READ: Genesis 17:1-18:15
BACKGROUND: God’s covenant with Abraham – that he would be the father of many nations – is one of the most important themes woven throughout the entire Bible.
17:1 – “God Almighty” = El-Shaddai. El is the standard word for God. Shaddai conveys might and great power.
2 – The covenant belongs to whom? God! He calls it “my covenant.”
8 – This land could be lost due to unfaithfulness (the failure of God’s people to fulfill their part of the covenant). However, God’s promise was ultimately that they’d inherit the land forever – for eternity. We can hold onto that promise today. Heaven wont be some weird ethereal reality. It’s a place. The inheritance of God’s people is the land.
10 – In the Ancient Near Eastern world every covenant had a symbol. A mark. A sign. A ritual that demonstrated faithfulness to the covenant. In this case, God says that circumcision is the symbol of the covenant. This means that Abraham – and his descendants – showed their faithfulness to God and their intention of covenanting with him, following him, and claiming his promises by participating in this.
14 – Rejecting God will result in being cut off from the covenant.
18:1-2 – It says that the LORD – Yahweh – appeared to Abraham & then Abraham looked and saw 3 men. This entire encounter in Chapter 18 is something called a theophany. It is a very clear appearance of God taking on human form. One of the 3 men is God. It’s not the Trinity though – the language in the passage indicates that 2 of the men are angels and 1 is God. The church fathers are unanimous in saying that this is Jesus appearing to Abraham in the Old Testament. How cool is that ?!?!
12 – Sarah laughed just like Abraham had laughed in 17:17.
14 – It’s a rhetorical question. The obvious answer is “no” but we – like Sarah & Abraham – don’t always live like we actually believe it.
15 – I find this verse funny. It makes me laugh. 🙂
THINK: I grew up attending Sunday School every week. When my teachers told stories like this one of Abram and Sarah, they were automatically heroes in my mind. I pictured them as super-human, perfect beings. Thankfully I’ve come to realize that while these individuals are heroes of the faith, they are far from perfect. They’re perfectly human. I’m now absolutely amazed that in the midst of their insecurities, their doubt and their denial of God, He used them to accomplish incredible things.
Aren’t you grateful that God does the same for you and me? Like Sarah, I’ve laughed in doubt and disbelief at some of God’s promptings on my life. In fact, when I was working a full-time job in marketing a few years ago I felt God’s prompting to quit and pursue a job in Christian ministry. I laughed in disbelief. I doubted that He could use me. I thought there was no way He would provide for me if I walked away from a good job. A few months after ignoring God’s call, I was laid off. God was tremendously gracious with me and led me to a position at a church.
God chose to make Abraham great, despite his doubt, his disbelief, and his sin. He chose to use Sarah after she led her husband into sin with Hagar (Gen. 16) and laughed at God’s promise to Abram. If we have true faith in God, we too may experience unbelief and we will most definitely disobey. Praise God, He uses us despite our weaknesses and our failures.
ASK: Am I listening for God’s promptings? Do I have faith that God wants to use His people, despite their inadequacies, to accomplish His purposes? Pray and ask God to begin to reveal to you what he has for you and to build your faith and confidence in Him.
Written by Cari Widdel