Circumcision. It was an act of obedience demanded by Abraham, and every Jew since God gave Abraham a covenant. The purpose of this act was for God’s people to show faithfulness and obedience to God.
“Make sure you circumcise both your own children and anyone brought in from the outside. That way my covenant will be cut into your body, a permanent mark of my permanent covenant.” (Genesis 17:13, The Message)
“…My covenant will be marked in your flesh as an everlasting covenant.” (Genesis 17:13, HCSB)
The idea is that God requires His people to mark on themselves their commitment to Himself. This ritual was expected for every male. As servants of God, and as leaders of the family, the men would be reminded of their responsibility to follow God on a daily basis. An act that is made in such an intimate space and private area of a man’s life would also remind them of the intimacy they should have with God.
Circumcision is made eight days after birth. This ritual is passed down from father to son. In the New Testament, the act of circumcision is compared and contrasted with the act of baptism.
“You were also circumcised in Him with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh, in the circumcision of the Messiah. Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:11–12, HCSB)
“Therefore, circumcise your hearts and don’t be stiff-necked any longer.” (Deuteronomy 10:16, HCSB)
“The Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants, and you will love Him with all your heart and all your soul so that you will live.” (Deuteronomy 30:6, HCSB)
God expected circumcision to be used as an outward expression of a heart’s desire to follow God. Circumcision is an expression of love.
“John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mark 1:4, HCSB)
Jesus baptized people who decided to change their lives to follow and love God. In a similar fashion as circumcision, one becomes baptized to show one’s devotion to God. Christians don’t circumcise the penis, but the heart. Baptism is less an act of submission as much as it is an act of devotion.