A Daily Genesis

Genesis 17:2-5

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 17:2-3a . . I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will make you exceedingly numerous. Abram threw himself on his face;[/B]

The Hebrew word for "threw" is [I]naphal[/I] (naw-fal') and first appeared in Gen 14:10. It doesn't mean Abram dropped like a sack of ready-mix concrete. It just means he lowered himself face down into a prone position.

This is the very first time it's recorded that Abram (or anyone else) got into a face-down prone position in the presence of God. But why would Abram do that? In what way did God appear to him that motivated that reaction? The institution of the covenant of circumcision is, in point of fact, the only other instance where it's recorded that Abram met with God in the (deliberate) prone.

When Moses met God at the burning bush (Ex 3:2) he only turned away so he wouldn't look at God; but didn't lie down. He stayed on his feet; but was told to remove his sandals: a requirement which is seen only twice in the entire Old Testament: once at Ex 3:5 and the other at Josh 5:15; the reason being that Moses and Joshua met with God on holy ground.

The Hebrew word for "holy" is [I]qodesh[/I] (ko'-desh) and it has no reference whatsoever to sanitation. It simply means consecrated; viz: a sacred place or thing dedicated to God for His own personal uses.

In many homes in the Orient; it's the custom to remove your shoes before entering people's domiciles because shoes track in filth from the outside that hosts want neither in their homes nor on their floors and rugs. True, holy ground is dirt; but it's God's dirt, and apparently He doesn't want somebody else's dirt soiling His: thank you very much.

Abram may have ordinarily met with God via voice only; but this instance may have been a close encounter of a third kind. Some have suggested God appeared to Abram as the Shekinah of 1Kgs 8:10-03; which, even that can be quite disturbing for some.

I don't think Abram learned the prone posture in church, Sunday school, yeshiva, or synagogue. It was a spontaneous, voluntary reaction on his part. Apparently God was okay with it because He didn't scold Abram nor order him back up on his feet.

People react differently to the Bible's God. Some, like Abram, Daniel, and Jesus sometimes get down prone on their faces. We needn't worry too much about it though. Most of us will never have a close encounter with The Almighty. But if it ever happens, I don't think you'll need someone to tell you what to do. Unfortunately though, there are people inclined to stare at God like a curiosity. That is not wise.

"Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke, for the Lord had come down upon it in fire; the smoke rose like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled violently. The blare of the horn grew louder and louder. As Moses spoke, God answered him in thunder. The Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain, and the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain and Moses went up. The Lord said to Moses: Go down, warn the people not to break through to the Lord to gaze, lest many of them perish." (Ex 19:18-21)

Word to the wise: If God appears? Don't look . . . unless invited to.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 17:3b-4 . . and God spoke to him further: As for Me, this is My covenant with you: You shall be the father of a multitude of nations.[/B]

That announcement regards nations rather than individuals. Abram is well known as the father of the Jews, but he is also father of more than just them. The majority of Abram's progeny is Gentile and a very large number of those are Arabs.

Besides Ishmael and Isaac, Abraham also engendered Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. Over the years millions of people have descended from those eight men who are all Abram's blood kin; both Jew and Gentile.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 17:5 . . And you shall no longer be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I make you the father of a multitude of nations.[/B]

Abraham's original name was [I]'Abram[/I] (ab-rawm') which means: high, or exalted father. In other words: a daddy; as the respectable head of a single family unit. Abram's new name [I]'Abraham[/I] (ab-raw-hawm') means: father of a multitude of family units. In other words: not just the paterfamilias of a single family unit; but the rootstock of entire communities.

Abraham is a father on two fronts. He's a biological father to the people of Israel due to their natural association with Jacob; and he's a non-biological father to Christians due to their supernatural association with Christ.

"If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Gal 3:29)

Some people try to construe Gal 3:29 to mean that Gentile Christians are somehow spiritual Jews. But according to Eph 2:11-22 and Gal 3:26-28 that just isn't true.

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