Eternity Daily Bible Study
The Life Of Abraham
Verses: Genesis 17:1-14
Topic: The Covenant of Circumcision
Date: 5th January 2006
Genesis 17:1-14 MKJV And when Abram was ninety-nine years old, Jehovah appeared to Abram and said to him, I am the Almighty God! Walk before Me and be perfect. (2) And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly. (3) And Abram fell on his face. And God talked with him, saying, (4) As for Me, behold! My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. (5) Neither shall your name any more be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham. For I have made you a father of many nations. (6) And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, greatly so, and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come out of you. (7) And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your seed after you in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God to you and to your seed after you. (8) And I will give the land to you in which you are a stranger, and to your seed after you, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession. And I will be their God. (9) And God said to Abraham, And you shall keep My covenant, you and your seed after you in their generations. (10) This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your seed after you. Every male child among you shall be circumcised. (11) And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin. And it shall be a token of the covenant between Me and you. (12) And a son of eight days shall be circumcised among you, every male child in your generations; he that is born in the house, or bought with silver of any stranger who is not of your seed. (13) He that is born in your house, and he that is bought with your silver, must be circumcised. And My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. (14) And the uncircumcised male child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.
The circumcision that puts Christians into the Abrahamic covenant is the circumcision of baptism, the circumcision of the heart by the Holy Spirit – physical circumcision is no longer relevant:
Colossians 2:10-12 MKJV (10) And you are complete in Him, who is the Head of all principality and power, (11) in whom also you are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ, (12) buried with Him in baptism, in whom also you were raised through the faith of the working of God, raising Him from the dead.
Galatians 5:6 MKJV For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any strength, but faith working through love.
Galatians 6:15 MKJV For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision has any strength, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
1 Corinthians 7:18-19 MKJV (18) Was any called having been circumcised? Do not be uncircumcised. Was anyone called in uncircumcision? Do not be circumcised. (19) Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
Romans 2:28-29 MKJV For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that outwardly in flesh; (29) but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart; in spirit and not in letter; whose praise is not from men, but from God.
So the covenant given to Abram here is modified by the death and resurrection of Christ. Now all who have faith can come into it, and into the blessings of Abraham. But what are these blessings:
a) I will greatly multiply you
b) I will make you exceedingly fruitful
c) I will make nations of you, and kings shall come out of you
d) And I will give the land to you - all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession.
This is the Great Blessing formula that begins in Genesis 1 with Adam- “Be fruitful, multiply, and have dominion - and I give you...”. This Great Blessing is repeated in various forms to Noah and later to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It marks God's choice of a great line of action. These are the vehicles God will use to achieve His purposes and they will carry His message and bear His Name. (Firstly Adam is made “in the image of God” and through humanity God works out His purposes on earth, then through Noah the earth was given rest from wickedness and the curse and was repopulated, and through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob came Israel and the Messiah.) Because God's great purposes will be accomplished through them they are given the blessing and the power that they require. They are made fruitful, multiplied and given dominion and a realm of privilege and authority.
When we undertake the purposes of
God we are blessed and given power to accomplish those divine purposes. And
this blessing will often involve the four elements above:
a) Fruitfulness – our efforts will not be barren or sterile, we will see converts, disciples and spiritual fruit.
b) Multiplication – the ministry will grow exponentially, 2, 4, 8, 6, 32, 64 etc
c) Dominion - we will overcome obstacles and enemies and succeed and be the head and not the tail and establish a 'niche' and name for God.
d) Gifts – God will give spiritual gifts and gifts of “territory” in which to operate and gifts of spiritual and temporal power and authority.
However, there are some conditions on these blessings. Firstly, we must be in Christ and sons of Abraham by faith. Secondly our hearts must be circumcised by the Holy Spirit. Thirdly we must walk in the Spirit and aim at spiritual maturity - or as God says to Abraham: Walk before Me and be perfect. As part of this maturity we will take on the plans and purposes of God as our own.
Now when God chooses someone for His purposes, He frequently gives them a new name such as Simon being called Peter or Saul being renamed Paul. In this case God renames Abram to Abraham - Neither shall your name any more be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham. For I have made you a father of many nations. Abram meant “high father” whereas Abraham means “father of a multitude” thus indicating that nations and kings and numerous descendants would come forth from him. Immediately the change is reflected in the Scripture and from that verse on he is known as Abraham.
While God is certainly a God of new names and blessings and gifts of territory and children and wealth and honor, we cannot take this flippantly as some do. This covenant was God's initiative towards a very honorable and godly man who has ventured “out on a limb” numerous times for his faith and for the honor of God. We do not “earn” blessing and it is God's completely sovereign act, for He will bless whom He will bless and curse whom He will curse. Yet blessing reliably flows to those who truly have faith and who “identify” with God and with His purposes.
God can change your barren life and make it fruitful and multiply the works of your hands and set you on high. God can give you a new name and a new destiny. The key is faith, persistent long-term faith in the nature and goodness of God and the veracity of His promises and the goodness that is in Christ. Walk before Him and be perfect!
John Edmiston (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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