Exactly as Abraham was invited into the Almighty Lord’s already existing covenant which He calls My Covenant, we too are invited into an already existing covenant – the My Covenant. We too have specifics. They will not be the same as Abraham’s specifics, or Sarah’s specifics, but will be your name specific. It will be what you are supposed to do in the My covenant.
ABRAHAM, THE FRIEND OF GOD
by Delbert Young
Scriptures: Genesis 17:2, 4, 7, 9, 10, 13, 14, 19, 21, Genesis 17:1, Exodus 6:3, Acts 1:8, Revelation 21:22, Genesis 17:2-3, Genesis 17:4-6, Romans 12:2, Proverbs 13:22, Deuteronomy 10:16, 30:6, Romans 2:29, Colossians 2:11, Philippians 1:6, Genesis 17:17-20, Genesis 17:22-27
Genesis 17:2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee
Genesis 17:4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee
Genesis 17:7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed
Genesis 17:9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore
Genesis 17:10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep
Genesis 17:13 and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
Genesis 17:14 he hath broken my covenant.
Genesis 17:19 I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant
Genesis 17:21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac
Nine times in this chapter does the Lord say, “My Covenant” to Abraham.
Genesis 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
1. I am the Almighty God
Immediately after the chapter concerning the conception and birth of Ishmael we are given a chapter about the covenant of the Lord to Abraham. It had been thirteen years since Ishmael was born. Abraham was seventy-five when he began walking with the Lord (Genesis 12:4). That was twenty-four years prior to this visitation. It is strange that it took twenty-four years for the Lord to make this “my covenant” with Abraham.
The Lord appeared to Abram. The name the Lord identifies Himself with is “Shadday” (Strong’s #7706) meaning “the Almighty” just as translated.
Strong’s 7706 Shadday (shad-dah’-ee);
from 7703; the Almighty:
Matthew Henry says,
“What we may expect to find God to us: I am the Almighty God. By this name he chose to make himself known to Abram rather than by his name Jehovah, <Exo. 6:3>. He used it to Jacob, <Genesis 28:3; 43:14; 48:3>. It is the name of God that is mostly used throughout the book of Job, at least in the discourses of that book. After Moses, Jehovah is more frequently used, and this, El-shaddai, very rarely; it bespeaks the almighty power of God….”1
The thought is that the Old Covenant made with Moses was under the name of Jehovah. However to Abraham and this “my covenant” the name was “Almighty God” (Shadday).
To Moses He said,
Exo 6:3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. (emphasis added)
Today’s church seems to have an “obsession” with the name ‘Jehovah’. It must have some very spiritual sound. It is Biblical, but completely Old Testament. What if I told you that the name or word Jehovah is not found in the New Testament? Would that cause you to question the importance of the name Jehovah to the New Testament believer? What if I told you that neither Jesus nor any apostle nor any New Testament writer ever spoke of Jehovah? We are to preach what Jesus preached, correct? We are to teach the apostles doctrine (Acts 2:42). Yet we still sing songs to Jehovah. Example, “Jehovah-jireh my provider for his grace is sufficient for me, for me, for me….” Jehovah-jireh is not our provider. Jesus Christ is our provider.
Phil 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Jehovah is the name of the Old Covenant Lord. The New Covenant has a different Lord. His name is Jesus. We are not witnesses of Jehovah (i.e. Jehovah witnesses). We are to witness for Jesus and Jesus only.
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (emphasis added)
We do not find Jehovah in the New Testament. However we do find the name “Almighty” God (see Rev 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7; 16:14; 19:15; 21:22).
Rev 21:22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
Our covenant is not linked with Jehovah. Our covenant is linked with God Almighty the covenant name before the Law. Jehovah was the name of the Lord of the Old Covenant. Jesus Christ is the name of the Lord in the New Covenant. When we speak of Jehovah or sing about Jehovah we are singing a praise to the Old Covenant lord.
2. walk before me, and be thou perfect
Our definition of “perfect” is actually flawless and faultless. That is not what is meant in the Hebrew. The word is tamiym meaning “entire, integrity, truth”.
8549 tamiym (taw-meem’);
entire; integrity, truth
The Almighty God is telling Abram that if Abram will walk before the Him then Abram will be entire. Abram will be a man of integrity, a man of truth. The Lord does not mean that Abram must be without flaw and without fault. Rather, if Abram walked with the Lord he would be blessed. In every way that Abram could be blessed and entire Abram could be blessed wanting nothing. All Abram needed to do was walk before the Almighty God.
When we walk with the Lord in faith, as His friend, and covenantaly we enjoy a life entire, wanting nothing (Jam 1:4). This is a promise. Jesus said He came to give life and that abundantly. God shall supply all our need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus! Through our covenant with Christ God supplies entirely! All we need to do is walk before Him.
Genesis 17:2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
Genesis 17:3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
3. Abram fell on his face….
Some people have problems when believers “fall out.” We experience that very frequently at the church I pastor. It is not a strange event in our worship and ministry services. It is not a strange event in the Bible. Daniel fell out (Dan 8:17; 10:9). The wise men fell out (Mat 2:11). The disciples fell out (Mat 17:6). Paul fell out (Act 22:7). John fell out (Rev 1:17; 19:10; 22:8). The elders fell out (Rev 4:10; 5:8, 14; 11:16; 19:4). We find several references to individuals that fell at the feet of Jesus. A leper came and fell on his face asking to be healed (Luk 5:12). Perhaps we could see more healings if we would fall before Him more often. Jairus fell at asking the Lord Jesus to come and heal his daughter (Luk 8:41). Perhaps our children and loved ones could be healed were we to fall before the Lord more often. A leper was not only healed of leprosy, but made whole (Luk 17:16). Perhaps we could get back what the enemy has taken from us were we to fall in his presence more often. Mary, Lazarus’ sister fell before the Lord (Joh 11:32). The Lord Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead. We want to see the miraculous, but we are too dignified to fall. In reality we are too dignified to have miracles.
There are also references to individuals falling in the presence of men of God. Cornelius fell before Peter. (Act 10:25). Cornelius and his household were saved and filled with the Holy Ghost. (Act 10:25; 16:29; Rev 19:10; 22:8). Some may say, “That was the mighty apostle Peter.” Peter was a real person just like you or I. Are you and your household saved, baptized in water, and baptized in the Holy Ghost? If not you may need to fall. The Philippian jailer fell before Paul and Silas (Act 16:29). He too was saved and baptized along with all in his house. We pray for our children and spouse and well we should. Yet we have too much pride to fall in the Lord’s presence.
It is sad that we struggle with falling out in the church today when we are given so many references. What is truly sad is so many people will never experience falling out! The reason is they are taught that it is wrong. Believers today consistently allow the enemy to rob them of the wonderful blessings of God. Some may say, “Well that doesn’t seem like much of a blessing to me.” It was to Abraham and all those previously mentioned. Abraham will do it twice in this one chapter (v. 3, 17). We are taught that some of the very things that bring us the greatest blessings are wrong. How shrewd is the devil. Falling out is enjoyable. I have never experienced it when the Lord did not speak to me or impress me with His will for my life. This is exactly what happened to Abraham, is it not? He experienced fresh revelation of the will of God Almighty for his life.
I had a person stubbornly tell me once “Bless God, they won’t knock me down.” I asked, “Why make them. Just fall.” Fall out every chance you get. Get your healing, salvation, family restored, Holy Ghost, and visitation.
Genesis 17:4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
Genesis 17:5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
Genesis 17:6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
4. My covenant
Abram is being invited into and established into the already existing covenant of Almighty God. We are taught in theological seminaries about the Adamic covenant, the Noahic covenant, the Abrahamic covenant, the Moseic covenant, the Davidic covenant, the Palestinian covenant, the New covenant, the Eternal covenant, and whatever other covenant there may be. As we read this we see the Lord says, “My covenant.” The phrase “my covenant” is found 51 times throughout scriptures (King James Version). It begins with Noah (Genesis 6:18) and goes through the New Testament. The phrase “my covenant” is found in this one chapter of Genesis 17 nine different times. This is the Lord’s covenant, not Abraham’s covenant.
Just as was Noah and as will be Isaac, Moses, and David and so on, Abram is invited to come into the covenant. Abram was invited into the covenant just as you or I have been invited. It was the Lord’s covenant.
The text changes in verse 5 from Abram to Abraham. The covenant had begun. The covenant began immediately. Abram was now Abraham. Abraham would be included in the already existing covenant of the Almighty God.
5. as for me, behold my covenant is with THEE
The “My covenant” was the Lord’s. Abraham was being allowed into the “My covenant.” It was the Lord’s covenant with Abraham. That means that Abraham was included. What is found in this chapter are the specifics for Abraham. There are 7 specific points. Some specifics are ‘Abraham specific’. Some specifics are for the descendants of Abraham. Some specifics are for Sarai.
Exactly as Abraham was invited into the Lord’s already existing covenant which He calls “My Covenant,” we too are invited into an already existing covenant–the “My Covenant”. We too have specifics. They will not be the same as Abraham’s specifics, or Sarah’s specifics, but will be your name specific. It will be what you are supposed to do in the “My covenant.”
We learn about covenant from the following points. We make applicable Abraham’s response. We see how we should respond to the covenant.
- Seven Specific Points
1. The Lord changed Abram to Abraham (v. 5).The Lord’s covenant includes a transformed nature.
Every covenant invitation includes a transformed nature. As most know, a name in scripture carries more meaning than simple identification. It speaks of the nature and the purpose of a person. For example Jacob–meaning “heel-catcher, supplanter [substitute, swap, switch, not the real]”–became Israel–meaning “he will rule as God”. Simon Barjona became Peter. Saul became Paul. John became Mark. In every situation the name changed because the nature changed.
The Son of man Lord Jesus tells us in Revelation 2:17 that overcomers are given a new name written in the stone. We are not given a new name and then overcome. We overcome and then are given a new name. First the nature change and then the name change.
Abram walked with God Almighty no less than 24 years before Abram’s name was changed to Abraham (Genesis 12:4; 17:1). The change we all want is not instantaneous, but there is change. We change from glory to glory, faith to faith, and strength to strength. A transforming is constantly taking place (Rom 12:2).
Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Abraham, meaning “high father,” became Abraham, meaning “father of a multitude.” Every covenant invitation includes a transformed nature.
Strong’s 87 ‘Abram (ab-rawm’);
high father; Abram, the original name of Abraham:Abraham
Strong’s 85 ‘Abraham (ab-raw-hawm’);
father of a multitude; Abraham, the later name of Abram:2. Abraham would be a father of many nations (v. 5, 6). Abraham would be exceeding fruitful— nations and kings would come out of Abraham.
Again we note this is Abraham’s specific part of the “My covenant”. In covenant there not only is a transforming of a person’s nature. There are also blessings untold. These blessings make those included in the covenant “exceeding fruitful”. Personal prosperity, personal health, children, descendants, wisdom, relationships, are just to mention a few included in our covenant. These are promised corporately, but obtained individually. Abraham’s specific promise was to be “exceeding fruitful”. When we are invited into the “My covenant” and walk before Him the promises become reality. Abraham was personally blessed exceedingly. Abraham was perfect–entire!3. This covenant would be offered to the seed of Abram after him (v. 7). “I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee….”
Our individual walk before the Lord is important to our descendants. We have the idea that what we do will not affect our descendants. This is not true. It was actually Abraham’s personal walk that brought in his descendants. The “My Covenant” would be offered to Abraham’s descendants because of Abraham. We can insure the Lord will offer our seed the covenant. We cannot insure our descendants will walk in that offered no more than could Abraham. That decision is left to each individual. We can circumcise their flesh, i.e. take them to church and teach them the things of God. They personally will need to offer their heart for circumcision. Our individual walk does matter to our descendants even generations later.4. The land that Abraham was given would become the land of the generations of Abraham (v. 8, 9).
The righteous always leave an inheritance for their descendants (see also Pro 19:14).
Pro 13:22 A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.
Of course if one’s theology includes an “any minute” rapture then these verses are useless. Why leave anything for our descendants if we will be flying soon. Why work to prosper at all if everything will be destroyed? “Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we fly.” That is not correct theology. We are to accumulate and leave an inheritance for our descendants.
5. Every male must have the covenant sign (token) of circumcision (v. 10-14).
This circumcision began with Abraham (v. 11) and every male in Abram’s camp. Every male born from then on was to be circumcised the eight day after birth (v. 12).
The fulfillment of the circumcision of flesh is the circumcision of the heart. The circumcised heart is not a New Testament revelation. That truth was from the beginning.
Deuteronomy 10:16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.
Deuteronomy 30:6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
Even in the Old Covenant the circumcision was to be within. Circumcision was external (flesh) and internal (heart). The flesh was to reveal the heart. There are inward covenant experiences that are seen externally. For example, a godly life style, attending a church assembly, supporting godly ministries, making disciples, praying, praising, etc. These all come from the circumcised heart. The covenant person will have a circumcised heart.
Rom 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
Col 2:11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
Abraham was the first circumcised. The circumcision must begin someplace with someone. Abraham was circumcised first. Then his household. Then his descendants. Someone must begin. If a person has no heritage walking in the kingdom then that person can be an Abraham. That person can begin the circumcision of their descendants.
6. Abraham’s wife Sarai would become Sarah (v. 15-16).
Strong’s 8297 Saray (saw-rah’-ee);
dominative; Sarai, the wife of Abraham:
Strong’s 8283 Sarah (saw-raw’);
the same as 8282;
a mistress, i.e. female noble:
KJV– lady, princess, queen.
Sarah would be blessed with a son. She would be a mother of nations and kings (v. 15-16). Sarai’s nature would change to Sarah. Sarai–dominative–would become Sarah–princess. She would become noble. King James translates this Hebrew word as “lady, princess, and queen”. Abram’s life would be fulfilled as never before. His wife would be everything Abraham wanted. Sarah would be blessed because Abraham came into the “My covenant” of Almighty God. Our spouses are greatly affected by our covenant specifics. Sarah became all that Abraham could hope for because Abraham covenanted with the Almighty God.
7. Isaac would be established in “My covenant” (v. 19) says the Lord God Almighty. The continuation of the “my covenant” would go on through Isaac. What greater blessing than to know one’s child will be in the “My covenant”! Isaac was included because Abraham was walked before the Lord and was perfect–entire.
As we well know, all 7 points came into fulfillment for Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and their descendants! A point we should all excite about is that the Lord God Almighty fulfills His “My covenant”. What He has covenantally said to me and you He will perform. Of this we can be confident.
Phil 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
A wonderful truth is that though the covenant was ongoing (“my covenant”), it was individual. The Almighty God told Abraham, “….my covenant is with thee” (v. 2, 4). It was also with Noah, and Sarah, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Jacob’s twelve sons, and Moses, and on and on. It was with Peter, and Paul, and John, and Matthew. It was with Martin Luther, and John Wesley, and John Calvin, and Matthew Henry, and Dwight Moody, and Charles Spurgen. It is with me and with you. Though corporate specific the covenant is individual specific. He says to each of us “As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be….” We individually are blessed within what God Almighty calls “my covenant”.
Genesis 17:17 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?
Genesis 17:18 And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!
Genesis 17:19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.
Genesis 17:20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.
7. Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed
The covenant name is now Abraham. As the Lord explains the magnificence of the “my covenant” Abraham falls out again. This time laughing! The Hebrew word for laughed is tsachaq (Strong’s # 6711) meaning to laugh outright. Abraham was outright laughing. This will surely bother some religious spirits. Father Abraham falls out laughing. Across the land is what has been termed as the “laughing revival”. It has come under great criticism, but as we see here it is legitimate and Biblical.
Strong’s 6711 tsachaq (tsaw-khak’);
to laugh outright
8. Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old
Was Abraham laughing because he did not believe? According to scriptures Abraham never staggered at the promises of God (Rom 4:20). But Abraham did question his own abilities. “Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old?” He also questioned Sarah’s abilities. “….shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?” It was not God that Abraham doubted. It was Abraham and Sarah that Abraham doubted. The thought of Abraham and Sarah pulling this Isaac thing off was hilarious to Abraham.
Is this not so real? I personally never doubt that God can do everything He said. It is me that I doubt. It seems downright comical. Watch what Abraham does.
9. O that Ishmael might live before thee
“Would it not be easier ‘that Ishmael might live before thee'”? Bible characters are so real! The Lord invites us into His covenant. He even tells us how He will perform it. Then we begin giving our ideas. “Lord,” we say, “Wouldn’t it be better and easier if we did it this way?” Why not Ishmael anyway? That would be easier. The Lord would have a thirteen year jump on the project. We are thinking the easiest way and the quickest way. The Lord is thinking the eternal way.
The Lord said, “….Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.” The Lord is thinking eternal. Because Abraham looked at himself and Sarah and saw the inadequacies. Abraham thought it would be easier another way. This is how we function. We look at our inadequacies and think that not even God can work through me. That is not true. Nothing is too hard for the Lord (Genesis 18:14). If the Lord chose us then we are well adequate to do His will. We simply need to use up all our ideas so that the Lord can get us to do it His way. It is impossible within ourselves, but with Almighty God nothing is too hard.
10. as for Ishmael, I have heard thee
Concerning Ishmael, the Lord had heard Abraham’s cry or prayer for Ishmael. Ishmael would be blessed. We wonder about things like Ishmael. Why would the Lord bless Ishmael? Was not Ishmael wrong in existence? If we truly believe the Lord opens and closes the womb then we cannot believe that Ishmael’s existence was a mistake. Obviously Ishmael and his descendants would be blessed because of their relationship with Abraham. Being in relationship with people who walk before God Almighty always brings blessings.
Genesis 17:22 And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.
Genesis 17:23 And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him.
Genesis 17:24 And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.
Genesis 17:25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.
Genesis 17:26 In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son.
Genesis 17:27 And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him.
10. In the selfsame day….
The Lord “left off talking” with Abraham and Abraham immediately sharpened his knife. Abraham moved immediately into obedience. As the Lord went up, Abraham was pulling out his knife. He circumcised not only himself, but everyone he could catch.
We can’t wait either. Too often we put off the specifics we know we are to do. Then we forget about our specifics. We need to immediately pull out our knife and begin circumcising our flesh.
Abraham wanted everybody circumcised. We also want everybody circumcised–in the heart. I sharpen my knife every chance I get. In fact, I am sharpening it as I write this. I circumcise hearts every opportunity I am given. I want people in the “My Covenant”. I want people to experience the blessings of the covenant. The best time to sharpen the knife is immediately after the Almighty God has appeared to us. As He leaves off talking we are very ready to circumcise flesh–ours.
11. What can we learn from this lesson that we can apply to our lives?
a. Often we praise the wrong Lord. We sing and praise Jehovah who is the Old Covenant Lord. We should praise Jesus the New Covenant Lord. It is through the name of Jesus Christ that our salvation is provided.
b. The word “perfect” means entire. Abram was instructed to walk before the Almighty God and he would be “entire”. James 1:4 says we too can be perfect and entire wanting nothing. All we need to do is continue to walk before the Lord.
c. Falling out is biblical. Do not have a “hang-up” concerning falling out. Study the scriptures and see if it truly is biblical. If you find it is biblical then experience it. If your church does not believe that or practice falling out then visit some place that does.
d. Abram was offered what the Almighty God called “My covenant.” It is the Lord’s covenant. We too are invited into the Lord’s covenant. We are offered corporate blessing and specific individual blessings. In return we are to do specific individual tasks for the kingdom of God.
e. Our individual walk before the Lord greatly affects our future descendants. Abraham’s descendants would come in only because Abraham walked before the Lord. Our descendants will be offered the covenant just as Abraham’s descendants were offered the “My covenant” because we walked before the Lord.
f. After the Lord explained to Abraham his part of the “my covenant” and the part about Isaac being born, Abraham fell out again. This time he fell out laughing. He was not laughing at God. He laughed at himself and Sarah. How could they have a child? We seldom doubt that God can do what He said He would do. It is our self we doubt. We also doubt those walking with us. Preachers say, “Ha, Ha, Lord these people you gave me cannot birth that.” That doubt is where we need to work. The doubt of our self and others is our main problem. We need to develop faith in our self and in those we walk with.
g. Abraham gave the Lord his ideas about the covenant. “Oh that Ishmael might live before thee.” We do this also. We tell the Lord how we think His covenant ought to work. We need to stop laughing and do it His way.
h. Abraham began circumcising the selfsame day. He immediately moved in his specific part of the “my covenant.” We too should move as quickly as possible doing our specifics for the kingdom. The quicker we do the specifics the sooner the blessings come to us.
Other Related Sermons:
1 Matthew Henry’s Commentary On the Whole Bible, Vol. 1, pg 89