SCRIPTURE STUDY: GENESIS 17:9-13; Deuteronomy 10:16-17; Colossians 2:11-12
SIGNS ARE IMPORTANT –
Signs are one way that we communicate with one another and many times how we identify things.
A Salvation Army woman outside of a well-known store during the Christmas season was informed by a policeman that there was a local ordinance that prevented her from ringing her bells and inviting contributions. She was contrite and apologized that she had “broken” the law. But the next day she was back in front of the same store doing a brisker business than ever as she waved one sign and then another in the air. One said “DING” and the other said “DONG”.
SIGNS are important in the lives of God’s people too. They may not be printed signs but we, as Christians, do portrait who we are by the way we live. People should be able to identify us by the way we are acting. Our lives become SIGNS to the world.
In the referenced passage of Scripture in Genesis 17, it is telling us about a sign that identifies God’s people.
Genesis 17:1-2 (AMP)
 WHEN ABRAM was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, I AM the Almighty God; walk and live habitually before Me and be perfect (blameless, wholehearted, complete).
 And I will make My covenant (solemn pledge) between Me and you and will multiply you exceedingly. [Amplified Bible]
The FIRST thing I noticed in the study, is this is where we are introduced to the name, El Shaddai–means God Almighty. The all-powerful God. It’s here where God tells Abram the name that He wants him to remember Him by.
God tells Abram to serve Him faithfully and in return, He will BLESS him.
Also here in chapter 17, God changes Abram’s name to Abraham and Sari’s name to Sarah.
He gives them NEW NAMES when He gives them the sign of the covenant.
God has just informed Abraham that He was making a covenant (not a contract) with him.
CONTRACT VS. COVENANT – Why the difference matters.
With a contract, if one agreeing party does something in violation of the contract then it’s considered broken. The whole contract becomes null and void. Basically, the signs of a contract agree to hold up the ends as long as the other signatories hold up theirs.
With a covenant, both parties agree to hold up their ends, regardless of whether the other party keeps their part of the agreement. A violation of a covenant by one party doesn’t matter as far as the other party’s responsibility is to continue to do what they agreed too. [See footnote [i].]
So in God’s COVENANT with Abraham, He tells him and his descendants they would be God’s chosen people and God also promised him the entire land of Canaan forever!
Then God went on to say to them…(vs. 9-13)
 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 going to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised.  You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.  For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner–those who are not your offspring.  Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant.” [NIV Bible]
You will have a SIGN, a mark on you that will identify you as one of My Chosen People. When you do this, you’re acknowledging who I AM and what I mean to you. This will set you apart from the rest of the world. Your old identity will be gone. No longer are you who you used to be, now you are one of My chosen people. This tells those around you who you worship and serve.
The SIGN of FAITH by CIRCUMCISION is just the beginning.
After this act, God expected Abraham and his descendants to be different from worldly people who live among them.
It was a SPIRITUAL SIGN to be dedicated to Almighty God.
As you read and study God’s word, you’ll see that the Jewish people became prideful of this. The SIGN became a national pride, not a submission to God and a promise to follow Him. They started depending on an outward sign instead of an inward commitment to God. The problem with this was the SIGN, not the actual covenant.
Have we as Christians become so prideful in outward signs in today’s society we’ve forgotten God’s covenant?
Again, VERSE ONE:
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.”
SERVE ME FAITHFULLY, that was the covenant.
Circumcision was the SIGN and not the actual covenant. God had gotten tired of only token commitment from His people. They were being circumcised but they were NOT being the people God had intended them to be.
Look at Deuteronomy 10:16-17
SERVE ME FAITHFULLY, that was the covenant.
CIRCUMCISION, a separation from the world. A separation from SIN; cutaway, circumcise the old ways and, the old sinful heart and serve with a new heart.
What does this mean to us today? We do have circumcision but it’s just a health-related issue, not a religious issue for Christians today. While we don’t have the circumcision as a SIGN of our commitment to God, we do have BAPTISM.
The Great Commission – Matthew 28:19, 20 (AMP)
“Go then and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age.”
This is a SIGN that they have accepted what Jesus did for them. It doesn’t SAVE them, the acceptance of Christ does that and along with that commitment comes a CIRCUMCISION of the HEART. A change of heart. A new creation in Christ Jesus.
The apostle Paul gives the best definition I’ve found for Christian Circumcision in his letter to the church at Colossi:
Colossians 2:11, 12 (NIV)
 In Him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with the circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ,  having been buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him through your faith in the power of God, who raised Him from the dead.
We are BAPTIZED because we have trusted in the mighty POWER of God. Our SIN is cut away and we tell the world that we are one of God’s children.
I’ve had conversations with many people over the years whose only testimony is that they were “baptized.” I heard people say they walked the aisle at so and so’s church and was baptized.
If you claim to be a Christian, then you must have a testimony!
There must be a time that you knew and remembered that you BELIEVED and ACCEPTED what Jesus did for you.
BAPTISM IS NOT THE SALVATION EXPERIENCE.
The FAITH that we place in God through Jesus Christ is how God makes a COVENANT with us and we solidify that and show the world through our BAPTISM.
BAPTISM IS OUR CIRCUMCISION.
It symbolizes the removal of the old skin in our lives and identifies us as a child of God. My heart just aches for those who think that just because they were baptized in front of a church altar, they were SAVED. They have become like the children of Israel who thought that just because they had the SIGN OF CIRCUMCISION, they were HEIRS to eternal life with God.
God says no, your HEART must be circumcised.
There’s a change if there is true SALVATION. We are not the same person we were before we met Jesus.
The are OTHER SIGNS that Christians should be showing in their lives.
God told Abraham that he must serve Him faithfully. Not occasionally, but ALWAYS!
Our TESTIMONY must always be that we were SAVED through the death of Jesus Christ for the punishment for our SIN.
The Israelites carried the SIGN of the Covenant through CIRCUMCISION, but there must be more.
Just like Abraham and everybody else that is a true child of God, we must wear A SIGN of the heart that has been changed; the SIN has been changed, the SIN has been cut away and a life that is living faithfully for God.
Neither CIRCUMCISION nor BAPTISM can save you, only FAITH in God and what Jesus did on the cross.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog-study in the Bible. I’m always looking for feedback in my study so I can continue to grow in the proclamation of God’s Word.
CREDITS & FOOTNOTES
Footnote [i]: Contract Vs. Covenant. Why the Diffeence Matters; New Creations.org
PHOTOS/IMAGES: Google Image Search; Settings, advanced search.
Bible Translations: New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP).