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. I will give you my promise,and I will give you very many descendants.” Immediately, Abram bowed with his face touching the ground, and again God spoke to him, “My promise is still with you. You will become the father of many nations. 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. I will give you many descendants. Many nations and kings will come from you. 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. I am also giving this land where you are living—all of Canaan—to you and your descendants as your permanent possession. And I will be your God.” God also said to Abraham, “You and your descendants in generations to come are to be faithful to my promise. This is how you are to be faithful to my promise: Every male among you is to be circumcised. All of you must be circumcised. That will be the sign of the promise from me to you. 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. 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. Any uncircumcised male must be excluded from his people because he has rejected my promise.” God said to Abraham, “Don’t call your wife by the name Sarai anymore. Instead, her name is Sarah [Princess]. 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.” 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?” Then Abraham said to God, “Why not let Ishmael be my heir?” 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. 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. But I will make my promise to Isaac. Sarah will give birth to him at this time next year.” When God finished speaking with Abraham, he left him. So Abraham took his son Ishmael, everyone born in his household, and everyone bought with money—every male in his household—and circumcised them that day, as God had told him. Abraham was 99 years old when he was circumcised. His son Ishmael was 13 years old when he was circumcised. That same day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised. All the men of his household, whether born in the household or bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.
And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:
God heard their groaning, and he remembered his promiseto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God saw the Israelites ⌊being oppressed⌋ and was concerned about them.
The Lord said to Moses, “Go back down there. Your people whom you brought out of Egypt have ruined ⌊everything⌋. They’ve already turned from the way I commanded them to live. They’ve made a statue of a calf for themselves. They’ve bowed down to it and offered sacrifices to it. They’ve said, ‘Israel, here are your gods who brought you out of Egypt.’ ” The Lord added, “I’ve seen these people, and they are impossible to deal with. Now leave me alone. I’m so angry with them I am going to destroy them. Then I’ll make you into a great nation.” But Moses pleaded with the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why are you so angry with your people whom you brought out of Egypt using your great power and mighty hand? Don’t let the Egyptians say, ‘He was planning all along to kill them in the mountains and wipe them off the face of the earth. That’s why he brought them out ⌊of our land⌋.’ Don’t be so angry. Reconsider your decision to bring this disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. You took an oath, swearing on yourself. You told them, ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. I will give to your descendants all the land I spoke of. It will be their permanent possession.’ ” So the Lord reconsidered his threat to destroy his people.
⌊Christ paid the price⌋ so that the blessing promised to Abraham would come to all the people of the world through Jesus Christ and we would receive the promised Spirit through faith. Brothers and sisters, let me use an example from everyday life. No one can cancel a person’s will or add conditions to it once that will is put into effect. The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his descendant. Scripture doesn’t say, “descendants,” referring to many, but “your descendant,” referring to one. That descendant is Christ. This is what I mean: The laws ⌊given to Moses⌋ 430 years after God had already put his promise ⌊to Abraham⌋ into effect didn’t cancel the promise ⌊to Abraham⌋. If we have to gain the inheritance by following those laws, then it no longer comes to us because of the promise. However, God freely gave the inheritance to Abraham through a promise. What, then, is the purpose of the laws given to Moses? They were added to identify what wrongdoing is. Moses’ laws did this until the descendant to whom the promise was given came.It was put into effect through angels, using a mediator. A mediator is not used when there is only one person involved, and God has acted on his own. Does this mean, then, that the laws given to Moses contradict God’s promises? That’s unthinkable! If those laws could give us life, then certainly we would receive God’s approval because we obeyed them. But Scripture states that the whole world is controlled by the power of sin. Therefore, a promise based on faith in Jesus Christ could be given to those who believe. We were kept under control by Moses’ laws until this faith came. We were under their control until this faith which was about to come would be revealed. Before Christ came, Moses’ laws served as our guardian. Christ came so that we could receive God’s approval because of faith. But now that this faith has come, we are no longer under the control of a guardian. You are all God’s children by believing in Christ Jesus. Clearly, all of you who were baptized in Christ’s name have clothed yourselves with Christ. There are neither Jews nor Greeks, slaves nor free people, males nor females. You are all the same in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants and heirs, as God promised.
In this way Jesus has become the guarantee of a better promise.
The blood of Christ, who had no defect, does even more. Through the eternal Spirit he offered himself to God and cleansed our consciences from the useless things we had done. Now we can serve the living God. Because Christ offered himself to God, he is able to bring a new promise from God. Through his death he paid the price to set people free from the sins they committed under the first promise. He did this so that those who are called can be guaranteed an inheritance that will last forever.
“This is the promisethat I will make to them after those days, says the Lord: ‘I will put my teachings in their hearts and write them in their minds.’ ”
Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
Once you were separated from God. The evil things you did showed your hostile attitude. But now Christ has brought you back to God by dying in his physical body. He did this so that you could come into God’s presence without sin, fault, or blame.
Because they are united in love, I work so that they may be encouraged by all the riches that come from a complete understanding of Christ. He is the mystery of God. God has hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ.