A Covenant Promise Fulfilled
In this covenant God promised the land to Abraham's descendants, prosperity, and a great blessing on all the nations in that the Messiah would come through the nation that would be Abraham's descendants. At this time God also gave a blessing for Ishmael for Abraham's sake, but Ishmael was not the son of "the promise". And Abraham's part was to serve God, and every male was to be circumcised as a seal of that covenant; every male born into that family was to be circumcised on the eighth day, and every male bought as a slave was to be circumcised. And if this was not performed, the covenant was broken, and that male was excluded from the covenant. Circumcision was the seal of that covenant.
(Romans 4:10-11 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:).
Abraham believed God and obeyed Him. His faith was an active faith. Abraham believed, circumcision took place, and it was counted unto him as righteousness.
(2 Cor. 1:20-23 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.) and (Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.)
When we hear God’s word, believe, repent of our sins, confess before men that Jesus is the son of God, and are baptized in obedience to His will, we mortify the “flesh” as a “circumcision of the heart”, which appropriates the Holy Spirit as our earnest; putting to death our fleshly lusts, and living to the Spirit of God’s will. Abraham entered into a covenant relationship with God. We enter into Christ, and God adds us to His Body, identifying us as a child, and we are therefore protected and guarded by God. Abraham was “circumsiced” in order to maintain that covenant. Our “circumcision” of the heart should bring about the putting to death the works of the flesh in order to maintain our covenant relationship with God.
(2 Tim. 2:19)
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.)
Abraham believed, circumcision took place, and it was counted to him as righteousness. Circumcision (physical requirement) was not contingent on belief (e.g.. a baby 8 days old cannot “believe”). But baptism is contingent on belief (spiritual heart) when a person understands and repents (e.g.. Paul on the road to Damascus; the Phillippian jailer, the Eunuch, Lydia, etc.).
The promise of a son and heir was fulfilled when Abraham was one hundred years old, and his wife Sarah was ninety years old. The most significant time of testing was when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son to Him. By this time Abraham trusted God completely, and prepared to sacrifice Isaac, knowing that God would either provide in some way, or raise Isaac from the dead (Heb. 11:19), since God's promise to bless all Nations was to be through this son, Isaac. Abraham always did just as God asked, just as Noah did everything God had commanded of him. And God always kept His promises. All that God has said has always come to pass.
So, in the first few chapters of Genesis, three great men stand out: 1. Enoch, who walked with God -- and was "taken", 2. Noah, who obeyed God -- and was preserved, and 3. Abraham, who believed God -- and because of his faith was justified in his obedience. If we walk in God’s way, and obey Him, we will be justified in our obedience by the Grace of God.
We can be forgiven in spite of our sins! If we but walk in God’s way and do that which is right in His sight!