Genesis 17:1 “…Abram was ninety-nine years old…”
Thirteen years have passed from the end of the last chapter until now. We’re not told about any communication between God and Abram during the elapsed time. Abram’s been in the land twenty-three years. Long time to wait for the promise, especially since the promise involved a child, and Abram and Sarai are only getting older.
1 “…the LORD appeared to Abram…”
We’re not told how God appeared. In a vision perhaps, or maybe a physical manifestation of some sort. God restated His covenant and promise with Abram.
5 “…your name shall be Abraham…a father of many nations”
Extension of his name from Abram to Abraham. A sign of the promise.
7-8 “…for an everlasting covenant…I give to you and your descendants after you the land…as an everlasting possession…”
The covenant wasn’t just to Abraham, but also to his descendants. And it wasn’t something that would someday run out, nor was it something about which God would someday change His mind. Part of that covenant was the land God was giving them. It is theirs forever. All the talk today about Israel being occupiers in the land of Israel is totally false. The land belongs to them, now and always. Doesn’t matter whether they are in the land or not, it still belongs to them. They don’t currently occupy all of it, but some day they will.
11 “…you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you”
Institution of the practice of male circumcision as a mark of the covenant between God and the Jewish people, the descendants of Abraham through his son Isaac and grandson Jacob. A physical representation that the covenant between God and Abraham is still in effect. The Jews are still in possession of the land, nation, and blessing.
13 “…he who is bought with your money must be circumcised…”
Even the servants/slaves were to be circumcised. Interesting that God doesn’t mention any wickedness regarding purchasing people, only about the proper treatment of them. If people had hearts to treat others as they should, slavery would never be an issue. That’s where God operates, within the heart. Once you learn to care for someone as you ought, it is very difficult to maintain the idea of slavery. Requiring circumcision for all males in the household, even Gentile ones, could appear as just an all encompassing requirement, but it could also be seen as inclusion. As long as someone was part of a Jewish household, they were participants of the covenant.
15 “…As for Sarai your wife…Sarah shall be her name”
Her name is changed to Sarah meaning princess. The mother of many nations and kings. God reaffirms that the son of promise will be born to Sarah even though she is ninety years old.
18, 20 “…Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!…as for Ishmael, I have heard you…I will make him a great nation”
Confirms what I was thinking when God spoke to Hagar when she was pregnant with Ishmael. Abraham cares for his son and expresses this to God. God shares with him what He had already decided. He would bless Ishmael also as a child of Abraham, but he would not be the son of promise.
19 “…Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him”
The son of promise would come by Sarah, and the covenant would be with him and his descendants.
21 “…Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year”
Finally, the time has been set for the promise of the son to be fulfilled. All the years of waiting have come down to a final year. The next twelve months would see the conception and birth of Isaac.
23-27 “…that very same day…”
Abraham did as God commanded and circumcised himself and all males in his household that day. Wasted no time. I’m sure the excitement caused by the news that the promise was soon at hand helped spur him to action.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.