Genesis 17– The Covenant with Abraham

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,

As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.

Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.

And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.

And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.

This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.

And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.

And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.

He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.

And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.

And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.

And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.

Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?

And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!

And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.

And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.

But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.

And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.

And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him.

And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.

And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.

In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son.

And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him.

Here is some information on covenants in the Bible.


A. Definition of a covenant: an arrangement or agreement

B. Two Classifications

1. Conditional covenants

“One in which God’s action is made to be contingent upon some action on the part of those to whom the covenant is addressed.” – Chafer

2. Unconditional covenants

“A declaration on the part of God as to what He is going to do and is made without reference to human action, purpose, or merit.”– Chafer 11

C. Major Covenants in Scripture

1. ADAMIC covenant (Gen 1:26-31; 2:16,17) – This was a conditional covenant “with Adam in which life and blessing or death and cursing were made to depend on the faithfulness of Adam. Human failure followed and the terms of the covenant were executed in righteousness.” – Chafer

2. Covenant with FALLEN MAN (Gen 3:16-19) – “This is an unconditional covenant in which God declares to man what his lot in life will be because of his sin.” – Chafer

3. NOAHIC covenant (Gen 9:1-18 – esp. v. 9-11) – An unconditional covenant that promised mankind that the world would never again be destroyed by water.

4. ABRAHAMIC covenant (Gen 12:1-3; 13:14-17; 15:1-7; 17:1-8) –

a. Provision:

i. Individual promise made to Abraham that he would become a great nation. Emphasis is on his seed.

ii. National promise to Abraham’s seed. Emphasis is on the land.

iii. Universal promise – blessing for all nations.

b. Character: It is an unconditional, eternal covenant (Gen 15:18; 17:7).

5. MOSAIC covenant (Ex 20:1-31:18) –A conditional covenant where God is basically saying to Israel that if they keep His commandments He would bless them, if they do not keep His commandments, He would curse them (see Deut 28:1-62, esp. 63-68).

6. PALESTINIAN covenant (Deut 28-30; esp. 30:1-10) –

a. Importance:

i. Reaffirms to Israel the title deed to Palestine. (Israel had been out of the land for over 400 years.)

ii. It pointed to the Mosaic covenant. This covenant did not set aside God’s promises to Abraham.

iii. It confirms and enlarges upon the provisions of the Abrahamic covenant.

b. Provisions of this covenant (Deut 30:1-10):


i. The nation will be removed from the land for unfaithfulness (Deut 30:1-3).

ii. There will be a repentance of the nation (30:1-3).

iii. Israel will be restored to the land (Deut 30:3-6).

iv. Israel will be converted as a nation (30:6, 8).

v. Enemies of Israel will be judged (30:7).

vi. Israel will receive her full blessing (30:9).

c. Character of this covenant:

i. Unconditional (Ezek 16:60)

ii. Eternal (Ezek 16:60)

iii. Conditional blessings (Deut 30:10)

iv. Amplification of Abrahamic covenant

7. DAVIDIC covenant (II Sam 7:4-17) –

a. Importance: Guarantees to Israel a King and a Kingdom.

b. Provisions:

i. David is promised an unending royal lineage, a throne, and a kingdom – all of which are to endure forever.

ii. Jehovah reserved the right to interrupt the actual reign of David’s sons if chastisement is required (II Sam 7:14,15; Ps 89:20-37).

iii. But the perpetuity of the covenant cannot be broken.

iv. Christ will yet sit on this Throne (Lk 1:31-33). This is an eternal, unconditional covenant (Ps 89; Isa 55:3; Ezek 37:25; Lk 1:31-33).

8. NEW covenant –

a. Guarantees Israel that God is going to yet work with them. God is going to give them a new heart – based on blood – anticipates the death of Christ (Jeremiah 30-33).

b. Provisions (Jeremiah 31:31-34):


i. God is going to give Israel a new mind and a new heart (31:33).

ii. Restoration to the favor and blessings of God (Hosea 2:19,20).

iii. Forgiveness of sin (31:34).

iv. Indwelling of the Holy Spirit (31:33 see II Cor 3:3,6).

v. Material blessing from the land (32:41).

vi. Sanctuary will be rebuilt in Jerusalem (Ezek 37:26,28).

vii. War will cease, peace will reign (Isa 2:4).

c. Character:

i. Eternal (Jer 31:36)

ii. Depends on God – not man (Jer 31:33)

iii. Unconditional covenant

Thirteen years after the birth of Ishmael the command was issued to Abraham that he put the sign of the covenant upon his body and upon the bodies of the male members of his household. Abraham was reluctant at first to do the bidding of God, for he feared that the circumcision of his flesh would raise a barrier between himself and the rest of mankind. But God said unto him, “Let it suffice thee that I am thy God and thy Lord, as it sufficeth the world that I am its God and its Lord.”[123]

Abraham then consulted with his three true friends, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre, regarding the command of the circumcision. The first one spoke, and said, “Thou art nigh unto a hundred years old, and thou considerest inflicting such pain upon thyself?” The advice of the second was also against it. “What,” said Eshcol, “thou choosest to mark thyself so that thy enemies may recognize thee without fail?” Mamre, the third, was the only one to advise obedience to the command of God. “God succored thee from the fiery furnace,” he said, “He helped thee in the combat with the kings, He provided for thee during the famine, and thou dost hesitate to execute His behest concerning the circumcision?[124] Accordingly, Abraham did as God had commanded, in bright daylight, bidding defiance to all, that none might say, “Had we seen him attempt it, we should have prevented him.”[125]

The circumcision was performed on the tenth day of Tishri, the Day of Atonement, and upon the spot on which the altar was later to be erected in the Temple, for the act of Abraham remains a never-ceasing atonement for Israel.[126]

The Legends of the Jews
by Louis Ginzberg

Volume I

Bible Times and Characters from the Creation to Jacob

The Abrahamic Three-Fold Covenant was foundational to all other Biblical Covenants between Yahweh and His people:

  • The promise of land: Israel’s possession of the Promised Land — Deuteronomy 30:1-10
  • The promise of kingly descendants in the Davidic Covenant through which the Messiah is promised — 2 Samuel 7:12-16
  • The promise that all nations would be blessed through Abraham is fulfilled in the New Covenant in Christ — Jeremiah 31:31-40; Luke 22:17-20

As New Covenant believers we become the heirs of Abraham: Romans 9:6-8 “For not all Israelites are true Israelites nor are all Abraham’s descendants his children, but as Scripture says, ‘through Isaac shall your descendants be called.’ That means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God; it is the children of the promise who are to be considered descendants.”

The Latter-day Saint definition of the Abrahamic Covenant goes further than the common definition shared by most Christians and Jews. According to Jewish tradition, Abraham is the father of the Jewish people, bound by covenant to keep the laws of God and bless the earth with their knowledge and talent. As part of the covenant, Abraham was assured numerous descendants and the Land of Canaan as a legacy for them. The token of the covenant was circumcision. According to Christian belief, loyalty to God and personal righteousness qualify a person as a child of Abraham. Thus, when Christ was teaching among the Jews, He counted his dedicated followers as “children of Abraham,” and claimed that the unrighteous, no matter what their lineage, could not be accepted into Abraham’s family.

For Latter-day Saints the Abrahamic Covenant is the covenant God made with Abraham, the great patriarch of the Old Testament, promising him and his literal and adopted descendants throughout the world all gospel blessings, including the priesthood and eternal life, if they are faithful. The Abrahamic covenant includes celestial marriage, which enables people to form eternal families. Another part of this covenant involves the eternal possession of the land of Canaan by Abraham and his righteous posterity. It also includes the foreknowledge of God that Abraham’s posterity would eventually be spread throughout the earth and would have a spiritual inclination to accept the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and to share the gospel with all of mankind.

The Abrahamic covenant is introduced in Genesis 12 and Abraham 2 in the Pearl of Great Price, when the Lord told Abram (Abraham) to leave the land of his father (Ur, then Haran) and go into the land of Canaan, where “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3).

When Abraham arrived in Canaan, the Lord told him: “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:7-8).

The Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price adds additional insight into the covenant promises Jehovah made to Abraham:

And thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations; And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father; And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal. (Abraham 2:9-11)

Mormonism teaches that Abraham was blessed with these covenant promises because he sought to regain the true priesthood and the true gospel possessed by his ancestors but lost through apostasy by his father’s people, and because he was willing to follow the Lord’s guidance and direction in all things, not withholding anything. Later, when he was asked to sacrifice his son, Isaac, in similitude of the atoning sacrifice which God the Father offers to mankind through the sacrifice of His Beloved Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, Abraham showed his willingness to obey that directive and his faith in the resurrection of his son, Isaac.

Abraham became, by example and by covenant, the “father of the faithful.” Mormonism explains that those who receive the “fullness of the everlasting gospel” and its covenants and priesthood have responded to spiritual promptings that Abraham was promised that his posterity and the Gentile nations among them would receive (See 3 Nephi 20:25-27).

The “everlasting possession” promised to Abraham’s seed is this earth, which will become the sanctified dwelling place of those who inherit eternal life through their faithfulness in all things (Doctrine and Covenants 130:9).

An interesting and inspiring insight gleaned from the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price is his “fore-ordination” to be a great prophet. In other words, the Lord knew Abraham in the pre-mortal world and chose him from His most illustrious spirit children for his calling on earth:

Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;

And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born. (Abraham 3:22-23)

Abrahamic religions

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Abrahamic religions (also known as Abrahamic faithsAbrahamic traditions,religions of Abraham and semitic religions)are historically the world’s three primarymonotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, which share a common origin and values. For some 1,300 years their histories and thought have been intertwined. They are considered inextricably linked to one another because of a ‘family likeness’ and a certain commonality in theology.They are faiths that recognize a spiritual tradition identified with Abraham. The sacred narratives of all three of these religions feature many of the same figures, histories and places in each, although they often present them with slightly different roles, perspectives and meanings.

Today, there are an estimated 3.8 billion followers of these three Abrahamic religions, accounting for more than half of the world’s population.

Recently, some have asserted that certain younger smaller religions qualify as Abrahamic, including the Bahá’í Faith.


This means “cutting around” and is considered a minor operation.

The oldest recordings of circumcision come from Egypt. There are also many myths and conceptions as to why different cultures would use circumcision.

  1. A form of sacrifice to a god or goddess as an act of submission or for fertility
  2. A mark of tribal identification
  3. A rite of passage for adulthood
  4. A means of humiliating or marking a slave or captured enemy

In Deuteronomy we learn that this is an outward sign that stood for an inward commitment

Deuteronomy 10:12-20

And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,

To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?

Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.

Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day.

Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.

For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:

He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.

Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.

Paul also backs this up by giving us the spiritual implications.

Romans 2:25-29

For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.

Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?

And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?

For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:

But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

So we see that is the Old Testament was a picture book for us to learn from and that circumcision as a physical act was not as important as an inward act. But what of the fact that this was a ritual that occurred from the time of the commandment from God and is still a ritual that takes place today.

It would also seem that God meant what He said when He gave this commandment to Abraham

And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.

Exodus 4:24-26

And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.

Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.

So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.

Moses had been sent by God to speak with Pharoah. Now this is after he learns that he is an Israelite but after he has children with Zipporah, a Midianite. They would only circumcise a male the night before marriage. The real truth is not known but it is speculated that Moses had not circumcised his son in order to appease his wife, yet this act of neglect was still deserving of death, which shows it’s seriousness to God.


About Clint Rodgers

I am a father of 2 wonderful children and the husband of a beautiful woman who has taught me more about compassion for goofballs than I could have ever learned. I have know Jesus for many years but about 5 years ago I truly met Him and now I do my best to follow Him as I walk in this world
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