Genesis: The Beginning
Circumcision for Abraham 1-18-16
READ: Genesis 17
Yesterday, we read the story of Ishmael—Abram’s first born son with Hagar. Today, we will look at circumcision: a mark of the covenant.
El Shaddai—God Almighty—visits Abram when he is 99 years old; Abram is overwhelmed by the presence of God and he finds himself face down before the LORD. God’s news is a new level of revelation in His love. (Note: When God’s dream exceeds are own it really is unsettling). Ishmael is thirteen and Abram thinks he is the child of promise. However, that is not the case according to the LORD. The promise is still a living seed and Yahweh is waiting for Abram to move closer toward this covenant God offers. Abram still has difficulty imagining that God desires to bless him by giving him a son with Sarai. To help Abram receive this blessing Yahweh first calls for a change in Abram’s name. He will no longer be called Abram—exalted father; rather, he will be called Abraham—father of many nations (or a father of a multitude); because his witness to the goodness of God through the giving of a son will connect nations to Yahweh (Truth: Yahweh gave a baby Son—Jesus Christ—for connecting the whole world). As well, God restates His covenant to give all of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants. Abraham is instructed not to depart from the LORD’s Word; he cannot live anyway he wants and still enjoy the covenant blessing/promise.
God follows the name change with another level of responsibility for Abraham; circumcision for Abraham and all his family and servants. Circumcision was a physical oath to honor the LORD as a people/nation led by Yahweh. To refuse circumcision would be to refuse the benefits and blessings of the LORD. (NOTE: The NT reveals there is no longer a need for physical circumcision for Christ followers; now, there is need for spiritual circumcision or a change of the heart produced by God’s Spirit).
God arranges for Sarai (translated “my princess”) to get a name change too, because God realizes she really has not gotten the right picture of God’s love for her. God renames her Sarah (translated “princess”) and tells Abraham not only is she going to give him a son; she is going to be the mother of multitudes or nations.
With this news Abraham falls on his face again, but this time laughing. This news is ridiculous! How can a man who is basically 100 years old and a woman who is 90 years old conceive a child? The answer, the seed is planted in the natural and spiritually watered and given life, but the answer messes with this human man’s mind. So, Abraham goes back to the old way of thinking (exalted father) and asks God to bless Ishmael; Abraham thinks God must be talking about him. It really is hard to grasp the thoughts and ways of God, isn’t it?
God always seems to set wrong thinking right when we are open to His instruction. So, God spells out things to Abraham exactly how they will go down. “Sarah, your wife, will give birth to a son for you. You will name him Isaac (translated “he laughs”), and I will confirm my covenant with him and his descendants as an everlasting covenant. As for Ishmael, I will bless him also, just as you have asked. I will make him extremely fruitful and multiply his descendants. He will become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will be confirmed with Isaac, who will be born to you and Sarah about this time next year.” God’s revelation ends. He leaves Abraham with the knowledge the LORD is giving him a son with Sarah and every time he says his name he will be filled with holy joy at the goodness of Yahweh!
Say the name “Jesus” and see if you are not filled with JOY! I AM. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward, today, in Christ!