Genesis 17 Series, Part 1, Verses 1-4

  • | Chris McCann
  • Audio: Length: 28:16
  • Passages covered: Genesis 17:1-4, Genesis 16:16, Genesis 17:24-25, Genesis 12:4.

| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 |

Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. Tonight is study #1 of Genesis, chapter 17 and we will read Genesis 17:1-4:

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, JEHOVAH appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.

I will stop reading there. Here, God tells us that Abram is 99 years old. The last verse of chapter 16 said this in Genesis 16:16:

And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.

Abram was 86 when the child Ishmael was born to Hagar, who represents mount Sinai in Arabia, the covenant of works. The covenant of works produced the son Ishmael when Abram was 86 and now some time has passed and God tells us of another appearance He made to Abram.

You know, sometimes we think that God spoke to prophets of old all the time as we read these accounts, with one chapter following another, but that is not the case. Here, there had been a space of 13 years between the previous chapter and the start of this chapter and it could be that God did not communicate at all with Abram during that time. We are not told.

But God does appear to Abram when he was 99 years old to communicate with Abram once again. We are given the number “99” and when we break down this number it breaks down to “3 x 3 x 11,” so the “3 x 3” emphasizes the purpose of God because the number “3” in the Bible points to purpose. The number “11” identifies with the first coming of Christ and, therefore, with the demonstration of the atonement that occurred after 11,000 years of earth’s history.

So, when Abram was 99 God came to him and it had been 13 years since Ishmael was born. We are positive about this because it says in this same chapter in Genesis 17:24-25:

And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.

Here we are shown that our math is correct. We can deduce that 13 years earlier Ishmael is born, so he is now 13 years old. We are clear that there is a space of 13 years between these two major occurrences. In Genesis 17, it was just the announcement regarding the birth of the promised son, but it would not take place until Abraham was 100 years old. Isaac, the promised son, would be born of Sara, which represents another covenant, so we can see why God is emphasizing these dates and these ages. Remember, God is the one that gave the genealogies earlier in Genesis and established the whole timeline of history, so the ages of certain individuals and how long they lived are very important to time and God’s timetable in which His programs of salvation and judgment would be worked out.

So, here, we are given two age dates, the age of 86 when Ishmael was born to Abraham and the age of 99 when the promise of Isaac was restated and Isaac would be conceived when Abraham was 99, but he would not be born until Abraham was 100. That is interesting that God is doing it this way and the actual birth of Isaac would not take place for another year. We can tell these two dates are very important, especially the length of time that elapsed between them, because we have seen the number “13” before regarding the age of Adam when Seth was born. Adam was 130, which is “10 x 13.” We did not see the exact age of 13, but in the Bible when we break down numbers the emphasis is on the numbers that make up that number. Also, when Abram himself was born, his father Terah was 130 years old and we know that Terah died at age 205 when Abram was 75. Upon the death of Terah, Abram entered into the land of Canaan. He left Haran and came into Canaan. So, Abram also relates to the number “13” in relationship to his father Terah’s age of 130 when he was born.

We could go on and on. For instance, we know there were 12 tribes of Israel, but there were actually 13. There were 12 apostles, but actually 13. The Israelites went 13 times around the Jericho before the walls fell down. Jacob was age 130 upon his entrance into Egypt in the midst of a famine that was called “great tribulation” in the book of Acts. At the same time, Joseph was age 39, which is “3 x 13,” when Jacob and all his brethren came under his care and protection for the rest of the famine. There are many spiritual pictures that identify with the end of the world. We also know that good king Josiah was slain after he ruled 31 years. He began to rule at age eight, so he was 39 years old upon his death and upon his death in 609BC God began the seventy-year tribulation period upon Judah, so that is also a picture of the Great Tribulation. Before that, when Josiah was age 26 (“2 x 13”) the book of the Law was found in the temple and it was read to the king and all the people. It was as if the Word of God was “revealed,” just as God did at the end of the world. His Word had been sealed until the time of the end and then He opened the scriptures to the understanding of His people. Regarding the understanding of His people, we know it says in the book of Nehemiah that it was 13 men that caused the people to understand the law.

We could go on because we continually see these connections being made between the number “13” and the end of the world and the Great Tribulation or the number “13” in relationship to God opening the scriptures and revealing much truth at the time of the end. Remember, we went through Daniel, chapter 2 and we saw the word “interpretation,” as God was interpreting something that would have been impossible for him to know but God gave him the interpretation. Daniel pointed out that the interpretation came from God. The word “interpretation” was found 13 times there.

These things are not coincidences or happenstance. It did not just so happen that Abraham was 99 or that it was 13 years since Ishmael was born. It is in accord with the perfect plan and organized will of God. It is the outworking of God’s timetable through this man Abram. By having events fall in an individual’s life, the age of that individual becomes very important. This is why God caused Pharaoh to ask Jacob’s age and Jacob responded that the days of the years of his life had been few and evil and that he was 130 years old.

It is the spiritual dimension of the Bible. We learned long ago that everything has significance, value and purpose in the Word of God – not a jot or tittle is accidental. It is not to be overlooked or dismissed or read as we would read a common, ordinary book written by a common, ordinary man. This book, the Bible, is neither common nor ordinary. It is extraordinary. It is that which is above man’s ability to pen. It came forth from the infinite mind of God, the God that knitted us together in our bodies with the DNA and such delicate detail and design. It is amazing if you watch some of the scientific programs, even though they come up with wrong conclusions, but they have to release the data that clearly shows the Master Designer at work. He is able to put together a human body or bodies of animals and He formed this wonderful universe and the heavens declare His glory.

And He wrote a book. He did not write a thousand books (for us), but He wrote one book. It comes forth from the all-powerful One, as He said to Abraham here in Genesis 17:1: “I am the Almighty God.” The Bible comes forth from the same awesome and omnipotent God that created everything else with such perfect detail and design and, yet, we have theologians and pastors that simply think that these things are incidental and in the Bible as “window dressing” and they never look deeply in to it and investigate why God said it and why the information is in the verse. That is because they have severely limited themselves with their own hermeneutic (the science of understanding the Bible) that says, “You must look for the plain, literal sense of the verse and seek no other meaning.” What foolishness! What blindness this reveals of those that would develop that kind of statement and hold to that kind of statement, as they cut themselves off from the gold or hidden treasure of the Word of God that lies in the spiritual realm. The spiritual meaning is underneath the plain and literal understanding. It is not just lying on the surface, but you must get out your “pickax and shovel” and dig for the meaning, searching the scriptures and carefully comparing scripture with scripture. Then, slowly, you begin to find the rich vein and the nuggets of gold.

God has forsaken the corporate church, the external church. Everything is external about them. They are professed Christians, but they are not Christians inwardly. They are the outward Christian church, but not the eternal church which consists only of God’s elect. The professed Christians study the Bible according to their nature, which is all outward and external, and they do not get in depth in the Bible, like God’s people do.

By God’s grace, His people are no longer attached to the institution of the corporate church and we are not held back by their mandates and decrees and their understanding of the Bible, but we are free to search the scriptures as God would have us to do. Again, He gives us the methodology in 1Corinthians, chapter 2, where He instructs us to compare spiritual things with spiritual things.

Just one more thing in this study. I mentioned that Abram was 75 when he left Haran and entered the land of Canaan. It says in Genesis 12:4:

So Abram departed, as JEHOVAH had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.

Abram entered the Promised Land (although he had not received it as yet) when he was age 75. From age 75 to age 86 when Ishmael was born is 11 years. Then from Ishmael’s birth when Abram was 86 until he was 99 when the announcement that it was time for the promised seed to come, it was 13 years and 24 years from his original entry into the land of Canaan.

The 24 years is broken down to two distinct periods:

  1. 11 years until the birth of Ishmael; and
  2. 13 years until the announcement of the coming birth of Isaac.

So, we have the numbers “11” and “13” and remember that we have seen these specific numbers coming up in the past, where “11” identifies with the 11,000 years of history that took place between creation and the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ when He was born of the Virgin Mary. The number “13” identifies with the time of the end or 13,000 years of history from creation to the year 1988 and the time when the second coming of Christ began when Christ came as a “thief in the night” to bring judgment upon the churches and congregations. It was not a visible coming or a coming that was perceived in 1988, but it became known to the people of God later in the Great Tribulation when we realized (from the Bible) that God was judging the churches and He had departed out of the midst and loosed Satan to enter into the churches. What is that but the judgment of God? Who performs the judgment? All judgment is given to the Son, as it says in John, chapter 5. Christ executed judgment upon the corporate church and He did so in a way that was mysterious. He judged the entire church world of about two billion people and they did not even know it. That is why the Bible speaks of Christ coming as a thief in the night. He took away all the riches of the churches, like salvation, and He took everything away in an instant. He abandoned the churches and turned them over to the hand of Satan. They were ignorant of the entire thing. They had no knowledge of it.

This helps us to understand what it means in 2Thessalonians, chapter 5 where it says that Christ will come as a thief in the night. There are, in a manner of speaking, two second comings of Christ. There was the coming that begins with judgment on the house of God. Christ has already come to judge them and He judged them continuously for 23 full years (from 1988 to 2011) and it was a spiritual judgment – nobody saw Him as He robbed the churches and they were unaware. At the end of the 23 years of judgment on the corporate church, He came as a thief in the night to judge the world. Once again, people were looking for a visible coming: “Where is He? I did not see Him and since my physical eyes did not see Him, nothing happened.” That is a very foolish conclusion for anyone to come to when dealing with the Word of God, the Bible.

The Bible is a spiritual book and it operates on a spiritual level, so we must be very careful, especially regarding judgment. Going back to the Garden of Eden, God had said, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Then Adam and Eve did eat of that tree and (apparently) did not die, at least not outwardly, at that time. Adam lived to be 930. And, yet, God had said that in the very day they ate of the tree, they would die. It did happen, but it happened in the soul of man and man died in his spirit nature. And man has had a dead soul ever since, unless God makes him born again. When an individual is born again, where is he born again? He is born again in his soul, the invisible part of him. No one could see the soul that was dead and no one can see it when it is brought to life and, yet, this is all true and faithful. It is what the Bible declares and it was spiritual judgment in the Garden of Eden. It was spiritual judgment in the Garden of Gethsemane when Christ was drinking of the cup of the wrath of God. There was no physical, visible wrath upon Him, but He was in an agony due to spiritual wrath. There was no physical judgment on the corporate church, but there was spiritual, invisible judgment. Likewise, there was no physical, visible judgment on the world on May 21, 2011, but there was spiritual (invisible) judgment as God ended His salvation program and Christ came as a thief against the unsaved inhabitants of the world, just as He had come as a thief against those in the churches.

This is how God operates and works out His programs of judgment. He has given two main dates for His program of operation for the timetable for the earth: 11,000 years and 13,000 years, separated by 2,000 years. We are at the end of that allotted time period and we are living on the earth in the days after the 13,000th year of 1988. Therefore, we have been living on the earth during the judgment on the churches and we are now living on the earth during the judgment on the world.