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Walk Before Me and Be Blameless
Dr. Tony Chute, Lead Pastor
Overview: Genesis 17 is the foundational text for understanding the sign of the covenant God made with Abraham. The Lord appears to Abraham and reiterates the promise of descendants, blessings, and land. In anticipation of the promises being fulfilled, Abraham is instructed to walk blamelessly before the Lord, answer to a different name, and ensure that every male is circumcised. Abraham longs for Ishmael to share in the covenant, but the Lord declares that the promises must come through Sarah. Abraham’s obedience to the Lord had direct ramifications for the original audience and beyond. The passage thus demonstrates the sign of the covenant is based on a pre-existing relationship; is accompanied by an expectation of a new life and new identity; contains a promise for those who obey and a threat for those who do not; is to be passed on to each generation; and should not be abused by those who value symbol over substance.
01. Let us value substance over symbol in our walk with the Lord by affirming salvation by grace alone, recognizing our true identity in Christ, and demonstrating the joy of a life transformed.
02. Let us value symbols alongside substance in our walk with the Lord by cherishing our church membership, regularly observing the Lord’s Supper, and celebrating the baptism of new believers.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION & DISCOVERY
1. What is the significance of Abraham’s age in verse 1? How does his long wait for the promises of God to be fulfilled demonstrate the importance of faith? What are you praying for God to do in your life or in the lives of others? How can you demonstrate faith over time as you wait on the Lord?
2. What does it mean to walk before the Lord and be blameless (verse 2)? Why is it important to establish the fact that Abraham had a relationship with the Lord by faith before this command came? See Galatians 3 for further insight.
3. Note the multiple references to names and name changes in the text (verses 2, 5, 15). What is the meaning of “God Almighty”? What is the meaning of “Abraham,” as distinguished from “Abram”? What is the importance of calling ourselves Christians? Are we allowed to change the name “Christian,” or what it means to be a Christian, in order to avoid conflict with the world? See John 15:18-27 for further insight.
4. Do you believe the sign of the covenant (circumcision) is parallel to the ordinance of baptism or the Lord’s Supper? If so, in what ways? If not, how are the signs different? How can signs of the covenant be abused or devalued?
5. Note the importance of Sarah’s role in the fulfillment of God’s promises (verses 15-18). What does her inclusion suggest about God’s care and love for Sarah, even after she and Abraham struggled to believe the promises? What does the rejection of Ishmael as the inheritor of the promises stipulate about salvation by grace? See Galatians 4 for further insight.
For Further Reading: Jonathan Leeman, Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus (Crossway, 2012)