5 No longer will your name be Abram. Instead, your name will be Abraham because I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you extremely fruitful. I will make nations of you, and kings will descend from you. will confirm my covenant as a perpetual covenant between me and you. It will extend to your descendants after you throughout their generations. I will be your God and the God of your descendants after you.
9 Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep the covenantal requirement I am imposing on you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my requirement that you and your descendants after you must keep: Every male among you must be circumcised. 11 You must circumcise the flesh of your foreskins. This will be a reminder of the covenant between me and you. 12 Throughout your generations every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, whether born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not one of your descendants. 13 They must indeed be circumcised, whether born in your house or bought with money. The sign of my covenant will be visible in your flesh as a permanent reminder. 14 Any uncircumcised male who has not been circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin will be cut off from his people – he has failed to carry out my requirement.”
Genesis 17:5-7, 9-14 NET (New English Translation)
What do you think is easier to do, to blend in into a crowd or to stand out? Which of these are you more comfortable doing and why is that? I remember when I was younger, all I wanted to do was to blend in because if I stood out, I was afraid that people would not accept me for who I was and treat me badly. For many people, including faith followers, this fear of rejection is very real. Yet God has commanded that you and I must not just blend in but to stand out, to be different.
To be different requires us to do things that appear to not make sense in the eyes of the world. Why does the things of God’s people look so confusing to the world? It is out of their disbelief and lack of trust in God’s provision that is the root of the world’s confusion. One confusing act was what God called Abram to do in Genesis 17.
God called Abram to be different because He set him apart for His special blessing. With this special blessing Abram was given the new name, Abraham and as physical proof that he accepted and believed in God’s promises, the patriarch was instructed that he and his household must take part in the rite of circumcision. Now if Abraham decided that he would not perform this action (after all, what man wants to perform such a surgery, especially in his old age) does that disqualify him from God’s covenant promises?
I do not believe so, because the promises existed before the act of circumcision was ever introduced. However to forgo the custom would be an act of disobedience on the part of Abraham and may even delay the fulfillment of the promises. So what is the purpose of circumcision then? It is the physical sign that Abraham and his household would hold firm to the everlasting covenant promise that God had made with him and his descendants forever. So whenever they started to doubt God’s provision, they just considered the circumcision and remembered that God will provide.
I find a strong parallel to the rite of circumcision that Abraham and his descendants partook of to the act of baptism that followers of Christ participate in today. Like circumcision, baptism does not save the one who partakes of it. Instead it is physical proof that they believe that Jesus Christ saved them from their sins and has given them a new life, and that they trust that God would fulfill His promise.
When the world sees people of faith do such things it does not make logical sense to them due to their unbelief. Nevertheless, they are signs of faith in the eyes of God. Are you ashamed to show people that you believe in God? We must keep in mind that Jesus Himself warned that any person who was ashamed of Him, He too would be ashamed of them when He returned. Let us not be afraid to be different in the eyes of the world but let’s walk boldly in our faith in the Lord. For those who live the courageous faith receive the greatest of rewards from the Lord.