Scriptures

Circumcision

Introduction

We first come across God’s covenant concerning circumcision in the Book of Genesis, a covenant is basically an agreement between two parties.

In the case of Genesis 17, it’s an agreement between God and Abraham which consisted of God promising Abraham and his descendants would inherit the Promised Land, that is Canaan, as long as Abraham and his descendants fully obeyed the Lord and remained faithful to Him all the days of their lives.

‘This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.’ Genesis 17:10-14

In the above passage we notice that there was a ‘sign’ for this covenant arrangement and the sign was circumcision. This would be the removal of the foreskin from every male child who was eight days old. The reason for this covenant was simply to learn not to trust in the flesh but to trust in God. The ceremony of circumcision was to be a sign of the covenant and so, everyone who was circumcised actually shared in this covenant.

It seems that even Abraham’s servants were to partake of the promises of the covenant, because they too had to be circumcised which obviously meant they could be partakers of the covenant.

Notice that God knew things back then which scientists today have not long discovered. God commands that those who were eight days old were to be circumcised, why eight days? Because this was the earliest safe day to be circumcised because the blood was full of vitamin K, which helps with blood clotting.

‘On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, and his son Ishmael was thirteen; Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that very day. And every male in Abraham’s household, including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised with him.’ Genesis 17:23-27

Straight away, that very same day we see Abraham, his family and his household obeying God and entering into that covenant relationship with God, Later we see that God reminds Moses that all males must be circumcised, Leviticus 12:3, and later still we read about how God commands Joshua to have all the male Israelites circumcised, Joshua 5:2-3. Basically, circumcision was a ‘sign’ of their relationship with God and the basis for the law which required that all Jews be circumcised.

Circumcision In The New Testament

Let’s fast forward a few thousand years, after the church was established, but still in its infancy, we find that some Jewish Christians who had left Judaism and become Christians were trying to mix Christianity with Judaism, they tried to add elements of the Jewish faith with the Christian faith. One of those elements from Judaism was circumcision, we read about this in Acts 15:1-35, and throughout the Book of Galatians.

Paul goes on to make his case that physical circumcision wasn’t required to be a Christian like it was in order to be a Jew.

Under the Holy Spirit’s guidance Paul goes ahead and uses the mindset of the Jews concerning circumcision as a ‘sign’ that they had a covenant with God, Genesis 17:11, to teach them a very important lesson concerning baptism.

Throughout the book of Colossians Paul reminds the Christians that they don’t have to obey all the laws of Judaism in order for them to be Christians. He reminds them that they are in Christ, who is the Head of the church and its Christ who has all the rule and authority over everything, Colossians 2:10 and notice what he writes next.

‘In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self-ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.’ Colossians 2:11-12

After reminding them that they aren’t under the same covenant God made with Israel because that was nullified by Christ at the cross, Colossians 2:14, and we’re now under a new covenant relationship with God, Hebrews 8:6-13, which is Christ’s covenant.

Paul now says, just like physical circumcision was required as a ‘sign’ of the old covenant, God still requires ‘circumcision’ as a sign in the new covenant.

The difference is simply this, this isn’t a literal, fleshly, physical circumcision, this is a spiritual circumcision, ‘made without hands.’ And so, to emphasise what’s he’s speaking about, he says this spiritual circumcision happens when a person is baptised, that is fully immersed in water, Colossians 2:12 / Romans 6:3-4 / Galatians 3:26-27.

Conclusion

If anyone wanted to become a Jew, they needed to be physically circumcised, Joshua 5:6-7, in order to have that sign of the old covenant with God, to demonstrate that they belonged to God and had a relationship with Him.

Today, if anyone wants to become a Christian, then they too need to be spiritually circumcised, in order to have that sign of the new covenant with God, to demonstrate that they belong to God and have a relationship with Him, Matthew 28:18-20 / Mark 16:16.

Have you been spiritually circumcised?

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds."

James 1:2

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