“I will establish my covenant between Me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.” – Genesis 17:7
All of us sense a need to belong to someone. It’s a feeling that is inbred in us from the very first moments of our existence. God has arranged it so that we are born into families. As newborn infants we are cuddled and nurtured on our mother’s breast. Each of us has a mother and a father to whom we belong. We want to be loved and embraced in the arms of another; it’s instinctive.
That’s why our ears should prick up when we discover that the most wonderful of God’s covenant promises is that we belong to God forever. It was this promise that Abraham heard when God spoke to him as ‘God Almighty’ (Hebrews 17:1). Indeed it’s a promise repeated many times elsewhere in the Bible, “I will be their God and they shall be My people.” (Hebrews 8:10)
It’s a remarkable promise. God tells Abraham that he is loved eternally in a way that eradicates all fears. All the power of God is present in his life to keep and protect him, even in his darkest moments.
Perhaps you’re wondering, “How do we know this?” Well, it’s apparent from the new name that God gave to Abram. The simple change of name from ‘Abram’ to ‘Abraham’ is made with the introduction of the Hebrew breathing, h?, into his name. The significance of this, beyond the mere meaning of the names, is that when God added the breathing, h?, to Abram’s name, He literally added the sound of a breath. Now this is significant because the word for ‘breath’ and the word for ‘spirit’ (ruach) in Hebrew are the same. So when God called Abram, ‘Abraham’, what He was doing was adding His mighty breath to Abram’s name. It was God’s way of saying, “This is to remind you that what I expect of you in this covenant, I will also give to you. I will give you My Spirit, My strength, so that you can walk before Me blamelessly.”
However, there may be something more here as well. It may be that God was adding His sacred name to Abraham’s. That sacred name, Yahweh, which is made up almost entirely of vowels or breath sounds, is one enormous, glorious breath. If this is so, then God is not simply breathing His Spirit into Abraham, that is, imparting His very own nature to him, but He is also joining His name to Abraham. This exchange of names was often part of the ancient covenant rituals. People added their covenant partner’s name to their own. To bear that other person’s name gave them the authority that went with the name.
So by covenant union with God, Abram learnt that he no longer stood alone. By virtue of the covenant promise, he possessed all the power, wisdom and righteousness of God. In effect, what God was saying in changing his name was this: “Abraham, My wisdom, My holiness, My strength, My righteousness and My redemption are yours.”
The same is true for us. In union with Christ we possess God’s wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30). In covenant with God, we have everything we need.