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Genesis 17

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An Unimaginable Birth to Redeem the World.
The covenant the God makes with Abram in is confirmed in .
Just as the covenant made with Abram in G15 came in response to the events in so too the covenant in G17 comes in response to the events in G16 with Hagar and Ismael…only this time it is 13 years later.

1. Grace and obedience are never separated in the Scriptures.

God Almighty: El Shaddai. This is the first occurence of God’s divine name.
God Almighty is especially associated with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Old Testament.
**It seems that the name was given to encourage faith because of the disparity between the covenant promises and the reality of the situation in which they found themselves at that time.
Thus, Yahweh is the God who intervenes powerfully.
Out of the chaos of the Babel, God is using a man and woman who had bee unable to have children to redeem the world. He is creating something out of nothing…and if you remember it all began with God speaking...”Abram.”
Walk before me: this phrase is used in both describing God walking before people (ex would be the pillar of cloud going before Israel in Exodus).
This phrase is also used of people waking before the Lord (ex the Davidic King).
*When God walks before someone, this expression means to give guidance and protection. On the other hand when people walk before God, it means that they are to serve as his emissary or representative.
Abram is being commanded to be God’s representative in the world. When the world looks at Abram they will see what it is like to have a right relationship God and to be what God intended for humanity. (CHURCH).
When you consider this is in light of the full promises of God to Abram it is astounding. Canaan was not very big, but it was located on the central route of trade commerce between the mega powers of Egypt and Assyria and Babylon. As they world was going through Canaan…they were to see a difference between the Hebrews and themselves.
Abram will be a blessing to the nations () by walking with the Lord.
Blameless: Term is only used here and in reference to Noah in . Both of whom are new Adam’s.
God is calling Abram to be morally blameless and impeccable, honest and sincere in the covenant relationship. Abram is to image God to the nations.
Abram has failed to be impeccable so far with his dealings in Egypt and with Hagar. He will continue to struggle in the coming chapters as well. SANCTIFICATION.
Verse 2 begins with a purpose clause. Abram is to walk before the Lord…SO THAT he may make a covenant between them.
Obedience is expected of Abram in the covenant relationship. Already God has given commands of Go and Be a Blessing.
Abram has not demonstrated full integrity and so God confirms and upholds his covenant in and emphasizes the need for an obedient son in Abram’s Adamic role.
The language of verse 2 is not indicating a new covenant but a confirming of the covenant that has already been introduced in and explained in .
The reason that there has been a 13-14 year gap between is that God wants a covenant relationship in which Abraham really knows and understands who God is, and is faithful and loyal in precisely that level of understanding.
Not until Abraham has tried everything in his own strength and is completely powerless will he know God as El Shaddai.
Verse 3-5 Abram falls on his face and the Lord explains he will not only be the father of one nation but many nations.
Abram= exalted father
Abraham= father of many nations
Later Sarai’s name is changed to Sarah. both generally means princess. But the former looks back at her heritage while the new name looks forward to her descendants.
Whereas Adam and Eve and Noah and his family were commanded to be fruitful, here again God promises that Abraham and Sarah will have offspring. God will intervene.
Notice, even here, the plan of God was never just to redeem one nation, but the whole world.

2. Through Abraham, the nation(s) will be blessed.

Romans 4:13 CSB
For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would inherit the world was not through the law, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.
Verses7-8 specifically refer to Israel the nation but notice what Paul does in Galatians
Galatians 3:16 CSB
Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say “and to seeds,” as though referring to many, but referring to one, and to your seed, who is Christ.
Galatians 3:29 CSB
And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:
Here though what is being communicated is the heart of a covenant, which is relationship. God will have a relationship with Israel.
2 Corinthians 6:16 CSB
And what agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, as God said: I will dwell and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.
While a small piece of land is promised…we must keep the goal and mission of God in mind that the whole world is be redeemed, not just the Promise Land.
SIGN—The Central point of the chapter in found in verses 9-14
While the enough covenant with Creation in doesn’t verbally use the word sign, it is clearly with creation and human offspring.
Then is the sign with Noah that the earth will never return to a watery chaotic state is given in the form of the rainbow. Military sign.
Latter, the Sabbath will used as a sign of the covenant made on Sinai.
Abraham is commanded to practice circumcision as the physical sign of the covenant.
This would be the physical sign of membership into the community.
While most have simply related circumcision to cleanliness it is much more than just a health issue.
Other cultures practiced circumcision. Specifically in Egypt it was an initiation right for priests and in particular the king of Egypt who is viewed as a priest. He is in fact a son-of-god.
Israel will be designated as a nation as a son of God in
Exodus 4:22 CSB
And you will say to Pharaoh: This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son.
Thus, Israel is consecrated as God’s son through circumcision, they belong to Him.
Thus, while in Egypt, just the priests were circumcised…in Israel it will be the whole nation who will be priests.
Exodus 19:6 CSB
and you will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.”
As a kingdom of priests, circumcision is the appropriate sign for the people of Israel, for it will remind them that they have been consecrated to Yahweh and his service.
Also to note is the correlation with the 8th day which represents NEW CREATION.
A mother would be considered unclean for 7 days before the sign was performed. But the correspondence is to creation. Especially since no time designation was given for the 7th day.
If this commandment is not obeyed then membership into the community is denied.
How is this applied to NT faith?
Acts 15:11 CSB
On the contrary, we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus in the same way they are.”
Acts 15
Colossians 2:12 CSB
when you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
1 Peter 3:21 CSB
Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you (not as the removal of dirt from the body, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
Colossians 2:11–12 CSB
You were also circumcised in him with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh, in the circumcision of Christ, when you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
Romans 4:1–13 CSB
What then will we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? If Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about—but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness. Now to the one who works, pay is not credited as a gift, but as something owed. But to the one who does not work, but believes on him who declares the ungodly to be righteous, his faith is credited for righteousness. Just as David also speaks of the blessing of the person to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: Blessed are those whose lawless acts are forgiven and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the person the Lord will never charge with sin. Is this blessing only for the circumcised, then? Or is it also for the uncircumcised? For we say, Faith was credited to Abraham for righteousness. In what way then was it credited—while he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? It was not while he was circumcised, but uncircumcised. And he received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while still uncircumcised. This was to make him the father of all who believe but are not circumcised, so that righteousness may be credited to them also. And he became the father of the circumcised, who are not only circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith our father Abraham had while he was still uncircumcised. For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would inherit the world was not through the law, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.

3. The ultimate circumcision is of the heart.

Deut—Moses sees that Israel is not going to obey...
Deuteronomy 10:16 CSB
Therefore, circumcise your hearts and don’t be stiff-necked any longer.
Romans 4:13 CSB
For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would inherit the world was not through the law, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.
Deuteronomy 29:4 CSB
Yet to this day the Lord has not given you a mind to understand, eyes to see, or ears to hear.
Mind/Heart
New Exodus will be needed
Deuteronomy 30:6 CSB
The Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants, and you will love him with all your heart and all your soul so that you will live.
Jeremiah 31:31–34 CSB
“Look, the days are coming”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. This one will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors on the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt—my covenant that they broke even though I am their master”—the Lord’s declaration. “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days”—the Lord’s declaration. “I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know me, from the least to the greatest of them”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “For I will forgive their iniquity and never again remember their sin.
Therefore, there is too low or too high a view of circumcision as it relates to the NT.
Covenant Theology flattens the imagery and simply says the church is Israel.
Dispensationalist cut off the imagery and say Israel and the church are completely different.
The correct answer is in-between.
The is correspondence but also escalation.
The church is not Israel…it is escalated as the obedient people of God compromised of believers both Jew and Gentile.
Because of that escalation the entrance into the kingdom is not merely by physical birth but by spiritual birth.
That spiritual birth is then signified symbolically through baptism. Baptism symbolizes entrance into the kingdom of God which only happens by faith.
Matthew 28:19–20 CSB
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
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