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10 September 2020 – Genesis 17:1-8

When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.” – Genesis 17:1–8 (ESV)

Tremper Longman writes:

God begins His reassurance by reminding him that He is God Almighty (El Shaddai), thus emphasizing His power. The exact meaning of El Shaddai is not clear, but the best explanation is that this title means “God of the mountains,” with the mountains representing His great strength.

After reassuring the patriarch, El Shaddai then calls Abram to covenant obedience. Granted that Abram’s relationship with God is based on God’s grace, he nonetheless must be obedient. The logic of verse 2 is that, in some sense. The fulfillment of the promises does depend on his obedience. Initially, the promises depended on Abram leaving Ur and heading to the Promised Land. No wonder Abram is both a model for salvation by faith as well as [an example of] covenant obedience. Abram’s life is a journey, and he is to undergo his life journey with obedience.

Abram demonstrates his proper fear of God by falling prostrate before Him, and God responds to this act of obeisance by reaffirming His covenant and also bring out further nuances of the wonderful things He will do for him and his descendants. In 12:2, God promised him that his descendants would become “a great nation,” but now we learn that he will be “the father of many nations.” Because of this, God gives him a new name with great significance. Up to this point in the story, he has been called “exalted father” (Abram”, but now he receives the name Abraham (“father of many nations”).

MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 38
Q. 38. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
A. At the resurrection, believers, being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.

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