Jesus’ Circumcision

23 Jun

from Google Images

When he was eight days old, Jesus underwent the ceremony of circumcision (Luke 2:21). The ritual was first instituted in the days of Abraham (Genesis 17:9-14) and was commanded by God (Genesis 17:10). Its purpose was to define who was related to God as far as the promises were concerned. Those who were circumcised were called the people of God, while those who were not were cut off from God’s people and rejected. That is, the promises wouldn’t apply to them.

Besides being circumcised, Jesus was also given his name on the eighth day (Luke 2:21). Of course, he was actually named by the angel before he was born (Luke 1:31; Matthew 1:21), but, Jesus was officially given his name during the circumcision ceremony, just as Abram and Sarai were given new names—Abraham and Sarah—when the covenant of circumcision was first established by God. Abram became Abraham, and Sarai became Sarah on the day Abraham was circumcised (cf. Genesis 17:5, 15-16, 24).

It is interesting that Scripture tells us that seven people were named before they were born: Ishmael, Isaac, Solomon, Josiah, Cyrus, John (the Baptist), and Jesus. What is also interesting is the significance that can be drawn from the meaning of their names, as that meaning is related to the Messiah. Consider that the name Ishmael, which means “the God who hears” has nothing in common with the “wild man” which is how he is described by the Angel of the Lord (Genesis 16:12). The meaning of the name, Ishmael, therefore, must have another purpose, if it bears any significance at all, and, if it has no purpose, why was he named by the Angel in the first place?

Isaac (H3327 – Genesis 17:19) means “laughter” or “to laugh”. Isaac’s name reflects the astonishment of both Abraham and Sarah who laughed, when they discovered he would be born in their old age. The name, Solomon (H8010 – 1Chronicles 22:9), means “rest” or “peace”, because the Lord had given him rest from all the enemies of Israel, in order that he could build the Temple instead of than David, his father, who was warlike. Later another descendant of David, the king, arose in Judah, and his name was Josiah (H2977 – 1Kings 13:2). The name, Josiah means “healed or supported by God”. No king since David had been so devoted to the Lord than Josiah, and he sought to exterminate idolatry throughout his kingdom wherever it was found.

The only gentile whom the Scriptures claim was named before his birth was Cyrus (H3566 – Koresh). His name means, according to Brown, Driver and Briggs: “possess you the furnace”. It has a connection to kor ashan (H3565) meaning “furnace of smoke” (cf. Genesis 15:17 and Exodus 13:21). Cyrus was called God’s shepherd (Isaiah 44:28) and his anointed one or messiah (Isaiah 45:1). He permitted the Jews to return to their lands and commanded the rebuilding of both Jerusalem and its Temple.

John (the Baptist) means “gift of God” (H2491). He was chosen to be the forerunner of Jesus and was to prepare God’s people for the coming of the Messiah, turning “the hearts of the children to the fathers” (Malachi 4:6; Luke 1:17). That is, John was to turn the hearts of the descendants (children) to Jacob and Levi (the fathers – cf. Malachi 1:2 and 2:4) or the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just. Both Malachi and John were concerned with the then current priesthood, which was corrupt and cursed by God. The Lord’s covenant was with Levi, the just and wise father, and Moses was his just and wise descendant (cf. Malachi 2:1-6).

The name, Jesus, is Greek for Joshua and means “Jehovah’s Savior”. The seven names point to Jesus, the Messiah. He is the God who hears (Ishmael), who brings laughter (Isaac) to those in covenant with him. He causes his children to have rest (Solomon) from their enemies, and heals (Josiah) their sinful ways. As the smoking furnace[1] (Cyrus) he will shepherd his people. He is the gift of God (John) who turns the hearts of his people to wisdom and justice. He is the Lord their Savior (Jesus).


[1] Smoking furnace refers to Jehovah God who made a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15:17). It is also another way of expressing the pillar of fire or cloud that went before Israel to lead her out of Egypt (cf. Exodus 13:21-22).

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Posted by on June 23, 2016 in Gospel of Luke


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