Foundational Themes in Genesis – Study 61

Theme: Faith (Part 9)

(Key verses: Gen 17:1-27)

In our discussions on the foundational theme of faith in the last few studies, we are learning that God has given us the story of Abraham to help us to understand how faith is used by God in our own life. The life and sojourning of Abram in the Old Testament is indeed a type of our own growth in the gift of the faith of Christ (Eph 2:8-10; Rom 4:16; Gal 3:7-9; Gal 3:29). It is through these written records that we learn how to be patient within this whole salvation process and to know that we are not the first or the only ones going through this. As the faith of Christ grows in us, our hope also strengthens as we learn progressively how to inherit the promised land, which is the spirit life of God, the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ (Joh 17:3; 1Co 13:13):

Rom 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

Rom 8:24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
Rom 8:25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

We were only given a promise of that spirit life, and, like Abram has done physically, we are for the time being only sojourners in the flesh until the fullness of the spirit life of Christ is given to us (1Co 15:45-50):

Eph 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
Eph 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
Eph 1:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
Eph 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Eph 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

This promise of spirit life is now only obtainable through the faith of Christ in us and that faith alone pleases God and nothing we do through our own efforts can satisfy God’s holy standards in any sense (Gal 2:16):

Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Php 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.

But this faith will go through severe trials in us to bring forth the glory of salvation with unspeakable joy – if we are given endurance by God to continue faithfully in God’s word and in the doctrine of Christ (1Pe 1:5-9). Untried faith is what many are given which brings the distinction between what makes us disciples of Jesus or true “disciples indeed”:

Joh 8:30 As he [Jesus] spake these words, many believed on him.
Joh 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
Joh 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

“Disciples indeed” are those who continue faithfully in His Word and in the one and only doctrine of Christ which enlightens our understanding as we learn how to completely submit to God and His way of doing things – the very things we naturally reject. God is indeed sovereign over every aspect of our lives and what is happening in this creation:

Psa 119:164 Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.
Psa 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
Psa 119:166 LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments.
Psa 119:167 My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly.
Psa 119:168 I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee.

In Genesis 17 God is drawing our attention to yet another important aspect in our spiritual growth and submission to Him as we build on the foundation of the faith of Christ in our lives (Heb 6:1-3):

Gen 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty [Hebrew: “shadday”God [Hebrew: “êl”]; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
Gen 17:2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

Here we see that God reveals Himself now to Abram as God Almighty (“El Shadday”). This is the first time in the Scriptures that God reveals this name to anyone and through this name we learn so much about how God brings dominion over sin in our lives. Like the first Adam, we were all created “in sin”, and it is a part of our earthly lives through our “body of sin” and its “law of sin” which is at work in us from our birth until death (Gen 2:7; Psa 51:5; Rom 7:23-25). But we are indeed promised dominion over that sin, even in the here and now (Rom 6:6-9):

Rom 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Rom 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
Rom 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Rom 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

In Hebrew the word “shadday” (Almighty in English) comes from the root “shâdad” which means “to violently destroy” something (Job 37:22-24; Psa 68:14; Joe 1:15). Very few can accept this character of God as a consuming fire who will deal brutally with our carnal mind and “the sin in our members” to give us dominion over sin through His spirit (Rom 7:5; Heb 12:29). The name “El Shadday” appears six times in Genesis and, very significantly, thirty-one times in the book of Job where we learn so much of God’s destructive judgement on self-righteous attitudes. The first three occasions where this specific name of God is mentioned is where it is connected to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and this is also where an interesting aspect of our new spiritual inheritance is revealed (Gen 17:1; Gen 28:3; Gen 35:9-12). In Genesis 28 we read for the second time where this name of God, “El Shadday”, is revealed when Isaac spoke to his son, Jacob:

Gen 28:3 And God [Hebrew: “êl”Almighty [Hebrew: “shadday”] bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people;
Gen 28:4 And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.

In Genesis 35 we see the third time where “El Shadday” appears in the scriptures:

Gen 35:9 And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him.
Gen 35:10 And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob [meaning “supplanter”]: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel [meaning “he will rule as God”].
Gen 35:11 And God said unto him, I am God [Hebrew: “êl”] Almighty [Hebrew: “shadday”]: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins;
Gen 35:12 And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.

Not only did God reveal Himself in a new name to them, but a name change is also now under discussion on two of these disclosures of “El Shadday”. Name giving and a name changing is an outward sign of the giving of dominion or authority throughout the scriptures, even as Abraham (and Sarah), Isaac and Jacob were given the promise of rulership over nations – they will rule as God. This name giving and the relation with authority or dominion were first seen in the garden of Eden. Adam was given authority over all the animals through the giving of names to the animals (Gen 2:19-20). God gives names and He changes names for this very purpose – to reveal His sovereignty and power over all things – and then He appoints leadership (Exo 33:17; Isa 43:7; Isa 49:1-3; Joh 10:3-4). Abram acknowledged God as such by falling on his face:

Gen 17:3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
Gen 17:4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
Gen 17:5 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.
Gen 17:6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
Gen 17:7 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.
Gen 17:8 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.

Abram, meaning exalted father, will now not only serve his family interests, but the interests of “many nations” through his new name “Abraham” which means the father of a multitude. As faith grows, it broadens our understanding and insight of what we are chosen to be by God’s design and purpose. We will serve God not only for our benefits, but for the benefits of His whole creation, especially those in the generation of Adam. God enables us to see His provision for that service in us even now in His church:

Rom 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
Rom 12:4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
Rom 12:5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
Rom 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesyaccording to the proportion of faith;
Rom 12:7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
Rom 12:8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

God alone makes these decisions, and we will submit to His will in due time and in all things. Abram is our example as he will now have a much broader service to perform which he could not see before this moment. Even Sarai, representing our own flesh, will be part of our reasonable service for God and others:

Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

The name “Sarai” means “my princess” but her new name will be “Sarah” as she will also now be a mother of nations:

Gen 17:15 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.
Gen 17:16 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.

Her new name will be “Sarah” because now she will also be the “princess of the multitude”. This all typifies Christ and His church who will be a father and mother to many nations (Rev 19:11-16). But for our flesh this sounds too much and naturally we cannot see beyond the limitations of our fleshly veil:

Gen 17:17 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?

But this is where we need to face the inevitable rejection of our fleshly solutions and attachments – our carnal ideas of leadership and election are always wrong:

Gen 17:18 And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!

“El Shadday” announces to Abraham that Ishmael, his firstborn of the bondwoman, Hagar, is rejected (Gal 4:22-31). Our flesh is our first born as it was never made in the image of God but in the bondage of corruption from its creation (Rom 8:20-22). But God made a covenant with Abraham to bless the offspring who will come through his true seed. The sign of this covenant was fleshly circumcision of all males in his household:

Gen 17:9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
Gen 17:10 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.
Gen 17:11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
Gen 17:12 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.
Gen 17:13 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.
Gen 17:14 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.

In this circumcision of flesh the salvation of all in the first fleshly Adam is also prophesied through Abraham, pointing to Christ and all in His creation:

Gen 17:23 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.
Gen 17:24 And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.
Gen 17:25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.
Gen 17:26 In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son.
Gen 17:27 And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him.

The faith and obedience of Abraham typified the faith and obedience of Christ. The promise of spirit life comes through the faith and life of Christ. As all male children in the generation of Abraham were circumcised on the eighth day, so will the new life also come when the physical “week” which links to our physical eon is concluded in all in the first Adam at the appointed time for each one (Mat 24:1-47; 1Co 10:11; 1Co 15:22-28). The number eight links to the start of the first day of the week which connects with the spiritual meaning of the number one – the number which reflects God, the Father:

1Co 8:6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

“El Shadday” will bring the eighth day – the new day of spirit life to all through the “perdition” or destruction of our old beast – life comes through death which is our first “estate [as] the sons of men” (Ecc 3:18; Rom 7:24-25; Rom 8:6; 1Co 15:44-57):

Rev 17:11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.

Through the obedience of Abraham we see a type of the submissive mind of Christ to His Father’s rulership. It is the obedience of Christ to His Father’s will to have all mankind saved that He will have all carnal hearts circumcised by destroying the heart of stone which is naturally in the generation of the first man Adam (Eze 36:25-30):

1Ti 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
1Ti 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
1Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
1Ti 2:6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

Ishmael was thirteen years old when he was circumcised, which once again points to our time in rebellion and enmity of the carnally-minded flesh when we rely on our own strength to be accepted by God (Gen 14:4; Num 29:13-14; Psa 147:10; Rom 8:6-8). “El Shadday” has instituted a destructive process for His purposes to be fulfilled which is now being revealed to Abraham. Many are offended with the violence and suffering associated with the kingdom of heaven:

Mat 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

Naturally we cannot see that God is giving us outward parables to prepare us for the real inward suffering and violence He ordained to happen (Isa 45:7; Gen 6:9-8:22; Exo 7:14-12:29; Deu 20:16-18; Pro 16:4; Amo 3:6; Act 4:25-28). But these violent judgments of God are for a limited period (age lasting) and will not continue for ever and ever as some want that to happen revealing their own hateful heart against their enemies. Only with the mind of Christ can we see how we can see God’s love in all of this when we are enabled to love our worst enemies, even as God loves His enemies (us), by saving them through Jesus Christ (Rom 8:7; Jas 4:4; Mat 5:43-45). God willing we will see our own violent ways first as we through our natural hatred and despising of others are guilty of being the “chief” violent murderer above all (1Ti 1:15). The fiery judgments of God on our “wood, hay and stubble” (our carnal nature) have a purpose and if that purpose is achieved, that part of the work of God’s fire is stopped (1Co 3:11-15; 1Co 15:26):

Pro 26:20 Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.

God’s judgment is also revealed in the spiritual meaning of the number nine, even in the ages of Abraham and Sarah:

Gen 17:17 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?

Gen 17:24 And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.

Through judgment the righteousness of “El Shadday” is taught and revealed (Isa 26:9). The same judgment which destroys the flesh also establishes the spiritual truths in us:

Gen 17:19 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.

Gen 17:21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.
Gen 17:22 And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.

God promised Abraham that Ismael will also have twelve princes. Twelve spiritually refers to foundations and in this case the sandy foundations of the flesh are first established (Mat 7:26-27; 1Co 15:46):

Gen 17:20 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.

These foundations and confidence of the carnal heart will be replaced by the foundations of the rock of truth, Jesus Christ, when we do His commandments and worship God in spirit (Mat 7:24-25; Mat 16:18; Joh 4:24). This Rock will indeed fall on us and destroy all death in all (Mat 21:44; Rom 9:33; 1Co 15:26). This is the true circumcision by which all will indeed be saved and receive our new name (1Ti 4:9-10; Rev 2:17):

Php 3:3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

Col 2:11 In whom [Christ] also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
Col 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

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Want let op julle roeping, broeders: julle is nie baie wyse na die vlees nie, nie baie magtiges, nie baie edeles nie; maar wat dwaas is by die wêreld, het God uitverkies om die wyse te beskaam; en wat swak is by die wêreld, het God uitverkies om wat sterk is, te beskaam; en wat onedel is by die wêreld en wat verag is, het God uitverkies, en wat niks is nie, om wat iets is, tot niet te maak, sodat geen vlees voor Hom sou roem nie. (1Kor 1:26-29)
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