Is the sign of the Avraham Covenant important? The sign of circumcision. Avraham is told at 99 years of age to become circumcised as a sign of the covenant with G-d. He is told this covenant is between Me and you and your descendants. All his servants were also to be circumcised. Many Christians believe they are a spiritual descendants of Avraham based on Galatians 3:28-29. So one must ask is circumcision important? In Galatians 5, circumcision comes up again. Remember circumcision was an issue in Galatians 2, which I address here, and was the subject of the Jerusalem council in Acts 15. Circumcision is a sign that one belongs to the covenant of promise with G-d. Let’s look at what Paul is telling us now.
Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. Galatians 5:2-6
Verses 2 & 3 have been used for many years to state that one should not become circumcised for if you do you are under obligation to keep the whole law. That is you have to keep it perfectly. If not, you have been severed from Christ and He is of no benefit to you. Wow. Just reading those two verses alone, I would agree that circumcision seems to have passed by the way side. But, I have to take all of Scripture and view these verses in context. Did Avraham have to be circumcised to receive salvation? No. He had emunah (faith) and then was circumcised. Why? G-d said it was the sign of the covenant between them and future generations. So just like Avraham, you must have emunah first. For if you think getting circumcised does anything for you then you are sadly mistaken. If you believe that verses 2 & 3 say not to get circumcised then an issue arises when Timothy gets circumcised and Paul is right there with him.
Paul clears up the message if one would continue reading and not form their thoughts before reading the whole passage. Verse 4 tells us this is for those seeking to be justified by the law. In other words, receive salvation by works. Paul has stated this throughout this epistle. Salvation is not by works, but by having emunah. Circumcision of the flesh is a sign of the circumcision of the heart. Throughout Scripture David, the Prophets, and Yeshua all were saying repent of the heart, come back to Him. You can make sacrifices all day, but if you heart is not right it does not matter. You can give all the money you want, but if your heart is not in the right place it does matter. This is what Paul is saying in v6, circumcision does not mean anything towards salvation. If you do not have emunah, whatever you do does not matter.
We must remember to read the entire passage. Sometimes this means reading a few verses, sometimes a previous chapter or two, or sometimes going back into the Tanak to obtain the proper perspective. We must always have the Torah as our foundation and all other writings are pointing back to the Torah.
Now, I ask you again, is the sign still important?
Until next time…kadosh, kadosh, kadosh is HaShem!