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Genesis 15-17


A Devotional Journey
  led by Dr. Gene Pearson
Thru the Bible in a Year
Genesis 15-17
January 7                               
          Now we come to one of the most important Old Testament passages, known as the cutting of the covenant (15:1-21). In a vision God reconfirms His promise to bless Abram and make him the father of a great nation. The ceremony commemorated involves taking an animal as a sacrifice, killing it and then cutting it in half. The two parts are placed on opposite sides of a path and the covenantor walks between them with the vow “May this happen to me if I don’t keep this covenant.”
          Over the years, the animal was no longer considered essential, but the nature of covenants was always considered both sacred and binding, whether in marriage or a business agreement. In the case of Abram, and of everyone married in a church or ordained to ministry, God is the guarantor of the covenant.
          The impatience of childless Sarah (and probably of Abram as well) leads to the application of a custom well-known at the time but strange to us now:  Sarah’s maid becomes her surrogate and bears Abram a child. This creates no end of problems. Initially domestic, in the long run they carry on into our own day, as Ishmael is considered the ancestor of the Arabs and his descendants were always to be at odds with those of Isaac, Abram and Sarah’s true son (see Genesis 25:12-18).
          For a third time in Genesis 17, God renews His covenant with Abram, the sign of which is to be circumcision. The symbol ties into the future generations of Abram and binds him in the most personal way to God and His plan. At this time Abram’s name is changed to Abraham to further signify his position (17:5).
          How seriously do you take your promises?  Did you realize that your marriage is established (at least in any church wedding between Christians) by a covenant witnessed to by God?  That doen’t mean there could never be a circumstance in which a marriage might end, but it does mean it would have to be a very compelling circumstance. Certainly it is far better if someone else breaks a covenant than if we do.
          Do you realize that in accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, you made a covenant with God?  It is essentially the same as Abram’s:  God says, “I will be your only God, blessing you in many ways, and you will obey me and always do what is right.”  (16:1). Do you start each day thinking about your relationship with God?
          Circumcision is no longer the sign of God’s covenant; baptism is. Ths is a sign which applies not only to men but to women as well and in that one fact symbolizes the inclusiveness of God’s promises and plan for all His people.
© A. Eugene Pearson  2011