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Verses 1-27

CHAPTER 17 The Fifth Communication and the Covenant Repeated

1. The communication and Abram worships (Genesis 17:1-3 )

2. The enlarged promise (Genesis 17:4-8 )

3. The covenant sign (Genesis 17:9-14 )

4. Sarah’s seed promised (Genesis 17:15-16 )

5. The laughter of Abraham (Genesis 17:17 )

6. Abraham’s plea for Ishmael (Genesis 17:18-22 )

7. Abraham’s obedience (Genesis 17:23-27 )

The promises which the Lord now gives to Abram are most complete. His name is changed; he is now to be called Abraham, which means “the Father of many,” because he is to be the Father of many nations.

Upon this follows the institution of circumcision. This is a portion which is extremely rich in its teachings. Let us notice that in Romans the Holy Spirit explains the meaning of this ceremony. “For we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised. (Romans 4:10-11 ). Circumcision was, therefore, the seal of righteousness of faith. Some fourteen years previous Abram had been constituted righteous, because he believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. First righteousness by faith and then the seal. Of believers it is said in the New Testament that they are circumcised. “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands in putting off the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” (Colossians 2:11 ). The circumcision of Christ is the death of Christ; in Him the body of the flesh is put off. We have died with Him, are dead and buried and risen with Him. “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3 ).

Sarai’s name is also changed. The promised seed is to be from her. “His name is to be Isaac” which means laughter. The end of the chapter shows Abraham’s obedience.

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