Genesis 17* God renews the covenant with Abram. (1-6) Circumcisioninstituted. (7-14) Sarai's name changed, Isaac promised. (15-22)Abraham and his family are circumcised. (23-27)1-6 The covenant was to be accomplished in due time. Thepromised Seed was Christ, and Christians in him. And all who areof faith are blessed with faithful Abram, being partakers of thesame covenant blessings. In token of this covenant his name waschanged from Abram, "a high father," to Abraham, "the father ofa multitude." All that the Christian world enjoys, it isindebted for to Abraham and his Seed. 7-14 The covenant of grace is from everlasting in the counselsof it, and to everlasting in the consequences of it. The tokenof the covenant was circumcision. It is here said to be thecovenant which Abraham and his seed must keep. Those who willhave the Lord to be to them a God, must resolve to be to him apeople. Not only Abraham and Isaac, and his posterity by Isaac,were to be circumcised, but also Ishmael and the bond-servants.It sealed not only the covenant of the land of Canaan to Isaac'sposterity, but of heaven, through Christ, to the whole church ofGod. The outward sign is for the visible church; the inward sealof the Spirit is peculiar to those whom God knows to bebelievers, and he alone can know them. The religious observanceof this institution was required, under a very severe penalty.It is dangerous to make light of Divine institutions, and tolive in the neglect of them. The covenant in question was onethat involved great blessings for the world in all future ages.Even the blessedness of Abraham himself, and all the rewardsconferred upon him, were for Christ's sake. Abraham wasjustified, as we have seen, not by his own righteousness, but byfaith in the promised Messiah. 15-22 Here is the promise made to Abraham of a son by Sarai, inwhom the promise made to him should be fulfilled. The assuranceof this promise was the change of Sarai's name into Sarah. Saraisignifies my princess, as if her honour were confined to onefamily only; Sarah signifies a princess. The more favours Godconfers upon us, the more low we should be in our own eyes.Abraham showed great joy; he laughed, it was a laughter ofdelight, not of distrust. Now it was that Abraham rejoiced tosee Christ's day; now he saw it and was glad, #Joh 8:56|.Abraham, dreading lest Ishmael should be abandoned and forsakenof God, put up a petition on his behalf. God gives us leave inprayer to be particular in making known our requests. Whateveris our care and fear, should be spread before God in prayer. Itis the duty of parents to pray for their children, and the greatthing we should desire is, that they may be kept in covenantwith Him, and may have grace to walk before him in uprightness.Common blessings are secured to Ishmael. Outward good things areoften given to those children of godly parents who are bornafter the flesh, for their parents' sake. Covenant blessings arereserved for Isaac, and appropriated to him. 23-27 Abraham and all his family were circumcised; so receivingthe token of the covenant, and distinguishing themselves fromother families that had no part nor lot in the matter. It was animplicit obedience; he did as God said unto him, and did not askwhy or wherefore. He did it because God bade him. It was aspeedy obedience; in the self-same day. Sincere obedience makesno delay. Not only the doctrines of revelation, but the seals ofGod's covenant, remind us that we are guilty, polluted sinners.They show us our need of the blood of atonement; they point tothe promised Saviour, and teach us to exercise faith in him.They show us that without regeneration, and sanctification byhis Spirit, and the mortification of our corrupt and carnalinclinations, we cannot be in covenant with God. But let usremember that the true circumcision is that of the heart, by theSpirit, #Ro 2:28,29|. Both under the old and new dispensation,many have had the outward profession, and the outward seal, whowere never sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise.
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