-When Abram was 99 years old the LORD appeared to him again and declared, “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 (Genesis 17:1-2).” The LORD changed his name from Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of a multitude). God promises a lineage of kings in this everlasting covenant along with the land He’d already promised earlier.
-The sign of this covenant between the LORD God Almighty and Abraham was circumcision of every male in his family and among him (servants, slaves) on the eighth day (Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day, Luke 1:59; 2:21) of life. The uncircumcised “in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant (Genesis 17:14).” This issue becomes a big deal in the New Testament as Gentile believers are coming to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, but are uncircumcised. The council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 decides the matter and the church expands without this requirement on Gentile believers. There was a segment in early Christianity that promoted the strict following of these Jewish customs. They became known as the Judaizers and were denounced by apostles such as Paul (See the NT book of Galatians).
-Sarai also gets a new name by the LORD. She shall now be called Sarah (princess). She will receive blessing and be a mother of nations. Kings of peoples will come from her. This news made Abraham laugh since he was nearly 100 years old and his wife was 90, well beyond child bearing years. But the LORD was serious and says that it will be through a child born to Sarah that the everlasting covenant will be established. The name of Isaac (he laughs) will be given to this child of the promise. Abraham had thought Ishmael would receive it, and the LORD does agree to bless him and make him fruitful making him the father of 12 princes and a great nation. Interestingly, this is where the Islamic faith traces its roots in the Quran. Ishmael is their promised one rather than Isaac. It is here that we see the beginning of a great split in world history, which would be the source of great conflict throughout the middle and modern ages.
-In addition, Paul uses allegory to represent the difference in these women as to the law and freedom in Christ in Galatians 4:22-5:1 from the New Testament.
-So Abraham again follows the LORD’s commands and circumcises himself and his household, including the 13 year old Ishmael on the very same day.
Verse to Memorize: Genesis 17:10