The Covenant of Circumcision – Genesis 17:1-22
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 And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, 4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. 8 And I will give to you, and to your offspring after you, the land where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan, for a perpetual holding; and I will be their God.”
9 God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old, including the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring. 13 Both the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money must be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”
15 God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said to himself, “Can a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Can Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “O that Ishmael might live in your sight!” 19 God said, “No, but your wife Sarah shall bear you a son, and you shall name him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. 20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you; I will bless him and make him fruitful and exceedingly numerous; he shall be the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. 21 But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this season next year.”22 And when he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham.
What does the passage say?
V. 1-8 God appears in front of Abram. In v. 1 it says, “the Lord appeared to him,” and v. 22 says, “God went up from him.”
God comes and gives Abram a new identity. God changes Abram’s name to Abraham, which means “I’m making you the father of many nations” (v. 5 The Message).
V. 9-14 As a sign of this covenant and blessing, God commands all male to undergo circumcision. The Message says, “That way my covenant will be into your body, a permanent mark of my permanent covenant” (v. 13 The Message). Does circumcision promise salvation or blessing? NO! However, it is a permanent mark the men of Isreal carried as God’s people.
V. 15-22 God also commands Sarai to change her name to Sarah. God promise again that she will bear a son, near at the age of ninety. Abraham, with his face down, laughs as he hears this promise, but God is still faithful. God even names the child Issac, who is yet to come.
What does this mean to me/us
When God called Abram out of Harran, he was 75 years old.
There were many accounts where God called and talked with Abraham. However, this is first time was written, where it says God actually appeared in front of Abraham.
God could have appeared in front of Abraham, but what if God never did until this point?
That might be the reason we call Abraham the father of faith.
Without appearing to him, Abraham still packed up all he had and left his hometown, because God called him to do so.
Without appearing to him, Abraham held onto the promise that God will make him blessings to all nations, and have the decedents of Abraham, as many as the stars in the sky.
It took more than 24 years since Abraham was called out of the land of Harran at the age of 75, for God to appear to him, but he still followed God’s direction faithfully.
Even though Abraham is yet to have his son, Isaac, he is still faithful to the Lord.
It says, couple time, Abraham fell facedown. Falling facedown in front of the presence of the Lord is a natural response of people. In the Bible, there are many accounts where people fall to the ground when they meet God face-to-face. God’s glory overwhelmed and made them fall.
However, I feel like this action of Abraham was a sign of relief for Abraham. Maybe the doubt he carried out for the past 25 years, all melted at this moment. It would have been a posture of joy, confirming Abraham, assuring that he did the right thing. Even though God’s promise is yet to come, I believe he was filled with the joy of encountering his creator.
When will this happen to us? As we face our Savior face-to-face, will we like Abraham fall on our face with joy and relief knowing that we walked the right path and fought the good fight? How we live today will reflect how we meet our creator, on that day.
I guess, we can only imagine.
What does this MEAN to you?
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