Genesis 17

When man is in the dust God can talk to him in grace.
In spite of the believer’s mistakes, God is faithful.

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,

As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.

Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.

And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.

And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

¶ And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.

10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.

11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.

12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.

13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.

14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.

15 ¶ And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.

16 And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.

17 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?

18 And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!

19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.

20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.

21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.

22 And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.

23 ¶ And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him.

24 And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.

25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.

26 In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son.

27 And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him.

Genesis 17:1-14 – God’s Covenant with Abraham

At least thirteen years had passed since the promise of Isaac was first made. Years of sorrow and discipline, but God had not forgotten. Always under such circumstances the Eternal voice bids us to walk before him and be perfect. Our surrender must be complete, our obedience absolute, our faith fixed steadfastly on the Promiser. So only can God fulfill His covenant, which includes fruitfulness, the salvation of our households, the inheritance and abundance of spiritual reproductiveness. These promises were made to Abram, being yet uncircumcised, when he was yet a Gentile, proving that they were irrespective of any mere Hebrew interpretation. See Romans 4:11. But the rite was the sign and seal of the national covenant with the Hebrew race. Spiritually it stands for the separation of the believer; and though the rite passed away with Judaism, its spiritual significance is permanent, see Colossians 2:11. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Genesis 17:1 – Walk before me, and be thou Perfect.

   God precedes his commands with such revelations of Himself, that obedience is rendered easily possible. Before calling Abram to perfection, He described himself as El Shaddai, the Almighty. What may we not do if we learn to avail ourselves of the all might of God? Oh to know the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe! Our lack is that we do not know our God, and therefore fail to perform exploits. “Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me” (Jeremiah 9:23-24). Lie on thy face, and let God talk with thee, and tell thee the conditions on which He will make thee exceeding fruitful. First–Walk before Me. Second–Be thou perfect.
   There must be wholeness in our surrender.—No part of our nature barred or curtained off from God. Every chamber must be freely placed at his disposal; every relationship placed under his direction; every power devoted to his service. All we have and are must be entirely his.
   There must be wholeness in our intention.—The one aim of our Lord was to bring glory to his Father; and we should never be satisfied till we are so absolutely eager for the glory of Christ that we would seek it though at the cost of infamy to ourselves; and be as glad for another to bring it to Him, as we should be in bringing it ourselves.
   There must be wholeness in our obedience.—It was clearly so with Abram. As soon as God left talking with his servant, he took Isaac and performed the rite which had just been enjoined. —Our Daily Homily

Genesis 17:1 – In other words, Christian perfection is a spiritual constellation, made up of these gracious stars, – perfect repentance, perfect faith, perfect humility, perfect meekness, perfect self-denial, perfect resignation, perfect hope, perfect charity for our visible enemies as well as for our earthly relations, and, above all, perfect love for our invisible God through the explicit knowledge of our Mediator Jesus Christ. And as this last star is always accompanied by all the others, as Jupiter is by his satellites, we frequently use, as St. John, the phrase “perfect love” (1 John 4:18), instead of the word “perfection”; understanding by it the pure love of God shed abroad in the hearts of established believers by the Holy Ghost, which is abundantly given them under the fullness of the Christian dispensation. (J. Fletcher)

Genesis 17:5, 15

Genesis 17:15-27 – Isaac Is Promised

There are two allusions to laughter in these chapters. Sarah’s was the laugh of incredulity, see Genesis 18:12; but Abraham’s was the laugh of happy confidence, which reckoned on God. He looked his difficulties in the face, and then turned away to the promise of God, and wavered not, but waxed strong, giving glory to God. Ponder Romans 4:20-21. Therefore, he obtained promises for his wife, for Ishmael, and for the coming child, which was to bear the name of Laughter, partly because of that hour, and also because he would bring sunshine into the old man’s life. His heart had entwined about Ishmael. As he had watched the masterful and clever youth, he had said to himself, “He will hold the camp together when I am gone.” But the divine covenant could not be with one that had slave-blood in his veins and was not to abide in the house forever. See John 8:35; Galatians 4:22. The covenant is always with Isaac. —Through the Bible Day by Day