Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Reading 5: Birth of Isaac

Genesis 17:1-18:15 & Genesis 21:1-7

Name Change

The first part of our passage today shows a change of name for Abram. His name goes from Abram, which means "exalted father," to Abraham, which means "father of many." His wife's name also changes from Sarai to Sarah, which both mean "princess" but the change is more in language from the region they came from, Ur, to the region they are headed, Canaan. This name change symbolizes a solidifying of the covenant that God made to Abraham to make his offspring into a great nation.

Promise Renewed

God renews His promise to give a child to Abraham and Sarah but Abraham cannot believe it. He is 100 years old, obviously well past the ability of having a child. Sarah is 90 years old, also well past the ability of having children. So Abraham asks God to fulfill His promise to him through Ishmael, the son whom he had with his servant Hagar. God says no, He isn't going to modify His promise but will complete it just as He said He would. He command them to name the child Isaac, meaning "he laughs," because Abraham and Sarah both scoff at the idea of having children at their age when told by God or by His messengers later in chapter 18.

A child at 100 and 90? That's a good one.

Abraham's End of the Bargain

God gives Abraham the part that he has to do to keep the deal. He has to circumcise each male of his household and every male from then on. Why do it? It was a sign that marked Abraham and the nation that was to come from Him as being different from those around them. To be able to stand out and bless the nations the surrounding nations had to know that there was something different about them. They did life differently and circumcision was the first act that marked them as different.

Fun circumcision fact (odd words I know): God commanded specifically that the eighth day was when this was to happen for newborns. In 1953 it was found that on the eighth day of a babies life the necessary vitamins and chemicals in the body required to recover from such a procedure are elevated 100% above the normal amounts. The perfect day perform a circumcision is the eighth day!

Isaac is Born

And finally after all this promising Abraham (101 years old) and Sarah (91 years old) give birth to Isaac. Isaac lives up to his name and produces laughter for his parents as Sarah puts, "God has brought me laughter. All who hear about this will laugh with me. Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!" (Genesis 21:6-7).

Family Photo

Isaac would continue the family line with his sons Jacob and Esau, who have an interesting relationship with each other and Jacob has an interesting encounter with God.

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