An Inclusive Covenant

gets abused.

Genesis 17:22-27 ESV)

When he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham. Then Abraham took Ishmael his son and all those born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. That very day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised. And all the men of his house, those born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.

There are two words in this passage that come screaming off the page; “every” and “bought.” Abraham circumcised every male, even himself and even those bought with money from a foreigner. This brings an extraordinary level of equality to the covenant. Even foreign slaves are included – and the context makes this even stronger.

“Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.” – Genesis 17:14 (ESV)

So, for a slave, bought with money from a foreigner, who are his people? Is an uncircumcised Egyptian cut off from the Egyptian people?

Of course not. “His people” has to mean the people of the covenant.

This is the precise opposite of racism and it’s astonishingly early in human history for something like this to occur.

Abraham is generally believed to have lived in the Bronze Age.

Nevertheless, a Stone Age tool was used for circumcision.

At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the sons of Israel a second time.” So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth.–Joshua 5:2-3

Whether Stone Age or Bronze Age, this was at the dawn of recorded history. From the very beginning, God’s covenant sign was not ethnically limited. Of course, some people will invent ways to inject racism into God’s covenant.

But what makes this especially awful is their motive. Instead of using religion as a foundation for life and ethics, people use it as a tool to take advantage of others.

This is singularly wicked. It injects falsehood into the heart of truth and gives everyone grounds to be skeptical.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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