Previously, we examined Hagar’s visits with the angel of the LORD. Now, we turn to the angel’s encounters with Abraham and Sarah.
After the angel of the LORD’s visit to Hagar in Genesis 16, Yahweh appears to Abram saying, “I am God Almighty [el Shaddai]. Live in my presence and be blameless. I will set up my covenant between me and you, and I will multiply you greatly” (Gen. 17:1-2). We are not told how Yahweh appears, yet this seems to be a visible manifestation, for Abram twice falls facedown as God speaks with him. So, it’s possible Yahweh appears as the angel of the LORD, but we are not explicitly told so.
In any case, the LORD lays out his covenant promises to Abram: (1) Abram is to become the father of many nations; (2) his name is no longer Abram, but Abraham, with a portion of God’s name – YHWH – given to him; (3) God is to make Abraham extremely fruitful so that nations and kings come to him; (4) God makes a permanent covenant promise to be Abraham’s God and the God of his offspring; and (5) God promises to give all the land of Canaan as a permanent possession to Abraham and his descendants (Gen. 17:3-8).
Then, God orders Abraham and his male descendants to be circumcised as a permanent sign of the covenant (Gen. 17:9-14). He also announces that Sarai’s name is now Sarah, which means “Princess.” Again, note the portion of YHWH given to her. God is to bless her with a son in her old age, and “she will produce nations; kings of peoples will come from her” (Gen. 17:16).
When Abraham wonders how a hundred-year-old man and a ninety-year-old woman can possibly bear children, the LORD assures Abraham that his covenant is not through Ishmael but through a child yet to come, a child they are to name Isaac. God promises to confirm the covenant with Isaac, who is to be born the next year (Gen. 17:19-21).Continue reading