“Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.” (Romans 4:9-12 (ESV)
Circumcision, reading the scriptures today, well it’s funny. Today people can watch all sorts of sexually charged television, often with their children in the same room, they can crack bawdy jokes everywhere. It is as if they do not know how to blush. But then, then God starts talking about sex, the Bible talks about circumcision and everyone gets a bit uncomfortable. We can’t understand why religious people should be so concerned about the state of a man’s penis that talk of it should take up so much time, not only in the OT but in the NT as well. But for the Jews of the first century this was of paramount importance. God had commanded circumcision, he had his reasons, and I’ve speculated on that elsewhere. It is true that God had justified Abraham before circumcision because Abraham believed, but we would not count it as faith if Abraham had refused to be circumcised. It’s the same with baptism. What sort of faith is it that refuses to be baptized when God has attached such great promises to baptism. People say they believe without baptism, but that seems to be a rather hollow belief. The Jews of the first century had the same questions when it came to circumcision and this new sect in their midst that said it was no longer necessary. The only thing that could do away with circumcision was Christ’s fulfilment of it, circumcision was literally the Old Testament, which is not pages in a book but an actual testament, a promise, a covenant if you will that was made between God and man, specifically between God and Abraham concerning his descendants according to the flesh. It found fulfilment in Christ. Until then it wasn’t old, it was just the testament, and if you wanted to be part of it, you had to sign on the blood dotted line, that is be circumcised. It was a pact made with blood, but a heck of a lot more important than that pact you made with a cut hand around a drunken campfire in your teen years. If one did not know that the testament had been fulfilled then one would not know that it was no longer necessary. But the blood itself showed in just which way the pact would be fulfilled, just what it was that the covenant would require and that was blood. One might argue that the area from which that blood flowed heightened the significance of that blood also. It was Jesus who fulfilled that covenant, who signed that dotted line with his own circumcision, perhaps the least celebrated and yet most important events of his youth and our salvation history, it gets overshadowed by New Years. That covenant cost him his entire life, it encompassed every last aspect of his manhood, now it redeems every last aspect of ours. But because it has been fulfilled it is no longer in play, but a new testament has taken its place, another testament of blood that cannot be ignored by one who professes to believe, because now the blood first shed for us by a rabbi’s razor cutting into the manhood of God himself, is the innocent blood poured out for us on the cross, and poured into the cup for the forgiveness of our sins, that it would make us who believe children of Abraham.