The importance of the covenant of circumcision is often over looked because of the Jewish versus Gentile controversy in the early Church period of the New Testament. Paul settled the issue, circumcision is not necessary for Christians, however the importance of what circumcision means still does. It only applies in a different way in the Christian-era.
The first thing to do in understanding the meaning of circumcision is to read the actual covenant that required it. Look in Genesis 17:9-14, listen with fresh ears as God gives the covenant sign to Abraham.
Circumcision was a common priestly practice in the Ancient Near East. The Egyptians used it for their priesthood, as well as other cultures around Abraham. It is a very private sign, obviously for where it is located. However, it is very prominent to the one who is circumcised. From the most common and mundane act of going to the restroom, to the most intimate act between husband and wife–God required every male to be circumcised. Circumcised men cannot avoid this sign in their life. God marked Abraham’s household permanently as His priestly nation. God included everyone that came into Abraham’s household, born or acquired.
Circumcision is a permanent mark. God wanted every man to know who he belonged to. In the Christian-era, Paul wrote to the Romans about the kind of circumcision that mattered. Paul taught that if one is circumcised but lives contrary to righteousness, he might as well be uncircumcised. If someone lives according to righteousness, but is not circumcised, then surely their actions show they are circumcised. Where are they circumcised? “Circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not b the letter” (Romans 2:29).
Circumcision in the Old Testament showed a much deeper reality than a physical distinction. In the New Testament that reality makes all the difference. Ask yourself this, “Is my heart changed and changing because of knowing Jesus Christ?” If you can answer yes, you show the mark of the inward circumcision that matters. Like Abraham, you have had an encounter with the Living God and will never be the same again.
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