Simply the Bible Blog

Daily Devotion and Podcast

Genesis 17 “The Sign of the Covenant”

“This is the covenant that you and your descendants must keep: Each male among you must be circumcised. You must cut off the flesh of your foreskin as a sign of the covenant between me and you.”

Genesis 17:10–11 (NLT)

Our firstborn son Justin was only eight days old. As my wife and I sat in the pediatrician’s waiting room, they called our name. Usually my wife and I went together to see the doctor, but this time Cindy asked me to take in our son alone. As Christians, we wanted to follow God’s plan for circumcision–not only because of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but also because of the health benefits. It was difficult to hand my boy to the doctor. I knew that this would be painful, and he wouldn’t understand. But I also trusted that God would not prescribe something that would be permanently harmful. As the surgeon made the cut, Justin let out a terrific scream. But within a matter of minutes he was no longer crying, and I carried him out to his mother. The deed was done.

God made so many promises to Abram. His descendants would be as innumerable as the stars. He would receive the land of Canaan as his permanent inheritance, and through him all the nations of the earth would be blessed. But now God added another one: Abram would be the father of many nations, so God changed his name to Abraham (father of many). However, in each of God’s covenants He gave a sign by which the covenant would be remembered. The sign of God’s covenant with Abraham was circumcision.

Circumcision is a cutting away of the flesh in the most sensitive part of the male anatomy. Yes, there are hygiene benefits. But more importantly, circumcision symbolizes a life lived not to please the flesh but to please God. It would be a mark in their flesh that they were God’s covenant people, and they were to live according to God’s Word. They were to walk before Almighty God and be blameless (Genesis 17:1).

Of course, they did not always do that. They had lapses of faith and were disobedient. Later, while Moses was on top of Mount Sinai receiving the Law, the children of Israel were down below breaking the Law by making a golden calf! Therefore, Moses reinterpreted the law of circumcision to govern their hearts:

“And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”

Deuteronomy 30:6 (NKJV)

Jeremiah placed this responsibility upon the people:

“Circumcise yourselves to the LORD; remove the foreskin of your hearts, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem.”

Jeremiah 4:4 (ESV)

In reality, there is God’s part and our part. We cannot do God’s part, but He will not do our part. We must pray that God would circumcise our hearts so that we would love Him with all our hearts and not yield to the desires of our flesh. Then we must actively do our part by cutting off our sins.

“In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ.”

Colossians 2:11 (NKJV)

This has a universal application. The circumcision of Abraham was only for males, but the circumcision of Christ is for both males and females. We must all cut away the foreskin of our hearts to love the LORD completely, that we may live a blameless life before Almighty God.

This ought to be the sincere desire of every true follower of Jesus. May God help us!

Listen to the complete podcast

Published by

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: