Genesis  ◦   Chapter 17

1When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai – the Almighty Creator God. If you go where I direct; if you stop depending on yourself and perfectly trust me, 2then our agreement that you and your descendants are to become my helpers in fulfilling my plan to save humanity can go forward, and I will bless you with many descendants.”

3Abram, overwhelmed with awe, dropped to his knees and put his face to the ground. And God said to him, 4“This is the agreement that I made with you: Through you and your descendants my promise to save humanity will be accomplished, thus you will be the father of many nations. 5You will no longer be called Abram (which means ‘exalted father’), henceforth you will be known as Abraham (which means ‘father of many’), for I have made you the father of many nations. 6I will make you extremely fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7I will carry out my promise of grace – to provide the Remedy, free and complete, to all who trust me. This is as an ongoing promise to you and your descendants for generations to come: I will be your God – your Savior, Protector and Sustainer – and the God of all who trust me like you do.8The entire land of Canaan, where you are now a foreigner, I will give to your descendants as part of my plan to fulfill my everlasting promise of grace – my plan to save humanity. I will be their God.”

9Then God instructed Abraham, “You must keep our agreement: You agree to trust me and follow my instructions, and I agree to heal your heart and mind; you and your descendants must keep our agreement – as you trust me, I will heal your hearts and minds. 10This is my promise to you and your descendants. Our agreement – which cuts fear and selfishness out of your hearts and writes love into your hearts – you are to inscribe symbolically, as a reminder, on your flesh, by having every male among you circumcised. 11You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be a sign of our agreement – your trust in me and in my healing of your heart and mind. 12For generations to come, every male among you is to be circumcised on the eighth day after his birth. This applies to all males born into your family as well as those born to your servants or any foreign-born servants whom you purchase. 13Whether they are born in your household or bought with money, all males must be circumcised. My promise to heal you will be inscribed on your flesh as an ongoing reminder of our agreement. 14Any male who is uncircumcised and refuses to be circumcised will be cut off from the people, for he has broken the agreement – he has refused to trust me and let me heal him and cut fear and selfishness out of his heart.”

15God also instructed Abraham, “Regarding Sarai, your wife – you are no longer to call her Sarai, for I have given her a new name, Sarah. 16I will bless her by healing her infertility, and she will become pregnant and you will have a son by her. My blessing will cause her to become the mother of many nations, and kings will come from her.”

17Abraham humbly bowed to what the Lord had said, kneeling with his face to the ground; but because it was beyond his imagining, with wonder he laughed, thinking to himself, “How is it possible for a son to be born to a man a hundred years old, and for Sarah to become pregnant at the age of ninety?” 18Abraham asked God, “Might Ishmael live under your blessing?”

19God answered, “It is by your wife, Sarah, that you will have a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will carry out my promise of grace – to provide the Remedy to save humanity – through him; it is an ongoing promise for his descendants after him. 20As for Ishmael, I have heard your heart’s desire and I will bless him. I will make him fruitful and greatly increase his descendants. He will be the father of twelve great leaders, and I will make from him an expansive people. 21But my promise to save the world will be accomplished through Isaac, whom Sarah will give birth to by this time next year.” 22When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God ascended up and left him there.

23On that same day, Abraham acted out his agreement with God by taking his son Ishmael and all males in his household – those born there and those he had bought – and circumcised them, inscribing in their flesh the symbol of having fear and selfishness cut out of the heart, just as God told him. 24Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, 25and his son Ishmael was thirteen years old. 26Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that same day. 27And every male in his household – those born there and those he had bought – were circumcised with him.