“Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. And Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth. Later Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs.” (Acts 7:8)
When my husband and I had our baby boy, the trend had started not to circumcise because it could damage babies psychologically. Christians are not required to circumcise their male children. “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galatians 5:6)
Then why did God give Abraham the covenant of circumcision? Four reasons come to mind. First of all, it was part of a contract. God’s part was to multiply Abraham’s seed and give the Jews the land of Israel. In return, Jewish males were to be circumcised on the eighth day.
Secondly, Flesh is symbolic of sin, so God commanded the Jews to “cut off” flesh from the organ Abraham used to sin. He had a son out of wedlock with Sarah’s slave, Hagar, in order to fulfill God’s part of the covenant without God. So circumcision is a reminder that we cannot fulfill our godly purposes without God.
Thirdly, it is the organ that men touch several times a day, so it is a constant reminder that God removed or will remove our sin through the seed of Abraham, the one that produced our Messiah.
Fourthly, God gave many laws to the Jews for hygienic purposes. The area under that foreskin is a breeding ground for bacteria. Many uncircumcised men wished their parents would’ve had them circumcised if they’ve had an infection.
Through Steven, God reminds the Jewish leaders of the Sanhedrin why they were circumcised and of the Scripture that says, “Circumcise, then, the foreskin of your heart, and do not be stubborn any longer.” (Deuteronomy 10:16). God wanted these men to recognize that Jesus was their Messiah.
Since Christians have been adopted into Abraham’s family, God tells Christians, “A person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.” (Romans 2:29a) In other words, let the Holy Spirit circumcise your heart by removing the walls of protection you’ve placed around it to allow the Holy Spirit to protect you. God wouldn’t have told the Jews to circumcise their babies if it was harmful. Circumcision is a visual reminder, and a healthy thing to do. But God leaves the decision of whether or not to circumcise to Christian parents.
Dearest Heavenly Father, I praise You for Your gift of the Holy Spirit. Let the Holy Spirit circumcise my heart, so I can trust Your Spirit to protect me, love without fear, and receive Your power. Remind me to express my faith through love. In Jesus’ precious name I pray, amen.