Archive for June 18th, 2011

Genesis 17

Genesis 17 is a story of the discussion between God and Abram of the future.  Abram is 99 years old and God appears to him and tells him “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly”.  God has a plan for Abram’s life – to walk with God blamelessly.  The result would be a covenant and that would lead to being multiplied greatly.  God goes on to define that last part – “you shall be the father of a multitude of nations….I will make you exceedingly fruitful”.  So Abram is 99 and God is telling him that he will be the father of a great nation that is exceedingly fruitful.  Sort of makes one wonder how doesn’t it?  Sarai has already given up on being a mother – having given here slave girl Hagar to Abram so a child could be born – Ishmael.  But God’s plan is not man’s…..

I will establish my covenant….an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you”.  God has a plan to bless Abram now and for generations to come.  God also has changed Abram’s name during this discussion.  God now calls him Abraham as the “father of a multitude of nations”.  He goes on to tell Abraham about the covenant and what was expected: “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations”.  This is a very big deal.  God is creating a covenant with Abraham to bless him with a multitude of offspring.  And it will last for generations – this is not some short term deal.  God’s covenant is going to last forever – that is what covenants do.

God begins to explain to Abraham how all this will work.  He begins by changing wife Sarai’s name to Sarah.  And then God drops the bomb – “I will give you a son by her”.  Abraham is 99, Sarah is 90.  They already took things into their own hands and had Abraham father a son through Sarah’s personal slave Hagar.  But God says this old lady – your wife – will be a mother.  What does Abraham do?  “Abraham fell on his face and laughed”.  Remember that he is having this conversation with God Himself.  This isn’t some random discussion with one of the boys down the street.  Abraham can’t believe what God has told him.  He thinks that Ishmael is going to be the source of fulfillment to the promise of God’s covenant. 

But God is clear that a son will be born of Sarah and “call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him”.  There is a new kid on the block coming who is to be the great nation that God is going to have a covenant with.  Because Abraham asked God to bless Ishmael – God honors that request as well – but there is no question that Isaac is the line of blessing.  The action required on Abraham’s side of this covenant was circumcision.  Abraham circumcised himself, Ishmael and every man who were part of his house.  He obeyed God’s direction and the covenant was put in place.  God made a promise that stands through history into our world today.  The foundation of what exists has roots that run back to these stories and lessons.  There should be no surprise at the world events that are happening.  The foundation for the future was created by how folks lived and the choices they made centuries ago.  Our live choices matter too – for eternity.  Are you making the right ones?

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