One of the things pointed out in the New Testament in several places is there were certain covenants and promises God delivered that you couldn’t say belonged exclusively to the Jewish people. For instance, the privilege of being God’s own wasn’t exclusively Jewish. After all, Abraham was given such a promise with circumcision as the sign of it. Note that Israel was Jacob, and he was Abraham’s grandson. But we can’t automatically assume one can claim God’s promise “just because.” God doesn’t work that way. If He did, then Ishmael and Esau would have received similar assurances as their brothers. In looking at the accounts found in Genesis, we find that’s not the case. So what assumptions can we make? The only assumption we can safely make is that some are called by God and some are not and we have no ability to tell beforehand which group a person belongs to. That last part is key.
When he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham. 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. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. That very day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised. And all the men of his house, those born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him. – Genesis 17:22-27, ESV
Note who all were circumcised: every male in Abraham’s household. It didn’t matter if the male was one of Abraham’s family, like Ishmael, if had been born with the group, or if they had been bought away from a foreigner (and likely a foreigner themselves). The origin of the man didn’t matter. What mattered was he was a member of Abraham’s household. That was the determining factor with respect to circumcision. So any divisions we want to make based on race, education, social status, previous religious background, history of sinfulness, etc., falls flat. There was no distinction made here. Every male was included.
But just as every male was included, it cannot be said that every male received the promise from God. We know Ishmael did not. We know later on Esau would not. Isaac did. Jacob/Israel did. Why did God call some and not all? A better question is, “Why did God call some instead of rejecting all?” Mercy. Love. Grace. Why given to some and not to others is beyond our comprehension. It’s also beyond our perception. We cannot look at a person and say, “God wants this one,” or “God doesn’t want that one.” We don’t have that ability. What we do have is the Gospel. What we do have is a commandment to go and share the Good News with the nations. What we do have is a parable that reminds us that we’ll cast seed and some will grow and prosper and some won’t even make it before a bird comes and eats them. Notice how little influence and impact we have on whether *that* person is saved or not. We have none. We are simply to share.
It’s a beautiful promise, isn’t it? God sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the Cross for our sins. He paid the penalty we could not. He redeemed us and covered us with His righteousness and holiness. We did nothing to earn and could do nothing to get it. It’s a free gift from God. So why are we hogging such a lovely promise? Why are we not eagerly sharing it, and seeing if folks are Isaac or Ishmael, if they are Jacob or Esau? The only way we can know which way they will go is to observe them over the course of their lives after we have shared the promise of Christ with them. Therefore it is our duty to share. It is our purpose to tell others about the promise. Just as every man was circumcised in Abraham’s house, we must go and tell about the covenant to every man (, woman, and child) that we can.
Who in your life today do you suspect does not know the Gospel? Who could you reach out to and speak with about it? Who doesn’t know about this precious promise that God lays before us? Would you do something about it this week? Would you act with the understanding that you don’t have the sight of God to know who will be saved and who won’t? Let us share the promise. Let us extend the offer from God. And let us glorify Him by making Him known to those around us.