The Sign of the Covenant

A friend tells of overhearing two little girls, playmates, who were counting over their pennies.One said, “I have five pennies.” The other said, “I have ten.” “No,” said the first little girl, “You have just five cents, the same as I.&rdq … More

Promise

In the last chapter, we saw Abraham’s tragic mistake in trying to hasten the work of God. He was eighty-six when Ishmael was born and ninety-nine when Isaac was born. However, before Isaac could be born, faith had to be exercised. This chapter explains how the covenant was received:

I. In absolute subjection (vv. 1-3). All Abraham had to do was listen for the Abrahamic covenant was unconditional and in no way dependent on his cooperation.

II. In absolute silence (4-14). Abraham lays prostrate in the dust listening while promise after promise are given.

A. The substance of the promise (vv. 4-8). - I will make thee fruitful.

1. There is a people involved (vv. 4-6). - Abraham and his seed.

2. There is a period involved (v. 7). - Everlasting.

3. There is a place involved (v. 8). - The land of Israel.

B. The seal of the promise (vv.9-14). - The right of circumcision.

C. The spirit of the promise (vv. 15-16). - Not intended to be an expression of saving faith on the part of the child, but of submissive faith on the part of the parent.

The promise of a seed is confirmed by the changing of a name and a sign. This was confirmed by the changing of the names of Abram to Abraham (vv. 1-8) and Sarai to Sarah (vv. 15-18) and God’s instituting circumcision as the sign of the covenant (vv. 9-14). God tells Abraham that he will be the father of many nations and the covenant will be everlasting. Today, an image is being created of a ravished Palestinian state and of a Palestinian nation that has been displaced by the Jews. The truth is that the last time an independent state existed, it was a Jewish state, destroyed by the Romans in A.D.70 and renamed “Palestine, after the Jews’ enemy the Philistines. There never has been a Arab state. Prior to the Abrahamic covenant God had already declared the boundaries of the land to be from the Nile on the west to the Euphrates on the east.

Application

A religious act, in itself, is meaningless; consequently, the attitude in which I surrender myself to the Lord in complete obedience to His will is very important.


Genesis 17:1-16 (English Standard Version)


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