Day 55: Got Circumcision?

Read Genesis 17:1-14

I asked everyone to raise their hand if they’d been circumcised. One young man blurted in shock, “Why in the world do you need to know such a thing?” Most everyone faced me with blank stares, incredulous. The two who had raised their hands blushed hot red. I laughed and promised everyone would understand my point soon.

God’s chosen people began with one man: Abraham. God chose Abraham and established a covenant with him— like a contract between two parties, but only one party has any real say about the terms and the recipient of the arrangements is just grateful to be considered. Instead of signing documents, the sign of the covenant was the rite of circumcision. This sign was to be administered to all males, eight days old and up. Anyone who did not get cut, was cut off from God’s people (Genesis 17:14) and received none of the benefits.

For around two millennia, little Jewish boys squealed in horror on their eighth day as a sharp pain made them beneficiaries of God’s covenant promises. They had no idea what was going on, but they would be reminded every time they went potty that they were a member of God’s people. Circumcision was the sign of the old covenant. The life and ministry of Jesus mediated for us a better covenant founded on better promises (Hebrews 8:6). Many sighed with relief to find that circumcision was no longer necessary (Acts 15). It wasn’t that circumcision had been replaced, but it was fulfilled by the sign of the new covenant: baptism: “In Jesus you were circumcised … having been buried with Him in baptism” (Colossians 2:11‐12).

So, I asked the Bible study again: “Who here has been circumcised? In other words, ladies and gentlemen, you can both raise your hands if you have been baptized. You are God’s chosen people!