Genesis 17:1-2 “Walk Before Me, And Be Blameless”

Posted on February 16, 2010. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Redeemer Church Sunday School- Genesis Class

Genesis 17:1-2 “Walk Before Me, And Be Blameless”

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bryan E. Walker


Genesis 17:1 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, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”





Introduction: Last week we introduced Genesis 17 and examined its literary structure and some of its features. This chapter is the highlight of the Abraham narrative in many ways because it is the final phase of the covenant between God and Abraham, it renames Abram and Sarai, and it introduces the sign of the covenant- circumcision.

We spent some time discussing the fact that it had been 13 long years since last Abram had heard from God and during that time he had assumed that Ishmael, his only son, the child of Hagar, was the promised offspring. But Ishmael was not the child of faith, the miracle child that God intended, he was the product of human effort, scheming and works. How often we go for long periods of time thinking that our efforts were the will of God!

Next we examine the name for God used in vs. 1, El Shaddai, God Almighty. We saw that even though the precise definition of this word is apparently lost to history, it tends to be used when a mighty miracle to provide for God’s people is presented.

Today we shall look at the rest of verse one (and maybe verse two) and the ideas of walking before the Lord and being blameless in light of his covenant.

Walk before me- walk in my presence, perform your service before me, live out your life in the knowledge that you are always in my sight and you exist for my pleasure and purposes, not your own. Picture a general or a head of state who has his military on parade in front of him, passing in review. This is an imperative in the Hebrew like several other passages we have studied. 12:1 “GO from your country…” 13:14 “LIFT UP your eyes…” 15:1 “FEAR NOT…” 15:5 “LOOK toward heaven…” 15:9 “BRING me a heifer…” This new imperative, however, has more of an ethical connotation than the others. In 5:24 “Enoch walked WITH God…” and in 6:9 “Noah walked WITH God.”  Gordon Wenham does not think the different preposition makes any substantive difference in meaning (p.20). It is imperative that we walk before God, in his presence.

The Latin phrase that RC Sproul uses to express this concept in his devotional magazine Table Talk from Ligonier Ministries is “Coram Deo”:

Recently a friend asked me… “What’s the big idea of the Christian life?” He was interested in the overarching, ultimate goal of the Christian life.

To answer his question, I fell back on the theologian’s prerogative and gave him a Latin term. I said, “The big idea of the Christian life is coram Deo. Coram Deo captures the essence of the Christian life.”

This phrase literally refers to something that takes place in the presence of, or before the face of, God. To live coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.

To live in the presence of God is to understand that whatever we are doing and wherever we are doing it, we are acting under the gaze of God. God is omnipresent. There is no place so remote that we can escape His penetrating gaze.

To be aware of the presence of God is also to be acutely aware of His sovereignty. The uniform experience of the saints is to recognize that if God is God, then He is indeed sovereign. When Saul was confronted by the refulgent glory of the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, his immediate question was, “Who is it, Lord?” He wasn’t sure who was speaking to him, but he knew that whomever it was, was certainly sovereign over him.

Living under divine sovereignty involves more than a reluctant submission to sheer sovereignty that is motivated out of a fear of punishment. It involves recognizing that there is no higher goal than offering honor to God. Our lives are to be living sacrifices, oblations offered in a spirit of adoration and gratitude.

To live all of life coram Deo is to live a life of integrity. It is a life of wholeness that finds its unity and coherency in the majesty of God. A fragmented life is a life of disintegration. It is marked by inconsistency, disharmony, confusion, conflict, contradiction, and chaos.

The Christian who compartmentalizes his or her life into two sections of the religious and the nonreligious has failed to grasp the big idea. The big idea is that all of life is religious or none of life is religious. To divide life between the religious and the nonreligious is itself a sacrilege.

This means that if a person fulfills his or her vocation as a steelmaker, attorney, or homemaker coram Deo, then that person is acting every bit as religiously as a soul-winning evangelist who fulfills his vocation. It means that David was as religious when he obeyed God’s call to be a shepherd as he was when he was anointed with the special grace of kingship. It means that Jesus was every bit as religious when He worked in His father’s carpenter shop as He was in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Integrity is found where men and women live their lives in a pattern of consistency. It is a pattern that functions the same basic way in church and out of church. It is a life that is open before God. It is a life in which all that is done is done as to the Lord. It is a life lived by principle, not expediency; by humility before God, not defiance. It is a life lived under the tutelage of conscience that is held captive by the Word of God.

Coram Deo . . . before the face of God. That’s the big idea. Next to this idea our other goals and ambitions become mere trifles.

This idea is captured by John Piper in his book Don’t Waste Your Life, Crossway: Wheaton, Ill. 2003 (p.31): “God created me-and you- to live with a single, all-embracing, all-transforming passion- namely, a passion to glorify God by enjoying and displaying his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. Enjoying and displaying are both crucial. If we try to display the excellence of God without joy in it, we display a shell of hypocrisy and create scorn or legalism. But if we claim to enjoy his excellence and do not display it for others to see and admire, we deceive ourselves, because the mark of God-enthralled joy is to overflow and expand by extending itself into the hearts of others. The wasted life is the life without a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples.”

This phrase, walk before me, is used of servants. Look at 1Kings 1:2, it is used of the young servant girl Abishag whose job was to keep King David warm at night; she was to be in his service. 1Kings 10:8your servants, who continually stand before you”. Victor Hamilton defines the word this way: “The expression walk in front of (and its parallel stand in front of) is well chosen. This phrase usually expresses the service or devotion of a faithful servant to his king…” This phrase is used of the patriarchs in 24:40 as Abraham says, “The LORD, before whom I have walked48:15 Jacob says, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked”.

In the New Testament there are many verses that would communicate the same general idea. The idea of repenting and believing, of following Jesus, walking after Jesus, imitating Jesus fits in perfectly. In Mark 1:15 Jesus’ call in his sermon is, “repent and believe in the gospel”. In Mark 1:16-20 he encounters the fishermen by the Sea of Galilee and commands, “Follow me…” In Mk.8:34 “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, (Matt.6:33) “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness…”

Perhaps the saying of Jesus that most closely matches the idea of God’s command to “Walk before me and be blameless” is the Great Commandment in Mk.12:29-31 “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

Like in Gen. 17 the Great Commandment begins with identifying God (I am El Shaddai- the Lord our God, the Lord is One) and has a phrase that is directed at the Lord (walk before me- Love the Lord your  God…) and concludes with a phrase that is directed at others in light of your relationship to God (and be blameless- love your neighbor as yourself.)

Paul uses several phrases that get the idea. Phil.1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Eph.5:1-2 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love as Christ loved us…”

To be an imitator of God gets us back to Gen. 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created hi; male and female he created them.” To walk before God, to follow Jesus, to live as Christ did, to imitate God is to fulfill our original purpose in God’s creating us, to reflect his glory joyfully back to him. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism states in its first Q and A: What is the chief end of man? A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.

The author of Hebrews writes in 12:1-2 “let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” The NIV says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus”.

and be blameless- Abram was to walk before God , and be blameless. This was first applied to Noah back in 6:9, but there it was the sense that he was already blameless while here we see a command to BE blameless. Hamilton notes that the LXX translates the same Hebrew word tamin from 6:9 as teleios, complete or perfect, while in 17:1 it is amemptos, blameless or faultless. In Ex. 12:5; Lev.3:1, 6 and 4:3, the word is used of sacrificial animals with the idea of perfect, whole, no obvious defects. It has the connotation of integrity, completeness in truth.

And be blameless can be interpreted as being in a proper sequence with walk before me. In other words, walk before me in order that you may be perfect (Allen P. Ross, p.330). If your desire is to be blameless, to have wholeness, then walk before God.  Being blameless necessitates walking with integrity not just before God, but with your fellow man. One cannot walk before God and have wrong actions towards his fellows. Right doctrine and theology, worship and praise are inseparable from ethics and morality. This is reflected in the Ten Commandments which begin with 4 commands Godward and then 6 towards others. This is seen in Lev. 19 where we are commanded “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy” and, just a few verses later, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” and at the end of the chapter, “You shall love him (the stranger) as yourself for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Matthew 5:48 “you therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”


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One Response to “Genesis 17:1-2 “Walk Before Me, And Be Blameless””

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This is the cry of my heart, to walk before the Lord and be blameless/ perfect, may the Lord answer my prayer today, in the mighty name of Jesus. He said we will seek Him and find Him if we search for Him with all our hearts, Jeremiah 29:13-14

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