Year of the Bible – Genesis 17-21

Epiphany - Genesis 17



Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? – Genesis 17:17

Genesis 17:1-21:34 (17:1-7)

In this text, a series of dramatic events unfold in the life of Abram, significant events that form the life and faith of Israel for thousands of years that follow. First, God made a covenant with Abraham (changing his name from Abram to Abraham). A covenant is a contract, a promise sealed with outward signs or symbols binding two parties to their mutual words and pledges. The covenant of Israel with God would be circumcision, administered to all males descended from Abraham on the eighth day of their life. God then gave Abraham the promise of a son, a Messianic heir, who would be born miraculously to Sarah, his wife. Abraham was ninety-nine years old at the time and Sarah was ninety years old. Secondly, Abraham met the Lord face to face, along with two angels, eating with them and then pleading with them to spare the lives of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. What follows in the Sodomite immoral assault against the angels demonstrated the depth of Sodom’s corruption and the justice of God’s wrath.   Thirdly, Abraham revealed his own human weakness and imperfection when he feared the Philistine king, Abimelech. But God demonstrated the nature of His covenantal love by protecting Abraham and by prospering him—despite the unfaithfulness of Abraham. Last of all, Abraham was blessed with the gift of a son named Isaac. But despite the miracle of Isaac’s birth and the Messianic promise connected to him, the slave-woman Hagar and her son Ishmael (by Abraham) despised both Sarah and Isaac and had to be sent into exile from the household of Abraham. Ishmael and his descendants became arch-enemies of Israel and her Messianic hope. 2,000 years later they would spawn the anti-Jewish and anti-Christian religion of Islam.


Questions – Genesis 17

  1. What is a covenant?
  2. What was the covenant of ancient Israel, to be replaced by baptism in the New Testament era?
  3. In what way was the old covenant also based upon Messianic promises?
  4. How old were Abraham and Sarah when Isaac was born?
  5. In what way was Abraham like the Messiah he carried within him as he spoke to the Lord about Sodom and Gomorrah?
  6. What is so comforting about a covenant when we see the weakness of Abraham’s faith?
  7. What has to be done in the Christian Church to anyone who would despise the honor and glory of Christ, as we see happening to Hagar and Ishmael?
Year of the Bible – Epiphany Week Two | Tuesday | Genesis 17 – © John W. Fiene