Genesis 17: A Timely Reminder from God

“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. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.’” (Genesis 17:1-2)

Every once in a while, my wife will call or text me and say, “I just wanted to remind you of….” Why does she do that? Because she knows I am prone to forget!

Genesis 17 begins with the promise of God above. There really isn’t anything new in this text that isn’t found in chapters 12 or 15. It is just a reminder of what God intended to do for Abraham (his name was changed in this chapter—imagine the paperwork nightmare that must have been!)(3-8), and what God expected out of Abraham (9-16). Clarity is given regarding how God would fulfill the promise; it would be through a new child, not Ishmael. But, for the most part, it is just a timely reminder from God for Abraham to keep pressing on. After all, it had been about 24 years since the first promise was given. In chapter 16, it became obvious that God was displeased with Abraham and Sarai’s efforts to force His hand of action. Maybe Abraham thought God had changed His mind or was otherwise displeased with Him.

All of us need reminding from time to time, don’t we? We go about our lives aware of God and His promises, but life happens, sin creeps in, we become distracted and eventually discouraged. Perhaps we start thinking that God isn’t as interested in us as He once was when we had more promise; that’s He sort of “moved on” and found someone more likeable or useful.

We need to be reminded, just like Abraham. We need to be reminded that God loves us and always desires the best for all (1 John 4:7-11), that we are sinners in need of salvation (Romans 3:23), that He has and will forgive us (1 John 1:9), what we must do to respond to God’s grace (Romans 10:17,10; Acts 2:38; Revelation 2:10), that He is patient with us and looks on us with mercy (Micah 7:18), that He has great plans for us (1 Peter 1:3), He has a home in heaven waiting for us (John 14:1-2), that we need to love and obey Him from the heart (Matthew 15:7-9), that we need to love others and do good (1 John 4:7-11; John 13:34-35), to press on (Philippians 3:12-15), to forgive (Matthew 6:14-15), to pray (1 Thessalonians 5:17), to work on our marriages (Ephesians 5:22-29), to put our trust in Him (Proverbs 3:5)… and on and on and on.

This brings up an important question: How does God remind us of these things? Well, as the verses listed above suggests, it is though His word—the Bible. Take advantage of personal study, group studies and congregational assemblies, and listen closely to those important things that God wants us to remember.

Let’s apply this to our lives.