The Morning Star Rising on the First Day
This posting is the third in a series of communications that look at God’s deliberate actions to reunite with His people. In our first posting we established that it is God’s desire to once again dwell with His people as He did with Adam and Eve in the Garden. Our second posting provided a generalized outline that demonstrated God’s repeated efforts to reunite with us. Today, we will look at one of God’s most influential covenants, one that became the foundation for the three most prevalent religions of the world today.
So, lets find out more about this covenant by looking at the 17th chapter of the Book of Genesis. As many portions of this scripture are prophetic of Jesus, I have inserted notes to identify them. I hope to be drilling down into them in future postings.
A Meeting Of Abraham And Melchizedek
The Covenant of Circumcision
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless (as Jesus walked before the Father and was blameless). 2 Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers (as Jesus made a new covenant with us and greatly increased the numbers of those who walk before the Father and are blameless because of the shed blood of Jesus).”
3 Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, 4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations (as Jesus is the Father of all Christianity). 5 No longer will you be called Abram (Jesus); your name will be Abraham (the Christ), for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 The whole land of Canaan (the Promised Land where there are many mansions) where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God. ”
9 Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant (the new covenant is a covenant of selfless love), you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised (symbolic of casting away ones own flesh). 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you (as our love for one another is a sign to others that we follow Jesus.) 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant. ” 15 God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” 17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”
19 Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac.
I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” 22 When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him. 23 On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, 25 and his son Ishmael was thirteen; 26 Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that very day.
27 And every male in Abraham’s household , including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised with him.
What does the Covenant of Circumcision Mean to us?
Now while this seems like a nice story on the surface, it is very profound when you start to think about what happened here. God communicates with a 100-year-old man whose wife is barren and tells him that he is going to be the father of many generations. How many 100-year-old men do you know that have fathered a child? Most people would say that such a thing is highly improbable. Then God tells Him that His barren 90-year-old wife is to be the one who is going to give birth to his male child. I believe that this is an even more unlikely possibility. So we have a situation here that is doubly improbable, and even impossible to most people I know. Certainly, it would take an act of God to make these promises a reality and we find that Abraham has so much faith that he immediately follow His direction.
From my point of view the act of circumcision that Abraham performed is so contrary to the basic nature of man that I would also believe them impossible. Most men would most likely say something like, “What, are you kidding?” To cut the flesh off the tip of the organ that represents manhood, and throw it away as worthless is counter intuitive from my point of view. To start with, just think of the pain associated with this procedure. I might be able to believe that Abraham would be willing to circumcise himself, but then how did he convince the other members of his family to do so as well? Let’s internalize this for a moment. Visualize in your mind a situation where a member of your family comes to you and proclaims that they have heard from God and that all the men in their family were required to have a portion of their sexual organ cut off as a result. What would you say? Most likely you would say, “you are as crazy as a loon.” So once again we see a circumstance that appears quite impossible, but despite this Abraham does not even question the point with God, but rather simply complies and get’s his family to do so as well. How great a faith is that? For this reason, several of the New Testament scriptures proclaim that Abraham was deemed righteous based of his faith alone.
So when we look at this from a standpoint of God’s promise being the basis of our relationship, what we see is just another example of God directing His people in a way that leads them back into a relationship with Him. God trying to lead us back into a relationship like He had with Adam and Eve in the Garden.
Adam and Eve in the Garden
In this scripture we find God leading Abraham toward the promised land (Canna), where He planned to dwell with his people from inside the Tabernacle that would be built later by Moses. As we have reported several times, the actions reported in these stories are physical in their nature. They are in fact parables or stories that are told to communicate a spiritual message (one that we can not easily understand), by using analogies taken from the physical world that we understand very well. So for example, God’s directing Abraham to the promised land is simply a parable to communicate that there is a spiritual promised land (heaven or the Garden), that we can aspire toward inhabiting. Jesus reaffirmed this concept on several occasions when he spoke about the kingdom of heaven. Just prior to the ascension of Jesus into heaven He told the apostles that he was leaving to prepare a place for them, one that had many mansions.
The Ascension of Jesus
The bottom line here is that the actions of Abraham to God’s message are prophetic of the life, word and actions of Jesus Christ in every way.
So for example, the act of circumcision, or the cutting away of a man’s flesh serves several points. First, it points to our spiritual nature and tells us that the flesh profits us nothing (like Jesus told us). It also tells us that a sacrifice of the flesh is necessary to live in covenant with God, and this makes it easier for us to understand why Jesus had to sacrifice His life on the cross so that we could live under the new covenant, a spiritual covenant.
It tells us that there is nothing that is impossible for God and that it is in times like these, when things seem hopeless that God comes through. It teaches us that no matter how crazy the things of God may seem to the rest of the world, we must keep our faith and follow His direction. It also communicates that we must display a visible sign so that the world will know that we belong to God. In Abaraham’s day the sign was circumcision and today it is our love for one another. Therefore it is critical that people can tell that we are followers of Jesus by simply being with them.
But all of this is contingent upon us being able to hear from God directly and being sure that we can recognise His voice. So let’s take a look at this and all the other items identified here in greater detail. We will start this communication in our next postings.
Untill then, may all of God’s blessing be upon you.
Papa Joe Gordon