Daily Word

Preparation for the promise | Genesis 17:1-8

1 Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him,

“I am God Almighty;

Walk before Me, and be blameless.

2 I will make My covenant between Me and you,

And I will multiply you exceedingly.”

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

4 “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you,

And you will be the father of a multitude of nations.

5 No longer shall you be named Abram,

But your name shall be Abraham;

For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.

6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. 8 And I will give to you and to your descendants after you the land where you live as a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”

Genesis 17:1-8 (NASB) 

Preparation for promise

It’s now about 12 years after Ismael was born. Abram doesn’t know the timing, but God is about to fulfill His promise of a son. It had been 13 years since the last recorded word from the Lord. “By this name El Shaddai (God Almighty), God revealed His Person and character to Abram. However, there is some debate as to what exactly the name El Shaddai means.” (Follow a link for the various definitions in Enduringword.com)

In preparation for this promised son, in this chapter, the Lord gives new names to Abram and Sarai, He gives a new covenant symbolized by circumcision, and renews the promises of descendents and blessings. He wants to make sure everything is in place for this promised son. 

New Name, new covenant

God introduces a new covenant with Abram. We’ll see the details tomorrow. One of the steps in the process was to give Abram a new name. Abram means “exalted father”. “Abraham” means “father of a multitude”. (We’ll see later in the chapter Sarai is renamed to Sarah). What’s the significance? It helps re-affirm the covenant is new. God is the same but Abram is changed. “When God changed a person’s name and gave him a new name, it was usually to establish a new identity.” (gotquestions.org)

Perpetual promise

As He gives the new covenant, God repeats His promise to give Abraham descendants and to keep this covenant with them forever; it’s an everlasting covenant. The land shall be theirs forever. Even though He removed them from it a number of times for long periods due to rebellion, it was still their possession.


  • Jesus also is a promised Son. God sent the prophet John the Baptist to the Jews to “prepare the way”. He desired His people to repent and turn to Him. The Lord wanted His people to be ready for the arrival of the promised Son.
Old man, little boy. Image from Pxfuel.com

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