Troublesome Topic: It’s Not about Blood Lines

Lesson 7 of 7

Genesis 17:10


This is my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you, which all of you shall keep

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– every male among you is to be circumcised.


This is part of my covenant relationship with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you must be careful to follow completely, i.e. every male among you should be circumcised.

Genesis 17:12


And when he is eight days old every male among you shall be circumcised in your generations, he who is born in your house, or he who is bought with money from any man who is a foreigner, who is not your own descendants.


When he is

eight days old, every male

under your authority must be

circumcised; this must be done for all generations to come, and must include not only those born in your house, but also the slaves bought with money from foreigners,

i.e. those who are not your own descendants.

God told Abraham to circumcise “every male among you.” Obviously Abraham had many male servants, ranch hands if you will, and none of them were his descendants because his only offspring at that time was Ishmael. Yet these who were not his offspring were also circumcised, and thus considered to be in covenant relationship with God (in this case because of being subject to Abraham). In fact, God specifically spelled out that this act of circumcision should include males who were not his descendants. This same tendency of including people not of the bloodline of Abraham is demonstrated by God again when His people left Egypt and others went with them who were not Israelites (Ex 12:38). From the very beginning the people of the covenant included some who were not of the bloodline of Abraham.

On the other side of the coin, not all those who had Abraham’s genes were included in the covenant relationship. The first example is that of Ishmael who was Abram’s son but not Sarai’s. Then there were the two sons of Isaac who, though they were twins, one was accepted and one was not. The conclusion must be that God was not as interested in bloodlines and heredity as we had assumed. A relationship with God has always been about the heart, and we have no grounds to accuse God of inconsistency.

God mentioned several times to Abraham that He would also establish the covenant with Abraham’s descendants after him (see Gen. 17:7, 8, 9, 10, 12). The inclusion of these descendants under God’s covenant was not because they deserved it. Jacob was a deceiver and Jacob’s sons tried to kill their younger brother Joseph.

God has always looked at the heart, and God has always demonstrated that He is a God of grace.

The next lesson is: God Chose a People for Himself.



This verb is plural and means “all of you shall keep.”  It was usually used of things like “keeping watch.” It means “to be careful to observe,” or “take heed.” It was therefore used to indicate “be careful to obey.”