Genesis 17:1-6 Abraham and the Covenant of Circumcision
Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless. “I will establish My covenant between Me and you,
And I will multiply you exceedingly.” Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you,
And you will be the father of a multitude of nations. “No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham;
For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you.
In the eyes of the world both a They both can mean to “enter into an agreement between 2 or more parties for the doing or not doing of something specified.” When contracts are signed, something is expected from both sides. If one side fails, then the contract can be null and void. We all know that contracts can be broken or there can be loop holes. CONTRACT is a legal agreement made in suspicion. The parties do not trust each other, and they set “limits” to their own responsibility. A COVENANT is an agreement made in trust. The parties love each other and put no limits on their own responsibility.
In this passage of the biblical text God appears to Abram. This is one of several occasions in the biblical text were God appears to His servant to give instructions. On this occasion God meets his servant Abram to establish a covenant that involves Abram and his descendants. Now if you are a student of the bible you will no doubt notice that this is not the first time that we hear of this covenant between God and his servant Abram. Earlier in the book of Gen. God approaches Abram with similar covenant in Gen15:18 however that covenant has a focus on the land that God will give unto the descendents of Abram. This covenant is different because God now clarifies by adding I will multiply you exceedingly and I will make you fruitful. One must note that this language is not at all novel as in the aforementioned text God all eludes to these elements of the covenant however this is the fist time that there is a notion that the royal seed will be of Abraham not merely a relative of the descendents of Abraham. God goes on to tell Abram that he is to walk upright and blameless before God. In other words God is tell Abraham “ If you walk before me you will be blameless. This is true for us today often times we feel that the things that God has promised us are contingent on us up holding and up keeping our side of the bargain or on fulfilling our side of the covenant. While in some ways this is true it is important for us to remember that God desires our hearts not only our actions. This is at the core of what God is telling Abram if you walk before me, if you walk with me, if you seek after me, you will be blameless. Yet somehow we reverse it in our own human frailty. We choose to believe that one must be blameless in order to walk with God when in fact most of the biblical text is a direct contrast to this notion.
Abram had been walking with God for the majority of his ninety nine years, we know that he was not perfect as evidenced by his trickery concerning the identity of his wife and his error in attempting to create his own descendents through Hagar. God does not abandon Him that though it seems Abram may have had lapses in judgment it appears that he continually was in fellowship with God even through theses times. Therefore we must conclude that the list of wrongs and rights have more to do with our moralistic point of view then God’s divine plan. So we can stop shouting out our short comings because God uses us in spite of them!
In this case God is the initiator, establisher and sustainer of the covenant. This is true today yesterday and tomorrow. God is the initiator and sustainer of the covenants that He makes with us. There nothing that we can do to nullify or veto God’s part of the covenant. God is the one who does the work and there is nothing that we can do about it!!
Notice how many times in the passage the Lord uses the pronoun “I”!! The Lord repeatedly suggests that he is the guarantor of the work that needs to be done!! Like our Divine shadow, His is with us wherever we go making provision for us according to his perfect will. This is both sobering and comforting, think for a moment of the promises that God has made to you, He promises to be out strength and our redeemer, our shield and or help , or deliver and our provider,. He promises to never leave us or forsake us, whether we make our bed in hell or whether we flee from him like Jonah, if you are His child born of the covenant sealed with the blood of Christ you are an obligatory receipt of his love, grace and mercy, He who has done a good work in you will complete it, and once again there is nothing that you can do about it.
It is God’s job to fulfill the covenant all you have to do is walk with Him. Now think of the time when you would have rather not been a recipient of his loving kindness when you felt that you did not deserve the mercy and grace of God. Listen to the Lord as He says to Abram I am God Almighty Walk before me and be blameless I will establish my covenant between me and you! This is not a contract, from you nothing is required. Know that no matter what the circumstance my look like God is keeping His side of the covenant.