Genesis 17 – The Circumcision

So we can finally start calling Abram as Abraham, as in this chapter, God renames Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of many). Seems like a cruel joke to rename a guy who is about to turn 100 and whose wife is on the verge of turning 90. But when God renames someone, it is far from a joke, but rather an assurance of the fulfillment of the promise he had made to Abram almost a quarter of a century ago.

We still see glimpses of Abraham’s lack of faith on God’s promise of giving him a son through Sarah. Abraham even laughs at the very idea of Sarah being able to bear a child at her age. God names Sarah’s son as Isaac, meaning he laughs, perhaps to serve as a reminder of Abraham’s disbelief. Compare that with the name God gave to Hagar’s son Ishmael, meaning God hears.

God renames both Abraham and Sarah and renews his covenant with them and asks Abraham to circumcise every male in his household as a reminder of Gods promise. Abraham complies and on the very same day circumcises all the men in his household.

I have often heard how important it is to give testimonies, acknowledging what God has done for us. But God knows our heart and knows word to word what we are about to testify. Then why do we testify?

God doesn’t need our acknowledgment, he is watching over us whether we acknowledge him or not. God doesn’t need us to cut off a piece of flesh or dip in a pool or even eat a piece of bread every week in church. We do these things as an outward symbol of our inner change. So that we let others know about what God has done in our lives, that we are dedicating our life for him and renewing our covenant with him every week.

In Genesis 15, God himself walked between the two pieces of an animal bringing dread upon himself, should he not fulfill his promise to Abraham. He doesn’t need Abraham to cut his foreskin to fulfill his promise but the covenant of circumcision will act as a reminder for Abraham’s family of the covenant God has made with them.

Questions Discussed in this Podcast

V2: Why did God change Abraham’s name? Should everyone who accepts Jesus as their personal savior change their names?

V10: Of all the things God could have asked of Abraham, why did He ask circumcision? Is God’s covenant not extended to women?

V12: God says that all your generations are to be circumcised. The Bible says that we are Abraham’s descendants, then why do we not follow the law of circumcision?

V17: Why does Abraham laugh when God told him that Sarah will birth him a son? What causes our unbelief when God himself promises us something?


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