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Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Abrahamic Covenant

Abraham  makes his first appearance in the Pentateuch in the 12th chapter of the book of Genesis. Abraham is the first founding father, or patriarch, mentioned in the Old Testament.  He is chosen to establish a
covenant with God that eventually results in the 12 tribes of Israel. The Bible makes mention of the covenant between God and Abraham three times in the Book of Genesis. First in Genesis 12, then Genesis 15, and finally again in Genesis 17. This third telling of the covenant is the most comprehensive of the three. It more thoroughly outlines God's intentions for Abraham, and also states what God requires of Abraham in return:
    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. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.' Then Abram fell on his    face; and God said to him, 'As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you, and to your offspring after you, the land   where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan, for a perpetual holding; and I will be their God.'  God said to Abraham, 'As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations.  This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old, including the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring. Both the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money must be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.' (Genesis 17:1- 14)
This covenant consists of three promises from God to Abraham. The first is the promise of land divinely chosen by God. The second is the assurance of offspring with which to establish a nation. The third is the guarantee of God's blessings and salvation for the descendants of Abraham. As mentioned above, Abraham's side of the covenant is comprised of two parts. The the first part requires him to be Holy and obedient. The second part is the covenant of circumcision that dictates that Abraham, his descendants  and those around him must be circumcised as a covenant of the flesh. Those who refuse to be circumcised shall be cast out and removed from the covenant.

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