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Genesis 17:9-27 - Obedience - Part 2
- Related: Brian Cole: 'Obedience' - Part 1
As we continue with the text, he now talks about circumcision for the men. Circumcision was to be the physical sign of the covenant. The idea is symbolically, that there is to be a cutting away of the flesh, that “you now need to be interested in spiritual things, Abraham, not the fleshly things.” So, God was saying, “Quit messing around with some of these other things that you’ve been messing around with. You are to have spiritual interests now.”
Abram had acquired a son by the use of his reproductive organ. Now he submitted it to God. No Israelite could ever engage in the sex act without being reminded of the fact that he belonged to God. Children that were begotten, were to be brought up according to God’s Word. Circumcision of infant sons did not save them but evidenced the faith of the father and mother in the God of Abraham.
As that young child grew up, his circumcision was a sign to him that he was different from other boys, he belonged to God. It was not the circumcision that saved the boy, but the sign which would forever remind him of what God required to enjoy the benefits of His covenant.
The sign of the covenant is an “Outward expression that inwardly I have received the promises of God by faith.”
I have come across a few commentaries and Bible scholars who have stated that Baptism is our N.T. equivalent and went on discussing the similarities. Indeed there ARE similarities as stated in Colossians 2:10-12 - “...and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 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, you were also raised with Him through your faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”
Both signify a union with God that has already occurred. Both necessitate the putting away of former things and living a life pleasing to God.
But there are obvious differences which must be kept in mind. Baptism is for believing adults, as an indication of their faith in God. Circumcision was performed on infants eight days old and evidenced the faith of the parents. Baptism was a public sign, circumcision was a private sign. Baptism is for all believers, male and female, circumcision was only for the males. Circumcision was a sign of the covenant with Abraham.
And baptism is not the sign of the New Covenant but rather, the Lord’s supper is: Luke 22:20 - “In the same way, after the supper He took the cup, saying, ‘ ̃This is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
So, Circumcision does NOT represent conversion, nor Baptism, nor Church membership, nor anything of the kind, since it was only for males, was to be observed when each boy was only 8 days old, and was never for the Gentile nations.
The ONLY thing of the kind we have is circumcision of the heart: Rom. 2:29 - “No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, NOT by the written code.”
Circumcision was a sign of Abraham’s faith in God, and faith was BEFORE circumcision. The command to circumcise was later included in the Law, in Lev. 12:3. John the Baptist was circumcised, as were Jesus and Paul. All these were Jews, and the new covenant had not been given at their birth or was not yet announced.
Now, somewhere down the line the Jews began to develop an unhealthy attachment to the sign of the covenant. People began to place their confidence in the ritual rather than the relationship. And we see the same thing today, where people will think they are saved because they are confirmed or baptized or whatever.
Understand this, we are NOT saved by being baptized, rather we are baptized because we are saved! It was important to them and important to us to recognize that we are NOT made righteous by ANY religious ritual. You are NOT made righteous by going to church every Sunday, that’s NOT what gets you saved! We are NOT to place ANY confidence in ritual, but simply that we have accepted Christ as the answer to our sin problem.
And, circumcision was no “Sunday only” kind of religion, which occupies an hour of your week and leaves the rest of your life up to you. This was a faith that penetrated even to the most personal areas of Abraham’s life in a most painful way. What about us?
Does our relationship with God govern our sexuality? Does it govern our truthfulness at work and at home? Does it control the things which we fill our mind, the ambitions and desires of our heart? If we are in a covenant relationship with God, then NO area of our life can be unaffected.
And now we get into some awesome apologetics. One of the many ways we can verify that Scripture it true, is the science we find in Scripture. And here, in these verses, is another gold nugget!
We didn’t always know this but through modern medicine we now understand that vitamin K, which is necessary for blood clotting, begins to be present in the blood between the 5th and 7th day of infancy, and the 8th day it is at its peak.
There is another blood clotting agent called “Prothrombin” that is present in the blood stream at its highest levels during all of infancy, but on the 8th day the Prothrombin level is actually above 100% of normal, and it’s the ONLY day in the male’s life in which this is the case.
Dr. McMillen wrote this in 1884:
"We should commend the many hundreds of workers who labored at great expense over a number of years to discover that the safest day to perform circumcision is the 8th. Yet, as we congratulate science for this recent finding, we can almost hear the leaves of the Bible rustling. They would like to remind us that 4,000 years ago, when God INITIATED circumcision with Abraham, Abraham did not pick the 8th day after many centuries of trial-and-error experiments. Neither he nor any of his company from the ancient city of Ur in the Chaldees ever had been circumcised. It was a day picked by the Creator of vitamin K.” (1984, pg. 93).
Moses’ information, as recorded here, was not only scientifically accurate, but was years ahead of its time.
How did Moses have access to such accurate information? The answer, of course, is provided by the Apostle Paul in 2 Tim. 3:16 - “Every Scripture is inspired of God.”
Join us next week as we continue with the text and take a look at Abraham’s reaction to the Lord with the news that he and his wife were going to bear children.
Blessings to you all.