Year 2 Day 227
Read - Genesis 17
Message - Scott Woodburn
Thirteen years later Abram and Sarai still did not have a son. Ishmael was growing up but he still didn’t have a little brother. Abram was now 99 years old and humanly speaking was as good as dead (Hebrews 11v12). Into this scenario the Lord moved.
In this chapter the Lord does several things. Firstly, he reiterates His covenant with Abram, summed up by the wonderful phrase “to be God to you and to your offspring after you.” (v7) Secondly, he changes Abram’s name from Abram to Abraham. Abram means “exalted father” which perhaps stung Abram as he longed for a son. Abraham means “father of a multitude” which would soon prove to be a suitable name for Abraham the man of faith.
To underline that He fully intended to keep His promise, the Lord gave Abraham a covenant sign. Abraham and his descendants were to be circumcised as a reminder in their flesh that God was faithful (v11). What would the significance of such a reminder be? As the foreskin was removed and blood was shed, Abraham and his descendants would remember that a seed was coming. This seed would be cut off for our sake, His blood would be shed and in Him all the nations of the world would be blessed. Circumcision was not an empty ritual but was to be received by faith in the Redeemer to come.
Later the Lord would promise Abraham a son called Isaac meaning “he laughs” (v19). Isaac would come from Abraham and Sarai despite Abraham wondering and laughing “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old?” (v17). But nothing is too hard for the Lord. A child would be born to Abraham and whilst the Lord would make Ishmael a great nation (v20) the covenant would be established with Isaac (v21). That very day Abraham and the males of his house were circumcised in faithful anticipation of what the Lord was about to do (v23).
We can be thankful for living on this side of the cross. We see in the pages of the Scriptures that the Lord did all that He promised and that the seed of the woman was Jesus Christ our Lord. Today we baptise not circumcise. Christ was cut off for us and His blood was shed, so now circumcision has been replaced by baptism, reminding us of the cleansing flow of God’s forgiveness. Yet we haven’t done away with the imagery of circumcision.
A Christian is someone whose heart has been turned from stone to flesh. Their heart has been cleansed. Their heart has been made new. A true follower of Christ has received the Gospel by faith and doesn’t go through the motions of religious rituals. Paul would put it this way “But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.” (Romans 2v29)
The ancient sign of circumcision is no longer practiced in the church of Christ and yet as the Holy Spirit works, sinful hard hearts are circumcised through faith in Christ. This is a supernatural and miraculous work and one that should cause you great joy. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." (2 Corinthians 5v17)
Q104 What do we pray for in the fourth petition? In the fourth petition, which is, Give us this day our daily bread,” we pray, that of God’s free gift we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life, and enjoy his blessing with them.