“For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers….” (Romans 15:8, NASB95)
In Genesis 12:1-3 God made a covenant with Abram (Abraham) and told him that through his seed all of the nations would be blessed. Later in Genesis 17 when Abram (now to be known as Abraham) was 99 years of age God reaffirmed His covenant with Abraham as He reaffirmed His promise that through his seed he was making an everlasting covenant. This time Abraham was told that he and all other males in his household were to be circumcised, and that all male children who are subsequently born are to be circumcised on the eighth day (Genesis 17:9-14). God reaffirmed that Abraham’s wife Sarai (Now Sarah) was going to have that child. They had a hard time believing it initially, but sure enough a year later Isaac was born to Abraham who was now 100.
Our Savior was born a Jew from the lineage of Abraham. This is shown to us both through his mother Mary and Joseph who was supposed as His father (Luke 3:23). Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary who was chosen to be His mother, and the physical genealogy of Jesus from Adam through Abraham and his son Isaac is found in Luke 3:23-38. And in Matthew 1:1-16 we have the inheritance lineage through His earthy father Joseph.
This lineage on both sides continued through the time when the people of Israel demanded a king, and the first of Israel’s kings was chosen. This included one who failed and then one who followed. In Acts 13 we have a brief summary of what happened. “Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.’ From the descendants of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus,” (Acts 13:21–23, NASB95) It was this marker, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS” that was nailed to His cross.
God had promised His people that He would provide a Redeemer, a Savior, a Messiah—One through whom all of the nations would be blessed including those to whom God first made His promise. So, as we look at this verse and the ones that follow, we need to be mindful that our God does not forget His promises and He is faithful to keep them. He sent the seed in Isaac and He fulfilled the promise of that seed in Jesus, who himself was circumcised on the eighth day just as God had commanded of His people.
“And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.” (Luke 2:21, NASB95)
And in so doing they continued with the ultimate confirmation of the promises given to the fathers.
To the Jewish believer this is an incredible heritage, knowing that through their people God has blessed all of the nations of the world, and that our God who makes His promises is faithful to keep them. And as they look forward to the future, they also can do so with the great hope that God has preserved a remnant among His people and that one day their eyes will be opened and they will in large numbers trust in His Son for their own salvation.
In chapter 11 of Romans Paul wrote, “I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. ... “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” “This is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.”” (Romans 11:1-2a, 25–27, NASB95)
For the rest of us, knowing our God has kept His promises over thousands of years and has extended His great grace to us and adopted us as His children gives us a similar hope, knowing that what He said He indeed will do.