Abraham – Holding Fast To The Will Of God
Lesson 8: "Thirteen Silent Years" Genesis 17:1-27
"As for me, this is my covenant with you…" Genesis 17:3
The silence of God
- Why the silence for 13 years? (See Prov. 3:5,6) God had been silent at times with Abram in the past (from Ur to Haran, from Haran to Canaan)
- It's all the more curious considering Abram probably thought he had seen the fulfillment of God's promise. He had a son, his own flesh and blood, just as the promise said.
A clear message
- God broke His silence in a very direct way. The 'As for me…' in 17:3 emphasizes the nature of the covenant. God will do this; it is not conditional.
- Compare what God says here to what God said in Chapter 15. There, when God spoke of the covenant, it was about the land. Here, God refers to the promise of descendants.
- Next, God says 'As for you…'. Abraham can do something to show his commitment, similar to the ceremony in Chapter 15.
- God introduces the rite of circumcision. It was meant to be a sign, a reminder of what God promised. Under the law, the rite took on the burden of the law.
- It is a puzzling reaction. He laughed! (17:17) Why? Out of shame? The realization that he had been wrong all this time?
- 17:15,16 must have been a surprise. God's promise to Hagar in 16:10 sure sounded like the covenant promise. Abram might have wondered where he went wrong…
- However, what Abraham does next is yet another sign of his faith. He performs the rite of circumcision for himself and his household.
- Does God seem silent at times? Read Hebrews 4:12…
The meaning of Romans Ch. 4
- Let's follow Paul's argument. In verse 3, we know Abraham believed, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Not works, but faith.
- Verse 10, righteousness was credited to him before the rite of circumcision was done!
- So, as verses 11 & 12 say, Abraham is also the father of those who believe but are not circumcised. In other words, the Gentiles, us!
- Verse 13, Abraham did not receive the promise under the law, but before the law.
- So, verse 16, Abraham is the father of not only those under the law, the Jews, but of those who believe by faith. The father of many nations did not mean only the Jews.
- Remember the promise of one who would bless all nations? Verse 24, salvation comes through faith, so we can share in Abraham's covenant!
#1) We must be aware of Satan's subtle strategy to deceive us. (II Cor. 11:14)
#2) We must recognize that our own heart is deceitful (Jer. 17:9)
#3) We must be aware of our tendency to think subjectively, and be on guard against pride
For next week, read Genesis 17:1 - 8; Ephesians 4-6