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Questions and Answers

Q: What is the purpose of Genesis 17: 11, 23-27? Am I missing something or what? Why would I need to know a 99 year old man was circumcised?

Answer: The answer is found in verses 7-11. Circumcision was to Abraham a sign of the covenant between God and himself. God had promised to make of Abraham a great nation, Israel. He would accomplish this through Abraham's son, Isaac (verse 19). Circumcision was to be a visual reminder for Abraham and his descendants that the terms of the covenant were in force. This was also used to teach Abraham and his descendants a spiritual lesson. Circumcision was symbolic of the sentence of death in his flesh. "It was a symbol of the cross of Christ cutting right across all that he was by natural birth. It was a sharp, unforgettable, painful admission that he was unable to produce, by carnal means, the kind of life that God expects. It was an agonizing realization that only through Christ can a person bear real fruit for God. . . . . It was not intended to be an expression of saving faith on the part of the child, but of submissive faith on the part of the parent."1

Genesis 17: 14 is vitally important, "And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant." Uncircumcision of the Jewish male child reflected willful unbelief in the parent. It then became the responsibility of the child to be circumcised when he reached the age of accountability. The age of one circumcised has no relevance. It was an obedient act of faith upon the part of Abraham and those who followed.


(1) John Phillips. Exploring Genesis. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1980) 145-146.






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