Circumcision and the False Brothers
Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 3 Monday
Read first paragraph, “Circumcision was a sign of the covenant relationship that God established with Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation.”
Of what was circumcision a sign?
What was the importance of circumcision?
Could a person be saved by being circumcised?
Did a person in OT times have to be circumcised in order to be saved?
Naaman, Nebuchadnezzar, the Patriarchs, Melchizadek…no evidence is found that these persons were circumcised, yet good evidence is found that they were saved.
Was circumcision required for Jewish males to be saved, but not for others? Then are there two paths of salvation?
No! So it wasn’t required for Jews to be saved either, for what was it required? To be a member of the acting troupe known as Israel, to act out the plan of salvation in type, in theater, in symbol—and perhaps a helpful tool for the Jewish men who were frequently tempted to worship at the fertility cults of the day. Perhaps it was a last line of defense as the Jewish man approached the cult prostitute, maybe the awareness he was Jewish would call into question why he was worshipping there instead of worshipping Yahweh.
The Bible tells us that circumcision of the body is not required for salvation. The circumcision that is required for salvation, for both Jew and Gentile, is not bodily circumcision, but circumcision of the heart.
What is circumcision of the heart?
How does physical circumcision typify this?
- Can you tell by looking at a person on the street if they have had circumcision of the body?
- Can you tell if you reach a certain level of intimacy if a person has had circumcision of the body?
- Can you tell if you reach a certain level of intimacy if a person has had circumcision of the heart?
- Is circumcision of the body painful?
- Is circumcision of the heart painful?
- Is circumcision of the body less painful when we are younger?
- Is circumcision of the heart less painful when we are younger and have less sin habits developed?
What about Moses, why did Moses end up in a confrontation with God because his son had not been circumcised?
It was theater—and only those who follow the Script can be on stage. Exodus 4:24 is commonly translated as God was about to kill Moses—but the Hebrew doesn’t say that, it says “him” and the context is about Moses uncircumcised son. Thus, what is most likely is that God was about to take Moses son off stage because he was not following the Script so Moses wife got him in costume very quickly and he was permitted to stay on stage and be an actor in the drama.
Also, Moses was about to become leader of Israel, and God was about to give instructions for salvation to a bunch of people who were very primitive and rebellious and what would have happened to the lessons God was going to give through Moses, if Moses and his family did not follow the ritual handed down through Abraham?
I think this demonstrates that Moses understood there was no direct value in circumcision; that it was the condition of the heart that mattered. But it also demonstrates that Moses didn’t fully appreciate the utter primitive thinking of the Jews, their rebellious and stubborn hearts and therefore the importance of consistency in acting out the symbols. Therefore, God needed to remind Moses to be consistent lest false ideas creep into the symbolic system, which happened even with the scrupulousness to the Script.
Read bottom green section, “Maybe today circumcision isn’t the issue. But what (if anything) do we as a church struggle with that parallels this problem?”
What about any doctrine that promotes sectarianism—i.e. that it really does matter what denomination one belongs to. That we are saved by denomination, and thus we begin to identify doctrines that set us apart from other denominations and make those doctrines tests of fellowship, marks of distinction and even tests of salvation?
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