Monday, September 22, 2008

The Life of Abraham - Genesis 17

When we met Abram at the beginning of this study, he was 75 years old. That is when God began establishing His covenant with him and promised him a son. Last week we saw that when Abram was 86, he had grown impatient and took matters into his own hands by trying to force God’s promise. Today, we go ahead 13 years after the birth of Ishmael. This is where God fully establishes His covenant with Abram. We see where his name is changed to Abraham, and once again he is promised a son through his wife Sarai, now called Sarah.

That period took 24 years very late in his life. I can’t imagine waiting 24 years for a promise like that to be fulfilled. If that happened in my life right now, I would be 54 when that promise was fulfilled. It was also a promised that Abraham had to remain faithful to God for the entire time. Realistically, he couldn’t think it was possible, at least in human terms. In that, God remained faithful to him as well.

5 No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God." – Genesis 17:5-8

This is an incredible honor that is bestowed upon Abraham, all because he remained faithful to God. You can trace Jesus’s own earthly lineage back to Abraham and this moment in Biblical history. We see that Abraham has his one end of the covenant that he had to keep, but this is the beginning of God’s great plan for humanity. Abraham was found blameless before God because of his faith. This reconciled him from his sins even though he could not be found faultless.

Finally, we are presented with the covenant of circumcision here. As a male, this is no small commitment. It is a sign that Abraham would remain faithful to God, lest he be cut off from God as his foreskin was cut off. It is a tangible reminder to remain faithful to God at all times. As we saw in the New Testament books of Acts and Romans, this is no longer required because of the new covenant established through Christ’s sacrifice, but it is still an important symbolization here.

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