It’s Genesis 17:1-14 today and the notes have been prepared by Marina.
This passage opens with Abram showing total respect and reverence for God. God appears and announces He is God Almighty and Abram responds accordingly by falling face down. If this passage was turned into a Hollywood production I’m sure there would be drums, dramatic music and lighting, this was truly an awesome event. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that this same God lives inside us by His Holy Spirit. We can often become complacent and forget that we have been brought into a relationship with God Almighty. We are the friend and child of God Almighty and we are loved by God Almighty! These opening verses stopped me in my tracks and although the passage deals with the covenant of circumcision the fact that God Almighty appeared to mankind should not be skipped over and perhaps these opening verses need to be read again with a sense of awe and wonder at what has just taken place!
God repeats his promise to Abram and changes his name from ‘Exalted Father’ to Father of Many Nations. Abraham must have felt uneasy with this name as, despite the promise of a child, he is still without an heir from God. In today’s society we don’t really give much thought to the meaning of names, they are usually chosen because we like the sound of them. But in Abraham’s day names had a special meaning. The bible tells us that God calls us by name and I’ve often wondered if that name would be the same one our parents gave us. I must confess that as mine means ‘mermaid’ it really does not reflect my personality or swimming ability! Satan also gives us names. He calls us failure, worthless, weak or useless. Yet it’s so good to know that some of the names God uses to describe us are Beloved, Friend and Child. God tells us in Isaiah ‘I have called you by name you are mine’, so when Satan, the father of lies, tries to call you by name, ignore him, he doesn’t know you at all.
When we consider circumcision it seems strange that God would ask his people to perform such a gruesome and painful act. However it does highlight Abraham’s total obedience to God as he carried out God’s instructions immediately even though he would be particularly unpopular with the males in his house hold. Circumcision was an outward sign of belonging to God, thankfully God does not ask us to carry out this procedure today, but He does ask us to circumcise our hearts. It could be argued that this is even more difficult as it means you are set apart for God. You now live to please God and have to submit to his authority. This seems to sum up the difference between ‘Religion’ and ‘Relationship’. For many people religion is enough, following rules, being good and attending church. But when God asks us to circumcise our hearts He’s allowing us into a relationship of mutual love with Him.
Spend a few moments today just meditating on the fact that God Almighty calls you by name and wants a relationship with you. Block out all the other voices that say you are unlovely, unworthy or unacceptable. Listen to the voice that says ‘I love you so much I sent My Son to die for you’.