*The last posting* told of the eighty-six year-old Abraham becoming a first-time father, not with Sarai, but with Sarai’s female Egyptian slave, Hagar. Their son was called Ishmael.
Thirteen years later, when Abraham was ninety-nine, God appeared in front of him in the way he’d done several times before. God, never taking anything for granted, and therefore never assuming that Abraham would recognise Him each time, announced Himself by saying, “I am the Almighty God.” Then He said, “Walk before me and be perfect, so that I can make my covenant between us, and multiply your descendants.”
The awed Abraham fell forward onto his face. God, noting this with satisfaction, said, “I solemnly promise to you, Abraham, that I will make you the father of many nations. Which is to say, you will have many descendants who will spread themselves around and create nations. So you’ll be the father of them so to speak. Do you understand?”
“Yes……yes”, came Abraham’s muffled voice from where his face was pressed to the ground.
“But, all this will only happen if you and your descendants do a very important thing.”
“What important thing is that?”
“Well, you must all circumcise the flesh of your foreskins. This shall be the sign of the promise I’ve made to you, and the sign of the promise you’ve made to Me.”
“This will be painful and bloody” came the muffled voice of Abraham.
“No doubt”, said God, “but it’s a small price to pay for all I’m giving you. Eight days hence, you will circumcise yourself and arrange it that all males are circumcised on that day.”
“What if anyone resists?”
“He is of course free to say ‘no'” said God. “But it’ll be at the cost of becoming an outcast. As for your wife, Sarai, you will henceforth call her, not Sarai, but Sarah. I will bless her and give her a son by you.”
Strangled, albeit muffled, snorting noises came from Abraham’s face in the ground. He hadn’t been able to completely suppress his laughter at the notion that he, at ninety-nine, could become a father once again, and that Sarah, at ninety, could give birth to her first child. Abraham didn’t say any of this out loud to God, but said only, “Isn’t Ishmael, the son I had with Hagar, good enough for You?”
“No. Sarah must bear you a son, who you will call Isaac. It is through Isaac that I will fulfill my everlasting promises to you and your descendants.” Having said this, God ascended into the air and disappeared.
Abraham raised his earth-covered face from the ground, wiped it off, and proceeded to make preparations to circumcise himself and all the other males in his household. He got a knife, sharpened it, and went to work………
Source: Genesis 17