August 7, 2016
Lessons from the Desert: Circumcision
Our current series is taking us through the life of Abraham. This week’s message was on Genesis 17 and the covenant of circumcision. There are three lessons for us in this chapter.
First, we have to understand that life with God requires patience. Thirteen years separate the end of chapter 16 and the beginning of chapter 17. Abraham waited a long time for God to show up. And if someone as remarkable as Abraham needed to have patience in his relationship with God, then we must also have patience.
Second, we learn from this encounter that God knows my real name. Up until this time, Abraham had been known as Abram. But at 99 years old, God changed his name. Abram means “exalted father,” but Abraham means “father of a multitude.” God renamed Abraham according to his promise. In the same way, God knows our true name – our true self. He calls our true self out from bondage to our false self, which is our sinful nature.
Third, we learn that circumcision is a matter of the heart. In the 2,000 years that separated Abraham and the incarnation of Christ, circumcision had become the most important identity marker for Jews. It was a sign that they were favored by God. But that was never the point! God promised to make Abraham a blessing to the nations, and circumcision was a sign of that promise. In fact, the Scriptures declare that God’s true family is the one that is circumcised in the heart, which means that they desire God, love him, and willingly obey his commands.