and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. (ESV)
Have you ever done any ancestry research? Perhaps there is a king or great influential person in your lineage. My father told me that there is a man who lent money to the army that fought with George Washington in the Revolutionary War. If the government were to pay him back for the money he gave with interest we would all be millionaires. I am not holding my breath.
The Jews were very proud of their heritage. They traced their lineage back to Abraham himself. They knew that Abraham was a great man of faith who was willing to take the greatest risks in following God. If nothing else, Abraham was a great role model for the people of Israel, and continues to be a role model of faith for us today.
If you read today's verse carefully you will find that Paul is making an almost shocking statement. He calls Abraham the father of those who are circumcised AND walk in the same footsteps of faith as Abraham did. He is indirectly dis-inheriting all of the Jews who were so proud of their race and their circumcision, yet had no faith in God. Paul is suggesting that they are not true sons of Abraham.
Where else do we find this concept? In John 8 we have Jesus' words to the Jews who were trying to kill him. Listen to Jesus' words: "They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works Abraham did . . . You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires" (John 8:39, 44).
Let us not be people who celebrate our heritage while refusing to walk in faith. To have Abraham as our father, and ultimately God as our Father, we must walk in the faith that comes from God.