Thursday 17 September 2015

Bible Book:

“As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations” (v. 4)

Genesis 17:1-10 Thursday 17 September 2015

Psalm: Psalm 91


In today's passage we move away from the journey of Abram to avery different conversation with God. Von Rad in his commentary onthe Book of Genesis places chapter 17 firmly in the priestly strandrather than part of the Yahwistic report of his life. (The priestlywriter's version of the world's beginnings and people's encounterswith God is a confirmation of the goodness of God and the goodnessof the people God created. This is in contrast to the Yahwistversion which tells the story of increasing disobedience, violenceand corruption. Originally the two accounts formed separate texts,but the texts gradually were brought together by the scribes untilwe have the account before us today.)

Here we have a series of covenant promises made by God. God isspeaking of the heritage which will be Abram's if he stays faithfulto his side of the bargain - the name Abraham is nothing more thanan extension of the name Abram but signifies the ongoingrelationship which God is making with him. The majority of thepassage tells us of the good things which will happen to them asthey travel on, not just physically but spiritually, through thelife time of Abraham and on through the generations - it isinteresting to note that no response is required. It is a one-sidedpromise telling of security with the promise of great things and awidening of influence from the narrow family situation to coverother lands and people. It is a timeless promise not only with thepeople but also with the land.

From verse 9 onwards we find out what God demands from Abrahamand his descendents in return for this goodness. Human covenantswere always accompanied by an external sign showing that theparties were obliged to keep the agreement which has been forged.Hence the requirement is placed upon Abraham and all those ofAbrahamic faith to the practice of circumcision, a sign that theywill keep their side of the bargain and that they affirm God'spromise to them.

To Ponder

  • How does reading this passage help you more fully to understandthe position of some Jewish people with regard to what they see astheir God-given land?
  • Are the words of the Covenant response in the MethodistCovenant Service a strong enough response to God's goodness to us?If not, how might should we bear a more visiblesign?
  • What are you prepared to offer as a response to God's promisewithin your life?
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