Monday Reflection – November 25, 2019
God Reaffirms His Covenant
God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. Genesis 17:9
It is fair to say that the context for the covenant story of Abraham has its roots in the covenant story of Noah. Indeed, there are some similar characteristics.
ü God initiated both covenants
ü Both covenants favor the humans. In the case of Noah, the covenant promises that “neither will there ever again be a flood to destroy the earth” (9:11). In the case of Abram, God promises to make Abram multiply exceedingly and be the father of a multitude of nations (17:2, 5)
ü For both, there is a sign to serve as a reminder. The rainbow is a sign to remind God of his promise not to destroy humankind through floods again. Circumcision serves to remind both God and man of the covenant that God has established with Abram/Abraham
Abram’s story began with his call in Genesis 12. Some years later, in response to Abram’s complaint that he remained childless and a slave would become his heir, God promised that Abram’s own issue would be his heir and his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. However, Sarai and Abram took matters into their own hands, demonstrating that their faith was less than complete. At Sarai’s suggestion, Abram took Sarai’s servant, Hagar, as his concubine, and she bore a son, Ishmael. Then, when Abram was ninety-nine years old, God made a covenant with him, which is an affirmation and expansion of his original covenant. In recognition of the significance of this event, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai’s name to Sarah. God also promised a son of the covenant through Sarah and ordered Abraham to name the boy Isaac.
The faithful God charged Abraham to keep the covenant, and lead those after him to do the same. Significantly, God required action on the part of Abraham, as a sign of the agreed covenant. Abraham was to circumcise every male as a token of the covenant. Abraham complied with that order the same day. This was personal, painful, and intimate. It was also symbolic, suggesting God’s influence in every generation and the unending nature of the covenant agreement. Charles Spurgeon says, “Circumcision indicated to the seed of Abraham that there was a defilement of the flesh in man which must forever be taken away, or man would remain impure, and out of covenant with God.” Indeed, circumcision is a cutting away of the flesh and an appropriate sign of the covenant for those who should put no trust in the flesh. It is no wonder that persons like Moses and Paul declared that real circumcision is a circumcision of the heart.
God remains forever faithful to his covenant. Yet, we frequently fall short of God’s standards for our lives as his covenant-people. We are grateful for God’s unending mercies and grace. Today, God challenges us to cut away the flesh, put flesh to death, and live by the Spirit. We must empty ourselves and allow God’s Spirit to indwell us, take residence and pre-eminence in our lives, and lead us all the way. Only then can we be faithful to God’s covenant with us.