Summary: This is the 30th sermon in an expository series we are doing on the book of Genesis. In this sermon we examine circumcision and how it relates to communion.
Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign (Genesis part 30)
Text: Genesis 17:9-14
By: Ken McKinley
Anthropologists will tell you that signs are one of the most important things in human society. And believe it or not, that’s one instance where I happen to agree with them. Just think about it for a minute. You get in your car and head to Woodward. You see a sign that says, “Woodward 15 miles.” So you know how far you have to go. As you’re on your way you see another sign that says, “speed limit – 65.” So you know how fast you can go without getting a ticket from the highway patrolmen that occasionally can be seen on that stretch of highway. As you get closer to Woodward, a sign on your vehicles dashboard lights up and lets you know that you’re running low on gas. Your first option is the R.A.W. truck stop, and you know it’s not far because you see it’s sign, but as you pull in, you see another sign that says, “pumps out of order.” The next sign you see for a potential gas stop is the “Honk N’ Holler”, but another sign says that gas costs $3.40 a gallon, so you decide that maybe you’ll try the Texaco, or the Love’s station. The traffic signal is a sign that lets you know whether you should stop, go, or use caution. Then you see the “Golden Arches” ahead and that lets you know that you can eat a “Big Mac” if you’re hungry, but there’s also a sign that says, “Braums” right next to the “Golden Arches.” Signs tell us what street we live on, they tell visitors the name of our church, they advertise things, they point to things, and they give direction. “Signs, signs, everywhere a sign – blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind.” Sometimes we’re given signs and we don’t even realize that they are signs. There’s 3 of them behind me, one on my right, one on my left, and one directly behind me. These two flags on my right and left represent something, and tens of thousands of people have given their lives for what these flags represent (or at least what they used to). Then there’s the cross. What do you think of when you see the cross? It means something to you, or at least it should. There’s another sign that we don’t often think about, and I’m wearing it here on my left hand. It’s my wedding ring. It’s telling everyone who sees it that I am in a covenant relationship with my wife. Now that’s a word that we just read in our text from Genesis.
In a nut-shell; a covenant is a binding agreement between two or more parties, in which there are obligations. There are benefits and blessings when the obligations are kept, and there is punishment and/or consequences when the obligations are not kept. And the Bible talks a lot about covenants. The first one, if you remember, was in the Garden of Eden, and it was a covenant of works. God told Adam don’t eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. So it was dependent upon Adam to keep the covenant. If Adam had kept his obligations in the covenant, the benefits and blessings was eternal life. If he broke the covenant, the punishment and consequence was death. So it required perfect obedience on the part of Adam. The sign of that first covenant was the actual tree of knowledge of good and evil. And as we all know, Adam broke the covenant.
Later on; God makes a covenant with Noah… not my cousin who’s sitting out there today, but the guy who built the ark. The obligations of that covenant were dependent upon God. God said He would never again flood the world, and the sign of that covenant was the rainbow.
Now in our text, we see that God is establishing His covenant with Abraham, and the sign of this covenant is… circumcision.
So… what are the obligations of this covenant? Be careful; because it might not be what you think. The actual obligations aren’t seen in our text. We looked at them last Sunday. The obligations of this covenant are that God will make Abraham the father of many nations, that He will be exceedingly fruitful. That He shall be the God of Abraham and Abraham’s descendants, that they shall be His people, and that God would give them a promised land.
Abraham is told to walk worthy of one who is in covenant with Almighty God (we saw that in verse 1 last week) and here in our text today, he’s told given the command to be circumcised. And I want you to notice that verse 11 makes it clear that circumcision wasn’t the obligation of the covenant… it was the sign of the covenant. In-other-words, that act of removal symbolized the covenant relationship between Abraham and God, and in-fact, the connection between the sign of the covenant and the covenant itself was so strong it demarcated who was in covenant relationship with God and who wasn’t. That’s why later on; in 1st Samuel chapter 17, when David goes to fight Goliath, he says, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” In-other-words, David knew that Goliath wasn’t in covenant relationship with God, not because Goliath was a Philistine, but because he was uncircumcised.