Genesis 17:9-14: Marked men.

“9 Then God said to Abraham, ‘As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 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. 13 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. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.’ ?NIV

In any covenant made there was an ‘’As for me’’ (3), and an ‘’As for you’’ (9). In other words, there were two sides. We now discover what Abram’s response was to be. He was to be circumcised, and every male in his household, down through the successive generations was to be too. I remember an Old Testament lecturer saying to my group in college that every time a Jewish man went to the loo he would be reminded who he was – that he belonged to the covenant people of God. That lecturer was not being crude. He was making an accurate point. Warren Wiersbe points out that the surgical procedure of circumcision was fitting since God’s covenant involved Abraham’s ‘’seed.’’

 But we must not think that circumcision saved anyone. Genesis 15:6 says: ‘’Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.’’ That was before he was circumcised. Circumcision was the sign, not the means, of belonging to God. (Romans 4:9-12 is a most important passage to read in this regard, and I suggest you take the time to have a look at it, if you are able). An eight day old baby would not be able to understand what was going on. Later on in life it would have to be explained to him. It was the obedience of the parents that mattered.

Here is another essential text to bear in mind: ‘’A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God’’ (Romans 2:28, 29).

Under the New Testament we are not marked by the external rite of circumcision, but by the internal reality of receiving the Spirit: ‘’Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit…’’ (Ephesians 1:13b).

We too are marked men – and women!

PRAYER: Thank you Lord that you have done something, and are doing something, on the inside of my life that is totally transformational. You are changing me from the inside out.