(Gen 17:1 NASB) Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless.
Gen 17:1: It is thirteen years later when Elohim appears to Abram. The name of Elohim is used here only once in this chapter. The capital letters “LORD” signify that the name Yahweh was written. Then Yahweh refers to Himself as “God Almighty” or “El Shaddai.” Also, Elohim presents Himself as “I am.”
Abram was already declared righteous by faithfulness in Gen. 15:6. Why must he now walk blameless before Elohim? Because Abram is demonstrating his faithfulness by walking blameless before Elohim. Israel was told to do the same thing (Deut. 18:13). We are told the same thing (Matt. 5:48).
(Gen 17:2 NASB) “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly.”
Gen 17:2: Elohim has already made a covenant with Abram in which Abram was the passive recipient. Now Abram is going to called upon to receive a mark of that covenant. Both times there are many similarities between these two events:
1. Both promise a son.
2. Both promise numerous progeny.
3. Both promise national territory.
4. Both record Abrams reaction.
(Gen 17:3 NASB) And Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying,
Gen 17:3: Abrams reaction is an expression of awe and submission in the presence of Elohim.
(Gen 17:4 NASB) “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, And you shall be the father of a multitude of nations.
(Gen 17:5 NASB) “No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations.
Gen 17:5: The name Abram means “exalted father.” The name Abraham means “father of a great multitude.” This name change was further evidence to Abraham that this would still take place.
Paul interpreted this to mean that those of the faithfulness of Abraham would be many nations (Romans 4:16-18).
(Gen 17:6 NASB) “And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you.
(Gen 17:7 NASB) “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.
(Gen 17:8 NASB) “And I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
Gen 17:8: His covenant with Abraham is the land of Canaan. Paul tells us that we are heirs of that covenant of Abraham (Gal. 3:28-29).
The fulfillment of this promise is described in Hosea 1:10-11. The prophet Ezekiel tells us of our inheritance of the land also (Ezekiel 47:21-23). The prophet Isaiah speaks of this also (Isaiah 56:6-7).
(Gen 17:9 NASB) God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.
(Gen 17:10 NASB) “This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised.
(Gen 17:11 NASB) “And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.
Gen 17:11: This is the same covenant as in chapter 15. Abram is now told that the sign of the covenant is the cutting of flesh. This signifies that one believes in the promise given to Abraham and of his inheritance. Once again, “belief” requires action.
The covenant is the promise of Abraham to walk blameless before Elohim and then He would be Elohim to Abraham. We find out later that Abraham did walk blameless before Elohim, or that he at least repented from sin when it did occur in his life (Gen. 26:4-5).
Circumcision was the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant. Circumcision was an act that required a public declaration of obedience to Elohim, which is what was required in verse 1 (walk blameless).
How does this tie into us today? Let’s look at the other covenants that were made in Scripture. The fact is, the Noahic Covenant required the obedience of Noah also (Gen. 6:22). The sign of that covenant is the rainbow (Gen. 9:11-13).
The Covenant at Mt. Sinai was the promise of the people to do everything Elohim said and they will be His people and He will be their Elohim. Once again, this covenant required obedience. The sign of this covenant is the same as the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant. All male children were to be circumcised on the eighth day. We are told here in verse 12 that circumcision will be a sign of the covenant between Elohim and His people throughout their generations. Israel was told that they are all to celebrate Passover and before they celebrate it, all males are to be circumcised (Ex. 12:43-48). Paul tells His people to celebrate Passover (1 Cor. 5:7-8). And Paul says to make sure the men are circumcised before they do celebrate Passover (1 Cor. 11:26-29). Paul said that male circumcision is “the seal of the righteousness of faithfulness” (Romans 4:11-13).
They did not abide in that covenant and it had to be done away with and Elohim established a New Covenant with His people (Jer. 31:31-34). All the other covenants had a sign. What is the sign of the New Covenant? It is to be washed or cleansed (Ezek. 36:25-27, Psalm 51:7, Isa. 52:15, Ezek. 37:23, Psalm 51:2).
The sign of the New Covenant is the Taval. It is a public profession that one is a part of the New Covenant. Baptism does not save us, but it is a designation of the New Covenant. That’s why Yeshua was to be baptized (Matt. 3:13-15). That’s why it is commanded in the Apostolic Scriptures for us to be baptized. The New Covenant demands obedience, just as with all other covenants with Elohim. That explains why the New Testament is filled with references to following His commandments (1 Cor. 7:19, Matt. 5:19, 1 John 3:6-7, 2:3-6). It also explains why believers in that day and in the last days are known by their faithfulness to Yeshua AND in the keeping of the commandments of Elohim (Rev. 12:17, 14:12). It also explains the discrepancies of the translations of Rev. 22:14. Both the “washing” and the “keeping of the commandments” are the sign and result of the New Covenant.
(Gen 17:12 NASB) “And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants.
Gen 17:12: The physical sign of the covenant is not sufficient by itself. The heart must be circumcised also (Deut. 10:16, 30:6-8). Paul tells us that a true Jew is only one who is circumcised of the heart, not just the flesh (Romans 2:28-29).
(Gen 17:13 NASB) “A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
(Gen 17:14 NASB) “But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”
Gen 17:14: To deliberately and intentionally not follow this command is breaking Elohim’s covenant. All male children are to be circumcised on the eighth day according to Torah.
We read in Acts that Timothy was not circumcised because he had a Greek Father and the Jews in that area refused to circumcise him because of that fact, so Paul circumcised Timothy before he took Timothy with him on his journeys (Acts 16:1-3).
(Gen 17:15 NASB) Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.
Gen 17:15: “Sarai” means “to persevere.” “Sarah” means “princess” or “to rule.” Elohim is once again acknowledging that the promised line will be through Abraham’s wife, Sarah.
(Gen 17:16 NASB) “And I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”
(Gen 17:17 NASB) Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”
Gen 17:17: Is the laughter of joy, surprise, or doubt? Probably some of each.
(Gen 17:18 NASB) And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before Thee!”
(Gen 17:19 NASB) But God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.
(Gen 17:20 NASB) “And as for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.
Gen 17:20: Elohim is assuring Abraham that He is making provisions for Ishmael also.
(Gen 17:21 NASB) “But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year.”
(Gen 17:22 NASB) And when He finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham.
(Gen 17:23 NASB) Then Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all the servants who were born in his house and all who were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s household, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the very same day, as God had said to him.
Gen 17:23: The covenant with Abraham was not established with Ishmael. It was established with Isaac. The sign of the covenant is circumcision.
As a side note: We are told that Ishmael was circumcised. Ishmael is considered to be the father of the Arab people and therefore the father of the Muslim religion. Circumcision is not mandatory in Islam. It is encouraged in Islam, because it is said that Mohammed was born already circumcised. But there is no command in the Koran to circumcise males.
(Gen 17:24 NASB) Now Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.
(Gen 17:25 NASB) And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.
(Gen 17:26 NASB) In the very same day Abraham was circumcised, and Ishmael his son.
(Gen 17:27 NASB) And all the men of his household, who were born in the house or bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.
Gen 17:27: Abraham and his entire household obeyed Elohim.
Patrick McGuireCopyright 2014 Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly All rights reserved, no portion of this Lesson may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly Fort Smith, Arkansas