Chapter by Chapter - Genesis 17 you and your sons need to be circumcised? If so, why? These questions are answered in Genesis Chapter 17.

     A brief recap: Abram was told by God he would have many descendants and be the father of nations. Over time though, no children have been born and Abram's faith weakens. He asks for a sign from God and the Almighty strikes up a covenant. The years continue to pass and still no children so Sarai and Abram decide to take matters into their own hands. Sarai gives her servant (Hagar) to Abram and she bears him a son (Ishmael). Their impatience creates envy, anger, and jealousy. Sarai begins to mistreat Hagar to the point Hagar runs away with her newborn son but she soon returns after God intervenes. Thirteen years have passed and now we reach Chapter 17 of Genesis. Abram and Sarai have had time to mature and now God lets Abram know the time is soon to come.

     God once again appears before Abram to have a chat. Stop right here and imagine what that would be like! The Almighty God comes down from Heaven to visit you. To hear His audible voice and without a doubt, know exactly what He wants you to do; what an amazing encounter that would be! 

     Abram is 99 years old and God comes down to create another covenant. He reassures Abram once again that he will be the father of many nations with many descendants. At this moment, Abram only has one child, Ishmael, born to Hagar the Egyptian servant of Abram's wife, Sarai. Chapter 17 is also where God changes the names of Abram and Sarai. Changing someone's name in the bible happens a few times and it always signifies a big change in one's life. Here, Abram (which means "Exalted Father") will now be known as Abraham ("Father of Many"). Abram has matured and God sees he is ready for the promise to be granted.

    Side note here. People wonder, with the world's current state, if God is still with the Israelites. Genesis 17 has the answer to that question when God spoke to Abraham:
"I will establish my covenant as an EVERLASTING covenant between me and you AND your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an EVERLASTING possession to you AND your descendants after you; and I will be their God." - Genesis 17:7-8
     God doesn't say the covenant is just for Abraham or a few generations after. He says "everlasting." God will forever be with Israel. He will always be their God. As a reminder of this everlasting covenant, God requires one thing from Abraham. He must be circumcised along with all the males within the household including his son (Ishmael), and all future descendants.
"You are to undergo curcumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner - those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant." - Genesis 17:11-13
     God even provides a warning for not obeying this covenant:
"Any uncircumcised male, who has not been curcumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant." - Genesis 17:14
    Circumcision is a permanent mark of the flesh and serves as a reminder of this covenant. Now, do christians need to be circumcised? In the new testament, Paul, Peter, and the others told the church that circumcision was a covenant made between God and the Jews. The sign of christian's covenant is of the heart and the holy spirit. To become new again in Jesus Christ.

     Sarai is told she will receive a new name as well. She is now to be known as Sarah and she will be the mother of nations. Abraham "laughs." God didn't tell a joke here but Abraham finds it amusing that God is going to give a soon to be 100 year old man and a 90 year old woman their first child together. In our day and age, this would be a comedic headline in news. Headline...."Hundred Year Old Couple Welcome Birth of First Son!" No wonder why Abraham laughs but this goes to show anything is possible with God.

    God confirms that Sarah will bear a son "this time next year" and he shall be named Isaac. They now have a date to look forward to! What a huge relief that must have been for the couple. God says He will establish a covenant with Isaac and He will also bless Ishmael on behalf of Abraham's request. Ishmael will become the father of twelve rulers and be made into a great nation. What nation comes from Ishmael? Well, its believed to be the Arab nation.
"On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and curcumcised them, as God told him. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, and his son Ishmael was thirteen; Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that very day. And every male in Abraham's household, including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised with him" - Genesis 17:23-27
     So Abraham (formerly known as Abram) keeps to the covenant as requested by God. In the coming chapters, God's promise comes to fruition regarding Abraham's descendants and also, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Thanks for reading. Have a blessed day and remember, God is with us everlasting!

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Ken is a blogger at Christian Pals Blog. He enjoys anything creative and playing golf.
Proud father, husband, and servant of God.

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