Troublesome Topic: “I Will Be Your God and You Will Be My People”

Lesson 2 of 5

God’s dealings with Abraham are of major importance because they fill out the foundation of God’s purpose which was partially described to Adam and Eve in the pronouncing of the curses. This purpose is described in Scripture in ways that are different from how we discuss things today. Have you ever noticed that words like “salvation, redemption, and conversion” are not very common in the Old Testament? In the Old Testament the term salvation is most often used to refer to a salvation in which political, economic and social goals seem as important as spiritual ones. The truth is that God did not choose to express His redemptive purpose in the theological terms we so often use today; He chose a simple, and very understandable phrase. That phrase is, “I will be your God, and you will be my people.”  We could say this phrase is God’s code for what we call “salvation.” Once you begin to look for that phrase, or a variation of it, you will notice that it appears 32 times, and always when God is expressing His purpose for His people. To say, “I will be your God, and you will be my people,” was to emphasize the relational aspect of salvation. In this simple phrase God placed the emphasis on closeness and intimacy, on a positive relationship with Himself. Sin is being distant from God, and God’s purpose is to draw us close again.

The choice of such terminology sounded a bit like the wedding phrases— “You will be mine and I will be yours.” Besides that, there are variants of the phrase which point to family— “I will be your God and you will be my son.”

This code phrase is first seen in the Biblical narrative in God’s dealings with Abraham in Genesis 17.

Genesis 17:7


And I will establish

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my covenant between me and you and your seed after you in their generations as an everlasting covenant; to be God to you and you descendants after you.


And I will establish my covenant between myself and yourself

and your descendants after you,

throughout their generations,

as an everlasting covenant;

to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.

Verse 8 repeats the phrase “and I will be their God”. The second part of the phrase, “You will be my people,” was added later and became prevalent at the time of Moses and was fairly consistent thereafter.

If you are like me, you have read that phrase a multitude of times without understanding that it is a key element in God’s purpose. Therein lies the beauty of how God works, He chooses things that are so simple and commonplace that we often miss them because we are looking for the grand and spectacular. We will continue to trace the use of this phrase as God expressed Himself throughout history, and we will observe that it is relevant to us today. From that point in the life of Abraham till the second-to-last chapter of Revelation, we see the redemptive plan of God expressed in some form of this simple expression of nearness and intimacy, “I will be your God, and you will be my people.


(or something similar using different words)

Gen. 17:7, Ex. 6:7, (Ex. 29:45), (Lev. 11:45), (Lev. 22: 32-33), (Lev. 25: 38), (Num. 15:41), Deut. 27:9, (Deut. 28: 9), Deut. 29: 13, Jer. 11:4, Jer. 24:7, Jer. 30:22, Jer. 31:33, Jer. 32:38, Ez. 11:20, (Ez. 14:11), Ez. 34:24, Ez. 34:30, (Ez. 34:31), Ez. 36:28, Ez. 37:23, Ez. 37:27, Hosea 1:9, (Hosea 1:10), Hosea 2:23, II Cor 6:16, Hebrews 8:10, I Peter 2:10, Rev. 21:3 & 7.

The next lesson for the Short and Medium Length Series on Covenants is: Why Circumcision?

The next lesson for the Full series on Covenants is: Was God’s Covenant with Abram Conditional, Unconditional, or Neither?



“I will establish” means “to stand, to rise or raise up.” To “establish” is a secondary usage and is similar to our phrase “to set up.”