Genesis 17 Part 2: A Sign and a Son

Posted: February 10, 2011 in Devotionals

So the LORD appears to Abraham and establishes a covenant with him. This covenant is an everlasting covenant. And the gist of it is this…if Abe (and his descendants after him) would live for the LORD and obey him, then the LORD would be their God and give them their own land (verse 8). And this covenant was to continue from one generation to the next.

“And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant”                            Genesis 17:7

In response to this covenant, Abraham was to have all the guys circumcised. This was to be “a sign of the covenant…” (verse 11). Now, to us this seems a little weird I know. What’s with circumcision? Let’s just say it served as a reminder of God’s promise to bring blessing through Abraham’s offspring. All the men in Abe’s house were to be circumcised, including slaves/servants. If you weren’t circumcised, you were excluded from the blessings that come with the covenant (verse 14). Circumcision was a not only a reminder of God’s covenant but a sign that you believed the promises God made to Abraham. It was about faith in the promises of God.

After God tells Abe about circumcision, He tells him that from now on Sarai’s name was gonna be Sarah and that she was going to give birth to his son. And what does Abe do in response to God’s word this time? He busts out laughing! He actually fell on his face laughing, the text says (verse 17). He essentially says, “yeah right! Us… have kids? What a joke! We’re super old…that’s not gonna happen.”

Abe was right about one thing at least…they were old! Sarah was 90 and Abe was 100 (verse 17). But what have we learned about God’s words and his promises from what we seen so far? He always makes good on what He says. But instead of believing the LORD, Abe laughs and then tries to strike a deal. In verse 18 he says,

“Oh that Ishmael might live before you.”

He already had a son (who was 13 at this point). Couldn’t the LORD’s blessings come through him, instead? To which the LORD replies, No. The LORD has determined that Abe and Sarah will have a son and name him Isaac, which means “he laughs” (the LORD has a sense of humor), and that it is with Isaac that he will establish the covenant…not Ishmael. Ishmael will be blessed and receive certain benefits as Abraham’s son…but the LORD’s covenant and all the promises that come with it are established with Isaac. This is important.

But for now…Abe is told that Sarah will give birth to Isaac in a year. The chapter closes with Abe having all the males in his household circumcised as the LORD told him to….


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