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Hagar and Ishmael
Genesis 16:15 So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.
Genesis 16:16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.
Remember Abram was 75 when he left Haran (12:4). There would be a 13 year interval until 17:1 picks up the narrative again.
We must also remember throughout this narrative that Hagar represents law whereas Sarai represents grace (see Gal. 4).
Example of the Covenants…Galatians 4:21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? :22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman.
Galatians 4:23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, :24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar—
Galatians 4:25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children—:26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. :27 For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children Than she who has a husband.”
Galatians 4:28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.
Galatians 4:29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now.
Galatians 4:30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” :31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.
The Sign of the Covenant
Genesis 17:1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.
Genesis 17:2 And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.”
Genesis 17:3 Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: :4 “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations.
Genesis 17:5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.
In Eastern countries a change of name is an advertisement of some new circumstance in the history, rank, or religion of the individual who bears it.
The change is made variously, by the old name being entirely dropped for the new, or by conjoining the new with the old; or sometimes only a few letters are inserted, so that the altered form may express the difference in the owner’s state or prospects.
It is surprising how soon a new name is known and its import spread through the country. In dealing with Abraham and Sarai, God was pleased to adapt His procedure to the ideas and customs of the country and age. Instead of Abram, “a high father,” he was to be called Abraham, “father of a multitude of nations” --Jamieson
Example of our Name change in heaven: Revelation 2:17 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” ’
Genesis 17:6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you.
Genesis 17:7 And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.
This relationship was set up at God’s initiative and also designated as an “everlasting covenant” (v. 7), thus applying to Abraham’s posterity with equal force and bringing forth the declaration “I will be their God” (v. 8). This pledge became the dictum of the covenant relationship between Yahweh, i.e., Jehovah, and Israel. --MacArthur
Genesis 17:8 Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
Genesis 17:9 And God said to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.
Genesis 17:10 This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised;
This was the sign in the Old Testament Church as baptism is in the New, and hence the covenant is called “covenant of circumcision”
Examples of this covenant in the NT….Acts 7:8 Then He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham begot Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot the twelve patriarchs. (Ac 7:8; Ro 4:11). Romans 4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, :12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.
The terms of the covenant were these: on the one hand Abraham and his seed were to observe the right of circumcision; and on the other, God promised, in the event of such observance, to give them Canaan for a perpetual possession, to be a God to him and his posterity, and that in him and his seed all nations should be blessed. --Fausset
Genesis 17:11 and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.
Circumcision (cutting away the male foreskin) was not entirely new in this period of history, but the special religious and theocratic significance then applied to it was entirely new, thus identifying the circumcised as belonging to the physical and ethnical lineage of Abraham.
Here are some scriptures from the NT on this…. Acts 7:8 Then He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham begot Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot the twelve patriarchs………Romans 4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, :12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.
Without divine revelation, the rite would not have had this distinctive significance, thus it remained a theocratic distinctive of Israel. There was a health benefit, since disease could be kept in the folds of the foreskin, so that removing it prevented that. Historically, Jewish women have had the lowest rate of cervical cancer.
Macdonald, Farstad Grady Scott, Hindson, E. MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006).