No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. Genesis 17:5
This chapter of Genesis had God, once again, vowing to make a covenant with Abram. God commanded that Abram should now be known as Abraham, meaning “father of many nations”. Likewise, He commanded that Abraham’s wife, Sarai, undergo a name change. She would be known as Sarah, meaning “woman of high rank”. Abraham was also told that he and Sarah would conceive a son. He would be named Isaac, meaning “he laughs”. Naturally, Abraham laughed at this idea. He was 99 years old! Perhaps this is why he was ordered to name his son Isaac? Instead of immediately having faith that he would produce a son with Sarah, he begged that Ishmael find favor with God. While he was promised that Ishmael would also father a great nation, God’s covenant would remain with Isaac.
God also made a pronouncement that all males in Abraham’s household were to be circumcised, at the age of 8 days old. Circumcision would be a sign of God’s covenant with Abraham. So, at the age of 99, Abraham was circumcised along with Ishmael, aged 13. All the males of Abraham’s household followed. It is understood that both Abraham and Ishmael were circumcised that same day. What a big day for Abraham…told he would father another son, and told to surgically remove his foreskin! Ouch!! As to why a male child had to have this procedure at 8 days old, it is assumed that it is to mark Abraham’s quick compliance with God’s command. Circumcision was practiced by ancient cultures, but having the procedure done at such an early age was not.
Old Becomes New
In this chapter of Genesis, old names were exchanged for new ones. Abraham..father of many nations.
With today being Father’s Day, I would like to remind you of how many times old things become new. All over the world, men celebrate this day because old things have become new. They celebrate this day because they have become new. My husband ceased to be Chris, and became…Dad.
And, I am certain that many men did exactly what Abraham did. They laughed. From joy of fear, I am unsure. But, they probably laughed.
Men also experience the pain that comes along with fatherhood. While it may not be the pain of circumcision at 99 years old, there is pain none-the-less. They must give up certain things from the old life, in order to step into the new. That is a type of pain. They work to provide; coming home tired, exhausted, and in physical pain. They watch their sons and daughters grow and learn and hurt, which is emotionally painful. They must love their children enough to let them make mistakes. Painful though it may be, a father allows it. This is because he knows that pain is a part of learning, a part of growing.
If parenthood teaches us nothing else, it is that old things become new. Almost daily. And, often times, painfully.
To all the fathers out there, know that you have become new. That which was you is you no longer. Your laughter will turn to tears, then back to laughter. You will endure pain, be it physical, mental, or emotional. And when you emerge on the other side of your circumstance, you will be new once more. Such is life.
Happy Father’s Day!!