Genesis 17 – The Covenant Faithfulness of God

Twenty-four years have passed since God appeared to Abram in Genesis 15. In the midst of this waiting, Abram faithlessly attempted to attain the covenant through his own wisdom and strength. But now God has appeared to Abram again to affirm his covenant with a sign. The sign of this covenant is a reminder to Abram and all his descendants that God has not forgotten his grace to his people. God will keep them as his people and He will be their God. This sign is God’s continual reminder that there will be no revoking this covenant, that there is nothing that can be done to keep God from the fulfillment of his promise, and there is nothing to turn God’s love away from his people. Just one chapter earlier, Abram attempted to attain the covenant without trusting God for it. And even his doubts and his lack of trust in God were not enough to hinder this covenant or to cause God to forsake his people.

In the midst of this covenant, God further affirms his promises as he changes the name of Abram to Abraham. God changes his name in another reminder that he will be faithful to his promise. This man will no longer be Abram, ‘exalted father,’ but he will be Abraham, ‘father of a multitude.’ Whenever Abraham hears his name for the rest of his life, this will be a reminder that God will be faithful to his covenant and that God has changed the very identity of this man. He says to Abram: Your wife may have been barren, Abram, but now I make you Abraham and your descendents will be as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. This is your new identity founded in my covenant and resting upon my promises.

But the fulfillment of this promise would not be completed in his lifetime, and while Abraham and his descendents died waiting in faith and not having received the things promised, but only having seen them and greeted them from afar, we the church can see the fulfillment of this covenant through Christ. The promise to Abraham that seemed to take so long to come was given in Jesus. And while at times it may seem that God is nowhere to be found or slow to fulfill his promises, we rest in the testimony of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. He will be our God and we will be his people.

Leviticus 26:44-45
Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God. But I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God. I am the Lord.

Luke 1:54-55
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.

Read Genesis 17.

Notice the essence of God’s covenant in verse 7. If God has made us his people by a certain covenant, and there is nothing we can do to break it, how does that free you up to live a life of unhindered worship and faith?

Grace Greater by Michael Bleecker

Posted on: January 7, 2016 - 10:00PM

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