Welcome back! I encourage you to drop a comment below to encourage your fellow readers with just a sentence or two of what you have learned in your first week. Or just drop a note to let all those who are reading with us know that they are not alone in their journey through this most incredible story of the Bible.

You’ll notice that I keep calling Abram Abraham. Today you read in Genesis 17:5 how God changed Abram’s name to Abraham. We’ll see God change names a few times in coming weeks.

The Covenant Promise

You will remember in Genesis 12:2 that God promised Abraham that He would make Abraham’s name great. But the problem is that Abraham had no children and therefore no descendants. How would God make him into a great nation if he didn’t even have children? Abraham’s closest heir lives far away, back in Damascus.

God then makes a promise to Abraham to make his descendants as numerous as the stars. God did not have to do this for Abraham. It is God’s grace and kindness to Abraham that God would not only make him into a great nation, but that through him God would ultimately bless all the families of the earth. Through a descendant of Abraham God would ultimately fulfill the promise of Genesis 3:15, to crush the head of the enemy of mankind. Jesus, a descendant of Abraham, is the one who would fulfill this promise in His victory over sin, death and the devil through His sacrificial death on the cross and victorious resurrection.

Genesis 15:12-16 is a prophecy of what would happen to the descendants of Abraham. They would end up in a foreign land for 400 years. They would suffer in that land. God will judge those who afflict them. Finally, Abraham’s descendants will return to the land of Canaan (where Abraham was at the time of God’s covenant) to take possession of the land.

We will see some of these fulfilled in the readings this week.

The Covenant Sign

If you went ahead and read Genesis 16 you saw that Abraham and his wife, Sarai, tried to take the problem of no children into their own hands. Instead of solving the problem they ended up with a child who himself would become a rival nation.

In Genesis 17 God continues to expand on the nature of His promise to Abraham. Here God elaborates, saying that Abraham will become exceedingly fruitful. More than that, kings shall come from him. But the heart and joy of the promise is two fold:

  1. First, God promises to be their God. God is God. He is the God of all people and nations because He is their Creator and there is none like Him. But He has chosen to make Himself known in a special way to Abraham and his descendants.
  2. Secondly, God promises to give the descendants of Abraham a land.

God then gives Abraham and his descendants a sign to remind them that they are His people. Every male would be circumcised. They would bear the sign of the two-fold covenant promise of God literally “in their flesh.”

Is God faithful?

God has made a promise. We can now ask a question throughout all the rest of the story. Is God faithful to His promise? Will God call a people to Himself to be their God? Will God provide a land for the people that God calls to Himself? Let us continue to read in the coming weeks with this promise in mind.