Genesis 17:1-27


Verse 1,2, 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. {2} And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

I.    Abram is 99 years old and has waited some 24 years for the promise.  But remember that for the past 13 years, he thought he had the promise in Ishmael.  (17:18,25)

A.  This teaches us that sometimes when we think we have the promise (brought on by the works of the flesh), we don't.

1.      Some people fool themselves concerning salvation.

2.      Some people fool themselves concerning service.

B.   This teaches us that although we must sometimes wait many years for the promise, we ought to continue walking with God, faithfully waiting on Him.

1.      During the 13 years between God's appearances to Abram, all he had to sustain his belief in God and his worship was his trust in God.  It shouldn't take special appearances of God for us to daily walk with Him.  What He says in the Bible should be enough for us.

2.   To show that the daily walk is very important, this is the first thing God commanded Abram to do.  Men may discount the daily walk as unimportant, but to God it is the essence of Christian service.

C.   Since Abram is 99 and Sarai is 90, there can be no doubt that God intervened in giving birth, making Isaac a child of promise, not Ishmael, a child of the flesh.

1.   A type of salvation which comes by promise, not by a fleshly working.

2.   A type of service which comes by faith, bringing the body under subjection.


II.   Almighty God - ('El Shadday) - This gives us the purpose of the appearing.  God, who is almighty, will overcome nature, causing Sarai to bear a son in her old age.


Verse 3, And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,

I.    Fell on his face - a picture of one who has seen the Lord in His brightness of Glory.  Abram had never seen this before.

A.  Abram hadn't seen God in this light before.  He had seen God in visions and had talked with God before, but not with God revealing Himself like this.  (God is about to reveal something greater to Abram.)

1.      Names changed from Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah.

2.      That they didn't have the promised seed in Ishmael, He would provide it in Isaac.

3.      Circumcision of all males over 8 days old.

4.      Sometimes saved people think they know the truth when in their old age, they really get the truth.  This is by the grace of God.

a.   Therefore, don't ever get to the point that you are afraid to look at new things.

b.   Don't ever get so old that you are so set in your ways that you reject everything you've not heard before.

B.   Other men that fell on their face before God.

1.      Daniel - Daniel 8:17 - When the angel was about to reveal the meaning of the vision of the Ram and the He goat.

a.   Daniel 10:9 - God appeared to Daniel when he was with some other men.  They fled away, but Daniel stayed.  All of us would run and hide from God, if God didn't give us the grace and compel us to stay and receive the blessings he has for us.

b.   Daniel 10:15 - When Daniel was to be given understanding, he fell speechless before the Lord.  The reason - read v. 16,17.  When men realize their sinfulness and God's holiness, they are speechless.

c.   When men are judged, nobody will talk back, or answer, whether at the Great White Throne Judgment, or the Judgment Seat of Christ.

2.      John - Rev. 1:17 - When John saw Jesus in His glory, he fell at His feet as dead.  God was about to reveal some great mysteries.  It was fear that caused John to fall, (verse 17).  We are not really in the service of God until we have a holy fear of God.

3.      Paul - Acts 9:3,4 - When God appeared to Paul in His brightness, he fell to the earth.  Again God revealed a spiritual message to Paul.


II.   God talked with Abram.


Verse 4-8, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. {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. {6} And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.  And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. {8} And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. - A re-establishment and an enlargement of the covenant.


I.    Note the progression of the promise.  It is like this in the Christian life.  God doesn't reveal to the newly saved all the things of God.  The longer we live and the more we walk with God, the more He reveals to us.


II.   It has probably been 14 years since chapter 15 took place.  Any details of the covenant Abram might have forgotten are renewed and confirmed again.


III. The enlargement of the covenant.

A.  "As for me" - a precious thought for regardless of what others may do, this is what God will do.

B.   Father of many nations.

1.      Before, 15:5, Abram would be the ancestor of many people, now the father of many nations.

2.   Not only through Ishmael and Isaac, but also through the six sons of Keturah. (25:1,2).

3.      Rom. 4:16,17 - All believers of all ages are counted as a seed of Abram.

a.   James 2:23 - Abraham is called the "friend" of God.

b.   James 2:23 - Abraham is called the father of the faithful.

C.   Name changed because Abram will be the father of many nations.

1.      Abram means Father of height.

2.      Abraham means Father of a multitude.

3.      Kings changed names of favorite people.

a.   Daniel 1:7 - The prince of the Eunuchs like them and changed their names.

b.      Rev. 2:17 - Believers receive a new name.

c.   Eph. 3:15 - All the family of God receives a new name.

4.      New name began immediately.

a.   17:9 - God used the name "Abraham" immediately.

b.   All the things God said were started immediately. (17:23-27).

5.      This gave Abraham great blessings and confidence in God's promises for he would think of them and have occasion  to talk of them every time someone talked to him regardless of the subject.  When he would tell them of the name change, he would tell them why his name was changed.

a.   This would cause Abraham to put his faith in action.

b.   This would cause others to watch Abraham and Sarah to see if it was really so.  (Remember Sarah wasn't expecting yet.)

c.   Abraham and Sarah would have no choice except to trust God for the results.

d.   This is true walking by faith, being a living witness of the promises of God.

e.   According to 17:21 - this witness would continue for a year, climaxing in the birth of Isaac.

f.    What a stir this must have caused among their friends and neighbors.

D.  Ishmael was 14 years old when Isaac was born.  He was old enough to hear the things spoken by friends and neighbors and by Abraham and Sarah themselves.  Ishmael was circumcised.  This would have made an impression on the boy!

1.      Yet, after being given all of this evidence, he refused to rejoice at the birth of Isaac, instead began to mock him.

2.      There is no doubt in my mind that there were many other people just like Ishmael, who having seen and heard the evidence, refused to believe that such a thing was of God.

3.   If there were those that did see that it was of God, I'm sure they still didn't see that Isaac was a seed of promise, a type of the Lord Jesus Christ.

4.      There are still people like this today.  There are those who hear the gospel time after time, they are given evidence after evidence, still they do not see their sinfulness and turn to Christ as their Savior and Lord.

5.      This really ought to prove conclusively that salvation is by grace through faith, that the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God.

E.   Verse 6 - Exceedingly fruitful - Abraham would not be the father of small insignificant nations, but great nations, with a large populace.

F.   Two types of kings shall come from Abraham's descendants.

1.      Kings after the flesh -

a.   Keturah's sons.

1.      Midian - dwelt in Sinai Peninsula, Arabia Petraea.

2.      Ishbak - head of a tribe in Northern Arabia.

3.      Shuah - descendants live in Edom.

4.      No knowledge of the other three sons.

b.   Hagar's sons - Ishmael - dwelt in Arabia.  NOTE: These all dwelt in the same approximate area.

1.      Prov. 11:21 - though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished.

2.      Prov. 13:20 - Birds of a feather, flock together.

3.      God's purposes shall not be stopped - by many evil nations nor by fleshly laws (The law was given on Mt. Sinai, in Arabia.)

4.      The devil surely has more forces (people) than the Lord, but this doesn't mean the victory belongs to him.

5.      God can do more by grace than the devil can do by the law.

2.      Kings after the Spirit - Kings of Israel.  Not all of the kings of Israel and Judah were ordained of God.  Some were and some weren't.

a.   All of the kings of Judah were in the Christ line, but some them didn't ruled right.

b.   None of the kings of Israel were in the Christ line, and some of them ruled right.

3.   A third type of king will be in the millennium reign of Christ.  Rev. 5:10 - God has added many people not in the physical line to the spiritual line and made them kings and priests to reign on the earth.


IV. Verse 7,8 - The two parts of the everlasting covenant.

A.  People.

1.   The natural part of the covenant is to those natural descendants of Abraham and Sarah.

a.   The Jewish nation as a nation shall continue even in eternity.

b.   The individual Jewish people shall continue into eternity only in so far as they accept Jesus as their personal savior.

2.   The spiritual descendants of Abraham (through faith).

a.   Rom. 4:16,17 - Abraham is the father of many nations.  (Those that believe to the saving of the soul.)

b.   Rev. 21:24 - There will be nations of saved people in eternity, but these will be distinct from those people that are in the bride.

B.   The land.

1.   The natural part - God has given the land of Canaan to Israel.

a.   The battle is still going on in the Mid-East about who owns the land.

b.   Zech. 14:17 - Jerusalem will be the center of worship during the millennium.

2.   The spiritual part.

a.   Rev. 21:2 - There will be a new Jerusalem in eternity.  This is the dwelling place of the bride.

b.   Rev. 21:11-27 - The prominent place in eternity will be the New Jerusalem.


V.  Wherein thou art a stranger - See notes on Gen. 15:13.


Verse 9-14, And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. {10} This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. {11} And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. {12} And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. {13} He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. {14} And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.

I.    This is a broad duty imposed on Abraham and his descendants.

A.  Its purpose is to teach those under the covenant that they:

1.      Ought to live different in their bodies from other people not under the covenant.  A specific instruction under the heading, "walk before me and be thou perfect."

2.      Ought to live as one whose life is purified from its very source.

a.   Circumcision is not just a sanitary purpose.

b.   Circumcision is not an "initiation" into the Jewish nation, for they are born into the Jewish nation.

c.   They are not circumcised in order to be saved, but they submit to circumcision as a result of their faith in the promise.

B.            Circumcision involves the "secret parts" that cannot be seen because true circumcision is of the heart and cannot be seen except by actions.

C.   All of the above thoughts on circumcision can be and should be applied to baptism with the exception of infant baptism.

1.      Children are circumcised by their parents not to cause them to be saved, but to fulfill the physical part of the covenant, as they were expecting the land of Canaan to be theirs.

2.   But there is another part of the covenant - that everlasting part.  Heb. 11:8-10 - Abraham, and his descendants, were not only looking forward to the physical possession of Canaan, but also looking forward to possessing Canaan in the "New Earth".

3.   We do not believe in baptizing infants today because we are not expecting to possess the physical part of the covenant - dwelling in Canaan.

4.   We baptize only believers because baptism is a spiritual picture only - that of a new life in Christ.

D.            Circumcision and baptism are of no value unless:

1.   Jer 4:4 - There is circumcision in the foreskin of the heart.

2.      Deut. 10:16 - They are no longer "stiff necked", but yield to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

3.      Deut. 30:6 - These are accomplished only by the grace of God, not by any work of the flesh, or any work in the flesh.

E.   Every man child - no woman or girls are included in this sign of covenant keeping.

1.      Women could and should believe and follow the covenant, but they were always under subjection to their husbands or fathers.

2.   It is impossible for a woman to be circumcised (in the sense God intended).

3.      This teaches us that before God, it is impossible for women to be leaders (except of other women).

a.   Ex. 15:20 - Miriam leading the women in rejoicing.

b.   Judges 4 & 5 (especially 4:4-8) - Deborah and Barak.  Deborah was the one God dealt with because Barak wouldn't yield to God.

c.   Heb. 11:32 tells of the greatness of Barak, but says nothing of Deborah.

4.   The modern women's movement which removes the woman from under subjection to their fathers and husbands is of the devil.

5.   God never intended the woman to be the head over her man or to preach or pastor.

6.   I Cor. 14:34,35 - God doesn't even allow the woman to speak in church, but commands her to ask her own husband at home.  Many women don't obey this command for they say their husbands don't know anything about the Bible.  This only drives a wedge between husband and wife and will eventually cause many men to not be interested in church.

7.   The woman shows her obedience and submission to the covenant by being obedient and submissive to her husband or father.


II.   Those to be circumcised.

A.  Eight day old males.

1.   At eight days old - the body has more resistance to infection and more ability to heal itself.  God knew this.

2.      Every man child.

a.   Born in the house - son or servant.

b.   Bought with money.

3.      This did not cause them to be saved, but set them aside as a member of the Jewish nation - a special called out people.  Later the Jews would consider circumcision as salvation, just as some now consider baptism the same as salvation, but in the beginning it was not so.

B.   Any man who is uncircumcised shall be cut off (have no inheritance) because he has openly declared he doesn't believe the promises of God.

1.   If he shall not allow his foreskin "cut off" he shall be "cut off" from his people.

2.      There could be no service to God until there was circumcision.

a.   Ex. 4:24-26 - Moses could not serve God until first circumcised.

b.   We cannot serve God until after we have been baptized.

c.   The person who says they are saved, but refuses to be baptized has broken the covenant with God, and should not be considered a member of the Lord's church.

d.   There is reason to believe a "professor" is not a "possessor" if he understands the importance of baptism, yet refuses to be baptized.


III. New Testament circumcision.

A.            Circumcision became a means of obtaining salvation.

1.      This first happened while God was still working through Israel.

2.      This tradition continued being taught although there was some Jews that understood that real salvation came by faith in God, not in any works of the flesh.

3.      Acts 15:1 - These Jews came to Antioch teaching that if a person isn't circumcised, they cannot be saved.

4.      Acts 15:5 - This verse further shows that the false doctrine is that a person must be circumcised in order to be saved.

5.      Acts 15:24 - The conclusion reached and sent in a letter to all Christians is that circumcision availeth nothing, because salvation is of the heart, not of the body.

B.   Romans 2:25-29 - Paul concludes that a real Jew is circumcised in the heart, not just in the body.

C.   Romans 4:9-12 - Circumcision is a sign of inward belief.  It is not that belief!

D.  I Cor. 7:18,19 - Circumcision or uncircumcision is nothing, keeping the commandments is!


Verse 12 & 13.

I.    People other than those born into the Jewish family can become Jews.

A.  This fact was not paid much attention to by the Pharisees in Christs' day.

1.   Phil 3:4-7 - Paul gives the typical attitude of the Pharisees.

2.      John 8:30-33 - "We be Abraham's seed" - The general idea was that they were just a little bit better than everybody else.

B.   They lost sight that the covenant contained:

1.      Gen. 17:7

a.   A physical group of people.

b.   A spiritual group of people.

2.      Gen. 17:8

a.   A physical land - Canaan.

b.   A spiritual land - The New Earth and New Jerusalem

3.      Acts 1:6 - When Christ ascended to heaven those Jews still thought He would establish Israel as a world nation.

4.      Note:  Christ didn't say He wouldn't establish Israel, but it's not for them to know when.


II.   Examples of "non Jews" becoming Jews.

A.  Matt. 1:1-5 - Rahab the Harlot - See the story in Joshua 2:1-24.

1.      After the events related in Joshua, Rahab joins the Jews.

2.   She becomes a citizen of Israel and marries a Jew (who is in the Christ line).

3.      This is not by accident, but as a believing Jew, she looked for whom God would have her marry and God gave her another believing Jew and blessed her even more by causing her to be in the Christ line.


Verse 15,16, And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. {16} And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. - the blessings on Abraham's wife.

I.    Name changed.

A.  Sarai means Jah is Prince.

1.      Points to Sarai being a princess over only her own home and family.

2.      Sarah means a princess of a multitude.

B.   Sarah means Princess.

1.   As Princess Diana whose son shall be king, and Isaac represents Jesus, who shall be king.

2.   A princess, being the mother of the king is special, like Lady Diana.

3.      This is not so with Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.

a.   Matt. 12:46-50 - Jesus asking "Who is my mother?"

b.   Luke 11:27,28 - Blessed are the womb and paps - but note verse 28!

C.   Like Abraham's name change - it is immediate.

1.      From now on she is called Sarah, even by Abraham when he doesn't believe (Verse 17).

2.   See comments on verse 5 about Abraham's name change.


II.   God always reveals His will to us in degrees, as we need it and as we can stand it.

A.  Sarah doesn't believe.

1.      18:12 - She laughed - a sign of unbelief.

2.      18:6,9,13 - The name change took place immediately even though she didn't believe.

3.      This reveals:

a.   Sarah was under the subjection of Abraham and continually did what he told her to do, even though she didn't totally understand or believe what he was doing.

b.   Outwardly she put on a front like she believed, but inwardly she didn't (18:13-15).

4.      Note that the Lord is fulfilling the promise based on His word (17:4), not on the belief or faith of Abraham or Sarah.


III. She shall bear a son.

A.  This is the result of the blessings of God.

1.      Many people have children that are not the result of God's blessings.  Gen. 16:15,16, Hagar bore Ishmael.

2.      Many children are the result of a physical relationship, and have nothing to do with God's blessings.

a.   Out of wedlock births.

b.   rape.

c.   Sometimes in marriage.

3.   Ps. 127:3,4,5 - God gives us all our children as a blessing, but:

4.      This son is to be a special blessing.

a.   This truly is the finger of God for Abraham and Sarah were both past child-bearing age.

b.   This son points to the promise given to Adam and Eve (about the coming savior) as closer to fulfillment.

c.   This son was born when it was impossible - Salvation comes when it is impossible for us to obtain it.  Both are miracles of God.

B.   Note word "also" in verse 16 - God recognizes all children of all parents whether they're scripturally correct or not.

1.   See John 4:16-18 - God recognizes all five husbands and her "live in lover".

2.      Gen. 38 - God recognizes the twin sons of Judah conceived by his daughter in law.

3.      Gen. 35:23-26 - God recognizes all of Jacob's wives and children, even though He didn't agree with the principle of more than one wife.  God even blessed the marriages and prospered the children.

C.   She shall be of nations, not "another of nations".

1.   The promised seed of many nations shall come from Sarah.

2.   The spiritual seed of many nations shall come of Sarah.


Verse 17,18, 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? {18} And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!

I.    An outward show without inward belief.

A.  Falling on face, laughing out loud (perhaps not very loud though).

1.      Supposed to show reverence and respect for the speaker.

2.   The laugh could show joy or sorrow.

B.   What he said in his heart showed his unbelief.

1.      Many have outward signs of belief, but inwardly are unbelievers.

2.      What he believed in his heart was revealed in his speech (verse 18).

3.   He really didn't believe that he and Sarah could have a son, even though God told him.  That's why he asked God to accept Ishmael.

C.   Since Abraham didn't believe this promise about the representative of Jesus Christ, is he lost?

1.   No -- Abraham doesn't believe (according to verse 17) that he and Sarah can have the son.  He believe that is physically impossible.

2.      John 20:9 - The disciples (who really were saved) didn't understand some aspects of the gospel.  They believed in Christ and were saved, and the resurrection was not revealed to them yet.  This is what happened to Abraham.  He was saved when he believed in God's promise about the savior, but there were some parts of the covenant he didn't understand.  And what you can't understand (hasn't been told to you yet), you can't believe.

3.      There are many promises of God that we consider physically impossible.

a.   This doesn't mean we're lost or that the promise won't be fulfilled.

b.   All it means is that we're not trusting God to fulfill it.

4.      This is the place Abraham is at.

5.   We can't look down on Abraham because:

a.   He is going through a learning and growing process just like we do, and are doing.

b.   Abraham becomes "full grown".  Are we growing in the Lord - becoming "full grown"?


II.   Abraham, for the past 13 or 14 years (compare 16:16 and 17:17), has trusted that Ishmael would be the heir.

A.  When we've believed things for a long time, we want to keep on believing it whether it's right or wrong.

B.            Sometimes we even try to convince God that our plan is better than His.


Verse 19-22, 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. {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. {21} But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. {22} And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.

I.    God rejects Abraham's idea and confirms once again that Sarah, not Hagar, is to bear the son.

A.  Gal. 4:22-31 - Jesus is to be the promised seed, not the seed of bondage.

1.   Our salvation is by grace through faith, not by the deeds of the law.

2.   Our service is by grace through faith, not by the deeds of the flesh.

B.   The covenant shall be with the promised seed, not the seed after the law.

1.      There might be a temporary reprieve granted to those through the law, but:

2.   For there to be an everlasting covenant, it must be perfect, completely in Christ.

C.   The covenant not only includes Abraham and Isaac, but includes Isaac's seed after him.


II.   The promise to Ishmael.

A.  God here confirms to Abraham what he had told Hagar 14 years ago - Gen. 16:10-13.

B.   This is not a covenant made with Ishmael - but blessings.

1.      This comparison reveals to us the difference between a covenant and a blessing.

2.      Gen. 17:2,4 - God makes this spiritual and physical covenant with Abraham.  It is a promise of a coming savior who shall redeem the world from their sins.

3.   The blessing made to Ishmael contains nothing spiritual at all.

4.      From the material standpoint, God will bless Ishmael more than Isaac.  (Ishmael has 12 sons {Gen. 25:12-18} while Isaac has only 2 sons {Gen. 25:19-26}).

5.      Ishmael's descendants were firmly established before Jacob even got started raising a family (and this occurred after Jacob ran for his life to his Uncle Laban's house).

6.   The principle is: even though the children of this world gain more and better reputation and population it is but short lived, even if it continues until Christ comes back.  All those against Christ and His people shall be cut down when He returns.

7.   The spiritual blessings God gives may seem to come slower and not make as "big a splash", but the results last through eternity.


III. Verse 21 - Again confirming that the covenant will be a seed of promise that will be born in one year, when the time is right.


IV. Verse 22 - When God got through talking to Abraham, He left.  This is good principle for us to follow, when we have nothing to say, say nothing.


Verse 23-27, 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. {24} And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. {25} And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. {26} In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son. {27} And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him.

I.    Abraham obeyed all commands of God.

A.  This shows that Abraham believed what God had told him.

1.   Our actions always tell what we believe, just like we say shows what is in our heart - Matt. 15:18.  Example:

2.   If a lost person carelessly says he knows he ought to be saved and doesn't trust the Lord in order to be saved - he really doesn't believe he needs to be saved.  This is especially true if there is no conviction of sin and a dread of judgment and eternal hell.  Only a superficial agreement with religious principles.

3.   If the saved say they believe in any good work (witnessing {missions}, tithing, church attendance, prayer, Bible reading, and studying, teaching our children, etc.;), but don't perform that good work, then we have given a superficial agreement and really don't believe the things we say we believe.

B.   How did Abraham obey?

1.      Didn't do the circumcision without instruction.

a.   Our religious observances should not be without instruction.

b.   Many times we expect people to understand when they've never been told.

c.   We should want our people to understand the "how and why" of all religious observances.  Otherwise, they may (probably will) begin to worship the symbol instead of the savior.

d.   We don't want forced obedience, but willful obedience.

2.      According to Gen. 18:19, Abraham had proven himself by teaching his household and children.  He had done this in such a way as to cause them to willfully continue in God's ways because of personal conviction.


II.   Note the number of "Jews" circumcised by Abraham (with the authority of God based in Abraham).

A.  There are many people not physically born into the Jewish nation that are a part of the spiritual kingdom of God.  They are saved.

B.   Many of the people are "missed" by humans when they try to number (count) the Jews.  This may be part of the reason God said "a people no man can number", Gen. 15:5.

C.   No doubt the number of actual church members recorded in heaven differs from the actual number of earthly church rolls.


III. Abraham circumcised the males that day.  There is no excuse for delay in doing God's work.  The reason we delay (put off) God's work is because we don't really believe.


IV. Verse 24 - You're never too old to be called into the services of God or to do something you've never done before.

A.  Many elderly people refuse to do anything different because:

1.      They're set in their ways and don't want to.

2.      They're afraid that doing something different will mean that all they had done before was wrong.  That's not necessarily so - it just means that now it's time to do something different.

B.   Many people the age of Abraham (or about 38 if the life span is 70 years old (90/175=38/70) are thinking more of quitting and letting the "young people" start, than continuing in the work themselves.


V.  Verse 25 - Ishmael is 13 years old.

A.  The fact that Ishmael was circumcised shows that this physical act did not save.

B.   This shows that Ishmael is looking forward to (claiming the promise of) a physical kingdom.

C.   We ought to train our lost children to serve God.

1.   If we wait until they're saved to teach them, they'll miss many valuable lessons as they're growing up.

2.   If we let them run with the lost and do like the lost people do, there is a good "chance" they won't be saved.

D.  You are never too young to start serving the Lord.

1.      Many young people want to "sow their wild oats" before they begin to serve the Lord.  They forget they're going to "reap what they sow".

2.   I Sam. 3:1-21 - Samuel was a young man "lent to the Lord" from his youth.  I Sam. 1:11.  He began to serve the Lord early in his life and continued all his life (I Sam. 12:1-4).

3.      Young people need to remember that youthful sins will be paid for by an early old age and eternal judgment (Eccl. 11:9,11).