Troublesome Topic: Why Circumcision?

Lesson 2 of 3

God gave Abraham circumcision as a sign of the covenant (Gen 17:10). Any man of the household of Abraham, including servants, who was not circumcised, had to be cut off from among them for he had violated God’s covenant (Gen 17:14).

The fact that God demanded a sign of the covenant from him was according to the customs of that day. It seems that God often works in a way we can understand, using visible things from this world which He transforms into a divine action in order to instruct us in His way.

It was not uncommon that a covenant sign would involve a mark of some sort on a part of the body. But in this case the part of the body given the mark was the most private part of a man’s body. This sign was not for others to know that this man was in a covenant relationship with God. Rather it served as a reminder to the individual, a reminder that he had committed all of himself to God, without leaving anything out of the agreement.

Covenant signs were usually visible to all; therefore, it seems strange that this sign of the covenant would be on such a private part of the body. How would others know that someone was in a covenant relationship with God if the sign was hidden in this manner? His life had to be the sign that others could see. God has always been interested in what is on the inside of us, not on outward appearances. So God required a sign of the covenant that was very private so that the man’s relationship with God would be maintained on a personal and close level while his life showed others that he belonged to God.

Therefore, there should be a balance between the private aspects of our lives, and the public manifestations of our relationship with God. Our time with God in prayer and Bible reading are not seen by anyone outside of our families; in the same way the sign of the Former Covenant (circumcision) was not visible to all. At the same time our relationship with God should be so obvious by the way we live that everyone knows our new identity.

We should learn from this that God wants to change the way we live so deeply that it also changes our reputation. If you know that you are in a healthy relationship with God, fine, but do others know it? Is the change in your life obvious? Those that work with you, your neighbors, your classmates at school (if that is applicable), everyone that knows you should see your new identity now that Christ has been given the reigns of your life. It is not enough to wear the name “Christian;” they need to see that God has changed your life to such a degree that you can rightly be called a “new creation” (II Cor 5:17).

The next lesson for the short and medium length series is: Additions to the Original Covenant

The next lesson for the full series is: God Gave Abram a New Name