In our study of Genesis chapter seventeen, we will look at the adoption contract between God and Abram and its impact on our world today.
"When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, 'I am God Almighty, walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.'" NIV translation
Why did God appear to Abram again to confirm the promise that had already been given. In chapter 16, we saw Abram have a "lapse of faith" and the result was a son named Ishmael. Now, God appears to Abram and reminds him that he is El Shaddai (God Almighty) and the name speaks of the One who has the ability to provide. In a time of doubt, Abram had conceived a son but God reminds him that it was not the son that He had promised. We also see how much God loves children in the fact that He tells Abram to "walk before me and be blameless" even though the son was not the promised child (God did not condemn him for his lapse of faith). Like Abram, we all have our little "lapse of faith" in our lives but God also calls us to accept His forgiveness. Through Jesus Christ, we can also "be blameless".
"Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, 'As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.'" NIV translation
Abram fell facedown in worship of God which is the normal reaction when a man comes into the presence of El Shaddai. We see God's authority over Abram's life established by the changing of his name to Abraham. The custom of the day was that the father of a child chose the name of his child. In renaming Abram, it was established that he was adopted into the family of God.
As the Head of the family, it was God's right and duty to give him a new name that was fitting. While Abram meant "exalted father", Abraham means "father of many" which was in keeping with God's promise to him. As Christians, we too will be given a new name by the One who has authority. This new name will be written on a white stone and will only be known by the bearer of the stone (see Revelation 2:17). This too is a demonstration of God's love and authority over our new lives.