Genesis 17:6 - 14
Vs 6: “I will make you exceedingly fruitful…” Notice this is a divine act. God will make Abraham fruitful. The child and descendants to follow will not be accomplished by natural means. Abraham will have a child and many descendants to follow and it will be done supernaturally. “Abraham will be given divine power to achieve this fertility…” God will make him fruitful. God will intervene. God will make Kings come from Abraham. We continually see that it is God who is going to make all this happen. This is a great reminder and example for you and me. Healthy growth in ones life and multiplication (in nations, families and churches) comes from God.
Vs 7: God now declares the covenant will be extended to Abraham’s descendants (Israel). The covenant is eternal; it will never expire and as a result God will be their God throughout the generations and for all eternity.
Vs 8: The promise of land is not new. However God specifically states he will give Abraham the land of Canaan. It is probable that Abraham lived in Canaan but he is not established there. God is going to give him the land of his sojourns. The land that Abraham roamed will all be his and his descendants one day.
Vs 9 - 14: God has stated his promise. God’s required response from Abraham and his clan is circumcision. Every male whether born into the clan or bought must be circumcised from this point on and in future generations. Circumcision must be performed on children 8 days old.
Circumcision will serve as a reminder of God’s covenant. It is as verse 11 states, “A sign of the covenant.” Not only is it a reminder but it is also a requirement that marks one a member of the descendants of God. Anyone refusing circumcision will be cut off from the blessing. God commands Abraham and his descendants to observe his covenant which results in the act of circumcision. Failure to be circumcised is in fact doing the opposite of observing it is breaking the covenant.
What does all this mean to us today? How can a story about an ancient patriarchal promise to an old guy with no kids who was told to circumcise the men of his clan apply to us today?
Good question. May I suggest some keywords that caught my attention they may help us apply this message today? They are sovereignty, walking before God, and circumcision. I believe one of the most important truths about today’s passage is to know and understand that God is sovereign. God is in control. A.W. Pink wrote, “To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that God is God. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of Heaven. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in Heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will (Psa. 115:3). To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is “The Governor among the nations” (Psa. 22:28), setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleases Him best. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the “Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15). Such is the God of the Bible.” Since God is sovereign we are called to walk before God or pattern our lives around him. It is to live Romans 12:1,2: “Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
We no longer live for self or the world but we live and walk before God in an upright manner. As a reminder of God’s covenant we remember circumcision. Not necessarily the physical act but the spiritual act Paul talks about in Romans 2:28, 29, “For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God” and Colossians 2:11 – 14, “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”
The physical act of circumcision is no longer a requirement to be a recipient of the promise of life. However when you became a follower of Jesus you have received a circumcision of the heart. The flesh that you once walked according to has been cut off and buried. Then you have been resurrected by the power of God through the Holy Spirit and have been forgiven of sins and made alive in Christ. You no longer need to do in order to belong to God, you just need to receive. Faith, grace and submission is sufficient to have abundant life now and eternal life in the future. Isn’t God wonderful?
 Wenham, G. J. (1994). Vol. 2: Genesis 16–50. Word Biblical Commentary (7). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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