Pastor Troy Martin
Text: Genesis 17:1-16
The Sign of Circumcision
As important as Chapter 15 is to the events of Chapter 16, so are the events of Chapter 16 important to remember as the reader comes to Chapter 17. God gave His covenant to Abram freely. Abram went home and his family made of mess of the promise. So now God returns. He reaffirms his covenant with Abram, but also teaches him how to respond to the covenant in a way that “keeps” the covenant a blessing...
v. 1-3 God has already graciously given Abram the covenant promises. But here He calls on Abram to live loyally to those promises… we call that faith.
v. 4-16 God then lays out the covenant in three parts: (1) God’s giving of it (v. 4-8), (2) Abram’s response to it (v.9-14), (3) And Sarai’s inclusion in it (v.15-16).
v.4-8 It starts with God. He will give the covenant. Every part and promise. It does not start with obedience, it starts with God giving… we call that grace.
v.9-11 While the promises are unmerited, they can still lead to misery. Ishmael is covenant-given, but he will not keep the covenant. So God crafts for Abram how to respond to God’s grace: circumcision.
V.12-14 Circumcision will not save anyone, but it will be a sign that everyone who believes that the covenant is for them will be saved. Because God wants faithful kids, the whole household gets the sign.
v. 15-16 Finally, to guard Abraham from the unfaithfulness of Chapter 16, Sarai is expressly included in all this.
Chapter 17 is a lesson on grace. Will the coming promises bring him misery (as Ishmael will), or blessing (as Isaac will)? Covenant-keeping is by faith. Circumcision is a response to the promises of God, it does not earn those promises. So our applications of the chapter on circumcision are lessons in grace. What are those lessons?
The covenant teaches that...
Grace _______________________________. For all things are yours 1 Co 3:21. God doesn’t begin His covenant with what Abraham needs to do. He gives it before Abram asked and He will give more than Abraham asks. Everything is gift. Nothing is ultimately earned.
Faithfulness__________________________. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. Ga 3:18 When God calls us to trust Him, He is not slipping in a way to earn His promises. He shows us how to receive them.
God’s intention ________________________. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 3 Jn 1:4. For the first time we hear what God is pursuing with the covenant: to be your God and the God of your offspring. Ge 17:7 Your kids matter to God.
Questions for Household Growth
In the Christian Calendar, what does New Years’ celebrate?
How did other Middle Eastern cultures use circumcision?
What is the difference between “earning” and “keeping” God’s promises? Which one is Biblical?