“You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you.”
— Genesis 17:11
Over the years, God gave Abraham an armful of promises. God even invited Abraham into a special covenantal relationship. And now God asks Abraham to reciprocate. Abraham is to accept this covenantal relationship by means of a ceremony called circumcision. Abraham and his descendants will receive a permanent mark on their bodies—an ongoing reminder that they belong, body and soul, to their God.
The ceremony also symbolizes that they belong not only to God but also to each other. Circumcision was an initiation rite into the family of God, with participants considered part of God’s chosen people. The ceremony spoke of both ownership and identity. It also symbolized the need for cutting or casting off all forms of unrighteousness in order to be wholly devoted to God. This covenant was to be sealed by the shedding of blood.
Today we still use symbols as powerful reminders of who we are and the promises we make. When two people enter the sacred covenant of marriage, they often seal their promises with a kiss and with wedding rings, declaring that they belong to each other. And in a way like circumcision for God’s Old Testament saints, the baptism of New Testament saints is a powerful reminder of our unity and identity in Christ.
Father God, thank you for your gracious covenantal love. May it never cease to amaze us. May it transform us more and more into the image of your Son, our Savior. Amen.