When Abram was 99 years old, God established a covenant with him to bless him greatly if he walked blameless. God expanded His covenant to add this mutual condition, where Abram would receive blessings if he walked in righteousness.
God changes Abram’s name to Abraham because he will be the father of many nations.
God promises that many nations and kings will come from Abraham’s descendants. God’s covenant is never-ending, and He promises to give the land of Canaan as a perpetual possession to Abraham’s descendants. God also indicates that His covenant extends to Abraham’s descendants after him. This would include the benefit of the rewards already granted as well as the conditional promise to bless them when they live faithfully.
God commands Abraham that every male who keeps the covenant must be circumcised as a sign of the covenant.
God gives further instructions about circumcision; Male babies who are 8 days old, even servants either born or bought must be circumcised. Anyone who is not circumcised has broken God’s covenant.
God changes Sarai’s name to Sarah and promises she will birth a son. Abraham laughed that a man 100 and his wife 90 years old could have a child.
Abraham presumes God meant that His promises to bless him and his descendants would come through Ishmael. But God says His covenant will be established through a son born to Sarah. His name will be Isaac.
When God had finished talking, Abraham immediately took all the males in his household and circumcised them as God had commanded.
Genesis is a book about many beginnings. The beginnings of the world, the human race, sin and redemption, and the nation of Israel to name a few. In fact, the word Genesis from the Greek means “origin,” and in Hebrew it means “beginning.” The book of Genesis contains the events of the flood, tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the lives of the Patriarchs.
In the beginning, God created everything by simply speaking, “God said…and it was so” (Genesis 1:6-7, 9, 11, 14-15). This is not a scientific technical account of creation, but it shows a loving God creating a universe and mankind to rule it and fellowship with God. Man was formed especially from the ground and given the breath of life from God. The woman was made from the man’s rib (Genesis 2:7).
After man fell into sin, things began to spin out of control quickly. Cain murdered his brother Abel and the human race became so violent that God decided to destroy them all with a flood. God saved one righteous man (Noah) and his family in an ark filled with animals to deliver the human race from extinction. God chose Abraham and blessed a special group of people named “Israel.” God began to unfold a plan of salvation from a coming famine by sending Joseph to rule in Egypt. The failure of man in every circumstance is met by the salvation of God. We fail, but the good news is God saves us.
The Abrahamic covenant is confirmed in part and expanded to include a provision that is conditional. God adds a mutual provision, with conditions for Abraham to meet in order to receive added blessings. Abram and Sarai’s names are changed by God. The sign of the covenant, circumcision, is established and the promise of Isaac and his descendants is given. The events of chapter 17 take place 13 years after chapter 16.