There is nothing more male bonding that going to the “big game” with other males who enjoy the competition of sports along with the conversations about sports. They love to commentate and speculate no matter what game they’re watching. Sometimes, as the female of the family, I join in but from a different perspective. I form relationships with my teams and are loyal only to them. If my teams are not playing, I am not interested.
Not so with most of the males in my family, they are interested in any game at any time no matter who is playing. That’s just the way it is. Male-bonding at it’s best. I provide the snacks. In observing this male-bonding phenomenon I have learned that they are “all in” no matter what is happening around them. Their extreme focus and attention to detail are amazing! You cannot get their attention in the middle of a game unless you use food. The strong bond with each other, built over the years, is through their enjoyment of being a part of the game.
I think of this as I read our next passage. I’ll admit, I am laughing a bit out loud as God provides a male-bonding experience for Abram and his household that I’m sure no one saw coming! God uses this extreme male-bonding experience that “cuts to the chase” of what he expects from Abram, his male household and his male descendants. The directive is clear. The promise of God is real. The covenant is permanent. “That way my covenant will be cut into your body, a permanent mark of my permanent covenant.” God is serious. “I am The Strong God, LIVE ENTIRELY before me”, says God. Abram makes the cut—”just as God had told him.”
Genesis 17, The Message
1-2 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, God showed up and said to him, “I am The Strong God, live entirely before me, live to the hilt! I’ll make a covenant between us and I’ll give you a huge family.”
3-8 Overwhelmed, Abram fell flat on his face.
Then God said to him, “This is my covenant with you: You’ll be the father of many nations. Your name will no longer be Abram, but Abraham, meaning that ‘I’m making you the father of many nations.’ I’ll make you a father of fathers—I’ll make nations from you, kings will issue from you. I’m establishing my covenant between me and you, a covenant that includes your descendants, a covenant that goes on and on and on, a covenant that commits me to be your God and the God of your descendants. And I’m giving you and your descendants this land where you’re now just camping, this whole country of Canaan, to own forever. And I’ll be their God.”
9-14 God continued to Abraham, “And you: You will honor my covenant, you and your descendants, generation after generation. This is the covenant that you are to honor, the covenant that pulls in all your descendants: Circumcise every male. Circumcise by cutting off the foreskin of the penis; it will be the sign of the covenant between us. Every male baby will be circumcised when he is eight days old, generation after generation—this includes house-born slaves and slaves bought from outsiders who are not blood kin. Make sure you circumcise both your own children and anyone brought in from the outside. That way my covenant will be cut into your body, a permanent mark of my permanent covenant. An uncircumcised male, one who has not had the foreskin of his penis cut off, will be cut off from his people—he has broken my covenant.”
15-16 God continued speaking to Abraham, “And Sarai your wife: Don’t call her Sarai any longer; call her Sarah. I’ll bless her—yes! I’ll give you a son by her! Oh, how I’ll bless her! Nations will come from her; kings of nations will come from her.”
17 Abraham fell flat on his face. And then he laughed, thinking, “Can a hundred-year-old man father a son? And can Sarah, at ninety years, have a baby?”
18 Recovering, Abraham said to God, “Oh, keep Ishmael alive and well before you!”
19 But God said, “That’s not what I mean. Your wife, Sarah, will have a baby, a son. Name him Isaac (Laughter). I’ll establish my covenant with him and his descendants, a covenant that lasts forever.
20-21 “And Ishmael? Yes, I heard your prayer for him. I’ll also bless him; I’ll make sure he has plenty of children—a huge family. He’ll father twelve princes; I’ll make him a great nation. But I’ll establish my covenant with Isaac whom Sarah will give you about this time next year.”
22 God finished speaking with Abraham and left.
23 Then Abraham took his son Ishmael and all his servants, whether houseborn or purchased—every male in his household—and circumcised them, cutting off their foreskins that very day, just as God had told him.
24-27 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised. His son Ishmael was thirteen years old when he was circumcised. Abraham and Ishmael were circumcised the same day together with all the servants of his household, those born there and those purchased from outsiders—all were circumcised with him.
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
After the mess Sarai made to “help God” bless Abram with a large family, (Genesis 16), God shows up. I love it when God shows up with compassionate forgiveness and gets His plan back in motion after missteps I make that causes problems and delays! God sees that lessons in waiting are learned, so He shows up with what HE wants and clarifies His Plan with Abram. He does that for us, too when we humble ourselves before Him.
Abram is overwhelmed when God shows up for him again and falls facedown (humbled) before God. After a messy cleanup, isn’t it just like God to show up and redirect our attention and focus back to Him and His best for us? We are ready for God through our humbled posture to God.
God begins by telling Abram the details of His covenant to Abram. The details include permanency. God clearly wants Abram to know that Abram’s part is “live entirely before me, live to the hilt!” In other words, be ALL IN, Abram! To show it, Abram must make a permanent, no going back, cut into his body to represent the permanency of God’s Covenant with him.
Read, think, pray, live!
As we read this I wonder, how seriously do I take God at His Word to me?
Do I really believe what God says to be really real?
Am I “all in”, living entirely before God, asking God what He wants each day, living in humbled expectation of God?
Am I merely a spectator of life or am I a contributing part of the life God has planned for me?
When God shows up in our lives, permanent changes are made. We are never the same once we give our lives to God, living entirely before him by the work and power of Jesus who saved us and renewed our relationship with God!
God changed Abram’s body, gave him a new name that described what God was going to do through him, changed his wife’s name, and renewed his relationship and covenant with Him. A year later, a son is born to Sarah, which shows it is never too late to accomplish the will of God. God said His name is Isaac, which means laughter, because Abram laughed to himself to think God would actually do exactly what He said. Mm, don’t mess with God. God does what He says!
You are so patient with us but you do have directives for us that teach us, draw us closer to you and show us your love, mercy and grace. Thank you for being with us. Thank you for show up when we need you most. Thank you for providing for us before we know we need it. Your will and the ways to accomplish your plan are always best. I lay my life before you this morning as a living offering to you. I want your perfect will to be done in my life. I’m entirely yours.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen