Abram strolled around one of his flocks of sheep in the cool of the morning. He tried to remember the size of his herds when he first entered Canaan. It felt like a lifetime ago. In many ways it was.
Ishmael’s birth changed everything by giving a legitimate heir to hand this all off to. When he closed his eyes he could still see God’s fire passing between the animal halves he brought to God as requested. How many times had he attempted to count the stars?
When he opened his eyes God was standing in front to him.
“I am God Almighty. My covenant is with you as you walk before Me. I will make you a mighty nation.”
Abram fell to his knees and placed his face on the ground at God’s feet.
“Your name shall now be Abraham, the father of many. Kings and nations shall come from you. I am making my covenant between you and Me an everlasting one. Your descendants shall follow Me also. The entire land of Canaan belongs to your descendants, even though you are a stranger here.
“This is the covenant you and your descendants must keep before Me from this time forward. Every male, whether born to you or bought by you, shall be circumcised as a sign of this covenant. Every male child shall be circumcised at eight days old for every generation to follow. Any male not circumcised shall be removed from My people since he has not followed this covenant ritual.
“As for Sarai you shall call her Sarah from now on. I will give you a son by her. Kings and a nation will come from her.”
Abraham laughed at that thought. “Shall a 100 year old man have a son by a ninety year old woman?” He looked up. “Ishmael can have Your blessing. Can’t he?”
“Yes, but My covenant shall be by Sarah’s son. You are to name him Isaac. Ishmael will indeed be blessed by being fruitful to twelve tribes. My ultimate blessing will come to Isaac whom Sarah will bear to you next year at this time.”
Abraham turned around when he heard some voices. When he spun back God was gone.
He gathered every man and boy to fulfill God’s covenant with him and them.
So now Abram, exalted father, gets his name changed to Abraham, father of many, at the age of ninety nine. He thought God was joking with him at first. Who wouldn’t?
A laugh escaped him when the thought entered his mind. Does God know how long it’s been since my wife has had her period? She’ll be ninety and I’ll be one hundred years old. That just doesn’t make sense.
God does his best work when things make the least amount of sense.
Why did God ask Abraham to remove that unnecessary flap of skin on his penis, and every male in his company? Why did this promised son come only after this operation?
Scholars have been kicking that question around for centuries with no conclusive answer. The best guess I can think of brings me to a time God spoke with a man tending sheep.
When Moses talked with the burning bush God told him to remove his sandals because Moses was standing on holy ground. The sandals were a barrier between Moses and the presence of God’s proximity.
Maybe the skin represented a “barrier” between human conception on the natural level and God’s soon to be miraculous conception that would come only after its removal. That’s my best guess, that doesn’t count for much.
And the name changes…what’s up with that?
Whenever God changes a person’s name in the Bible their life is about to change as well. Think Simon to Peter, or Saul to Paul, both the fisherman and the Pharisee became mighty Apostles for Jesus. But, they had to shed themselves of their old life first.
That’s the symbolism of baptism. We wash our old life off like the water washes our dirt away. Our new life can really take root only after the old ways are abandoned.
God’s people would bear the intimate mark of belonging to God’s chosen race by circumcision. God’s blessings would come after the removal of this represented barrier.
I love the way God uses symbolism.
An interesting sidelight here. Doctors have discovered that boy infants’ blood coagulates best at eight days of age. An interesting coincidence if you ask me.
You don’t need to be circumcised or baptized to enter God’s presence after you die. These are merely tokens of obedience and belonging not necessities.
Faith alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone. That’s the only hope of entrance into heaven.
Recognizing your failure to be pure enough to enter God’s perfect holiness because of sin is the first step.
Recognizing Jesus as the only man who lived without sin is the next important ingredient.
Accepting Jesus’ death on the cross as something He didn’t deserve, but did to cover our deficit because there’s no way we could ever reach God’s perfection is the defining step we take to be adopted into God’s spiritual family.
Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is His proof that He conquered death once and for all.
One major thing happens when we enter heaven, according to Revelation 2:17 we’ll get a white stone with our new name on it.
Oh yeah, we’ll have our entire existence changed from that point on. A new identity will definitely be required at that time. We won’t be anything like we are while living on earth.
Our sin nature will be removed so we can commune with God on an intimate level. Much more intimate that anything we can experience here in this life.
The choice is yours now. You can keep searching for happiness and fulfillment in this life or you can give God your future because of Jesus’ sacrifice.
Personally, I’m curious what my new name is on that perfect white stone.
What about you?
I’ll see you later. Wade