Genesis 17.1–10 The covenant of circumcision (Day 16)

Bible Society's Daily Reflections follow the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, designed for those who want to read the whole Bible in one year. Each reflection focuses on one of its four daily chapters. Darllenwch rhain yn Gymraeg.

Pray

Pray

Lord, prepare me to receive your word. Clear my mind and warm my heart. Assure me of your loving purposes for me, and speak into my life today.

Reflect

Daily Reflection: Genesis 17

According to the story, Abraham's faith in God has by now been severely tested. It is 13 years since the birth of Ishmael, and there is no sign of a son for Sarah. Now the sign of circumcision is to be imposed on all the males of his household as a physical mark of the spiritual covenant God has made with him. He and Sarah will be given their new names. Only after this will Isaac be born.

The promises God makes to Abraham are extensive: he will be the father of many nations, and the covenant will be 'everlasting' (verse 7). He and his descendants will receive the whole land of Canaan for ever.

The covenant, though, comes with responsibilities. God makes promises, but they come with obligations. Abraham and his descendants cannot expect to receive all the blessings of the covenant if they don't keep their side of the agreement – as the prophets were repeatedly to warn them. So God says: 'I am the Almighty God. Obey me and always do what is right' (verse 1, GNB).

When we're joined to the people of God – grafted on to the olive tree, as Paul puts it in Romans 11 – we know that God will always keep his promises to us. But this shouldn't make us complacent: we're called to be holy, and this means making hard choices. With privilege comes responsibility.

Pray

Pray

God, thank you that I can share in the blessings of your covenant. Help me live up to the responsibilities that brings, and to honour you in the way I live.

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