Sunday: Circumcision and Dedication

(Luke 2:21-24)

God established His covenant with Abraham, saying that he would be the father of many nations (Gen. 17:4). When God made this covenant, the ninety-nine year old Abraham had only recently fathered Ishmael and had not yet seen the birth of his promised son, Isaac. Nonetheless, he was commanded to circumcise himself along with every male member of his household, and he was instructed to ensure that every son born into his household from that day forth be circumcised on the eighth day (Gen. 17:9-12). So important was this sign that the circumcision took place even if the eighth day fell on a Sabbath (Lev. 12:3, John 7:22).

Image © Providence Collection from

Image © Providence Collection from

This truth gives us a better understanding of the earliest days of Jesus’ life. The Gospels do show that Joseph and Mary were chosen to be the earthly parents of Jesus at least in part because of their piety. Joseph is described as a righteous man (Matt. 1:19, NASB), and Mary is said to have found favor with God (Luke 1:30, NASB). When Jesus was eight days old, His parents held a naming and circumcision ceremony in the same manner as the untold number of Hebrew males had experienced in times past.

Imagine, the spotless Son of God, now in human form, undergoing the very ritual that He Himself had instituted many centuries earlier!

Read Luke 2:21-24 in light of Exodus 13:2, 12 and Leviticus 12:1-8. What more do these texts tell us about Joseph and Mary? What can we learn for ourselves, in our own time and sphere, from their example?

The Bible is clear that Mary was a virgin when she was chosen to be the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:27); so, Jesus was the first child that opened her womb. According to Exodus 13, every firstborn among the Israelites (whether animal or human) was to be dedicated to the Lord. The law also stipulated in Leviticus 12:2-5 that after the birth of a male child, the woman was ceremonially unclean for a total of forty days (eighty for a female child). At the end of this period, she was required to show herself to the priest and offer a sacrifice. As pious Jews, Mary and Joseph meticulously fulfilled the obligations of the Mosaic law and ensured that the Son of God bore the marks of the covenant.



Sunday: Circumcision and Dedication — 33 Comments

  1. Being Jews, the parents of Christ obeyed to the letter the laws given through Moses to the Jews .Their piety is a great example for all members of the Adventist church. The church has rules and conventions which has been given by inspiration to us. We are to obey them with sincerity like the parents of Christ. I can only be certain that Mary and Joseph did obey the laws on health as any other Jewish laws.It behooves on pious Adventists really watching and waiting on the second Advent of Christ to uphold the instructions and guides from Health to lifestyle and morality to the highest esteem and obey them since they are also inspired by God Himself.

    • I think what gets confusing is when we make the obedience a price we pay for salvation. We need to be sure and careful to understand that to be saved I only need to say "Yes and thank you."

      • When one says "yes and thank you" to Jesus the are saying a lot of things. Because you have to first understand what you are saying 'yes' to, and 'thanks' to, so you can follow the bible (Christ). Have you ever said yes and thanks to someone but after realized you had made a mistake. We have to make up our minds whatever the price we have to pay.

  2. I have a question and I hope it is not a digression from today's study: There is an extensive campaign in public media for male circumcision in my part of the world and a lot of health benefits are being publicised about. School children are encouraged to participate and costs for this operation range from zero to near zero. Medical personnel both in private and public sector are paid substantial allowances to ensure success of the campaign. My question is: Is there genuinely great benefits in this practice (male circumcision) previously a requirement for the LORD's OT community or its one of those overhyped and exaggerated public campaigns? Could there be some hidden intentions in this promotion that we are not fully informed of?

    • I think that your question is fair enough in the circumstances. First of all circumcision has nothing to do with salvation. I have seen the issue of circumcision for medical reasons come and go several times during my lifetime. It often depends on who you listen to as to whether it appears beneficial or not. My advice to parents is to do your homework, take advice from people who know but do not have an agenda, pray about it, and make your decision.

      • In my country, circumcision is part of the regular activities for elementary children during summer. This is not required ,but If you are male, you have to have circumcised before you graduate from elementary or else you will be bullied here and there by other children. Being uncircumcised is something for you to be ashamed of, you will be made a subject for fun by other children and even adults. This is also one of the medical missions "Free Circumcision" our church loves to do during summer.

        You are fortunate if circumcision is given free in your place. I hope you would not mind if I share how children in my small barrio who can't afford to go to a doctor aspire for circumcision. They are circumcised using sharp bolo. They are given guava leaves to chew, and after the skin is cut, they are told to spit on the cut. And that's it. No anesthesia, no pain reliever. Sometimes it is made funny because when the child is asked to spit on the wound, he has no more to spit because he has swallowed the guava leaves because of pain.

        Last Friday, I had my 11 year old child circumcised. For hygiene, we let our males undergo circumcision. I haven't heard any negative about circumcision.

        • Male circumcision reduces the risk that a man will acquire HIV from an infected female partner, and also lowers the risk of other STDs , penile cancer, and infant urinary tract infection.
          For female partners, male circumcision reduces the risk of cervical cancer, genital ulceration, bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, and HPV. Although male circumcision has risks including pain, bleeding, and infection, more serious complications are rare.

          In my old A&P textbook I had an interesting comment while describing some female cancers in ancient times, and it said that the Jews nation was the only nation where this cancer did not occur in women because of male circumcision. I think that's fascinating.

      • Whether a male is circumcised or not, if males take care of personal hygiene, the male should be okay. Many males are not circumcised and living quite healthy.

    • Some interesting facts demonstrate why God commanded that circumcision be done on the eighth day of a baby's life: The blood clotting mechanism is fully functional at that time, On the fifth through the seventh days of the newborn male’s life, Vitamin K, produced by bacteria in the intestinal tract, is present in adequate quantities. And it is Vitamin K, coupled with prothrombin, that causes blood coagulation, which is important in any surgical procedure. On the eighth day, the amount of prothrombin present actually is elevated above one-hundred percent of normal—and is the only day in the male’s life in which this will be the case under normal conditions. [Ref] )

      If done before the eighth day, circumcision can sometimes cause dangerous hemorrhages.

      I have also run across the claim that pain perception is less on that day, but I can find no verification of it.

      • I have also heard these discoveries from a biology professor in his sermon one Sabbath. One more thing that I also observed Ma'am is that I've never heard of any infections suffered from circumcision.

        The lesson is, we might not understand the reason behind some commands but if God says, like Abraham, follow it and never question it. The answer to our questions will come later. I'm not referring to circumcision at this time because the command is already obsolete, but Jesus went through circumcision why are we afraid to follow also (not for salvation but for health reasons). Abraham was circumcised at the age of 99, how I wish he wrote also the benefits he enjoyed after compared to when he was not yet circumcised because I believe aside from it is a covenat, there are other related benefits behind circumcision. (like the feeling of always being clean for example and the facts Sarah shared).

        • A word of caution: Cultural circumcision is a choice for families but it should be done with appropriate attention to hygiene. I am aware of a couple of cases recently where cultural circumcision has gone seriously wrong. Those of you who make the decision to have your male children circumcised must also take on the responsibility to ensure that it is done with attention to the medical issues.

    • Dear Sindie, The medical world believes that Circumcision has benefits and reduces the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. So there is a campaign in most of Africa for circumcision. You can opt for it, but nobody can force you.

  3. Am having a question some one would help. Are we as christians to under obligation to have our male children circumcised? Can we take it as an instituted of way back from the beginning to us even today?

    • I don't think we have obligation to do so anymore. I think it's a personal choice and preference.

    • Read Acts 15. From these verses it is absolutely clear that circumcision is no longer a requirement.

  4. While circumcision may have many medical advantages in the Bible it is presented as a "sign of the covenant" that God made with Abraham (Gen 17:11). What I wonder about is why circumcision? Why not some outward sign easily seen by other people? It might have been based on medical reasons but I think there also might be a legal reason for it.

    In ancient times ratification of covenants usually involved blood. Three good examples are the ratification of the Abrahamic covenant (Gen 15 especially v 9-10, 17), the ratification/dedication ceremony of the covenant made at Sinai (Ex 24:8; Heb 9:18-20) and Christ's sacrifice on the cross as stated during the last supper, "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28; 1 Cor 11:25 NKJV). For Jews after the exodus it could also be a reflection back on that experience when blood was put on the doorposts thereby protecting everyone in the house whether personally dedicated or not (Ex 12:13). If circumcision was a dedication ceremony based on covenantal ratification then I can see how it could be a very powerful practice for ancient Jews.

  5. I would like to go to the later part of Sundays lesson dealing with ceremonial uncleanness. I do not believe I have ever heard why is there a difference in time uncleanness of the mother between male and female child. Also, what was the purpose of the sin offering at the end of the time period?

    • Norman, we have to understand, any sacrifice which dealt with the shedding of blood for one reason or another pointed to Jesus who would come to paid the price. Since Christ came already, no woman is ceremonial unclean. We all stand at the foot of the cross equal (male or female). A woman do not have to stay away from the church for 40 or 80 days. Christ already paid the price.

  6. Jesus says "No" to circumcision. If we refer to 1 Corinthians. 7:18 -19. We are reminded to live according to our calling. In Jesus Christ our value is determined by our faith. Today circumcision is done for either health reasons or for ritual purposes. Both have no value before Jesus Christ, the Lord.

    Fellow Christians, do not invite conflict or confusion by making reference to some of the laws that were done away with on the cross at Calvary. Jesus Christ came for everybody irrespective of race or originality so those laws that related to a particular race were invalidated on the cross and shall never apply anywhere in the kingdom of God.

    However, we are advised to be obedient to what Jesus Christ says in as much as what His earthly parents demonstrated in any given circumstance during their time. Also be reminded that the ten commandments are universal and are like common law.

    • I think you are right Cleopas when you say, “Today circumcision is done for either health reasons or for ritual purposes. Both have no value before Jesus Christ, the Lord.” But I think there are times when it is advisable. Perhaps the best example of this is the circumcision of Timothy who came from a split home where his mother was Jewish and his father was a Gentile (Acts 16:1). As the story goes Paul “took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek” (Act 16:3 NKJV). In other words Paul turned him into a Jew. Not necessary for salvation but for the sake of winning people to Christ and the stability of the church Paul had it done (1 Cor 9:19-23).

    • Jesus never said NO to circumcision. The point here is, circumcision is not anymore a valid covenant between God and Abraham. Circumcised or uncircumcised, we are all God's people and our salvation is never determined by this ritual.

      Circumcision is like brushing our teeth. Both will not save us and it's our choice to brush our teeth or not. We do it not because it is commanded but for physical cleanliness.

    • Jesus did not say no to circumcision, as mentioned in the lesson the spotless Son of God,  in human form, have undergone the very ritual that He Himself had instituted many centuries earlier! 
      As Merwin said "The point here is, circumcision is not anymore a valid covenant between God and Abraham's children. Circumcised or uncircumcised, we are all God's people and our salvation is never determined by this ritual.

  7. Monday lesson says all festivals that were given to Moses by God were done away with. Is so, why do we have camp meetings, and why are told not to there empty handed (a specific requirement of 3 major festivals)

  8. I just hope my point comes out relevant in regard to Sindie Moyo and this week's lesson "Christ and the Laws of Moses." One thing i personally get from how Christ's parents responded to the Mosaic laws is the respect of society ethics and leadership.

    I think Christianity is not meant to be a contradiction to society's good beliefs and laws, but rather an example to the world that it is necessary to fulfill our obligations as citizens or residents in a given society. To this I would like to bring the Example in Mark 12:15-17, Christ informs those who asked him about tax payment their obligation as society demands.

    Is circumcision is recommended for a good cause, I would recommend it since it fulfills a citizen's obligation in society and it has no way it affects our salvation

    • My beloveth brother Obadiah in Christ. We as Gods' people still have to question the reason for such actions. If we just go ahead without any given reason, we might also look at female circumcision. Nowhere in the bible it is said of such, yet societies partake in such. Would we just follow the society's good beliefs and laws to be at peace with the laws of that given society because it is for a good cause?

  9. Tyler, I like your comment.
    On the other hand, Joseph and Mary appeared to be people who pleased God. They lived as close as possible to the Law of Moses. Moses, in the law God had given him, gave a law of purification after childbirth; and Mary followed this law. This can be found in Leviticus 12:2-3. In Leviticus 12:6-8, we see the Levitical law that covers the gift Mary brought for her atonement, She could not bring a lamb so she brought the lesser expensive sacrifice.

  10. Hi everyone
    A pastor once explained the reason for circumsition in that every time a male jew would go to the bathroom he would have a visual reminder that the Messiah will come and be born through the jews, it might even be through himself. That also explains why circumsition was done away with after Christ,s death, circumsition was a another shadow of a promise to come and be fulfilled.

  11. I loved the discussion raised by the subject of circumcision. Let's circumcise our hearts brothers and sisters. For health reasons male physical circumcision is perfect. For those who fulfil the traditions of the societies that they were born - like the kikuyu where I was born-well and good. For those who don't practice it-you are well come if you don't mind. For those who can't stand it-you are still good to go. We are all God's children.

  12. Dear brethren ,
    In Uganda we have a clan that requires circumcision of all males. When discussing this lesson with fellow believers this practice was condemned . Many believers are of the view that Christians should do away with their cultures ! But on the other hand our Lord Jesus meticulously followed the culture he was born into. Any Christian guide on this as I prepare for sabbath class where I see this topic dominating my class!

    • There is nothing wrong with culture and customs. The only culture and customs we need to do away with are those that contravene the Word of God.

      Culture can be a good thing. It is a good idea to examine the background of culture and customs to find the reasoning behind its existence. But remember too that time changes the view of people. While the main reason for a custom might have been long forgotten, it still might be aesthetically pleasing to some.

  13. One thought,
    Prior to Christs living among us, women were treated very very poorly. I'm not saying that they were immediately viewed in a better light during and after Christs life on earth.

    I believe circumcision was given as a command to protect old testament Jewish women. It reduced the risk of sexually transmitted infections and related complications. If God was going to raise up a great nation, it made sense to reduce the risk of disease, and related female/male infertility.

    Infidelity, even among God's "main guys" was rampant. When Jesus came, he spoke against Moses's certificate of divorce and spoke of true adultery and staying faithful.

  14. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ Genesis 1:1: ‘Then God said let us make man in our image…’ Genesis 2:26; ‘So God created man in his own image…male and female he created them. Genesis 2:27

    My perspective is: Let God's Holy Spirit be the counselor and guide in the ways and means of the interpretation of the above practices in our daily reality.
    Since we are all not Jews, European, African, Caribbean, or American our cultural perspective are different and as such determines our mode of living. The push and pull of culture differs according to our environment and lifestyle. However God is the source of lifestyle and culture and all life within a given culture are asked by him: 'If you love me keep my commandments' 'Love one another and by this all men shall know that you are my disciple'.
    In post resurrection era we are told by the New Testament writers and Jesus Christ himself that we are saved by faith – faith and Christ’s Righteousness. These are given to us by knowledge, acceptance, belief and application of God’s commandments.
    21st Century life style is so complicated and destructively frightening. It is compact with deception of all hews be it Christianity, or other faith practices, political rules, and religious regulations that if it was possible those of us who accepts God's lifestyle will give up as a result of its push and pull.
    The premise let go and let God is a principle as pertinent for contemporary times as it were for ancient/biblical times. When God's commands for each culture, geographical region, epoch and individual are applied God will be seen in humanity and Salvation would have arrived. So to circumcise or not to be; is not the issue. Why not let the spirit speaks as we live our lives and simply watch the ebb and flow of contemporary political correctness.


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