Even Father Abraham...one of God's most esteemed and rewarded prophets...had to abide by contractual conditions...a covenant...to enjoy the benefits of his position in God's eyes.
Abraham was so faithful to his covenant with God that God promised...
Abraham would be a central religious figure among religious nations.
Though as Aristotle pointed out...there is such a great disparity between the greatness of God and humans...that a relationship between them is impossible. That turns out to be not true.
And as all things are possible with God...he solves Aristotle's problem by relating to humans in covenants...and a covenant is a contract...a religious one. And it is binding on all parties to it...including God. God does not make promises in vain.
In a preliminary discussion...God taps Abraham...already made very wealthy by Pharaoh (Gn 12:16) ... by appearing to him in a vision (Gn 15:1ff)...where he promises Abraham to be his shield and to give him great rewards.
That is an offer of a contractual benefit...binding on God to deliver...IF Abraham accepts the terms (i.e. strings) attached to the benefit.
However Father Abraham wants even greater benefits put into any agreement with God...and he succeeds in getting his terms met.
He asks God somewhat boldly..."What good will all your gifts be if I keep on being childless?" And tells God that he has granted him no children.
And God...who from the time of creation...wants to give to us in abundance ...immediately agrees to Abraham's negotiation.
And he takes Abraham outside and says that his descendants will be his own issue...and he tells him to count the stars to see how many descendants he shall have.
And then God names the vast lands over which Abraham and his descendants shall have dominion.
Satisfied with the covenant's benefits...Abraham agreed to the promised benefits and accepted them thereby creating a contract with mutual benefits and mutual obligations.. And God was pleased with Abraham's faith.
However...contracts and covenants have to work both ways. So... What does God want in return for his generosity?
God wants to be Abraham's God and the God of all his descendants.
Specifically...in return God will demand a mark in the flesh to identify Abraham's children and descendants.
Sounds like a very good deal. And it must have seemed so to Father Abraham because he doesn't negotiate any further.
But contracts and covenants put boundaries around the behavior of the participants in a covenant. And boundaries are limits on behavior that either...
These terms are the boundaries of the contract or the covenant...what the parties must do...or avoid...in order to reap the promised...or covenanted...benefits.
God already said all he would do. So... Here are the terms...the conditions imposed on Abraham...that must be met to enjoy God's generosity...
And so all the males...including the 99 year old Abraham...were circumcised on that very day.
One might imagine God's amusement...and the women trying to suppress
their smiles...as they watched all those men hopping around
"Ooh...ouch...ow that hurt...what did you say we get for this?"
There you have it...the covenant of the flesh between God and Father Abraham.
But contracts and covenants have penalty clauses for default. So...
He promised Adam and Eve misery and death for their default.
By the time of Noah...God was so disgusted that he wanted to destroy all of creation.
However...the penalty clause in the covenant with Father Abraham is individual.
And God says (Gn 17:14)... "If a male is uncircumcised...if the flesh of his foreskin has not been cut away...such a one shall be cut off from his people...(that is he will be excommunicated or shunned because)...he has broken my covenant".
And there you have it. A formal religious contract...a covenant...with the same elements as modern day civil contracts...
As you consider the fact that God relates to humans...even the exalted Father Abraham...in the ancient form of a contract...a religious covenant...you may want to think seriously about the benefits and conditions of your contract with God.
And so...make sure your contract with God is not in default.
You may go from this Father Abraham page to the covenant page.
Or you may