The People of the Covenant (Genesis 17:1-27)

Thirteen years have passed since we last saw Abram. In the last verse of the last chapter, Abram was 86 years old. Now, he is 99.

And these 13 years have been happy years for Abram. Long before this, when Abram was 75, he took an incredible risk: he left his father’s family, his father’s nation, and his father’s homeland, and he followed the voice of an unknown god to all the way to a new country, where this god promised that Abram would become the father of his own homeland, his own nation, and his own family.

And for 10 long years Abram waited for his risk to pay off. His new god had promised that he would have a biological son, and for a long time it looked as if maybe Abram had made a mistake in trusting this god. But, 13 years ago, Abram finally did have a biological son.

Now…true, this son was born to Abram’s slave girl, not to his wife Sarai. But: God had promised him a biological son; Abram has had a biological son; and so — technically — God’s promise has been fulfilled.

Abram is content. His risk has paid off. His new god proven that he is the One God, the Only God, who keeps his promises. And Abram has the son he has always wanted.

All is well.

But not really. Abram’s family is a mess. He and his son Ishmael have a great relationship! But Abram’s wife Sarai has lived in grief and loneliness and rejection for the last 13 years. In her mind, and in her culture, she is a failure as a wife, because she is barren, unable to have children. In her mind, and in her culture, she is under God’s curse. God is making these amazing promises of blessing to everyone else in the family: he has promised great things for Abram, he has promised great things for Ishmael, he has even promised great things for Hagar the slave girl! — but for Sarai? Nothing.

And it’s really not fair. Sarai has taken the same risks Abram has. She also left everything to follow her crazy husband to a new country. She also has submitted faithfully to God’s every command. She has even submitted faithfully to some of her husband’s commands that did not come from God, including one that forced her into bed with a foreign king while her husband sat around outside wringing his hands — and getting richer and richer.

She has travelled every step of the way alongside Abram. But it looks as if God has forgotten her. It looks as if even her husband has forgotten her.

But all that is about to change. Sarai’s story is not over.

And really, Abram should have known that the story is not yet finished. And that is because his conversation with God is not yet finished.

See, back in Chapter 15, God began a conversation with Abram…but he did not get to finish that conversation.

And the reason God did not get to finish that conversation is because Abram interrupted God.

Allow me to refresh your memory:

This was probably 14, 15, maybe 16 years earlier. Abram had just become the saviour of all Canaan by rescuing all the different nations that had been captured and enslaved by the Eastern Kings. And instead of crowning himself king of all Canaan, Abram had given everything and everyone back to their original owners.

And that is when God appeared to him in a vision and said, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” So God was saying, “Good job for giving everything back! I was testing you to see if you were going to be greedy and keep my land for yourself, but you passed the test! And so now, for your reward, I’m going to give my land back to you and your descendants.”

And as we noticed then, that sentence God spoke was actually Part One of a covenant ritual. Normally, when God makes a covenant with someone, he starts by saying, “This is who I am, this is what I have done for you.” And then Part Two is, “Now, this is what I want you to do for me.”

But Abram interrupted God! He said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s great and all. But how can I be sure you will do this?

And that interruption redirected the whole conversation. God had to pause what he was saying, and answer Abram’s question, and the result was that whole bizarre ritual with the animals cut in half and the tandoori oven floating in the darkness and all that weird stuff —

— and if you want to understand what happened there then I’d recommend that you go online to and listen to that sermon.

So anyway, the conversation God began with Abram back in Chapter 15 has gone unfinished for the last decade and a half or so. Through that ritual with the animals, God made an unbreakable covenant with Abram. He has said, very clearly, “This is who I am, and what I am going to do for you, no matter what.” But he has not yet told Abram, “This is what I want you to do for me.”

The conversation — the covenant ritual — is not yet complete. And Abram should have known that. Because these kinds of covenant rituals were a common feature in Abram’s culture.

Well now is the time: today is the day.

And so [1] when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him, and he restarts the conversation with Part One, “This is who I am: I am God Almighty.”

And then — before Abram can interrupt again — he moves right on to Part Two: “This is what I want from you: walk before me and be blameless.

“Then,” God says, “We will be able to actually finish this covenant ritual properly: I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.

So Abram falls on his face, which is the right thing to do when God appears to you.

And now God goes into more detail. He goes back to Part One of the covenant ritual: [4] “As for me, this is my covenant with you: this is what I am going to do for you. You will be the father of many nations. [5] No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. [6] I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. [7] I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. [8] The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”

Now: this is huge.

This is not just a reminder of God’s promises: this is an expansion of God’s promises. He already promised Abram would be the father of a nation; now he declares Abram the father of many nations. He already promised Abram would be the father of a son; now he declares Abram the father of many kings. He already promised to love and protect Abram and his descendants no matter what; now he declares that this promise, this covenant, is an everlasting covenant. Abram’s descendants, Abram’s nation, will inherit the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession.

And God changes Abram’s name in order to show Abram that he is serious about this expansion of the promises. The name “Abram” means “Glorious Father” — which was painfully ironic for 86 years, until Abram finally became the “glorious” father of Ishmael. But the name “Abraham” means “Father of Many Nations” — which would be painfully ironic, except that God has already proven that he keeps his promises: this is going to come true. And Abraham’s new name, from now on, will be a reminder of that truth.

But God is actually promising even more than that. See, God is not promising to make just any old covenant with Abraham, he is actually promising to renew Adam’s old covenant with Abraham.

He does this by repeating the same language he used when he first spoke to Adam back in the garden: be fruitful. Fill the earth with your children, fill the earth with true worship.

Now, Adam failed, of course: he broke that covenant, he brought death to his descendants, and his descendants filled the earth with false worship. And so God used the same language with Noah, after the flood: be fruitful. Fill the earth with your children, fill the earth with true worship. But again, Noah’s descendants broke that covenant, and failed.

And so now God uses the same covenant language with Abraham…but he changes it slightly. He told Adam and Noah, “Be fruitful.” In other words: “You do the work of redeeming the earth.” He did this to make a point: sinful mankind cannot redeem the earth.

So now God tells Abram, “I will make you very fruitful. I am going to do the work of redeeming the earth. I am going to do the work of filling creation with true worship. And I am going to do this work through my covenant with you.”

So what this means, in simple language, is that God has just promised that Abraham is going to be a sort of Second Adam. He is going to be part of fixing what Adam messed up. He is going to become the father of the promised Messiah, the one who will crush the serpent’s head and deliver mankind from slavery to sin and death.

So that is amazing.

But now it is time for Part Two of the covenant ceremony: what God wants Abraham to do for him.

Now, God already said at the beginning, “I want you to walk before me and be blameless.” But he did not explain what that looks like.

Well, here, beginning in verse 9, he does: “As for you — this is your part of the deal — you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. [10] This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep, this is what I want you to do for me: every male among you shall be circumcised. [11] You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. [12] For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. [13] Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. [14] Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

Now, there is a lot happening in that speech! So much, in fact, that we are going to have to come back to it next week so we can talk in detail about what circumcision meant to Abraham then, and what it means to us now.

So make sure you come back for that.

In the meantime, though, we are going to continue with the narrative. Suffice it to say: that was Part Two of the covenant. And so: viola! Finish. Part One was, “This is who I am, and this what I am going to do for you.” Part Two was, “This is who you are, and this is what I want you to do for me.” That should be the end of it!

But then God keeps talking, verse 15: “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah.”

And at this point Abraham would have suddenly sat up straight again, because: what is going on? Why is God suddenly changing Sarai’s name? “Sarai” is a name that sounds like the word for “princess”, but “Sarah” actually is the word for “princess”. So…that is pretty weird!

It is almost as if God has a plan Abram’s wife!

Well, sure enough, God goes on: [16] “I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”

Basically, God is telling Abraham that Sarah is going to be a Second Eve. God had promised that one of Eve’s sons would set mankind free. Now he is narrowing it down and promising that it will be one of Sarah’s sons. She is going to be the mother of the promised Messiah.

So Abraham falls down again, which is the right thing to do when God says something shocking. But he also laughs to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?”

[18] And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”

And this is what gives us our insight into Abraham’s mind-set for the last 13 years. He thought Ishmael was his last shot, his last chance to be a father. He thought that Ishmael was the son and heir that God had promised. For 13 years he has been preparing his son to take over the household and the family business and everything Abraham owns.

Now, to his shock, he discovers that actually there is another son on the way, a son who is going to be born to his legally wedded wife. And, legally speaking, according to Abram’s culture, the son of the legitimate wife — the son of the first wife — will out-rank the son of the slave-wife, even though he is much younger.

So Abraham has just discovered that all his 13 years of work preparing Ishmael to take over…all that work is now wasted. And that is why he basically says, “But…but…but what about Ishmael’s blessing?”

[19] Then God said, “Yes — he will be blessed — but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.

See, a slave girl does not give birth to kings. Only a “Princess” can give birth to a king — and Sarah is the princess God has given Abraham. The clue was right there in her name the whole time! It is Princess’s son who will have truly royal blood; it is Princess’s son who will inherit God’s everlasting covenant with Abraham.

And, just for fun, God tells Abraham to name his son Isaac, which means “He Laughs.” So God is poking Abraham a bit and saying, “Ha ha! See? You laughed in disbelief, and so from now on, every time you say your son’s name, you are going to be reminded that I keep my promises even though you’re an idiot.”

But then God goes on to answer Abraham’s question about his oldest son: [20] “And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.

[21] “But — remember! — my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” [22] When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.

So Ishmael does receive a blessing, an expansion of the promises that God made to his mother Hagar in the last chapter: he is going to be a rugged individualist, a man who lives a wild and free life, and he is also going to be fruitful and multiply and become a great nation.

But, there is a difference: he is going to produce rulers — not kings — and he is not going to inherit the eternal covenant between God and Abraham.

So, on the one hand Ishmael does have a blessing from God: he will become a powerful nation, no matter what happens.

But on the other hand, Ishmael does not have the everlasting blessing promised to Isaac: God’s promise that you will be my people, and I will be your God.

Now, what does that mean?

Well, it means this: Ishmael is guaranteed success in this life.

But, if Ishmael wants the ultimate blessing of belonging to God, then he needs to be part of God’s people, one of God’s children. And the way for him to do that is by being part of Abram’s family.

In other words: Ishmael could walk away from Abram’s family now and he would still become rich and independent and produce a great nation.

But, if Ishmael wants the greater blessing of belonging to God, then he will need to stay with Abraham’s family. Just like his mother Hagar, he will need to submit to the authority structure of Abraham’s home — which, in a few years, will mean submitting to the leadership of his younger brother Isaac.

Now, I don’t want to spoil the story for you, but previously in Genesis Moses told us about two brothers, one older and one younger, and how the younger one received a blessing from God and the older one did not, and how the older one ultimately refused to submit to his younger brother’s guidance in the matter of proper worship…

Now, that was just a bit of foreshadowing there: Moses was setting us up to understand that it is very difficult for an older brother to submit to a younger one. But we’re going to pay attention and see how Ishmael does once Isaac is born…

In the meantime, however, Ishmael does officially join Abraham’s family, God’s family, the family of the everlasting covenant, verse 23: On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him. [24] Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, [25] and his son Ishmael was thirteen; [26] Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that very day. [27] And every male in Abraham’s household, including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised with him.

Basically, Moses has repeated the same information twice here: “On that very day, everyone in the household was circumcised.“ And the repetition is designed for emphasis, of course — and it is designed to catch our attention. We are supposed to say, “Wait a minute! Where have we heard this before…? Oh yeah: in the story of Noah!”

Way back in Chapter 7, Moses told us that, when the flood began, on that very day Noah and his sons and his wife and his son’s wives, together with all the animals, got on the ark and were saved from God’s judgement.

But that’s not all: right at the beginning of this episode, God told Abraham, “Walk before me and be blameless.” And here, at the end, we are told, Abraham did everything, just as God told him.

Well, guess what? Those are also the exact words Moses used to describe Noah: back in Chapter 6 we were told that Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully before God. And then, at the end of Chapter 6, Moses told us that Noah did everything just as God commanded him: he built the ark that would save his family.

So what Moses is doing here is showing us that Abraham is the new Noah, and Circumcision is the new Ark.

And, if we’re really paying attention on a literary level, we have to notice that, in Noah’s story, on that very day that Noah and his family entered into the ark, God’s judgement on mankind’s corrupt civilization began. Which means that — if the pattern really is repeating itself — now, on [this] very day that Abraham and his family enter into circumcision…somewhere, somehow, God’s judgement on mankind’s corrupt civilization must be getting started.

Well, guess what? If you turn the page to Chapter 18, sure enough: God’s judgement upon the tyrants of the earth is already on its way…

So, in summary here…what just happened?

God has finally completed the conversation he began with Abraham back in Chapter 15.

Back in Chapter 15, God bound himself to Abraham: he signed an unbreakable covenant with Abraham, without asking for anything in return. Which was hugely significant! — as we discussed then.

But here, in Chapter 17, God has come back to let Abraham know that he does want something from Abraham. Now, what does God want? He wants Abraham to respond. He wants a sign that Abraham also wants a relationship with him. And as I’ve said, we’re going to have to discuss the theological implications of all that next week.

But for now we’re just going to focus on the relational implications of God’s revelation here: because everything has changed for Abraham and for Sarah…and for Ishmael.

For 13 years Abraham has believed that Ishmael is the son that God promised him; for 13 years Ishmael has believed that he will be the heir of everything his father owns; for 13 years Sarah has been living with the consequences of her own broken attempt to provide a son for herself.

But now God has revealed that Sarah is actually at the center of his plan, and that she has been all along! She is the mother who is going to produce the promised son. She is the “Princess” who is going to produce kings. She is going to be the mother of the family line that leads to the promised Messiah. And now Abraham and Ishmael are going to have to live with the consequences of this revelation. They are going to have to decide how they are going to fit into God’s plan.

And they have made the right first step: Abraham has circumcised his whole household, just as God commanded him; and Ishmael — who is old enough to refuse! — has submitted to his father’s circumcision.

So far, so good.

So what now? What next? What does this mean for us, for our lives today?

Well, in order to understand that, first we need to understand what Moses was trying to teach his people, the ancient people of Israel. And one of the major concepts he has been developing through the life of Abraham is this: you do not have to be biologically related to Abraham in order to come under God’s blessing; you only need to be related by covenant to Abraham. Back in Chapter 14, three Amorite sheikhs made a covenant with Abraham and then helped him in his war against the eastern kings, and they were blessed. In the last chapter, 16, we saw how God promised to bless a runaway Egyptian slave girl if she would return to Abraham’s household. And here we see that all the men in Abraham’s household are brought under the protection of the covenant, even the slaves.

But, even as Moses develops this concept that you do not have to be biologically related Abraham in order to enter God’s covenant…he is also beginning to reveal that the opposite is also true: just because you are biologically related to Abraham does not mean that you are automatically included in God’s eternal covenant. God has just made an everlasting covenant with Abraham and his descendants. But: not with all of Abraham’s descendants. By the end of Abraham’s life, he actually has 8 biological sons — but only one of those sons received the everlasting covenant as a promise: Isaac. So Moses is beginning to show his people that just being descended from Abraham does not guarantee your deliverance from judgement.

And the reason Moses is making this point is because he knows how easy it is to become complacent and proud when things are going well. Later on, in the Book of Deuteronomy, he gives them this warning: When the Lord God brings you into the land he swore to Abraham — a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant — then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

Moses is presenting Abraham’s life as a preview of his own people’s history: just like the people of Israel, God brought Abraham and Sarah out of Egypt, which was definitely the land of Sarah’s slavery. He blessed Abraham with this incredible wealth that Abraham did not earn. He even allowed Abraham’s sin with Hagar to produce the blessing of a son.

And then, for 13 years, Abraham forgot the Lord, he forgot that his conversation with God was not finished yet. He became complacent and proud, because he already had everything he ever wanted: he was the father of a son, the father of a growing household, living in the land God had promised him.

And so it came as a horrible shock to discover that God had a completely different plan in mind. In God’s plan, the blessing of the nations was not just going to come through Abraham’s son, it was also going to come through Sarah’s son. In God’s mind, the matriarch’s identity — the mother’s identity — is just as important as the patriarch’s, the father’s. Every Adam needs the right Eve. Every Abraham needs the right Sarah.

And it must have been humbling for Abraham to discover that his DNA alone is not “the blessed DNA”. He is not God’s “right hand man” who is going to help God fulfill all these promises by sleeping with his servant girl. God alone is completely capable of fulfilling his own promises all by himself — thank you very much! — but God is offering Abraham a part to play in the process: if Abraham will stop messing around with Hagar and submit — by faith — to God’s plan for Sarah. God’s blessing upon the nations is only going to come through one of Abraham’s sons, not all of them.

Well, Moses’ fears came true: the people of Israel did become complacent and proud. They had their nation, they had their temple, they had their land. So they forgot that God’s blessings are also intended for people who are not biologically related to Abraham. And they forgot that just because they were biologically related to Abraham did not mean that they were automatically included in God’s eternal covenant. Basically, they forgot that they were God’s people by God’s grace and kindness, and they began congratulating themselves on how clever they were to be born into Abraham’s family.

And so, when Jesus arrived and announced that he was the promised Messiah, and that — through him — membership in God’s family was now open to every nation, it came as a horrible shock to the Jewish people. Their response was very similar to Abraham’s: they basically said, “But…but…but what about our blessing? Aren’t we God’s special people!”

And Jesus’ response was very similar to God’s response to Abraham: “Yes, you are God’s special people, and you will continue to be: if you stop messing around with your own plans for salvation and submit — by faith — to my plan for salvation.”

Later on in the New Testament, Paul explained what Jesus meant in more detail. In his letter to the Galatian church, he points out that, really, there are only two kinds of people in the world: those who think God saves them because they are special, and those who accept that God saves them simply because he is kind.

Paul says that the first kind of people are really like Hagar’s children: they are slave children, they think like slaves. Hagar had to earn God’s blessing by going back and submitting to Abraham’s authority; and so her children also think that they have to earn God’s blessing by being good, by making themselves special, by telling themselves they are special.

But the second kind of people, Paul says, are Sarah’s children: free children, born to a free woman, children who know that they are loved by God because…God has promised to love them! — not because they are “special”, not because they have earned it.

And Paul explains that, in the Old Testament, the people of Israel started out as Sarah’s children, they were the children of the free woman, descended from Isaac.

Now, because they were a young nation, they did not enjoy total freedom yet: they were put into school under the Old Testament law. And just like children in school today, they sometimes felt like they were in slavery. But the truth is they were being prepared, as a nation, to grow up and rule the earth as free people.

And so, when the time was right, God sent his Son — Jesus — born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Jesus was sent, as a fellow student under the law, to become top of the class and then lead the graduation ceremony. Jesus came to announce that their education was complete: as a young nation, they used to be slaves under the law; from now on, as an adult nation, they would be the masters over the law, responsible for training other nations in true worship.

Unfortunately, Paul says, by the time Jesus arrived, most of Abraham’s people had forgotten that they were Sarah’s children: destined to graduate and become kings over many nations. They had gotten used to the classroom, and they did not want to leave it. Instead of learning freedom from God’s law, they had taught themselves to think and act like slaves. They had started out as Sarah’s children, but in the end they had convinced themselves that they were actually Hagar’s children.

In essence, most of Abraham’s people refused to follow their Messiah Jesus to their own graduation ceremony.

But the Good News is this: some of Abraham’s people did submit to God’s plan when it was revealed to them. They submitted to their Messiah’s call. They graduated, and left the classroom, and began to teach the nations everything Jesus had taught them about the freedom and grace of true worship. Those early Jewish Christians opened the door to all nations, so that all of the rest of us, who were born into slavery, could finally be redeemed and adopted as Sarah’s children. Therefore, brothers and sisters — as Paul puts it — we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

And — one more thing, here — by submitting to their Messiah’s plan, those first Jewish Christians ended up fulfilling another unexpected aspect of God’s ancient covenant with Abraham.

See, for a long time, Abraham’s people had thought of themselves as sort-of a Patriarch to the Nations. They thought that when the Messiah finally came, he would need them to rise up alongside him and conquer and judge the world for its sins like a stern father. They had thought that they would be helping God fulfill his promises to make all things new.

But when the Messiah came, he was not looking for a patriarch who would “help” him judge the world, he was looking for a matriarch who would bring new life to the world through her submission. He was looking for a bride. He was looking for a mother for his children.

And that mother of Christ’s children is the Church, his Bride. The international, interracial, global Church is the legacy of the first Jewish Christians. They had a lot of power — when we read the Book of Acts we can see they had a lot of power — but they refused to use that power to judge the world. Instead, they submitted to the way of the Cross, they submitted to the valley of the shadow of death, because they had learned from Jesus that unless a seed falls into the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. They understood that new life, new birth, only comes after a long pregnancy and the pains of labor.

So what now? How do we apply this to our lives?

There’s a lot here, obviously. So let’s keep it simple:

Moses’ most urgent message, as always, is this: join God’s people, if you have not already. In Abraham’s time, that meant submitting to circumcision, and then living in love and fellowship within the family. In our day, this means submitting to baptism in Christ’s Church, and then living in love and fellowship with your brothers and sisters in the faith. And I’ll explain next week how and why circumcision became baptism.

Now, if you have already joined God’s family, then I am going to borrow Paul’s application of this passage, which is actually in the form of a poem. It is printed here on page 4 of our Worship Guide, in that section called the Promise of Forgiveness. And Paul, when he wrote this poem, was actually borrowing from the prophet Isaiah’s application of this passage. So I’m going to go right to the source and read Isaiah’s poem, from Chapter 54 of his book:

“Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child;

burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor;

because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,”

says the Lord.

“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back;

lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.

“For you will spread out to the right and to the left;

your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.

“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.

Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.

You will forget the shame of your youth

and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.

For your Maker is you husband —

the Lord Almighty is his name —

The Holy One of Israel is your Redeeemer;

he is called the God of all the earth.”

These promises, and these commands, were given to Sarah and to her children in the Old Testament. And now they have come down to us, Christ’s bride, Christ’s Church. Isaiah’s prophecy is being fulfilled right now: because of Jesus, Sarah’s tent has expanded to fill the world! Abraham’s people have long since out-grown the little land of Palestine: now we are a global nation, not a local one. And so, our Lord commands us to sing, just like Sarah is going to in a few chapters. Because even though it sometimes looks like we have been sidelined and forgotten — we are actually at the very center of God’s plan to make all things new. Even though we sometimes feel as if we are dead, barren, useless — we are actually part of a global body, a global bride, who is producing new life wherever she goes. It is a huge honour! — one we do not deserve. The only reason we get to be part of this is because God promised Abraham that we would.

So: let’s sing!

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