The following is a short summary of Genesis 17:1-14, which I broke into my last two posts:
Thirteen years slipped by since Abram last heard from God. Abram had believed God’s promise. But perhaps he misunderstood the piece about many descendants coming from his wife, Sarai.
For Sarai (age 89) and Abraham (age 99) failed to conceive. And their window of opportunity slammed shut, humanly speaking.
But since Abram had followed Sarai’s advice—taking Hagar as his wife—the promise of many descendants would surely come through their thirteen year-old son, Ishmael.
God’s plans, however, rarely line up with ours (humankind).
So God visits Abram again, reminding him of His covenant. After changing Abram’s name to Abraham—meaning “father of a multitude”—He outlines His expectations of Abraham: “Walk blameless before me.” And circumcision will be the sign of the covenant (Genesis 17:1-14).
You may read Genesis 17 here: Bible Gateway.
Change is in the air as the clock counts down to God’s launch of His covenant. For God also changes Sarai’s name to Sarah, (the names are two different forms of a word meaning “princess”). And He declares that she will bear a son by this time next year.
I will bless her [Sarah] and surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” – Genesis 17:16
God’s covenant would be established through this son.
With this crazy news, Abraham falls facedown again. This time—instead of in worship—he tries to hide his laughter. For at the age of ninety-nine, Ishmael had been his only son for the past thirteen years!
Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?”
Ironically, God names their promise baby: Isaac, meaning “laughter”.
As the truth soaks in, Abraham implores God for Ishmael’s blessing in an “if only” sort of way.
God hears Abraham’s plea and outlines both sons’ future in verses 19-22: Although Ishmael wouldn’t be the covenant child, God still blessed him. As Isaac’s descendants would stream from 12 tribes, Ishmael would also have 12 sons/rulers who would become a great nation (see Gen. 25:13-15).
Chapter 17 ends with Abraham’s obedience in circumcision: a sign of participation in God’s covenant.
Abraham, the man God credited righteous due to his faith, struggled to believe the “how” of God’s plan. Yet, he still obeyed.
The NIV Life Application Study Bible challenges us: “When God seems to want the impossible and you begin to doubt his leading, be like Abraham. Focus on God’s commitment to fulfill His promises to you, and then continue to obey.”
I hope you have a blessed week and Thanksgiving! May we take time to reflect on God’s goodness!