Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The TREE OF LIFE is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life for week ending 05/12/02.
The Divine Plan behind Circumcision and its Spiritual Significance.
In our study of the origin of the Jew, we now continue in GEN 17:9 where God reiterated the Abrahamic Covenant,"Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their Generations."
GEN 17:10-14 "This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. 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. 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. But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant."
Circumcision is a sign of all that is related to the ultra supergrace prosperity of Abraham and the Jews. It is the recognition of the beginning of a new birth but also of the fact that God not only provides salvation in time, but it becomes logical that with salvation He will provide many other things.
Remember ROM 8:32, He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
There is something beyond salvation, and the ritual of circumcision is going to emphasize some of these wonderful things.
In verses 9 through 14 we have an extensive dissertation on the ritual of circumcision.
So we translate GEN 17:9 "Furthermore," Elohim said to Abraham, "Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their Generations."
The phrase God said further to Abraham, is from the Hebrew verb amar and indicates that there must be further teaching after the reconfirmation of the Abrahamic covenant. God is now going to communicate some doctrine that Abraham never heard before, some further teaching. This a significant and pivotal momentous occasion. Momentous occasions are accompanied by permanent training aids to bring to remembrance the new doctrinal principles.
For example, in the founding of the new race, the Jew, a permanent training aid was set up and that is the ritual for circumcision.
In the founding of the new nation, Israel, a permanent training aid was set up the Levitical offerings, the tabernacle and the holy days were permanent training aids.
In the bringing forth of the new spiritual species, the Church, the Lord's supper was instituted as a training aid and as a momentous occasion to commemorate the doctrinal principle of the Lord supper.
The celebration of the Lord's supper is a ritual but it is to commemorate a momentous occasion with certain doctrinal principles in view. We are proclaiming the Lord's death an through that death justification, propitiation, expiation, reconciliation, redemption.
When a lot of believers think about the Lord's Supper they think about it as being a time when they go through a ritual that reveals the reality of our Lord's sacrifice, and that is partly true.
However, there is another aspect of it that I think a lot of believers overlook and that is the aspect of fellowship with God's people.
Whether you like it or not, or whether you are people-oriented or not, or a so-called people person or not, the bottom line is that you have been called to be a member of the body of Christ and to function as a member of the body.
In GEN 17:9 the phrase shall keep means to guard something of infinite value, appreciating it to the utmost, that it stands as number one in your scale of values.
It is guarding something in the sense that it stands as number one in your scale of values. The Abrahamic covenant is so important to the Jew, to the racial Jew, that it must be guarded in every generation by a memorial ritual. A ritual, which for nearly 4000 years has been faithfully observed in every generation of the Jewish race. That's how this particular ritual has perpetuated itself, it is the oldest of all the rituals, and therefore one of the least understood, but one of the most important.
The ritual, even at its very beginning was attacked by overflowing to others who were not Jewish, and becoming a practice for many other nationalities and races. There are many gentile groups who are circumcised, but it has no meaning to these people. Just as emersion in baptism has very little meaning, if any today, to certain denominations who claim that it is a must. They practice it, but it's a ritual without meaning.
The same thing is true about the Lord's table, a ritual started by the Lord Jesus Christ the night He was betrayed, and a ritual, which is now nearly 2000 years old. Many churches go through the motions, but it is not understood and ritual without reality is meaningless. To go through the ritual without understanding is ritual without reality.
One of the first rituals in the Bible, is a memorial ritual called circumcision and the meaning of this memorial ritual was taken from its first occurrence, Abraham was sexually dead, and when a person is sexually dead he is alive throughout his body, with the exception of his phallus.
The phallus on Abraham was dead, it was impotent, it was useless in the function of sex, and therefore the very place of the ritual becomes very significant, the cutting off of the flesh.
The situation was hopeless, but Abraham now has his ultra supergrace status and having pushed on to ultra supergrace status, he already knows that his blessing in ultra supergrace status is sexual prosperity.
Abraham was sexually dead, the use of his phallus to perpetuate his seed was impossible and yet absolutely necessary once he reached ultra supergrace.
However, he knows that if God gives a promise, God keeps His promise, and that God has the ability to overcome any handicap related to that promise.
Circumcision, which is the removal of useless skin from the foreskin of the phallus, commemorates the grace of God and the principle of justice plus omnipotence.
At the age of 100, Abraham could not provide the necessary 23 Genes for the starting of the new race.
But then Sarah could not provide the other 23 Genes from her fallopian tubes.
So, it was a totally hopeless situation. Furthermore, Ishmael was the product of a non-circumcised person. He will remain Semitic and he is not a part of the Abrahamic covenant. He will be a part of blessing by association because God is fair.
Ishmael is actually a combination of two races, half Akadian, half Egyptian, but he will be called by a new national title race eventually, Arab.
So, before the new race can be born, Abraham has to be a new race himself and this occurs at the end of the chapter when he submits to circumcision in which he recognizes the deadness and the hopelessness of the flesh and the over ruling grace of God from the source of divine justice.
God must keep His word, and Abraham has learned this very practical principle, that God always honors His word, no matter how hopeless a situation. One of the greatest manifestations of the grace of God throughout all of human history is the hopeless situation. That's when grace goes to work, and remember that under the principle of grace it is God who does the work.
It is God who provides, and God will provide.
When the operation was completed, God made all the changes, more changes in Abraham's soul, changes in his body, he was a strong man again with regard to muscle.
The entire verse says GEN 17:9 Furthermore, Elohim said to Abraham, "Now as for you, you shall keep or guide My covenant, you and your descendants after you or your seed, the Jewish race after you, in their respective Generations,"
Both the doctrine of circumcision and the ritual of circumcision was guarded the Abrahamic covenant for Generation after Generation of history, not the ritual alone, but the ritual with its doctrine inside of the soul.
Before the new race can be born, Abraham has to be a new race himself and this occurs at the end of the chapter when Abraham submits to circumcision in which he recognizes the deadness and the hopelessness of the flesh and the overruling grace of God from the source of divine justice.
We must briefly note the subject of circumcision in both its ritual and spiritual significance.
Circumcision consists in cutting away the foreskin of the phallus. At the time, a flint knife was used for the operation,EXO 4:25; Jos 5:2. A flint knife was very sharp and made out of rock.
Flint is spoken of in a figurative manner in the Bible, denoting strength and determination, ISA 5:28; 50:7; EZE 3:9.
Circumcision not only revived his sexual ability, but was the moment when God established the new race of the Jew. Therefore, circumcision was to be the ritual to commemorate the establishment of the new racial species.
Before circumcision, Abraham was called Abram, he was Semitic, an Akkadian, after circumcision he was called Abraham, the first Jew.
In fact, the Jewish custom of circumcision was performed on the eighth day after birth and it was at that time a name was given to the son. In the Hebrew, the number eight is shemoneh and as a numeral it is the superabundant number, over and above this perfect completion, and also the first of a new series, as well as being the eighth. This is why the Jewish custom of circumcision was performed on the eighth day after birth and then a name was given to the son.
As far as circumcision is concerned, it is one of the great grace tokens of all time. The first act of circumcision was to recognize supergrace blessing and the fact that God keeps His word. It was the ritual sign that Abraham had passed momentum testing and had now become a winner.
However, there is no spiritual merit in circumcision. It was the expression of Abraham's metabolized doctrine at the point of maturity. It is related to the Genetic creation of the new racial species.
As a ritual, circumcision has no meaning to the Jew who rejects Christ as Savior, for ritual without reality is meaningless.
Circumcision represents the fact that Abraham with doctrine in his soul recognizes that God will take care of this situation.
He is in a hopeless situation but he believes God.
This is a matter of grace and there's no place here for energy of the flesh, or for trying to second guess God and to figure out some human solution.
The meaning of Abraham's circumcision is that in spite of the hopelessness of sexual status, Abraham recognizes that God will overcome hopeless circumstances.
God provided for those helpless situations in eternity past and Abraham came to recognize that the solutions to his temporal problems existed before he did.
He recognizes that long before he existed and long before he had problems, God already had the solutions.
Satan and the kingdom of darkness in correlation with the ignorance of man distorts that which God has provided.
And therefore, false systems were promoted by Satan to obscure the true meaning of circumcision.
Circumcision was practiced among many ancient peoples, such as the Egyptians, Africans, natives of the South Seas, North Americans, and Arabians.
It was used as a sanitary function for the Egyptians, as a tribal mark for the Africans, as a rite to celebrate the "coming of age."
Many ancient cultures circumcised young boys at about 12 years of age, as a sort of initiation ceremony into manhood.
Even the Jews distorted circumcision into a system of arrogance, from which came racial prejudice.
They thought that they were better than others and would call all the Gentiles, "the uncircumcised".
The apostle Paul had to deal with the principle of circumcision and the Mosaic Law in the early church.
There were many Jews who had gone through the ritual of circumcision but not the spiritual reality behind it and therefore concerning the Jews we need to note the difference between true circumcision and uncircumcision as found in the Bible.
The true meaning of circumcision is maximum Bible doctrine in the soul as illustrated by Abraham reaching a maximum stage of spiritual growth. In fact, the Bible teaches that when God destroyed the nation of Israel under the fifth cycle of discipline, it was because of no Bible doctrine in the soul, therefore lack of circumcision of the soul. This is the tragedy of being the physical seed of Abraham without being the spiritual seed of Abraham.
This is why Paul said in ROM 9:6b For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;
Circumcision was used to portray emotional revolt of the soul, scar tissue of the soul, hardness of the heart in passages like Jer 6:10, 9:25-26, EZE 44:7, Acts 7:51.
Jeremiah warned the people of the coming of the fifth cycle of discipline from the Chaldeans but the people's ears were "uncircumcised"; that is, they would not listen to Bible teaching. It is doctrine in the soul that makes you alert to coming national disaster.
Being a new racial species, with circumcision as the sign, is absolutely meaningless without regeneration.
Abraham is the pattern for Old Testament salvation, GEN 15:6; Rom 4:3; GAL 3:6.
Throughout their history, the Jews failed, because while they were given physical superiority in the Old Testament through the new racial species, they had no advantages from it because they rejected Jesus Christ as the God of Israel: Adonai Elohenu, Adonai Echad.
Circumcision was also used to portray perception, metabolization and application of Bible doctrine, DEU 10:14-16, Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it. Yet on your fathers did the Lord set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you above all peoples, as it is this day. Circumcise then your heart [right lobe], and stiffen your neck no more, stop resisting God and His word.
You circumcise your right lobe by the daily perception and metabolization of Bible doctrine. In Acts 7:51">ACT 7:51, Paul as Saul of Tarsus was standing there watching Stephen being stoned to death. Stephen shouted in Acts 7:51, "You men! You are stiff-necked and uncircumcised of heart and ears! And you are always resisting the Holy Spirit. You are doing just as your fathers [ancestors] did."
The Jews resisted the ministry of the Holy Spirit; first, at the point of common and efficacious grace, and secondly, at the point of the communication of doctrine; both the demonstration of God's fantastic grace. All you can do is listen and believe; God the Holy Spirit must do all the rest. Stephen looked back on the entire history of Israel's failure when he said, "just as your fathers did."
For 2000 years, the Jews had the greatest opportunities in the Old Testament and they blew it.
To survive as a client nation requires a pivot, which in the Old Testament required both the ritual and the reality of circumcision through the advance to spiritual maturity.
To avoid racial prejudice and the arrogance it feeds, the Jew of the Old Testament had to be circumcised in his heart, which included salvation through faith in Christ and spiritual growth through metabolized doctrine, resulting in both the giant step to spiritual self-esteem and the victory step to spiritual maturity under the ritual plan of God.
And again this is why it says in ROM 9:6, "All Israel is not Israel."
"All Israel" is the Jew who is a part of the new racial species. But all Israel is "not Israel," because you're not true Israel until your heart is circumcised or regenerated. The point is that there's no advantage to being the new racial species apart from regeneration.
Therefore, in Old Testament times, a regenerate Gentile was far better off than a Jewish unbeliever as new racial species.
Under the divine plan behind the ritual of circumcision and its spiritual significance, we also need to note the false circumcision during the Church-age. Circumcision as a ritual is no longer an issue in the Church-age, because client nation Israel no longer exists. The Pre-Designed Plan of God (PPOG) has replaced the ritual plan of God, to which circumcision belongs, circumcision is not a spiritual issue of any kind. Circumcision is now practiced throughout the world basically as a sanitary function or as a religious requirement of Jews and Arabs and others but this is all circumcision means today.
The only issue today in this dispensation: Will the believer fulfill the PPOG?
In 1CO 7:18-19, Paul says Was any man called already circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? Let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commands of God.
Circumcision is not only non-beneficial spiritually, but is a source of legalism and a means of distracting the believer from the execution of the PPOG; this is the subject of the entire book of Galatians.
This is analogous to those who today believe in baptismal regeneration - there is no such thing.
GAL 5:2-4, "Behold, I Paul say to you, that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you [you have lost out in the PPOG]. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the entire Law [something he cannot do besides he is in the wrong dispensation]. You have been severed from Christ [you're not in the PPOG], you, who would be justified by the Law, you have drifted off course from grace."
So during the Church Age, circumcision has been distorted into a system of legalism and apostasy.
Circumcision as a ritual in the ritual plan of God for the dispensation of Israel no longer exists.