Walk before Me

"I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect." (Genesis 17:1)

Abraham had been "walking" in the land of Canaan nearly 25 years when God gave this command to him. He had experienced the shameful rebuke in Egypt by Pharaoh and a marvelous victory against Chedorlaomer--and then had demonstrated both humility and obedience before Melchizedek.

God had been explicit in His promises to Abraham, but the promised heir had not yet come. Now, in spite of the awful lapse of faith with Hagar and the nagging burden of Ishmael, God insisted that Abraham "walk before" Him and "be perfect."

The Hebrew language here is unusual. The word translated "before me" is panyim, basically meaning "the face." This is the term used in the first commandment where we are told to "have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3).

In Genesis 17:1, the phrase could well be translated "walk, looking at my face." The first commandment, could also be translated "don't let any other god get between your face and my face."

The implication is obvious. God expects us to live in such a way that His "face" (Person, Character, Presence) is always "before" us so that our "walk" (lifestyle, behavior) is "perfect" (complete, whole, healthy), with nothing inhibiting the relationship "of him with whom we have to do" (Hebrews 4:13).

"Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations" (Genesis 6:9). After warning Israel of the dangers of the pagan nations surrounding them, Moses still insisted that they should "be perfect with the LORD thy God" (Deuteronomy 18:13). No matter what the circumstances may be, if we are looking at God's "face" we will walk perfectly. HMM III

Series: 
Old Testament
Book: 
Genesis
Verses: 
17:1
Article Type: 
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