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Genesis 17:2-6

A New Name

2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. 3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, 4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. 5 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. 6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.


Twenty-four years after He had first promised Abram a multitude of descendants, God appeared to him again. It must have seemed like an eternity to Abram, because he and Sarai were too old and Sarai was barren when the first promise was made. Faithfully waiting for the impossible to be accomplished was difficult, and Ishmael, Abram's illegitimate son was the result of their failure.

We can't begin to imagine how Abram must have felt when he heard the words of that promise repeated to him from the lips of El Shaddai. "I … will multiply thee exceedingly." Abram must have felt like a train had run over him. He stood before his God on whose promise he had not waited. Yet the promise had not changed. Ishmael was not the promised seed. Abram had sinned.

There is only one position that a sinner can assume before El Shaddai … face down in complete humility. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:31) The sinner has condemned Himself to eternal suffering, but by the grace and mercy of God he finds salvation. Submitted to Him in prayer, Abram finds grace and the confirmed promises of God. The security of the believer is again demonstrated throughout this passage. God is not willing that any of His children should be lost, and He speaks to Abram as though He had never sinned.

There are some new details added to the covenant. Abram's seed shall not only be multitudinous but shall encompass many nations and kings. Indeed, today there are many nations that claim their heritage from Abram, and many kings have descended from him. The real fulfillment of this passage, however, is in Christ Jesus. All of the faithful in Christ are considered the seed of Abram, and people of every nation are included in that group. While there are many kings descended from him after the flesh, Jesus Christ, the King of kings is the ultimate fulfillment of the promise.

To firmly plant this truth in Abram's mind, God changed his name. Abram means great father whereas Abraham means the father of a multitude. From that time forward, Abraham would remember the promise every time his name was mentioned.

The name Christian was taken by God's redeemed people to remind them of the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Many people have adopted the name but unfortunately have not fallen on their faces in complete submission before the Lord. They have not lived a life based on the type of faith that Abraham lived. The name does not remind them of the promises of God and even causes them to think that they are free to sin with impunity. They have not done what was commanded of them by Jesus … "…be perfect as God is perfect." They have not experienced the transforming grace of God in their lives.

God has not forgotten the promise of eternal life that He made to us through His Son. He continues to remind us of that promise in many, many ways. We are heirs to the kingdom of God. We are called Christians and we should be reminded by that name to live in the promise it represents.

Before The Throne:

Will you humble yourself before God today? Acknowledge that you are just a sinner trusting in His promise of mercy and grace. Confess your sins and receive His forgiveness. Know that He will not let go of you. Make a promise to Him that you will live your life like you truly believe Him. Seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness above all things.

For Further Study:

(v.2)
** And I. Gen 9:9; 15:18; Ps 105:8-11; Ga 3:17,18; ** multiply. Gen 12:2; 13:16; 22:17;

(v.3) Ex 3:6; Le 9:23,24; Nu 14:5; 16:22,45; Jos 5:14; Jud 13:20; 1Ki 18:39; Eze 1:28; 3:23; 9:8; Da 8:17,18; 10:9; Mt 17:6; Re 1:17;

(v.4) ** a father. Gen 12:2; 13:16; 16:10; 22:17; 25:1-18; 32:12; 35:11; 36:1-43; Nu 1:1-54; Nu 26:1-65; Ro 4:11-18; Ga 3:28,29;

(v.5) ** but thy name. Gen 32:28; Nu 13:16; 2Sa 12:25; Ne 9:7; Isa 62:2-4; 65:15; Jer 20:3; Jer 23:6; Mt 1:21-23; Joh 1:42; Re 2:17;

(v.6) ** nations. Gen 35:11; ** kings. Gen 36:31-43; Ezr 4:20; Mt 1:6-17;

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