Journey Through The Scriptures

The Life of Abraham

Lesson 5: Abram’s Name Change

(Scripture to Read: Genesis 17:1–27)

Today’s study contains several “firsts” in the Bible’s account of Abram. There is the first appearance of the name El Shaddai, “God Almighty,” in reference to the true God. We also find the first reference to the patriarch’s new name, from Abram (“exalted father”) to Abraham (“father of many”); as well as Sarai’s new name, Sarah, meaning “princess.” And verse 19 contains the first mention of Isaac as the promised son, although he was not yet born.

But the major focus of Genesis 17 is God’s command that established circumcision as the confirming sign of His covenant with Israel. For Abraham’s family and their descendants, circumcision was a reminder of God’s promises and the importance of their faithfulness to Him–and it continues to fulfill that role for Jewish men today. (For further study, read Genesis 18–20 on the destruction of Sodom and Abram’s experience with King Abimelech.)

Study Questions

  1. El Shaddai speaks of God’s power to do anything, no matter how hard. Why did this name have special meaning to Abraham at this point in his life?
  2. Why is it significant that Abraham simply fell on his face and said nothing as God established the sign of circumcision and told Abraham to circumcise his household?
  3. God waited thirteen more years after the birth of Ishmael before appearing to Abraham again. What was God teaching Abraham by another long delay in reaffirming His promises?
  4. What words do you read in Genesis 17:8 that indicate God’s plan was to give the Holy Land to Israel for all time?
  5. How quickly did Abraham obey God’s command concerning circumcision?

Something to Think About

In Jeremiah 32:27, God says, “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” Nothing is impossible for God to do!

Abraham’s faith shone through again in his obedience to God’s command. Make obedience to God your goal today, too.