Have you ever wondered why God required the Jews to be circumcised? Seems a barbaric tradition but God had His reasons. In this Bible study lesson, we’ll explore the covenant between God and Abraham in Genesis 17:9-27.
So, what’s the significance of circumcision in the covenant? And, does the covenant have any implications for us today as believers.
This continuing lesson about Abraham teaches us about the circumcision covenant between God and Abraham in Genesis.
Between God and Abraham – The Circumcision Covenant
God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.
This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised.
And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.
And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants. – Genesis 17:9-12 NASB
Uncovering the Meaning Behind God’s Covenant
Despite the fact that this passage from Genesis seems like a barbaric ritual and ceremony of a backward tribe, it contains some powerful symbolism. In fact, this ritual acts as a representation of the covenant between God and his people, binding them together in mutual agreement.
Not only was this covenant an act of faith and obedience, but it was also a sign of their dedication to the Lord and His plan for them. It is possible that God circumcised Abraham and all males in his household for several reasons. These include:
One – A covenant with God’s people and obedience
Circumcision was a sign of obedience to God at the time, and was a way to identify Jews. This symbolized the dedication of each individual to commit to God and His will for their lives.
Circumcised people belonged to God and were Jews. No matter where they roamed, they had a separate identity as God’s followers. For instance, in the Bible, Abraham famously circumcised himself and his son as a sign of his commitment to God.
Two – Renewing life with God
Circumcision signifies that the old, sinful life has now been cut away. It allows for a new, God-given life. For example, when we prune a plant, we remove dead and diseased branches that supports new life.
Jews’ circumcision can be compared to the baptism of Christians. The baptism declares a new (or first) commitment to Christ. To recap, circumcision equates to a sign of faith, an outward sign of an inward commitment to God.
Three – Circumcision and Health
God also knows the benefits of circumcision for health. According to studies, circumcision reduces urinary tract infection risks in both male and female infants, as well as STD risk in men. Also, it leads to a lower risk of prostate cancer and cervical cancer risk in female partners.
There is an article on circumcision and health on WebMd. It states:
“The scientific evidence is clear that the benefits outweigh the risks,” Mermin said. Read more..
Circumcision sets Israel apart from other nations
Circumcision distinguished the Jewish people from all others in the land for all these reasons.
As a nation, this commitment helped them remain strong in faith and strong as a people.
As Christians, God does not ask us to go so far. However, he does ask us to obey His commands.
God’s will is to love people and make disciples of Christ. This involves setting aside our own desires and striving to serve God and His people, no matter the cost. He expects us to be humble and willing to sacrifice our own needs for the greater good.
It is easy to say but sometimes hard to do. Can we make an effort today to do our jobs for God?
Love in Christ
If you want to know more about the love and life-changing experience of Jesus Christ, please go to this verse and learn more about becoming a Christian.