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Daily Devotional | A New Name


Imagine if God appeared to you today and gave you a new name. In the Old Testament, Jacob was given the name Israel which meant “struggled with God” (Gen. 32:28). In the New Testament, Jesus renamed His disciple Simon as Peter, meaning “rock” (John 1:42). Along with these new names, they were given a new identity.

In Genesis 17, God gave Abram and Sarai new names, Abraham and Sarah (vv. 5, 15). Abraham would become a “father of many nations” (v. 5). He would be known as a man who belonged to God Almighty (v. 1). Here God reaffirmed the promises He had made to Abraham. In addition to the promise of many descendants, He also declared that the land of Canaan would belong to them (v. 8). Most significantly, He promised, “I will be their God” (v. 8).

Then God called for a response from Abraham. He commanded that Abraham, every male in his household, and every descendant be circumcised (vv. 9–10). At first, this may seem that God’s promises are conditional. But this is not the case. God would be faithful to fulfill His promises to Abraham. Circumcision was a sign of the covenant, not the covenant itself. If Abraham and his descendants wanted to identify themselves with the covenant and benefit from it, they would need to be circumcised.

Abraham obeyed God’s command. That same day, he had himself and the men of the household circumcised (v. 23), demonstrating his trust in God and God’s plan. The command to be circumcised is no longer necessary in Christ, but we are still called to respond in faith to His promises. One of God’s promises in this passage is that “kings of peoples” would come from the offspring of Abraham and Sarah (v. 16). It has been fulfilled in the Lord Jesus who will rule over all the nations (Rev. 1:5).

Go Deeper

Why were Abraham and Sarah’s new names so significant? What does today’s reading teach us about how we should respond to God’s promises?

Pray with Us

Just as Abraham and Sarah received new identities when they received Your covenant, we have also received new identities through Your salvation. We submit our lives to You; make them testaments of Your promise.

BY Ryan Cook

Dr. Ryan Cook has taught at Moody Bible Institute since 2012. He earned his bachelor of arts in Bible and Theology from Moody and his master of arts in Old Testament from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He has worked in Christian education and served as a pastor in Michigan for seven years. During his time as a professor at Moody, he earned his doctorate from Asbury Theological Seminary. He now lives with his wife, Ashley, and their three children in the Chicagoland area.

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