Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you; every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. Every male throughout every generation that is eight days old shall be circumcised, whether born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner who is not your descendant. He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised. My covenant shall be in your flesh as an everlasting covenant.Genesis 17:9–13 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
Sometimes things are too important to just glide over. This is one of those things.
In all of what God said before to Abraham of His covenant, God alone took complete responsibility for keeping it. Up until now, nothing was given to Abraham to do.
Abraham’s part in this covenant is to bear the sign of the covenant, circumcision. It is not that the Israelis keep or perform the covenant, or even that the covenant is conditioned on anything that they do or don’t. They make the sign of the covenant. This means circumcision points to God keeping His Word, just as the rainbow pointed to God keeping His covenant with Noah.
God said that this was for Abraham and his descendants throughout their generations. Like God making an everlasting covenant, one He intended to keep… Abraham’s portion was also eternal. It would be this way throughout the generations of Israelis until ultimately coming to the Descendant who would be named Jesus.
Jesus was circumcised.
When eight days had passed and the Child was circumcised, He was named JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.Luke 2:21 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
Here is how my mind works: Jesus bears this particular mark eternally. Just as He bears the other marks received in His flesh as a sign of God keeping His word. This one is no different.
I can imagine what the thoughts are. Israelis didn’t parade the sign publicly. The sign was covered.
This is an eternal covenant for Abraham and his descendants to keep. What is mind-boggling is that this covenant is all God. Meaning all of the responsibility is His to keep, even Abraham’s.
If this was part of a condition to the covenant that Abraham had to fulfill (I don’t think it was,) it is ultimately completed forever by Jesus! Yet it is never presented as conditional. God gives multitudes as descendants and the land of Canaan. Think about that. Jesus is the end of the law, not that it ever went away. But it is complete forever in Him!
By tradition, some church teachings liken infant baptism as an extension or allegory to circumcision. I don’t think it applies that way. Baptism is like circumcision in a wholly different way.
Self-professed believers are plunged underwater, buried beneath it signifying death. They are suddenly pulled up from it pointing right to the resurrection. Believers will be resurrected by the promise of God. They are pointing their own faith to and in a God Who keeps His own covenant promises. Baptism is a sign pointing to a promise from God.
Abraham didn’t have to wait on God in order to believe and trust God to keep His word. In the same way, Abraham didn’t have to fear not continually keeping a condition for God to keep His promises.
And neither do you.