In Genesis 17, God reveals more of how He plans to fulfill His covenant with Abraham. There are two aspects to the covenant with Abraham.

  1. There’s a physical fulfillment of the covenant
    –  physical land: Land of Canaan promised to Abraham
    –  physical people: Israelites
    –  become part of that physical people through physical birth → descendant of Abraham
    –  physical sign: sign of circumcision
    –  develops further in the covenant with Moses
  2. There’s a spiritual fulfillment of the covenant
    –  spiritual land: heavenly Jerusalem; Jerusalem above
    –  spiritual people: church; Christians; body of Christ
    –  become part of that spiritual people through spiritual birth → you must be born again
    –  spiritual sign: Christian baptism
    –  culminates in the new covenant

Physical circumcision was never, in itself, the point. It was symbolic of God’s desire for a people whose sinful flesh had been cut off. It was symbolic of God’s desire for His people to fully obey Him from their heart. Fleshly circumcision demanded wholehearted love for God… but it was unable to produce such a love. Circumcision of the flesh pointed to the need for a circumcision of the heart, accomplished by Christ Himself. (Col 2:11-12)

If you are in Christ, you have been circumcised with a circumcision made without hands. The covenant of grace, the new covenant, produces what it demands: a new heart on which is written the law of God, based on the blood of God Himself, Jesus Christ, whose flesh was cut and torn and ripped for you and me.