Summary: The Patriarchs God Almighty and the Covenant of Circumcision Genesis 17:9-17:27 David Taylor May 8, 2016
God Almighty and the Covenant of Circumcision
May 8, 2016
Last week we saw that God comes to Abram identifying himself with a new name, God Almighty, and tells Abram to walk before him and be blameless, both of which are connected to God’s mission, Abraham and his offspring were to be a light to the nations around them. We also saw that the promise of offspring is ultimately fulfilled in one offspring, Jesus Christ, so that through his work on the cross, Abraham becomes the spiritual father to a multitude of nations. The Abrahamic Covenant then, centers around God’s mission to reverse the curse of sin and rescue humanity.
Now verse nine says, “as for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations.” Keeping covenant means that all the males of his household must be circumcised, which is the sign of the covenant. Circumcision was a physical and permanent reminder of the covenant. Circumcision was a sign that first, they are members of Abraham’s family who are in covenant relationship with God. The God of the universe chose them and cut a covenant with them to be God to them! This is so significant that those who did not circumcise themselves were cut off from the covenantal community. He is referring to males who were not circumcised as infants who come of age and choose not to be circumcised. They are to be cut off from the blessing of the covenantal community because their actions demonstrate that they are rejecting the covenant. Circumcision was also a sign that distinguished them from the nations around them. As God’s people, they were part of God’s mission to reverse the curse of sin among the nations and so were called to be distinct from the nations. And circumcision was most importantly, a sign that had great spiritual significance. First, it was a sign that the promises of the covenant can only be fulfilled by God. In chapter sixteen, Abraham and Sarah took matters into their own hands. It had been many years since God promised them an offspring and in a weak moment where Sarah’s faith was faltering, she chose to act rather than trust God. So God capitalizes on the very part of the body they used to circumvent Him to teach them that the promised offspring will not come by natural means but by God Almighty. God’s Covenant and God’s kingdom can never be fulfilled by human strength or ingenuity. God is teaching Abraham and Sarah that his covenant is not dependent upon human initiative, human willpower, or human scheming, but is dependent upon God Almighty. God’s promises will only come about by God Almighty, the infinitely powerful one, who spoke the world into existence and who will create life in a shriveled up womb. So circumcision was a sign that they are to trust God, not human effort for the promised offspring. Circumcision also pointed to the need for a circumcised heart, a work of God in the human heart. In this way, it points to the fulfillment of the New Covenant so that those who put their faith in the offspring of Abraham, Jesus Christ, are children of Abraham, the true circumcision and physical circumcision is no longer necessary. This has two implications for us. First, there is a danger to rely on religious acts to you right with God. Or you may have been raised in the church but never put your faith in Christ yourself.