Not Waiting – Genesis 17:23

“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.”
Genesis 17:23

“That very day.”

Abraham did this that very day.

God spoke to him of the covenant being established, confirming it and clarifying the line of offspring it would apply to: Sarah’s son, not another’s. And God included a new command that every male throughout the generations be circumcised, signifying this covenant. Those who refused would be cut off for breaking it.

This was not a comfortable or easy obedience. It would be quite physically painful. But Abraham did not waste any time. He didn’t even wait 24 hours.

No, he went forward and did what the Lord commanded. Just as he had done when God told him to leave his home and go out to a place God would reveal.

Abraham obeyed.

Oh, that this would be the description of our obedience as well.

To have our eyes opened and hearts enlightened as we read Scripture or hear it preached. To know the truth of God’s Word and obey it that very day. As Isaiah 50:5 says, “The LORD God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward.”

Not waffling or procrastinating. Not trying to reason our way out of it.

Simply obeying.

I want to take a brief moment to comment on spiritual manipulation here. Because there are some who use the Bible to coerce others into doing what they want, claiming it as spiritual obedience. And it can sound so convincing when they do it.

Our God is full of wisdom, love, and kindness toward us. He wants us to walk in wisdom as well, which includes boundaries to care for and protect ourselves and not enable others’ sin, selfishness, or irresponsibility. Enabling those things is not a healthy form of love or kindness and we don’t see Jesus doing it. It can actually help keep the other person, as well as ourselves, trapped.

Wisdom and discernment are key pieces as we seek to live in obedience, humbly examining others’ perspectives, our understanding of Scripture, and ourselves.

There are often conflicting emotions to work through even in the clearest of commands, when we’re confident in what God’s Word is telling us to do but we wrestle with applying it in a given circumstance – but let us work through those emotions as we obey.

Even as I write that statement, part of me is squirming…because it is much easier to write than to live out sometimes. It’s tempting to delay obedience until we can get feelings of resistance settled. For me, that generally just means I don’t want to do it and I’m looking for excuses to put it off.

But then I wonder: is God’s Word not the truth that sets us free? The beautiful, steadfast, powerful truth of the Gospel and what it means for our lives? James calls it “the law of liberty” (James 1:25), which is a description that I love. Freedom is found here, in our faith and obedience to the God who really does know what He’s doing and what He’s asking.

He knows how hard it is. He knows how painful it can be. And He cares. He cares enough about you to command it for your freedom, with all compassion and tender care and strength poured into you – and into me – to make attaining and walking in that freedom possible.

So we aren’t bound to a life that is less.

And so we can know Him, the Life-giver.

It reminds me of Hebrews 12:1-2, which describes a life where we look to Jesus, focus on the joy set before us, and throw off everything that would keep us from it.

Abraham wasn’t going to let the momentary pain, as great as it might be, keep him from what God was promising.

I don’t want to let it keep me from that either, or from a moment of the abundant life Jesus came to give us.

This life lived with Jesus in obedience and confident faith has guaranteed trouble (John 16:33). But it also has life abundant (John 10:10), fullness of joy (John 15:11; Psalm 16:11), peace beyond understanding (Philippians 4:7), and an inheritance kept in heaven for us that will never perish, spoil, or fade (1 Peter 1:4).

Everything we are commanded to give up won’t last and it won’t get us what we’re wanting.

We give up the lie to gain true freedom.

We give up what won’t last and gain everything that will last forever – everything that truly fills our cup to overflowing and makes our soul come alive.

And then we will know eternal life, the true life that is abundant, never-ending, and free from fear. Because we know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent (John 17:3).

Let’s not wait another day.

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