even after 10, 15 and 20 years. And, they will tell you the birth of a child is nothing short of a miracle. It is the hand of God that makes it happen! (Exodus 23:26; Deuteronomy 7:14). Glory to God!
Not just the birth of a child, we take many other things in life for granted. People may be working to make a living, but money alone does not motivate them to keep on working. That’s why there are increments, bonuses and promotions weaved into the system. They pat you on the back and egg you on to take on newer challenges and achieve newer targets. Compliments make you look for newer hills to conquer.
God changed the pattern in Jacob’s life for a greater blessing!
Ask Jacob about the importance of increments and allowances. He will tell you increments mean your work is recognized and appreciated. He worked for his father-in-law Laban for 20 years and in those years his wages were changed 10 times. Not only was Jacob’s work not recognized and appreciated, worse, he was even mistreated at the workplace. Every time his work came up for appraisal, his employer told him he was no good. Worse, the wages committed to him were changed too. This happened every two years over a period of 20 years. In today’s corporate culture, where employee loyalty is on the decline Jacob may be dismissed as an inefficient worker who did not have better offers or an incompetent worker getting what he deserved. But the Bible says Laban profited because of Jacob. Not only that, Jacob took the losses for himself and made sure only profits went into Laban’s account.
It is normal for a person who faithfully works for an individual or a company to get what he richly deserves. But that was not the case in Jacob’s life. The normal became the abnormal in his case.
Throw this question to Jacob: ‘Why do you think what should have been normal became abnormal in your life?’ And he would tell you: It is true I did not get my due from Laban. It is true that my wages were changed 10 times in 20 years. It is true that I suffered losses to make sure he profited. It is true that I was distressed at the way I was ill-treated at my workplace. It is true that I felt cheated and upended, but the day I realized God changing the patterns of my life, I understood that my calling was not to make a comfortable living in Padan Aram, get increments and promotions and settle down in Laban’s home turf but to go to my father’s land, Canaan, and possess it (Genesis 31:18).
Child of God, do you feel cheated and ill-treated like Jacob at your workplace? Are you seething in anger over the denied promotions, recognition and increments? Do you feel an invisible force has been upending your life every time you came close to a honor? Examine your life prayerfully and see if it’s the hand of God prodding you to go and take possession of your higher calling. Jacob, if God has set Canaan as your target, don’t settle down for Padan Aram!
Jacob, it is in Canaan that your 12 children will become 12 tribes. It is not in Padan Aram but in Canaan that your children would one day become tribal heads.
Your destination will determine your destiny! So, if you know God has called you to be in Canaan, don’t settle down in Padan Aram. When God sees signs of comfort settling into your routine, He will change the patterns of your life to point you to your rightful inheritance – Canaan! Hallelujah!
God changed the pattern in Joseph’s life to make him a blessing!
Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob. Joseph was neither the eldest nor the youngest, yet he became the apple of his dad’s eye. ‘Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age’ (Gen 37:3). Jacob loved Joseph more than his other sons because he was the firstborn of his beloved wife, Rachel. From being the best loved child to the one who had the coat of many colors, Joseph looked all set for a cozy and comfortable life. Even as a lad, he knew he had a special favor on him. Twice he dreamed dreams that indicated he was destined for greatness among his brethren. His life was well and truly on a dream course until the pit in Dothan came into his life.
The dreamer destined for greatness was cast into a pit because of sibling rivalry. The pit, however, was not his destiny. So he was sold to Ishmaelite traders as a slave. And because his life was not destined to be in the company of nomads, he found a place to stay and work in Potiphar’s house. And, at Potiphar’s house just when things began to look up, he was falsely charged of attempted rape and dumped in the dungeons. The prison cells could not hold him for long because God intervened and changed the pattern in Joseph’s life. The pattern of ups and downs in Joseph’s life ceased the day he stood before the Pharaoh. From then on, Joseph’s life was on a steady ascent. And once when the pattern changed, the dreamer of Canaan became the dream administrator any ruler would die for. Joseph became the second in command in the entire land of Egypt.
However, if you think God changed the pattern of Joseph’s life to make him a blessing you would have missed the point. God changed the pattern of Joseph’s life not only to make the abnormal normal but to make him a blessing!
Ask Joseph why his life was full of ups and downs and he would say: ‘So that I know how to empathize with the downtrodden while still dining with the duke.’
Ask Joseph about why God changed the pattern of his life and he would say: ‘My brothers meant evil against me. But God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive’ (rephrased from Gen 50:20).
When God changes the pattern of your life, He may be trying to make your abnormal look normal or moving you from Padan Aram to Canaan for greater blessings or taking you through the ups and downs of life to make you a blessing to others. Whatever it is that God wants to do with your life today, don’t ask Him to change the difficult people around you. Ask Him to change you and the pattern of your life.
But God will not want to be a pattern changer in your life, unless you resolve to change yourself. That’s why Romans 12:2 says: ‘And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.’
You are destined for greatness! Amen.