6.29.2006

A Bridegroom of Blood

BAR (see earlier posts) is chock full of good stuff!

An article on circumcision points out that Israel wasn't the only nation practicing it, and that others did so usually in a puberty rite, declaring a man prepared for marriage, manhood, or both. This goes a long way to explain Genesis 34:14-17; 1 Samuel 18:25 and Exodus 4:25-26.

Also, other nations did the deed a bit differently than Israel (the article gets uncomfortably clear!). But the payoff is worth it; it helps explain Joshua 5:2 and Exodus 4:25-26. Although Moses and the Israelites may have been circumcised in an Egyptian style, it wasn't a religious commitment sufficient for God, nor, frankly, had enough been cut off. Have we shed all the world's corruptions, as God's people redeemed from Egypt, preparing to enter the Promised Land? Or is God calling you to greater obedience? Don't be conformed to the world...

Reformed folk believe baptism is the new covenant, more-inclusive and bloodless sacrament, replacing circumcision (Colossians 2:11-12). In that light, these words from the article were interesting to carry into my baptism:

"For the Israelites, circumcision... was the principl sign of Israel's covenant relationship with Yahweh.... The purpose... was to remind the Israelite male of his covenant with God... a sign for the individual Israelite, reminding him of his covenantal obligations; it is not a sign identifying Israelites to the outside world."

True, not a sign FOR the outside world, perhaps, but it does distinguish whether you are part God's covenant or not.

4 comments:

  1. do you really think it distinguishes this? our boys are not circumsized. i guess i see it as unneccesary for religious reasons (being under the new covenant), and we couldn't come up with a good enough reason from the physical aspect, either. just a thought! :)

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  2. Val,

    I was referring to baptism, not circumcision, and yes I do believe this.

    Note that it distinguishes if you are in the covenant or not, not whether you are going to heaven or not.

    It's like the parable of the wheat and weeds. Being in the covenant equals being in the field. It doesn't guarantee you're wheat - that you're saved. But it IS the place that's hoed, watered and fertilized (these days). (Thought you'd appreciate the fertilizer bit, knowing where you grew up :) ) The door to the visible Church is baptism, and the visible church is where the "means of grace" are. Baptism connects you to Christ, through His Body, the Church. You're a branch on the tree (Romans 11:17). You'll be broken off if the seed is choked with the cares of this world, but you are on the tree. There's a real distinction there. I believe Hebrews 6:4-5 is referring to the benefits of union with the visible Church through baptism, in some way (not sure exactly how).

    I agree with you re: physical circumcision...

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  3. Also, it's not that it's unnecessary, but that God has given greater and better signs and rituals for the newer and better covenant. It's not that we don't have to do a bunch of things in the new covenant, but that we GET to do better things.

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  4. thanks for clarifying, steve! i missed the switch-over to referring to baptism. that makes much more sense now.

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