The Covenant of Circumcision (Genesis 17:9)

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I’ll admit, I don’t fully understand the idea of circumcision.

I mean, I know what it is, but I don’t really get why God chose…that…to be the sign of the covenant.

Regardless, it’s still a very important part of the Old Testament community. So important, in fact, that when Jesus came and the argument raged around the transition to the New Law, churches argued endlessly about the nature of circumcision.

Was it still necessary?

Did gentiles have to do it too?

Should it be kept in tandem with the New Covenant?

All these questions raged throughout the early church, showing just how big of a deal Jews regarded circumcision to be.

Abraham Circumcised Himself

When we talk about the faith of Abraham, we almost never talk about the fact that he circumcised himself.

We talk about the fact that he left Ur to go to another land, how he maintained belief in his son, his willingness to sacrifice Isaac on the mountain.

But circumcision, at least in my opinion, may have required just as much faith as some of those other things.

The process is so painful that when Dinah is raped in Genesis 34, her brothers incapacitate the offenders by demanding that they all be circumcised. When they were still “in their pain,” Dinah’s brothers wiped them all out.

So for Abraham, at 99 years old, to circumcise himself? That takes some guts. And some faith.

Circumcision Under Jesus

As mentioned before, circumcision is not a part of the New Testament.

That doesn’t mean it’s nonexistent though. In Romans 2:25-29, Paul talks about circumcision of the heart. It’s not a physical change that matters anymore, but a spiritual change. One that affects the heart and soul.

So many of us will try to circumvent an inward change by putting up blinders on our outward appearance. We’ll change some of the things we say or do around certain people, but when we’re in private, we go right back to our old habits.

We don’t change because our heart — the seat of our emotions — hasn’t changed.

Don’t forget what Jesus said about this: “It’s not what enters the mouth that defiles the person, but what comes out of the mouth — this defiles the person” (Matthew 15:11).

If you want to change and actually be a disciple of Christ, it requires a circumcision of the heart. Everything else will follow suit.