Introduction: Parents, think back to the time when you were naming
your children. Was there a name you absolutely would not give your
child because you knew someone with that name? You could not, for
example, name the child after an old boyfriend or old girlfriend,
right? Among people I know, it is unusual for parents to give a child
a name specifically because of its meaning. Most parents choose the
name based on whether they like the sound or the looks of the name.
Nevertheless, our avoidance of certain names shows that we pay some
attention to name associations. The Hebrews gave their children names
based on meaning, rather than the sound or look of the name. This
week we turn our attention to names and the covenant God seeks with
us. Let’s jump in!

  1. I AM

    1. Read Exodus 3:11. God has just told Moses that he is the
      one to lead the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt. What is
      Moses’ reaction to his nomination for this duty?

    2. Read Exodus 3:13. Why does Moses ask this question of God?
      (Moses first says to God, “Who am I to do this?” Now he
      seems to say to God, “Who are you?” Moses tells God the
      people will want to know who, exactly, is this God that
      says He will free them from slavery.)

      1. What is Moses really saying to God? Do you think the
        people are just curious about God’s name? Or, is it
        deeper than that? (What they want to know is whether
        this God (among the many that they knew) was more
        important than the Egyptian gods.)

    3. Read Exodus 3:14. Is this a sufficient answer?

      1. What do you understand this name(the Hebrew is YHWH
        (Yahweh))to mean?

      2. Does this answer the Hebrews real question? (Which
        was “Can you beat up those other gods?) What do you
        think? (The word YHWH means several things, but “to
        be” is one of them. By this God was declaring His
        superiority over other gods.)

      3. As I have read various commentaries on what Yahweh
        meant in the Hebrew, it strikes me that much of this
        can be understood from the English translation of “I
        AM WHO I AM.” Put yourself in the place of the Hebrew
        slaves. How would “I AM WHO I AM” appear to be
        superior to idol, animal or nature worship?

  2. El Shaddai

    1. Read Genesis 17:1-2. What is God’s reason for calling on
      Abram? (He wanted to talk about the contract (the
      covenant) between the two of them.)

      1. Why do you think the text starts mentioning that
        Abram was 99 years old? (The contract had to do with
        “greatly” increasing the number of Abram’s
        descendants. Since Abram was now almost one hundred
        years old, noting his age was an important point.)

      2. Abram had been complaining about the “descendants”
        issue. ( Genesis 15:1-5)Was it reasonable for God to
        take the time to discuss with Abram how their
        contract was coming along?

      3. God starts out the conversation by introducing
        Himself. “God Almighty” is the translation for the
        Hebrew “Eel-Shaday” (El Shaddai). What does this name
        mean to you?

        1. How would this name give comfort and be
          meaningful to Abram? (God Almighty means God can
          do anything. Abram needs God to do quite a lot
          to give him many descendants at his age.)

        2. Is there any downside to this name “God
          Almighty?” (If God is so mighty, Abram might ask
          himself, “Why am I almost 100 years old and only
          have one son by my maid?”)

      4. Right after God introduces Himself to Abram, He notes
        what He has in mind for Abram. What is that? (“Walk
        before me and be blameless.”)

        1. Last week we discussed this idea of “walking”
          with God. What did we decide it meant to live a
          life that “walked” with God?

        2. Has God’s goal for His people changed over the
          years? Is this His goal for you?

  3. Abraham

    1. Let’s continue reading: Genesis 17:3-6. What is Abram’s
      reaction to hearing that God Almighty is speaking to him?

      1. God changes Abram’s name to Abraham, which is a
        change in meaning from “high father” to “populous” –
        “father of a multitude.” What is God’s purpose in

        1. What do you think about this name change?

        2. What do you think Abram thought? (This is a
          little tricky. I’m not sure I would appreciate
          this. Let’s say I am four feet tall and God
          comes to me and says, “I’m changing your name to

      2. Are these empty words from God?

        1. How strong are God’s words? (See Genesis 1:3
          Creation was spoken into existence.)

      3. Have you ever heard someone say, “Just telling
        someone you are praying for them is not nearly as
        good as actually doing something for them.” Do you

    2. Read Genesis 17:7-8. We learned in an earlier lesson that
      a covenant is similar to a contract. A contract requires
      promises (and performance) on both sides. What is God
      promising to Abraham? (That He will be his God and the God
      of his descendants and that He will give them the land of

      1. How does God’s prior promise of many descendants fit
        into this picture? (God promises not simply to be the
        God of the descendants, but having many descendants
        would be essential to possessing the land of Canaan.)

    3. Read Genesis 17:9-10. What is Abraham promising God? (What
      a deal: lose a little skin, get a lot of land!)

      1. Is that it?

    4. Read Genesis 17:11. What, really, was Abraham promising
      God? (Circumcision was simply the sign of the covenant. It
      was like the rainbow that we discussed last week.)

      1. Read Genesis 18:19. The Bible discusses the sign of
        the covenant for quite a few verses before we get to
        an actual discussion of what is required of Abraham
        and his descendants. What is their part of the

        1. Is this all works? Or, is there any grace here?
          (“For I have chosen him” sounds like grace to
          me. However, God clearly expects Abraham to
          “keep the way of the Lord.” This sounds like
          another “walking” issue to me.)

    5. We know the rainbow was a sign of the covenant that there
      would not be another world-wide flood. Now we find that
      circumcision is a covenant sign. Is there more to
      Abraham’s side of this covenant than what we find in
      Genesis 18:19? (In Genesis 17:2, God tells Abram that He
      is about to “confirm my covenant,” which means we also
      have to look back in the Bible to find the terms of the

      1. Our lesson points out that God approached Abraham in
        three stages with the covenant. The first stage was
        Genesis 12:1-5, the second was Genesis 15:1-7 and the
        third stage was those verses in Genesis 17 we just
        studied. As you look back over Genesis 12 and 15,
        what did God ask Abram to do? (In Genesis 12 God
        asked Abram to follow Him to an unknown land. In
        Genesis 15 (especially, verse 6), God asked Abram to
        believe Him. Thus, Abram’s part of the contract was
        to believe and follow God.)
    1. We discussed last week why God would chose the rainbow as
      a sign of His covenant with Noah. We decided it was
      because rainbows appeared at the time of rain – thus
      providing a reminder of the promise at the critical time.
      Why do you think God chose circumcision as a sign of His
      covenant with Abram? (God’s promise was that he would have
      many descendants. It seems just like the rainbow idea to

    2. Friend, the Almighty I AM still desires to enter into
      covenant agreements with His people. In these agreements
      He gives us more than we could earn on our own. However,
      God has high standards for us. Will you answer God’s call
      to enter into a special relationship with Him?

  1. Next Week: Children of the Promise