In the Image of God

Covenant

Chapter Three

Covenant of the Promised Land — Circumcision

Last chapter, we saw that God made a covenant with Abraham, the sign of which was circumcision. In the New Testament, that covenant was named the covenant of circumcision. Why would God make a covenant with Abraham and all his descendents? Why would God command circumcision be a requisite for being in the Promised Land?

The Promised Land

It cannot be overstated that Abram believed God, and it was considered righteousness. What does it mean, he believed God? Shouldn’t it be that he believed in God? To believe God meant that he believed His promises, that is, Abram believed that his descendents would inherit the great land of Canaan.

The childless Abram was old and Sara was past child bearing. How could he believe in God’s promise? Abram was aware of the creation-covenant connection, and, therefore, knew that God could give him descendents.

God wanted a sign of the covenant, circumcision. Unless a person is circumcised, he cannot enter and be a subject of the Promised Land. At eight days old, all newborn boys had to be circumcised. It was the law, an everlasting covenant. Any boy or man not circumcised must be cut off from the people. Which was the unkindest cut? – circumcision or being
severed from Israel.

On the very day God told him about circumcision, the faithfully obedient Abraham, his new name now, had himself circumcised and his entire male household—his son Ishmael and all those born in his household.

(See:
Acts 7:8, Gen 17:10, Acts 15:1-9, Gen 17:8-14.)

Passover Requirement

After Passover, the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea and, eventually, into the Promised Land by passing through the Jordan River. God wants His People to keep the remembrance of Passover in Egypt and Jesus Passover with special rites. Before Jesus, the children of Israel kept a Passover meal in remembrance. But, only those who were circumcised could take part in the ceremony, that is, eat the Passover. Even slaves and aliens, if circumcised, could participate.

No one uncircumcised could participate.

Soon after Passover, Israel passed through the Red Sea, which is a type of baptism. Also the first, and last, baptism, was the great flood, after which God made the covenant with Noah. So circumcision meant a person could participate in the remembrance of the great event, which began the journey to the Promised Land and salvation.

(See:
Exo12:43-4, 48.)

Covenant of Faithful Obedience

Why only the Circumcised? As in everything else, Abraham, who was the first to endure circumcision, obeyed God, His Promise of the Promised Land, by immediately having himself and all the males in his household and employ circumcised. His faith was reckoned as righteousness and proven by his actions.

Circumcision, the cutting of flesh, reminds us of the original covenant when the flame passed between the severed animals (except the birds). Therefore, circumcision has a powerful sign of God’s great covenant with Abraham.

(See:
Gen 17:23-27.)

Circumcised on the Eight Day

The day of completion is the Sabbath, the seventh day. Mankind will have six thousand years of misrule on Earth. The seventh millennium, which I call the Pax Deum, the Peace of God, will be ruled by Christ. AT the beginning of the eighth millennium all previously ignorant of or misunderstanding the Words of Truth will be given an opportunity to choose life or death.

Circumcision on the eighth day is a type of prophecy of mankind’s last chance for salvation. Circumcision is performed on the newborn after seven complete days of being born.

(See:
Gen 21:4.)

The Great Controversy

A certain group of early Christians noted that the custom of Abraham and Moses received from God demanded circumcision to be saved, that is, to enter the Kingdom of God, which is the new Promised Land. It was the law. Therefore, the newly converted Gentiles, that group said, must endure circumcision.

After a great discussion involving all the Church Fathers, it was decided that Gentiles did not have to keep the law, that is, the law of circumcision. In effect, the law done away with, was not the Law or the Commandments, but the law of circumcision. In passing, I may note that two other laws were done away with in the New Testament, the law of sin and death and the law of sacrifice. The former because Jesus destroyed sin by his death and resurrection and the latter because Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice, which precluded any further sacrifices.

On what Biblical premise did the Apostles find that circumcision was unnecessary for the Gentiles?

(See:
Gal 6:12-15.)

Circumcision of the Heart

God told Israel to circumcise their hearts, that is, stop being stubborn. So He added to the law of circumcision and set the precedent for a circumcision different from the physical. Later He promised to circumcise their hearts so they will love God with their hearts and obey them with their entire being. Indeed, God set the circumstances that would cause Israel to abandon its stubborn disobedience in following the ways of paganism. Invasion, coups, and finally, captivity ground much of the pride from the hearts of many Israelis.

So circumcision of the heart was a better circumcision because physical circumcision could not change the heart. This rite became no more than a type of formal ceremony without any meaning or lasting effect. In effect, circumcision of the heart was akin to having God’s Law written on their hearts. Pride was cut out of the heart like the piece of flesh was cut out of the body.

Paul, noted that unless a person were circumcised inwardly, not necessarily outwardly, he was not part of the group of believers. Circumcision had little effect if done by human hands, but of great effect when done by the man, Jesus.

So the controversy was resolved almost two thousand years ago. But, today many misuse the law of physical circumcision being replaced by spiritual circumcision to announce that the law of commandments was done away with. A priori reasoning demands that since they keep only eight commandments, at best, the Bible must be shown to prove the error of their ways.

(See:
Deut 10:16, Jer 4:4, Lev 26:41, Jer 9:25, Rom 2:28-29, Deut 30:6, Col 2:11, Matt 3:10.)

Circumcision by Christ

Since physical circumcision is no longer required and since we must still be circumcised of the heart, we are now circumcised by Christ. How does that happen? By putting off the sinful nature, that is, disobedience to the Ten Commandments, we become circumcised by Jesus. In other words, we repent, get buried like Christ by water baptism and then are raised out of the watery grave to eternal life in the resurrection. Christ, himself, circumcises our hearts, cuts out stubborn pride, so we can humbly obey Our Father in Heaven’s laws of love and life.

While we were dead because of our sins and uncircumcised because of our sinful nature, God raised us from the dead and made us alive with Jesus. When Christ circumcises our hearts, we obtain the forgiveness for sins Christ’s death and resurrection brought to all mankind.

(See:
Col 2:11-13.)

Made Clean

Thus, we are made clean. The circumcision of our hearts and the baptism of our souls and bodies slices away practises of evil and scrubs away all the remains of devilish filth.

Then believers take hold of the Holy Spirit was poured out on all flesh and use it in their lives. This gift for all the world is left languishing by all except a few that have the faith to use its power for good.

(See:
Acts 10:45- Acts 11:10.)

Message of Salvation

What message of salvation has been sent? The message sent is the covenant of the promised land based on the circumcision of the heart. All have to be circumcised of the heart, even if some, the Jews for example, have been physically circumcised.

The message of salvation is that the Gentiles, who need not be physically circumcised, can inherit the Kingdom of God, even as the chosen ones, the Jews could. If the Gentiles accept the circumcision of Christ, they become subjects in the Kingdom of God.

(See:
Acts 13:26.)

The Faith of Abraham

As we all know, believing in God without believing Him is pointless. Because if we believe God, His promises and His Way of Life, we will behave differently than people who just believe in God. If God says obedience brings salvation, those who believe God will obey His Commandments and Laws. If God says righteousness comes from faith, those who believe God will prove their faith by their actions just as Abraham proved his faith by attempting to sacrifice Isaac and allowing himself to be circumcised. If God says the Kingdom of God will be given to those who allow themselves to be circumcised of the heart by Christ, those who believe God will humble themselves and strive mightily to enter the Kingdom of God by obedience and love.

Faith says Christ obtained release from the pangs of death by his sacrifice and resurrection. We can no more earn that salvation than we can create life from nothing. But, God did lay out for us a bundle of good works for us to do. Part of those good works is keeping the Ten Commandments. Jesus said, if you would enter life, keep the commandments.

Proof of faith is the willingness to step out and obey God without really seeing the results. Abraham knew that if he sacrificed Isaac, God could and would resurrect him because of the promise that his progeny would inherit the land. He could not see how God would do this miracle, but he could see the evidence of the creation in nature. So God who created the world for good would indeed bring Isaac back to life.

Of course, God did not want Isaac sacrificed; He just wanted Abraham to appreciate the depth of his own faith.

(See:
John 8:31, Eph 2:10.)

A New Circumcision and a New Creation.

When Christ circumcises a person’s heart, he becomes a new creation, the old has passed away. Physical circumcision means little if a person does not repent and become a new person who acts as if he is made in the image of God.

The old nature has been circumcised away, cut from the heart of the old man filled with evil human nature. Then God replaced the uncircumcised heart with a new heart filled with love and obedience. The new circumcised heart is a new creation.

(See:
Gal 6:15, 2 Cor 5:17, Eph 2:10.)

The Promised Land of Truth — the Kingdom of God

All kingdoms start with an idea. The Greek word for idea is logos, which is mostly translated as the Word. In the beginning God had an idea, logos, about creating for Himself a family to inherit eternal life in His Kingdom, the Kingdom of God. In the beginning was the Word, the logos, of God, that is, the Bible. First, God created His Word based on his idea, or using some Greek, first God created the logos based on his logos.

Little by little as God found people like Noah, Abraham, and Moses, he revealed His Word to these faithful men. God could not reveal His Plan of salvation to unbelievers because they wouldn’t believe, much less obey through faith.

The apostle John reveals that God’s Word is Truth. He also reveals that one man lived by every Word that came from God’s mouth. Because he lived the Bible, he was called the Word, logos, made flesh. And because he never sinned and thus could not die, he took on the sins of all mankind from Adam to whomever will be the last person on Earth and died for their sins.

The Truth is his heroic action not only circumcised believers but also due to the circumcision of their hearts open the gate to enter the Kingdom of God. Just as physical circumcision was necessary to enter the Promised Land, so too is circumcision of the heart necessary to enter new Promised Land, the Kingdom of God.

The Truth is those who believe the promise of the Kingdom of God through Christ as Abraham believed the promise of the land of Canaan will be able to live as a son (or daughter) of God forever in the New Jerusalem ready to come to Earth in a thousand plus years from now. The Truth is unless a person wants to be in that Kingdom more than the things of the transitory life here and now, he will never be ready to give up all to follow Jesus into the New Promised Land.

So circumcise your hearts and be stubborn and prideful no more for the time is near that the Kingdom of God will suddenly appear for those anxious to walk up the narrow path to the tiny gate to eternal life. The time is as near as the time you sleep (in apparent death) because while one sleeps one has no concept of time. The rest will die and be resurrected for a few years under tremendous temptation to make the choice of life or death. The faithful will sleep instead and awake when Jesus comes in all his power into the Kingdom of God, which will overthrow all other kingdoms.

(See:
Eph 4:21, John 8:32-47.)

The Promised Land

So choose the fleeting fantasy of sinful pleasures on an Earth destined for destruction. Or choose life on the new Earth replacing the one that will go up in smoke and eagerly await a new heaven coming to the new Earth. If you want life, allow Christ to circumcise your hearts so he can bring you into his Father’s Kingdom.

(See:
Isa 65:17, Rev 21:5, 2 Pet 3:13.)

Amen.

Gil Kovacs

Word Study

Circumcision: muwl, to cut short, that is, curtail (the prepuce, to circumcise); to blunt; fig. to destroy.

Covenant: beriyth, a compact (because made by passing between pieces of flesh).

Creation: barah, to select; also to feed; also to render clear.

Sabbath Christian Church
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941 649 5888
E-mail: kov@mediaone.net
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