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.
All throughout the Bible, we see that God has given great importance to ‘obedience’. God rewards in abundance when He sees obedience in His children. The other day, going through Genesis 17, God spoke to me through Abraham’s obedience and I would like to share that with you. I know that I have mentioned a lot about Abraham in my devotions, but I could not postpone this to avoid repetition as the Holy Spirit persuaded me to write from the above.
We see in the beginning of the chapter that God appeared to Abraham when he was ninety-nine years old and asked him to walk blameless before Him so that God could confirm His covenant with Abraham. From verses 3-8, we see God giving His covenant with Abraham. Even when he was without a child from his wife Sarah, God promised that Abraham will be the Father of many nations…He will be fruitful and Kings shall generate from him. God even promised him about his earthly possessions. After all these were promised, God told Abraham that he was to keep a covenant in return with God….not only him…but all the generations after him..his sons and every male that was bought with a price into the household..They were supposed to be circumcised. Any male who was not circumcised was considered to be broken from his covenant with the Lord.
Through the next verses, God clarified Abraham about his promised son not being Ishmael…and at the same time confirmed that his promise is going to be fulfilled through Sarah , his wife. But God was gracious enough to bless Ishmael. After establishing an everlasting covenant with Abraham, God went up from him.(Genesis 17:22) After a long conversation with God, what would have been Abraham’s reaction? Did he run to Sarah to tell her everything that happened? Or did he ponder about everything God told him? Holy Spirit told me that Abraham made arrangements to keep God’s covenant…and that too..on that same day. Abraham did not know what circumcision was until then. He did exactly what God told him…He took Ishmael, and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them.
What surprised me was that Abraham did not wait to obey God. He did not say..let God first fulfill His promise…then I will do whatever He told me. He did not consider the reaction of his people..what they would think about this new covenant.. the circumcision. He did not keep it for any other day, thinking that it was painful. Abraham did not show any resentment towards God considering the long wait he had to go through for receiving a son which was promised to him when he was seventy-five years old. “After all, it’s going to be 25 years..and thats a long time for anyone..and why should I do everything God asked me”..He never said that. On that same day, Abraham obeyed God.
When we are in that waiting period, if God asks us to do something…how will we react to it? Are we ready to obey God no matter what? Are we able to take any painful steps for our God? I’m not talking about any physical pain here. Obedience always comes with some kind of sacrifice. Are we ready to take that sacrifice, forgetting about what others might think. Some decisions that we take for Lord, might make us different from the people we associate to..Are we ready to take that risk of being the ‘odd one out’ for Christ. Circumcision was a physical sign of one’s willingness to obey God and be part of His chosen people. Under the New Covenant, God expects us to be spiritually circumcised. He expects the circumcision of our hearts. Deuteronomy 10:16 says, Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer.
God’s promise about us are fulfilled when we take a decision to obey…not next day or next year…but on the same day that Holy Spirit convicts you about something. God cannot withhold his promises from his beloved, when He sees obedience in action. Obedience is something that I learned in a hard way. Every time God made me wait for some promise in my life, He will expect some kind of obedience from my side. Some of the decisions that I had to make was really difficult because they not only affected me…but my family too. But whenever the decisions were difficult to make, God encouraged me saying, “I’ll respect all the painful decisions you made for me and I will remember all the sacrifices you made in your life to be my child…You will be rewarded accordingly”. Another painful thing that I have noticed is that, my delay in obedience has always made me wait more for my promise.
Today, if God is asking some kind of obedience from your side…please do not delay. All His promised covenants are waiting for you….they are waiting for your obedience. Let us circumcise our hearts and be filled with the Holy Spirit so that we will be called the ‘chosen people’ of God.