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13. God’s Covenant Becomes Real

June 23, 2009

Text:   Genesis 17:1-27

Key Verse:   Genesis 17:17

Outline:          I. God Calls and Confirms His Covenant      Gen. 17:1-9

                          II. God Establishes His Covenant       Gen. 17:10-16

                         III. Abraham Enacts God’s Covenant      Gen. 17:17-27

Context/Discussion/Comments:

     About 17 years earlier, Abram was called out of Haran by God and given a Promise [Chapter 12]. About 3 years ago, God visited Abram in a vision and confirmed His Promise [Chapter 15]. Now God visits Abram personally to establish His Promise, that is to begin its’ fulfillment.

     Abram is 99 years old when God appears to tell him:

                    1. He is God.

                    2. Abram is to be faithful and obedient.

                    3. God is about to establish [make it come to pass] His Covenant promising Abram many descendents.

                   4. Abram’s name will now be Abraham.

                   5. God’s Covenant will be an everlasting Covenant.

                   6. Abraham and his descendents will occupy what is now called Canaan.

                  7. God will be their God [and they will be His People].

     Abraham and his descendents are instructed to keep this Covenant. This Covenant is to be remembered with the act of circumcision of all males 8 days old and older, including all the members in their household. Failure to be circumcised [to be identified with this Covenant and God] will result in being cut off from God’s blessing and charged with breaking this Covenant. The uncircumcised will not be considered as God’s People. Not only is Abram’s name changed but Sarai’s name is changed to Sarah.

     Sarah will bear Abraham a son who will be the father of many nations. Abraham laughs while falling on his face wondering how this can be when he is 99 and Sarah is 90 years of age. Abraham even asks God if Ishmael isn’t still the one God has in mind as his heir. But God says NO and that His Covenant will come through Sarah’s womb. Ishmael will also be blessed with many descendents [God promised this to Hagar in Chapter 16] but His Everlasting Covenant will come through a son, Isaac, born by Sarah, Abraham’s wife. This birth will be miraculous just like the birth of God’s Son, Jesus, through the virgin Mary.

     God leaves Abraham and Abraham obeys immediately by beginning to circumcise all the males in his household, including himself. Abraham’s obedience sets God’s plan in motion.

Lessons/Applications:

     1. We either belong to God or we don’t belong to God. God’s miraculous and everlasting blessings are reserved for those who place their faith in Him as did Abraham.

     2. God calls to establish His Covenant but we are called to keep His Covenant. Jesus Christ came to establish the New Covenant but we are to deny ourselves [humble ourselves], take up our cross [identify with Him], and follow Him [obey Him].

     3. God also gives us, who place our faith in God through His Son, new names too. [see Rev. 2:17]

     4. We who are faithful are blessed with a vivid reminder of who we are and who we serve. Abraham’s name was changed and he was circumcised. We, on the other hand, are baptized and His Spirit lives in our hearts.

     5. God’s Covenant makes us special in His sight, set apart to serve Him as His People, to give glory to God. We are to be faithful.

God’s miracles in our lives become His greatest blessing.

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