Saturday, August 24, 2019

2019.08.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 17:9-14

Questions for Littles: Who speaks to whom in Genesis 17:9? What does God tell Abraham to keep? Whom else does God say must keep His covenant? What obligation does God call “My covenant” in Genesis 17:10? Who must be circumcised? Who else gets included in the command in Genesis 17:11? When must a child be circumcised (Genesis 17:12)? What two groups are specified in verse 12, then reaffirmed in Genesis 17:13, as being required to have the sign applied to them? How long does the covenant with Abraham last? What if someone does not receive the sign—what shall happen to him (Genesis 17:14)? Why? 
God has already covenanted Himself to be and do many wonderful things for Abraham. So, when God says “this is My covenant” and gives Abraham a responsibility, we must not think that the emphasis is upon what Abraham does.

In fact, Genesis 17:11 further explains Genesis 17:10 by saying, “it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.” Of course the sign is an obligation—so important that God threatens to cut off whomever rejects it (cf. Genesis 17:14)! But it is an obligation to be reminded that this covenant is from the grace of God and depends upon the grace of God.

First there is the sign itself—coming as it does only upon males, and specifically in their flesh in a way that reminds them of how their children also come from their flesh. A man’s children are already federally guilty and genuinely fallen in him. They already have a father on earth. They need a Father in Heaven through Christ! They need a new representative to deal with the guilt of sin and a new nature to deal with the power of sin. Then, notice that God keeps saying MY covenant, MY covenant, MY covenant. The sign demonstrates this in at least three ways.

First, there is the substance represented by the sign. The sign is of a promise that belongs to Him. The sign is of a power that comes from Him. Second, there is the type of action assigned in the sign. The sign itself is presented as passive—something that is done to the males in Genesis 17:10-14… not something that they themselves do. It is an obligation, but it is one that is ultimately kept on their behalf by those already in the covenant. Third, there is the ordinary timing of the sign. Yes, there are some who come into the covenant less naturally—purchased with money, joining the household of God from the outside. But for those whom the Lord brings into the covenant from the start, the sign is applied to them before they could do or decide anything for themselves.

The sign is GOD’s sign. But the fact that it points us away from ourselves and unto Him is exactly why it’s also so vital. To reject the sign would be to reject the thing signified—essentially to miss that God is declaring to us that salvation depends upon (and is most certainly secured by) the Lord!
What aspects of circumcision are the same in baptism, as this covenant continues? 
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH234 “The God of Abraham Praise”

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