Book of Genesis
Verse: Gen 17:17
A. As chapter 16 ends, Abram is at his lowest spiritual point. He has sinned and is out of fellowship with both his God and his family. But the Lord seems to do nothing to his erring child. Is Abram going to get away with all this? To answer we need only note that he was eighty‑six years old when Ishmael was born (16:16), but is 99 when God again speaks with him. Abram thus apparently suffered a thirteen‑year period of God's grieved silence. Here the words of the Psalmist concerning Israel's history comes to mind: "And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul" (Ps. 106:15).
It has been almost 13 years since God talked with Abram,
depending on how one counts the years. It
would be 14 years from Gen. 15 to
the birth of Isaac. Abram is 99
years old and once again the Lord visits him and brings him news that in just
about nine months he is going to be a father.
We may think that this is a mighty long time to wait for
the Lord to move. Surely Abraham
grew weary from waiting day in and day out with no word other than promises
made years before. What we have
to remember and apply in these situations is God has a timetable and He does
not speed time up to make us happy. What
we need to be thinking about is not that time is passing us by, but that God
is using us.
B. In spite of this, a gracious God now forgives and restores him (Ps. 51) back into fellowship. The title "Almighty Go& in the Hebrew is El Shaddai. The word Shadd refers to the bosom of the nursing mother. The word El means "the strong one."
1. God comforts Jacob with His name (Gen. 3 5: 10, 11).
2. He reassures Moses with this name (Ex. 6:3).
3. Jacob blesses Joseph with this name (Gen. 49:25). This title is found more often in the book of Job (thirty‑one times) than in any other Old Testament book. And that suffering patriarch needed it. Perhaps the most sublime passage in which it is used is Psalm 9 1:1, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty "
A. The Challenge (17:1)
1. To obey God instead of and above everyone else
To Walk - Our Walks
Almighty God wants His children to grow in their walk of
faith. In order to so do, each
must engage in four different walks. Each
one is somewhat different than the other, but one is no less important than
the others. These walks are types
of spiritual growths.
Here is where the majesty of the King James Bible makes
a grand display of beauty. These
four walks of faith are positional and are so identified with pre-positional
phrases in the KJB. Of these four
prepositional phrases, only one is found in the NIV and that is the phrase
walk before me. Ironically this
is the babe in Christ walk.
Walk before the
Abram walked before the Lord.
The preposition before suggest that Abraham would walk before the Lord
in perfect peace. The phrase
reminds one of a child playing before their father, with the fatherís ever
watchful eye on the child. The
child plays and runs without any fear, for there is security, knowing that
father is near, and no harm can befall.
God is saying to Abraham to walk before me.
Do not be afraid of the promises I made.
It is not up to you to carry them out and make them happen.
That is my part. Your part
is to believe I can and will do it; so walk before Me upright and perfect.
This walk is typical of a new born babe in Christ.
The minute we get saved we have an abundance of energy.
We are active just like children.
Perhaps that is why the Author refers to us at that stage as babes in
Walk after the Lord,
The prepositional phrase Ďto walk after the Lordí is
to walk in submission to His will. This
is the command God made to Israel. They
were His children. He was their
This is the next level of the walk of faith in the life
of a Christian. Once the newness
of being born again settles, we begin to realize there are some doís and
doníts in the word. Those that
walk after the Lord place his statues and laws before them and vow to keep all
the things written. This walk is
a submissive walk and denotes Master and servant.
Walk with the Lord,
The prepositional phrase Ďwalk with the Lordí is a
walk of fellowship and friendship. Enoch
found that this was not a difficult walk.
He was greatly rewarded for walking with the Lord.
As Christians, we can not walk with the Lord until we
have learned to walk after the Him. This
level of Christian walk is not easily obtained.
The reason why it is not easily obtained is because if we are going to
be friends with God, we are going to be enemies with the world.
How many times do we compromise this walk with the Lord
because we want to drag Him down into the world with us.
God will not stoop to our level. He
did that once at Calvary, and He will not do so again.
If we intend to grow in our faith, we must learn to walk with the Lord.
If we do we will find peace. If
we continue to walk in the world their will be everything but peace.
Walk in the Lord,
The prepositional phrase of Ďwalking in the Lordí is
a walk of oneness. Again it is
only obtained after we master the other three.
The reason why it is so important for us to continue in our walks until
we are at one with Him is because that is the only time we can be identified
with His body. He is the head of
the body, Eph
The physical body ought to be in harmony with the head.
How many times does the body tell the head what to do, where to go,
what to say, how to act, and when to do these things?
Always when the flesh is in control
Now let us make a spiritual application to this physical
attribute. Jesus is the head of
the spiritual local body of believers called a New Testament Church.
The local body does not tell the Head what to do.
If we, as a local body, made up of individuals are not in harmony, we
are not at one with Him. Our walk
of faith is not growing.
The reason why so many born again children never mature
into that full man of God is because a walk in the Lord requires sacrifice.
It requires bearing some marks in your physical body, for did He not
bear some marks in His? Paul had
the marks of Christ on him. Gal
6:17 From henceforth let no man
trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
Some do not want to have their bodies marked.
In summary, we walk before God as children, we walk
after Him as servants, we walk with him as friend, and we walk in Him as
members of His body.
3. To be perfect Ė to be what God designed you to be (Mt 5:18; 19:21)
B. Godís Covenant (17:2-14)
1. The Lord personally appears to Abram
2. Establishes an Everlasting Covenant
a. For the fourth time now God reaffirms the land and seed covenant to his old servant. (See Gen. 12:2, 3, 7,‑ 13:14‑17; 15.5.)
b. On this occasion (17:9‑14), God commanded Abraham to circumcise himself, all the males of his household, and each future male baby on the eighth day of birth.
c. Following is a brief summary of circumcision as found in the Bible.
1) Abraham was the first man to be circumcised. This in itself was a real act of faith, for it rendered completely helpless all the males in the camp.
2) Circumcision was to be the seal (or sign) of God's promise, but not the source.
3) Faith in God's Word was the source. d. Circumcision of the flesh without circumcision of the heart was absolutely worthless. (Deut. 10: 12, 16).
4) Circumcision was set aside in Acts 15:29.
3. Bases the entire covenant with Abram on Himself, and His abilities and perfection Ė THANK GOD
4. Promises that this covenant will pass upon all his children
5. Changes Abramís name - Changing names, Neh 9:7-8.
a. His name was now changed from Abram, which means "exalted Father" to Abraham, which means, Father of a great multitude. "
b. Abram, a name that means high father, had his name changed to Abraham, a name that means father of a multitude. His name was change by El-Shadda. What greater promise do we need than that of God being our God forever. All the things that exist in God are ours. All we have to do is believe and follow His will
c. What is in a name? God identified Himself as the Almighty God to a man whose named meant high father. The Almighty One just changed the name of Abram to mean a father of a multitude. What is in a name? Prov 22:1 A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.
6. Abraham's wife's name is now changed from Sarai (contentious ruler) to Sarah (a princess). Saraiís name changed, Gen. 17:15-22
a. Sarai shall be called Sarah, a name that means princess. The Almighty One told Abraham that He will give you a son with her. She will bear the child of promise, and be a mother of nations and the mother of kings.
Extending the covenant.
God gave Abraham and his seed the land of Canaan.
Notice in Gen. 17:8 that God
says it is an everlasting possession and He will be their God.
It is an earthly promise.
Now there are many religions running around the world today denying the
authority this verse of scripture and other of similar context.
The World Wide Church of God established by Garner Ted Armstrong, the
Roman Catholic church, the Church of Christ, and the Jehovahís Witness to
name four deny this verse and hundreds just like it.
When they do, they call the Almighty One a liar.
The way they justify their lying and thievery is by
saying that Israel did not keep her end of the bargain.
Therefore, God was not obligated to keep His.
Since the original covenant was not honored by Israel, all the promises
made to Israel as a nation, were taken and applied to the church.
They do this in spite of hundreds of verses of scripture that say the
nation of Israel shall inherit the land of Canaan for Eternity, Rom.
9, 10, 11. Furthermore, if
one studies the doctrine of these four religions, they teach salvation by
Here is one of those very important points wherein we
must bear witness in distinguishing between the two kinds of circumcision.
Circumcision of the Flesh
Six times the word flesh is used in Gen.
17 in vs. 11, 13, 14, 23, 24, 25.
God is making a point about the circumcision Abraham received in his
flesh. He did not receive New
Testament circumcision that believers receive in our spirits.
Made By Hands.
Six time the word flesh is used to describe the physical characteristics and
attributes of the circumcision Abraham received, Gen.
17. It was made by the hand
of man in the flesh of man. There
are several characteristics to the physical act of circumcision.
It is a sign.
It is the sign of the covenant God made with the Nation of Israel.
It is a sign of the covenant between Abraham, his seed, and the Lord.
Anyone not circumcised, his soul will be cut off from his people
because he had broken the covenant. Three
thousand years later the Jews still perform the act of circumcision to the
male child. The ritual is carried
out on the eighth day.
The act itself is an act of physical cleanliness.
This is very important for God is preparing a family and a nation from
which the Promised Seed, Gen. 3:15,
will be born. He is perfect.
His Seed was Perfect. This
is why God told Abram to be perfect and walk before Him.
In order for him to be perfect he must be prepared to be such.
God does not tell us to do something and then leave us wondering what
and how He wanted it done. This
is why God commanded him and all of his male descendants and those added by
purchasing to his lineage, that they must be ceremonially cleansed through the
act of circumcision.
It is a bloody act, Ex.
4:22, 24-25. Here we find
that Moses had been working in the outback for 40 years.
He was married, and had a son. However,
he had not obeyed Godís command from Gen.
17. God was about to use
Moses in a mighty way. There was
one thing hindering Moses and that was the circumcision of Mosesí son.
God would not use Moses until Moses was obedient to the command.
God was on the verge of killing him (Cutting him off) because Moses had
not been obedient and the son was not circumcised.
Who was to be circumcised.
a) God explained to Abraham how to perform the task and on whom: every man child born into his house and any male child purchased with money and added to his house shall be circumcised.
b) God also told Abraham when: on the eighth day after the son is born. The eighth day was probably chosen to give time for the baby to gain strength and also so that he would have passed one Sabbath Day. Also, the eighth day was a sign of something new, a new beginning, as of a new week.
c. Spiritual Circumcision
Made Without Hands.
Physical circumcision performed by hand differs from the
spiritual act that is made by the Holy Ghost.
The difference is more than in the physical act of cutting the
Spiritual circumcision made by the Holy Ghost
circumcised (cuts) our soul and spirit from our flesh.
It was as if God took a laser, Heb.4:12,
and separated our body from our soul and spirit.
Once we understand this it helps us in understanding that when the body
dies, the soul and spirit return to God that created them.
The body returns to the dust.
Performed on the
2:11. The day we accepted Jesus Christ as our Saviour, we received the
new birth. We immediately were
recreated in the image of God. We
regained that image Adam lost in transgression.
Regardless, there is still a curse of death on the flesh,
Gen 3:19Ötill thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken:
for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
The day Adam sinned, he died spiritually.
The day we accept Jesus we live spiritually.
Performed only in
the New Testament.
Spiritual circumcision was not performed in the Old
Testament because no one received the new birth.
Old Testament saints were not moved or indwelt by the Holy Ghost in the
same manner that New Testament saints are.
Under the law of Moses when the Jew touched something
with the flesh that was listed as unclean, the soul of the one that did the
touching was also unclean, Lev 5:2
Or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcase of an
unclean beast, or a carcase of unclean cattle, or the carcase of unclean
creeping things, and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean, and
guilty. How could an
intangible soul touch some tangible unclean thing?
The soul touched it by way of the flesh.
The soul which hath touched any such shall be unclean until even, and
shall not eat of the holy things, unless he wash his flesh with water.
Their soul was cleaned by washing the flesh with water.
From this and other passage relating to the Law of Moses we come to
understand that the folks living under the law were united in soul and body.
Understanding what spiritual circumcision through the
new birth did for us ought to make us appreciate the grace of God.
Now when we read the book of Leviticus
we can have a better understanding of the ceremonial rituals these folks lived
under in their futile efforts to remain clean.
If they kept the letter of the law, they were limited as to what they
could do without contaminating themselves.
Once a person accepts Jesus as Saviour, they are
spiritually circumcised. What
this means is that even though the flesh has occasion to sin, the soul and
spirit is kept by God. If we
would follow what Paul taugh and liken the flesh as being dead and cut off, we
would not grieve the spirit and soul with the burdens of the flesh.
d. Christian Circumcision:
1) Christians are said to be circumcised in Christ <Col. 2:11>. This circumcision is asserted to be "circumcision made without hands," that is, a spiritual reality and not a physical rite, the antitype and not the type. Physical circumcision was a putting off of a part of the flesh as a symbol of covenant relationship of God's people with a holy God. Christian circumcision is "removal of" not a part, but the entire "body of the flesh." "The body of the flesh" is the physical body controlled by the old fallen nature that all possess, saved as well as unsaved. The "removal of" is positional truth, that is, truth that arises as a result of the believer's being placed in Christ by the Spirit's baptizing work. Because the sin nature was judged by Christ in His death, so the believer by virtue of his organic union and identification with his Lord shares that "removal" that Christ accomplished, just as he shares Christ's fullness and is declared to be "complete" in Him. <2:10>. The believer's circumcision is not only a spiritual reality consisting in the putting off of the body of the flesh; it is more precisely Christ's circumcision, effected by Him and imputed to the believer: "In Him you were also circumcised . . . by the circumcision of Christ" <2:11>. Our Lord's circumcision mentioned in this passage has no reference to His physical circumcision when He was eight days old, but is a meaningful term the apostle applies to Christ's death to the sin nature. It is the truth enunciated in <Rom. 6:10>, "For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all," and <8:3>, "For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh." It is thus apparent that the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit <Rom. 6:3-4; 1 Cor. 12:13; Col. 2:12> effects spiritual circumcision. (from New Unger's Bible Dictionary)
C. Godís Promise (17:15-22)
Abraham wants a seed.
God wants to give Abraham the seed.
However, if we remember anything at all about the seed of man we know
there is something wrong with the blood line of man, for since Adam
transgressed, every child was born in the likeness of Adam, Gen.
Recall from our earlier studies that Adam was created in the likeness
of God. This was not the case
with the sons of Adam. We
received his fallen nature. Somewhere
along the way the human race got some poison in our blood.
We can never be in the image of God until we have a type of a blood
transfusion. Remember that
command about not eating blood.
In His own time and manner, God is preparing a remedy
for that disease (sin) that contaminates the blood line of man and eventually
kills us. However, God does not
do things according to our ways and means.
His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.
That is why we must adjust our thinking to meet the demands of the
word. God will redeem mankind
through the Promised Seed, 1
Pet. 1:23. His precious
blood was shed for us, Heb 9:22
And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without
shedding of blood is no remission.
Disbelief Ė can you blame Abraham for not believing?
already trusted the Lord, but nothing was coming about LIKE what Abraham
to KEEP trusting the Lord Ė especially when we have our own ideas of how God
should fulfil His promises
is a good medicine unless it is a mocking, unbelieving kind of laughter
overcomes unbelief by going ahead with His plans anyway
D. Abrahamís Circumcision (17:23‑27).
Immediate obedience, Gen.
2. Abraham took Ishmael, all the males born in his house, all those bought, and circumcised them in the selfsame day. This set them apart from other families. He did not ask why or when, or how, he just followed Godís instructions immediately, Ps. 119:60.
Abraham did not excuse himself, but rather set
himself as an example to the others as leader of the household.
All fathers should set a high standard and be an example of what God
has commanded us to be.