Abraham Circumcised His Son Ishmael and Was Circumcised Himself
Abraham immediately took his son Ishmael and all of the slaves born in his household or bought with his money—every single male within his household—and circumcised the flesh of their foreskins on that very day, just as God had told him to do. Abraham was already 99 years old when he was circumcised. His son Ishmael was 13 years old when he received the mark of the covenant. On the day Abraham and Ishmael were circumcised, all men of the household, no matter where they had come from, were circumcised along with them.
Genesis 17:23-27 (VOICE)
This was no small matter. Abraham had thousands of servants. I’m sure many of the males were not excited about this. But Abraham was moved by faith and an obedient spirit to carry out the command of God. Immediately he instituted the rite of circumcision throughout his company the very same day that God gave him this instruction.
When we know God has spoken to us, we need to act quickly and decisively.
Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin of the male reproductive organ. Other cultures in biblical times practice circumcision. For example, there is evidence of the practice in ancient Egypt. Young men were usually circumcised at puberty, to prepare them for marriage and as an entrance into adult responsibilities.
God told Abraham to circumcise his baby son, Isaac, as a sign and seal of God’s covenant with him. In addition, Abraham circumcised his son Ishmael and was circumcised himself. The Hebrew people were instructed to continue the practice, marking them as God’s covenant people.
The Hebrews were the only ancients to circumcise babies, which freed the practice from any association with fertility rituals. Circumcision was an outward, physical sign of that which God wanted to be true inwardly.
So circumcise the foreskin of your [minds and] hearts; be no longer stubborn and hardened.
Deuteronomy 10:16 (AMP)
In the NT, Paul used circumcision to represent all of the law and those who thought they could be right with God by obeying the law. He then went on to teach that inward circumcision – allowing God to cut sin out of our hearts – would forevermore be the mark of devotion to the Lord. Thus, Christians today are not under the command to be circumcised.
For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.
Galatians 5:6 (NLT)
But let us remember that the true circumcision is that of the heart, by the Spirit, Rom 2:28-29. Both under the old and new dispensation, many have had the outward profession, and the outward seal, who were never sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise.
Both Ishmael and his father, Abraham, were circumcised on the same day. Abraham was obeying God and making himself and his family eligible to fulfill the divine purposes. The Lord’s plan to reach and bless all the nations was moving toward fulfillment.
But Abraham and his son Isaac went on to serve the Lord, while Ishmael and his children departed from the Lord. Circumcision was only an outward sign of an inward faith. Ishmael didn’t have that faith, and therefore, his circumcision was rendered un-circumcision.