Monday, January 17, 2011

Genesis: Chapter 17

'New' names were revealed for God, Abram, and Sarai in this chapter:   Almighty God, Father of Multitudes and Princess of Multitudes!  God's revelations are progressive and allow us glimpses of greater and greater things.  God reiterated His promises to Abram, unveiled the eternal nature of the covenant and His planned heir--which was not Ishmael.  God had already shown Abram that He, God Himself, would bear the responsibility for the covenant.  Now God gives more insights and reveals more glorious things.

The grace of God is revealed in the promised blessings on Ishamel.  Ishmael was the product of human planning; the promised one, Isaac, was the product of God's purposes.  Ishmael is of the earthly realm; Isaac of the eternal reign.  Nevertheless, God does not withhold blessings from natural men:  in fact, 'For God so loved the world...' is the essence of our Father.  The line of Ishmael has, and no doubt will continue, to include wonderful, amazing individuals.  Ishmael's descendants, though, are not the source of the Messiah; that purpose was assigned to Isaac.  Salvation is only of God; it is an eternal, spiritual gift that is available to all but in the plan of His ways only!

Circumcision was given as a sign of the covenant.  Just as works in the Christian life are evidence of salvation--not the key to producing salvation, circumcision was evidence of the eternal covenant.  I think of circumcision as allowing God to show me my heart priorities.  Always, God must be the most important one in my life:  not my loves, not my goals, not my preferences but always and only Him.  It thrills my heart to read that Ishmael participated in this covenant sign. God did not choose Ishmael as the ancestor of Christ but He did not exclude Him from the Covenant.  We do not choose how God will use us, but if we will humble our hearts, we can trust Him to bless us.  The New Testament phrasing 'whosover will' reaches back in time.  God always calls us to Himself; the battles we fight are rooted in our natural man but victory is always available in Christ!

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