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Grace Bible Church

Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries


The TREE OF LIFE is a weekly teaching summary.

The Tree of Life for week ending 05/19/02.
The Divine Plan behind Circumcision and its Spiritual Significance. Part 2.

GEN 17:12 is our main passage and led to our study of the Doctrine of Circumcision, "And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants."

We have noted that the number eight represents that which is over and above the number of rest and completion, which is seven, as well as representing something brand new.  The number eight also refers to regeneration as well as resurrection and that is why the eighth day of the week, Sunday, is called the Lord's day in the New Testament,MAT 28:1.  Eight is also the Bible number for success, resurrection and glory, LUK 9:28.
Eight is also the number of newness of life in 1Pe 3:20, when God destroyed the world through the flood eight persons, were brought safely through the water.  The fact that this ritual occurred on the eighth day is no coincidence.  It denotes the newness of having the life of God.  It points to the importance of growing up spiritually and reaching that resurrection life in time.

It refers to regeneration and newness and being excited about the privilege of having the life of God in the souls of man. Yet mankind goes through life totally ignorant of these fantastic blessings.
So the number eight in the Bible illustrates the principle of  something new, something great, something glorious and that is why the Lord instituted the eighth day for the right of circumcision. 
Eight means the beginning of a new race.  
Eight means everything that is a challenge to us.  
Abraham is going to be a new race, the moment he is circumcised, in one moment of time he will be converted by God into an entirely new race.  The name Jew will be the indication for his race, and since he has no nationality, since departing from Ur of the Chaldees, he will be called a Hebrew.  Hebrew means immigrant, or one who crosses over the river, later on Hebrew will carry the connotation of missionary.
Later, his progeny will be Jews, they will be born Jews, but they will also become the nation of Israel. Hebrew will be replaced by the nation, but that's six hundred years away beginning with Moses.
Abraham is the father of the Jewish race, Moses will be the father of the nation Israel.
There will then be four types of people instead of three, Shem, Ham, Japheth, and Jew. The purpose of the Jew is that God raises up the race in order to be the custodians of the word of God in the Old Testament. God honors His word and this is always a testimony to His word in every generation of history. 
Islam will come from Ishmael, and Islam will practice circumcision in the thirteenth year.  Just as it had no meaning with Ishmael, because Ishmael was an unbeliever, so it has no meaning as the ritual is practiced today in Islam.
Ishmael is a founder of a group of nations rather than a race.
Ishmael is not in the Abrahamic covenant, this is a covenant for a new race, and this is a covenant, which has a ritual.  Based upon the principle that the only thing that really counts in life is Bible doctrine resident in the soul, the ritual without doctrine is meaningless.

Ishmael is not in the covenant of the new race, and Ishmael's circumcision does not have any spiritual connotation. Today many Arab groups follow the custom of circumcision at age 13, since many of them are descended from Ishmael.  But the impact of this passage is to exclude Abraham's first born, to exclude Ishmael, from the new race and from the Abrahamic covenant.
When Ishmael was circumcised he is still Semitic and he will still be the founder of several Arab groups.  Abraham had maximum doctrine resident in his soul, which means that he has already adjusted to every system of adjustment to God. Abraham has adjusted to the justice of God at salvation.  Abraham believed in the Lord and was credited to his account for righteousness.

Between Genesis chapter 16 and 17, during those 13 years Abraham used rebound many times, Abraham has cracked the maturity barrier.  Abraham is now a mature believer, and that maturity is adjustment to the justice of God. God honors His word.
Maximum doctrine resident in the soul frees the justice of God for every wonderful blessing of life, as we have been studying throughout the last few weeks in this particular series.
Ishmael was circumcised but he has not believed in the Lord and never will, he has rejected adjustment to the justice of God.
The only reason that Ishmael is ever blessed is because he is the son of an ultra supergrace believer. It is because of his relationship to Abraham, that's the only reason, and this explains the principle why the wicked prosper.
PSA 37:7 Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.

Psalm 73 describes some of the frustrations that many believers have had at times. They make positive decisions and then see friends, family members and relatives making negative decisions and getting ahead in life and receiving prosperity.  There's a frustration that can take place, things are not working out in their life and then they see certain people, namely the wicked, or those who could care less about God, prospering.

PSA 73:1 (A Psalm of Asaph.) Surely God is good to Israel, To those who are pure in heart!

This type of thinking is very important especially when you're going through something and you don't know how that thing is going to turn out.  When you're going through adversity in time or disaster, remember: Even if you don't understand what you're going through remember God is good to His people.

PSA 73:2-3 But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling; My steps had almost slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant, {As} I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

Envy in the soul turns into jealousy.  There are certain people who prosper even though they are wicked.  One of the main reasons is found in our main passage in Gen 17, blessing because of association with a mature believer.
God in His Grace actually will allow the wicked to prosper on this earth.  One of the reasons is because this is their Heaven.  God loves them so much that He sent His uniquely born son for them but they rejected Him.  However, His impersonal love, loves them, this is their only form of prosperity, this is their Heaven.
Once they die, for billions and billions and billions and billions of years they suffer in the eternal lake of fire and so in God's grace, He blesses them and lets them have some enjoyment, because He's a just and righteous God.
There are believers and unbelievers who cheat and lie and steal and who are criminals and who would do what they can to get ahead and it may seem that they get more.  But you don't see the discomfort and lack of content in their soul.  You don't see when they go to sleep at night that they have all these riches and all these things and all this form of prosperity, but there's something missing in their soul.
They don't have that peace that goes beyond understanding, PHI 4:6.
No one can buy contentment.  

Solomon said this in ECC 2:10, And all that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure,
He was the most miserable person in the world at this time and he said, "All that my eyes desired, I did not refuse them." 

PSA 73:13, Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure, And washed my hands in innocence;
Believers can feel that way sometimes, they take in doctrine, follow God, but it seems all in vain because they don't see immediate results.

PSA 73:16, When I pondered to understand this, It was troublesome in my sight.

PSA 73:17, Until I came into the Sanctuary of God: Then I perceived their end

Once back into the sanctuary or the place where God's Word was taught, eyes are opened again to the truth.
When things are not going right in your life, that's a time to draw near. If everything's going wrong in your life say, "I better get to class right now, things are not working out and I know God is on my side, I need some enlightenment.  I need to hear what the Spirit says to the church."

PSA 73:18 Surely Thou dost set them in slippery places; Thou dost cast them down to destruction.
They were standing on a smooth place (everything's going smooth for them), but always remember something - smooth places can be very slippery.
Remember ECC 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.
They keep doing it, because they think they're getting ahead, they're getting away with it.  They're not.  
The Lord says, There's a year for their punishment  meaning every person who is anti-God and has negative volition has a year assigned by God for their punishment.
Believers in The Lord Jesus Christ have have something far greater than any rich man could ever, ever buy and never forget that.
So in PSA 73:23 Nevertheless I am continually with Thee; Thou hast taken hold of my right hand.
I don't care if things are going wrong.  
I don't care if I don't have that money.  
I don't care if I don't know what my future is all about.
 "I am with thee;  You have taken hold of my right hand." 

PSA 73:24 With Thy counsel [your doctrine] Thou wilt guide me, And afterward receive me to glory.
As believers, we must have spiritual momentum and that comes from daily intake of doctrine. You must take in doctrine today, and tomorrow, and the next day and the next and the next. It is your daily intake of the word that is going to change your life.
It is Satan's objective as the ruler of this world to eliminate Jews, and to blind us from the piritual significance of circumcision. But one ritual which occurred nearly four thousand years ago, one ritual of circumcision tells us the whole story, it tells us many stories, it tells us why the wicked often prosper. 
It tells us why the Jews are blessed by God in a special way.  It tells us that the exploitation of grace is available to every generation, and even though many of us as believers are gentiles, we are in for the greatest possible blessings by the exploitation of the grace of God.
One man, with many of his failures recorded for us in the word of God, is an example of what can happen if the believer doesn't quit and goes forward in God's plan, ROM 15:4, 1CO 10:11.
There is only one way to exploit grace, you can't go out and work for God to gain blessing from God.  You can't tithe, join the church, feel sorry for your sins and go through a system of legalistic penance, you can't do any of these things for the blessing of God.  There's only one way to get the blessing of God, and that's to take in doctrine, today, tomorrow, the next day, the next, the next and the next and the next after that. 

Notice the next statement in GEN 17:12-13, "And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant or slave who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants. A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant."

You can be a slave and still be blessed of God no matter what the conditions. You may be in great adversity, you may be in slavery, but you can still be blessed of God.  You don't have to be free to have divine blessing.
Freedom does not mean equality. Many people who have freedom abuse freedom. Many people who have freedom don't even use it.
A slave can use the freedom in his soul and reach spiritual maturity if there is positive volition in the soul.
You can be in a situation of slavery or bondage, maybe in a bad marriage, or you don't like your job, financial bondage, problems with your health, etc., and still enjoy the truth that sets you free.
God provides the doctrine, and your response to doctrine is the key.  
Even a slave born in the house can have great the opportunity for prosperity.  
The key to prosperity is Bible doctrine because God honors His word.  
When the justice of God is liberated and free to bless, He can bless anyone, anywhere, anytime, no matter what their social status is.
So, even people who are not Jews, and even people who have had to sell themselves into slavery can be blessed by association. 
Many people in the ancient world sold themselves into slavery. That's the way you filed bankruptcy in the ancient world.
So, there was possibility for a person who has had real adversity to turn that adversity around into great blessing.  But you can't do it apart from adjustment to the justice of God.  For the only one who can turn cursing into blessing is God Himself.  God has a monopoly on turning cursing into blessing.  When man tries to solve his own problems, by turning cursing into blessing, he intensifies the cursing. 
Ther are two categories of slaves mentioned back in our passage.  
Those who were bought as slaves or given to Abraham, GEN 16:12 (given by Pharaoh); GEN 20:14 (Abimelech); and those who were born slaves, GEN 14:14; GEN 17:12-13.
Slavery is a Biblical subject.
So let notice some principles as found in the Word of God.
There were two sources of slavery in the ancient world: poverty in peacetime and being captured prisoners in war. Poverty in peacetime means that they sold themselves as slaves.
Being captured in wartime means that they were acquired by force.

A man could sell himself into slavery, according to LEV 25:39-41. Becoming a slave was a way of declaring bankruptcy and paying off his debts.  However, he had to be freed during the Year of Jubilee (every fiftieth year in the history of Israel).

All slaves were freed every fiftieth year even if they sold themselves on the 49th year.  The only exception is if a slave did not want to be free and then he could remain a slave by an act of his own volition.

A father could sell his daughter or son into slavery to pay off the debts, EXO 21:7; NEH 5:5.

A widow's children could be sold to pay off their father's debt, 2KI 4:1.

A woman could sell herself into slavery, DEU 15:12-17.

Slaves were often acquired through trade, purchase, payment of debt, as a gift, through birth, plunder in war, or by self-determination, EXO 21:16.

Slaves were manumitted by redemption or purchase, by the elapse of time (six years), EXO 21:2-4, by the year of jubilee (the fiftieth year), JER 34:8-10, through physical disability or being maimed, EXO 21:26.

Slaves had to be paid wages and they could use their pay to purchase their own freedom on the seventh year.

Being maimed or disabled also meant that they could be free. In this case, the master was responsible to take care of the slave for life. You see, certain people find security in slavery and servant-hood.

A pastor is to be a slave of The Lord Jesus Christ, not a servant but a doulos, a slave. Servant is a dignified title that doesn't hold any water in the Greek at all.
Now, the piercing of the ears was a reference to the person willingly becoming a servant or a slave forever.  He would stand up against the door and he would spread his ear out and then get hit with an awl and he would get a nice whole put through the ear!
And here's an interesting one, one that is very important biblically if slavery is just, the slave had the right to own property and possess money, LEV 25:29.
He had the right to promotion, GEN 15:2; GEN 39:4.
He had the right to worship God without interference from the master, EXO 12:44; DEU 12:12

The Bible goes to great extremes to demonstrate rights and privileges of the master and rights and privileges of the slave. And therefore note that slavery was not forbidden.
In the New Testament, the Church was not issued any decree abolishing slavery, even though many early church believers were slaves in the Roman empire. The responsibility of a slave to a master is taught in EPH 6:5-9 and COL 3:22-4:1. Now we've used those passages in the past to help labor in our day and age with management.
However, it says master and slave, it says kurios and doulos.

EPH 6:5-9 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. And, masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

COL 3:22- 4:1 Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality. Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.

Now it's very difficult to teach something that runs counter to our historical trend.
 the epistle to Philemon dealing with a run away slave, it doesn't advocate the abolishment of slavery, but emphasizes just treatment of slaves who are believers or otherwise.
Onesimus was a run away slave and returned when Paul sent him back.
It also gives strong emphasis on the personal option to free slaves under principles of grace righteousness. Slavery has continued throughout world history.
Abraham chose to have slaves and the Bible does not condemn him for it.
Slavery means great responsibility to the slave owner in the execution of his authority. It takes great leadership ability not to abuse the power of ownership.
Slavery provided the option between security and freedom.

Back to our main passage in GEN 17:12-13, And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant or slave who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants. A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.

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