“On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.”
Luke 2:21 NIV
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.””
Genesis 17:1-14 NIV
“God took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away. As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him.
When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.””
Genesis 15:5-12, 17-21 NIV
Mary looked upon her son. He was both her son and her Savior. He was her new beginning. He was now eight days old. Eight was the number of new beginnings. A week in the Baby’s life had passed. A new day had dawned for Israel. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” The prophet Isaiah had spoken of this newness hundreds of years before this day had come upon the Baby and this new mommy. Mary washed the tiny infant, she was preparing him for Brit Malah. This was his day of circumcision. Today, she and Joseph would reveal to all what the Baby’s name is. As she kissed the top of His head she whispered, “Jesus, you’re name is Jesus.” She remembered the instructions of Gabriel. She had memorized every word. Gabriel gave her every command the Lord God had given him. “You will conceive and give birth to a son and you are to call him Jesus.” Joseph walked up and took the innocent Child from her arms. He tucked the blanket tighter around the sleeping Baby. “Jesus,” Joseph also whispered. He could never forget the “dream.” An Angel had also come to him in his night. The Angel told him in a dream, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Joseph held the Baby close and protectively. To all the outside world, this Baby was his son, but as he snuggled the Baby closer, Joseph knew this Baby was his Deliverer. “Come, Mary, we should get to the ceremony.” With Joseph carrying the Infant, this family of three went to a kinsman’s home for the ceremony of Brit Mahal.
Joseph knocked on the door of his distant relative while he handed the Baby to Mary. Upon entering, Kvatterin took the Baby from Mary and carried him into the room where the circumcision would be performed. And all the guests recited, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Because Joseph and Mary were faithful to the law of Moses, every ritual of this covenant ceremony was performed to the letter. And now, the Baby held in his body the Mark of the Covenant. Joseph took his Baby back in his arms to comfort and still His quivering chin, and as the wine and the blessing was recited, Joseph put a drop of wine in the Baby’s mouth, then revealed to all, “His name is Jesus!” There was a compelling gasp from all the guests. The name meant “God will save.” They remembered their mighty hero Joshua. The name held great meaning for everyone gathered. The naming of a child is a most profound spiritual moment in this ceremony. The naming of a baby is a statement of their character. As this Baby slept peacefully in Joseph’s arms, every guest there looked upon the One who would Save their people.
I just described the ceremony Joseph and Mary would have followed the day they brought Jesus to be circumcised. According to Mosaic law and even before that, God commanded this ceremony be performed on every male child on his eighth day of birth. God made a covenant with Abraham to make Abraham’s family fruitful and his descendant’s would outnumber the stars of the sky. “Kings would come from his lineage,” God promised Abraham. Jesus was a descendant from Abraham. God told Abraham that Abraham’s mark for believing in His covenant was the mark of circumcision. Every covenant requires a signature from participating parties. Circumcision was Abraham’s mark; it was his symbol that he believed God’s promise. And on this eighth day of Jesus’ life, God also bore the mark of Abraham. The One who made the Covenant was now also a bearer of the mark of the covenant. On the night that God made this covenant with Abraham, He passed between the carcasses of dead animals in the form of a smoking fire pot with a blazing torch. If I believe in the trinity, which I do, Father, Son and Holy Ghost and all three are God in One, then I have to see that fire pot with a blazing torch was Jesus Son of God before He came as a Baby and entered our world. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit made a covenant with Abraham thousands of years before Jesus received Abraham’s mark of the covenant in His body. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit then changed Abram’s name to Abraham. Again, thousands of years before Jesus received his earthly name, He changed the name of Abram and gave him the name Abraham. The paradox and irony and multidimensional parallel’s of all this is hard to wrap my brain around.
But for now, as I begin 2016, my lesson I walk away with is, God is a Covenant Keeper. He was very specific about when a male child is to be circumcised. A male child is circumcised at eight days of birth. Doctors have discovered at eight days an enzyme is produced in an infant that causes blood to clot faster. Also, the number eight in Jewish religion is the number for new beginnings, and according to the way Jewish people count their days, this would put Jesus’ eighth day on January 1st. Jesus is the only person in all of history that affected our calendar. At his birth the calendar went from A.D. to B.C. We went from counting the days backward to counting the days forward.
OK 2016! I am ready to face you. I know my God is a Covenant Keeper! I know my God is a God of New Beginnings! And I know my God will propel me forward and not keep me in the past. I am eagerly awaiting all God has for me and my family in the New Year!
As my sister blogger puts it, “Let’s carry Emmanuel – God with us 365 days of the year.”