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Genesis Significance

by Bobby Bruno  
5/23/2014 / Bible Studies

1 The LORD said to Abram, "Leave your land, your relatives, and your father's home. Go to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation, I will bless you. I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you, I will curse. Through you every family on earth will be blessed." 4 So Abram left, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran. 5 Abram set out for Canaan. He took along his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all the possessions they had accumulated and the servants they had acquired in Haran. 6 They arrived in Canaan, and Abram traveled through the land to the oak tree belonging to Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, "I'm going to give this land to your descendants." So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him. 8 He moved on to the hills east of Bethel, and he put up his tentwith Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. He also built an altar to the LORD there and worshiped the LORD. 9 Abram kept moving toward the Negev.
Genesis 12:1-9 (GW)

1 When Abram was 99 years old, the LORD appeared to him. He said to Abram, "I am God Almighty. Live in my presence with integrity. 2 I will give you my promise, and I will give you very many descendants." 3 Immediately, Abram bowed with his face touching the ground, and again God spoke to him, 4 "My promise is still with you. You will become the father of many nations. 5 So your name will no longer be Abram [Exalted Father], but Abraham [Father of Many] because I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will give you many descendants. Many nations and kings will come from you. 7 I will make my promise to you and your descendants for generations to come as an everlasting promise. I will be your God and the God of your descendants. 8 I am also giving this land where you are livingall of Canaanto you and your descendants as your permanent possession. And I will be your God." 9 God also said to Abraham, "You and your descendants in generations to come are to be faithful to my promise.
10 This is how you are to be faithful to my promise: Every male among you is to be circumcised. 11 All of you must be circumcised. That will be the sign of the promise from me to you. 12 For generations to come every male child who is eight days old must be circumcised, whether he is born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner who's not related to you. 13 Every male born in your household or bought with your money is to be circumcised without exception. So my promise will be a sign on your flesh, an everlasting promise. 14 Any uncircumcised male must be excluded from his people because he has rejected my promise."
15 God said to Abraham, "Don't call your wife by the name Sarai anymore. Instead, her name is Sarah [Princess]. 16 I will bless her, and I will also give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she will become {a mother of} nations, and kings will come from her." 17 Immediately, Abraham bowed with his face touching the ground. He laughed as he thought to himself, "Can a son be born to a hundred-year-old man? Can Sarah, a ninety-year-old woman, have a child?" 18 Then Abraham said to God, "Why not let Ishmael be my heir?" 19 God replied, "No! Your wife Sarah will give you a son, and you will name him Isaac [He Laughs]. I will make an everlasting promise to him and his descendants. 20 I have heard your request about Ishmael. Yes, I will bless him, make him fertile, and increase the number of his descendants. He will be the father of 12 princes, and I will make him a great nation. 21 But I will make my promise to Isaac. Sarah will give birth to him at this time next year." 22 When God finished speaking with Abraham, he left him. 23 So Abraham took his son Ishmael, everyone born in his household, and everyone bought with moneyevery male in his householdand circumcised them that day, as God had told him. 24 Abraham was 99 years old when he was circumcised. 25 His son Ishmael was 13 years old when he was circumcised. 26 That same day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised. 27 All the men of his household, whether born in the household or bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.
Genesis 17:1-27 (GW)

What is the significance of Abraham's calling when taking into account the rest of the story of Genesis and the biblical narrative as a whole?

Abraham's calling was to go to the land God showed him and begin to build the Hebrew nation. Through Abraham would come many descendants that would eventually make up the twelve tribes of Israel, which today are scattered throughout the world's nations. Abraham's obedience to God's call has indeed built the Jewish nation, but the Jewish nation has yet to gain all of the land God had promised them to live in. Abraham believed that God would bless Ishmael as his heir (Then Abraham said to God, "Why not let Ishmael be my heir?" Gen. 17:18), but God would choose his son Isaac his natural-born son of Sarah. God indeed did bless Ishmael, and the Jewish nation has known nothing but war and suffering since, as the sons of Ishmael believe that the land God gave to Abraham should belong to them. This has had great significance for the nation of Israel and this problem will not be solved until the return of Jesus Christ. Israel will then finally obtain the entire land promised to them from the beginning of Abraham's call from God.

Another significant part of Abraham's calling and obedience to that calling is that in the future, God will be setting aside 144,000 people from the twelve tribes of Israel (12,000 from each/Rev. 7:1-8) who (along with the two witnesses before them/Rev. 11:1-14) will go out during the Tribulation and witness Jesus Christ and salvation to the world. Also, the final war will be fought on Israel's doorstep where Jesus will come and put an end to all fighting, and proclaim His people, Israel, as the chosen ones of God. Indeed, Abraham's obedience will have a great impact on the world as it did then, and as it will in the future.

What is the connection for Paul between Abraham, Genesis 17, and the issues that he is facing in the Roman church? What is the one virtue of Abraham that is present in all of this?

In the Roman church, Paul had to deal with Jews who insisted that all Gentile believers be circumcised just as it had been decreed to Abraham to do for the Jewish nation for all time beginning with his own family. Paul tried to convince his hearers that circumcism for Abraham was for the purpose of showing Abraham's faith approved of God as a righteous man (Abraham's faith was regarded as God's approval while he was still uncircumcised. The mark of circumcision is the seal of that approval. Therefore, he is the father of every believer who is not circumcised, and their faith, too, is regarded as God's approval of them Rom. 4:11/GW). Paul was telling the Romans that circumcism was no longer needed, as a belief in Jesus' death and resurrection was all that was needed to be shown approved of God for all people, Jew or Gentile. Because of the faith that he had shown by being obedient to God's calling, Paul told his listeners, "What does Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and that faith was regarded by God to be his approval of Abraham" (Romans 4:3/GW (see Gen. 15:6)).

How is this virtue contrasted at different points in Abraham's life?

This virtue is contrasted by more than one instant in Abraham's life. The first was in not believing that God could give him and Sarah a child in their old age and then sleeping with Hagar because of that unbelief (Gen. 16). That one moment of impatience has cost the Jewish nation more heartache than any nation should have to deal with. Thankfully, Jesus will soon be coming back to fix the situation. The second time Abraham was not so righteous was the time he lied to King Abimelek about Sarah being his sister instead of his wife because of the fear of being killed and his wife taken for a concubine (Gen 20).

Comment: "Abraham basically populated the place with the Hebrew nation and brought monotheism into the land."

Author Response: What about Noah? In Genesis, chapter 10 and 11 we find that God increased the size of the human race through Noah's three sons Ham, Shem, and Japheth after the flood. But it wasn't until the time of Jacob that the Jews were split into the twelve tribes of Israel in Genesis, chapter 49. It wasn't long after this that the Jews were taken as slaves in Egypt because Pharaoh considered the Hebrew nation to be a threat to him because there were too many of them and could overthrow him if they got any more populous, according to Exodus, chapter one. Abraham was given the promise and the promise was fulfilled through his line starting with Noah.

Comment: "What is the one virtue of Abraham that is present in all of this? Faith, Abraham believed God and because of his faith, he obeyed what God told him to do from beginning to end."

Author Response: It amazes me how many Christians walk around this earth thinking that faith, or having faith, or growing faith is such a hard thing to do. God has made faith one of the easiest things to acquire and strengthen other than gaining salvation through Jesus Christ. Too many Christians keep telling themselves that they need more faith or they can't find the faith to believe. Faith is easy, believing is hard. Satan has made it hard for us to see God everywhere, but God has made it easy for us to see Him. Faith never begins with us. There is no way humans can conjure up the faith too believe anything because we are so black and white; either we believe in something or we don't. Being saved has nothing to do with our faith either. Obtaining faith has to do with God Himself. It is God who gives us the faith to believe in Jesus Christ, and it is the Holy Spirit who helps us keep our faith in Jesus. In every situation where a character in the Bible got faith in God, it was after they obeyed God. When we obey God over and over we see Him fulfilling his promise for that time over and over. Faith grows in us when we see God taking care of us in everything we do. Before I got saved, I didn't know what God could do for me. But, years later, after watching God taking care of every part of my life, my faith in Him is astronomical simply because He has been good to me even when I have not been very good towards Him from time to time. Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph all obeyed God even if they didn't always know they were doing so. Living a life of faith means living a life given over to God; we give our lives and He gives us the faith to complete them in Him. This is not a works thing, this is a God thing. Faith is easy; always doing good is not.

Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.

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