PATHS In Bible Chapters

Genesis 17
Theme: The Faithful God
Key Text: Verse 4


            We have witnessed Abraham’s faith waver from time to time, and, as we continue our studies, we will see it waver again. The God of the covenant, however, “the faithful God” (Deut. 7:9), as Moses called Him, proved that there was “no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (Jam. 1:17) in Himself! He did not call attention to Abraham’s up’s and down’s. Rather, He declared His Own loyalty to the patriarch, saying, “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with thee” (17:4). “As for Me!” What hope is set forth in these words! Certainly, as Paul wrote, “If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself” (2 Tim. 2:13).


1. His Faithful Manifestation
            Thirteen years had passed since Abraham’s affair with Hagar (see 16:16; 17:1), and it had been even longer since God had appeared to him (see 15:1). Yet, time and circumstances had not altered the Divine purposes. No doubt, like each of us, Abraham needed reassurance concerning the promise. And, “the Lord that is faithful” (Isa. 49:7) made Himself known to His servant again, revealing Himself as “the Almighty God” (16:1) – El-Shaddai in the Hebrew – the all-sufficient One! This new Divine title, along with the repeated “I Will” pledges of the covenant (see 17:2, 6, 7, 8), was given to boost the faith of a weary pilgrim.


2. His Faithful Mandate
            Until now, the emphasis of the covenant had been on God’s part, or on what He had promised. But, the God Who pledges Himself to His people also requires His people to pledge themselves to Him. His faithfulness demands our faithfulness! His mandate to Abraham was, “Thou shalt keep My covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations” (17:9). This law of circumcision,  given by God Himself  (17:10-13), was to be enforced, and the soul that refused to comply was to be “cut off from his people” (17:14). This explains why God dealt with Moses so severely before the Exodus (see Exo. 4:24-26). 


3. His Faithful Management
            Paul’s words, “Faithful is He that calleth you, Who also will do it” (1 Thes. 5:24), are illustrated here in this passage. He Who gave the promise would bring it to pass! Contrary to the laws of nature, Sarah would still be “a mother of nations” (17:16). And, if the Lord could take care of the age-factor, He wouldn’t have any problem with the Ishmael-factor! He promised Abraham that He would “make him fruitful . . . a great nation” (17:20). Of course, the time-factor was all taken care of, too. Isaac would be born “at this set time in the next year” (17:21). Assured of God’s faithfulness, Abraham obeyed all “God had said unto him” (17:23).


            On certain days of the year, we may hear the words, “The sun isn’t shining today!” But, just because he sun is obscured from our view by the overcast sky, doesn’t mean it isn’t shining! Why, the sun is always shining! That’s how it is with the faithful God! We may not always see the brightness of His face, but He is still looking our way! Oh, in the dismal days of the faith-life, when our souls have overcast skies, may we trust His faithful words, and patiently wait for Him to show His face again!