The Covenant of Circumcision (Genesis 17) Commentary


When Abram was ninety-nine years old, (13 years after the birth of Ishmael)  the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; I am who I am, I am the Lord, There are no other gods  walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Believe and be pure of heart;  these are the conditions of our relationship with God, which was continually damaged, until He sent us Christ   

Abram fell facedown, in worship, humility, fear and awe of perfection; When Peter witnessed a miracle of Christ he  fell at the feet of Jesus saying “Get away from me Lord for I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8), When Isaiah saw his vision of God he cried, “Woe to me, I am ruined!” (Is 6:5);  and God said to him, “As for me, For my portion, my relationship to be established with you and you descendants, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. Physically and spiritually. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, meaning father of multitude  and kings will come from you.  Ultimately Christ, our king.   I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant unbreakable, eternal promise; eternal  life for those who accept Jesus between me and you and your descendants even after the death the Abraham, his descendants are heirs to this convenant; through Christ we are heirs to God’s kingdom;  to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. Our God, above all else, who loves us so much He gave us His Son; the whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, Abraham was still a stranger in this land; believers reside in a world of sin, and following Christ makes them foreign to it; I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; This land was promised and given to Abraham; we are promised life everlasting;   and I will be their God. There is comfort in this; God is not forsaking.

This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. There are a few theories put forth about why God chose circumcision, and none of them are absolute, but here are some thoughts to consider:

1. It represented the cutting away of sinful desires.
2. Only males are circumcized, because they are heads of the church.
3. It identifed the descendants of Abraham, and traced them to Jesus, and also ended with Jesus and the establishment of the new convenant.
4. As a sexual organ, it is a more sensitve, intimate reminder of the covenant.
5. Deuteronomy 30:6
As for Sarai your wife, …. her name will be Sarah.  A subtle change; meaning “princess” instead of “my princess”;   I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. Isaac, as promised  kings of peoples will come from her. Including the Messiah.

Abraham fell facedown; he laughed not mockingly, because the Lord surley would have addressed him on that, but out of joy that God would fulfill his promise And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”  Abraham cared for his firstborn son, too.

Then God said, “Yes as He had promised to bless all of Abrahams descendants but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. There is a division between the half-brothers. God had intended to give establish His covenant with Isaac, whose family line would extend to Jesus. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you Do not be concerned about his well-being When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.  To heaven.

 And every male in Abraham’s household , including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised out of obedience and as a symbol of God’s covenant.