On That Very Day
“On that very day Abraham took . . . his entire household, and circumcised them, as God told him. Abraham was ninety-nine years old.” Genesis 17:23
How many of you reading this are procrastinators? You know, someone who says, “Why put off until tomorrow something you can put off until the day after tomorrow?” I’m like that when it comes to certain chores around the house, like painting or raking leaves. But eventually, even the day after tomorrow comes and I have to do the chores.
My worst procrastination occurred the time I waited ten months before obeying God’s direction for my life. They were a miserable ten months, I’ll confess, and even when I did obey, I did it with an attitude. But God accepted my obedience nonetheless, and He still let me stay in the family.
However, this was not the attitude of Abraham. Genesis says after God visited with Abraham and established the covenant of circumcision, “On that very day,” Abraham circumcised every male in his entire household: Ishmael, all those born in his house or bought with money, and even himself. At ninety-nine years of age, Abraham believes that God will still bring him a family through Sarah and he has himself circumcised.
I’d have probably waited longer than ten months just to allow myself to imagine such a thing, much less obey it. Then I’d pray some more, ask God for a significant sign that it was really Him and not the devil, run it by my friends, my pastor, my wife and even the greeter at Wal-Mart. Anything to put off what I knew was, for me, my inevitable response: obedience.
Abraham challenges me in that his obedience is immediate. He didn’t put off obeying the painful and virtually unexplainable directives of God. Furthermore, I don’t know how he convinced his household to obey this dramatic change. Most pastors have difficulty getting everyone in the congregation to agree on changing the color of the carpet, much less something as radical as circumcision. I have no idea how Abraham convinced every male in his household to comply with God’s covenant, and to do so immediately.
If Abraham was ever caught up in the “What will people think?” syndrome, Scripture never says. Perhaps Abraham obeyed so quickly he never gave himself much time to think about it. He set his mind to obey the Lord and he never turned back. There’s a significant lesson in there for me. And for you.
There is a bright side to the story, however. Abraham was ninety-nine when he entered into this covenant with God. Now, most of the guys reading this might be thinking, “I don’t know if I could get circumcised, WITHOUT anesthesia, when I am ninety-nine!” But that’s not my point. The point is it is never too late, and one is never too old, to obey and serve the Lord. Age is not a factor in the grace of God’s calling. It gives me comfort to know I’m not too old to obey God and see His miracles take place in my household.