I remember the first time that I witnessed a circumcision. I was an undergraduate student, shadowing various Pediatricians.
I watched as the baby was strapped down on a warm, comfortable examination table.
I watched as the baby was undressed and his body part numbed.
With one quick, swift, horizontal swipe from left to right, the excess skin was sliced off. As quick as the snapping of your fingers. Done. Excess skin gone.
The pediatrician stopped the bleeding, inspected the surgical site, cleaned, and bandaged the area.
And that’s it. A section of skin that the baby was born with is now gone. Forever.
I remember standing there, considering the process. Some babies scream bloody murder. Others, believe it or not, continued to drink their bottle and peacefully waited until the end.
I stood in the corner of that exam room and considered Abraham in the book of Genesis. God told Abraham to circumcise himself and to tell his people to get circumcised as well. God didn’t say to do this for any specific medical reason. He simply says to do it as a covenant between God and His people.
A covenant. A promise. An intimate, unbreakable bond, between man and God.
Imagine, being an adult male and being told to cut off your excess skin in a very sensitive area. If you’re a woman, imagine being asked to cut off your pinky finger. Ouch!
So, why? Why did Abraham and his people do it?
Because they loved God. Because they believed the goodness and the promises of God. Because they had faith that their one small act would provide them with an eternity of blessings for themselves and their future generations. One moment of immense pain would provide an ETERNITY of blessings.
Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. Genesis 17:9-11 NIV
One moment of immense pain during labor and the blessing of a child is born.
One moment of immense pain from an injection and someone’s chronic back pain is relieved forever.
One moment led to one covenant, which led to an eternity of blessings.
God is a God of promises. He is a God of covenants.
Now, let’s be clear. God is not a “this for that” kind of God. He does not require anything from us in order to give us a blessing. Surely, without the circumcision of Abraham and his people, God would have blessed and love them still. But because they chose to follow God and give God their all, God blessed them beyond their imagination. He blessed Abraham and made him the father of all nations.
As I read this passage in the bible over the weekend, I remembered all of the circumcisions that I witnessed during my training as a student. And then I remembered all of the men under Abraham that were circumcised as well. And then I remembered God’s covenant with his people.
A covenant of blessings. Forever.
“As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 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. Genesis 17:4-8 NIV