Etikettarkiv | circumcision

Zipporah: ”A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision” – Ex. 4:24-26

covenant 3”Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me” (Ex. 4:25)

What is this all about? The textual context is a great help and also a corresponding passage in The book of Jasher – which is Jewish secular history, not claimed to be the inspired word of God but the text can nevertheless provide some light.

Exodus 4:19 And the Lord said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life.20 And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand.22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:23 And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.

There seems to be a link between God’s speech about Israel being the firstborn son (in a figurative sense) and the verses which immediately follow (see below) – about Moses’ first born son. We have to remember that an important covenant had been established between God and Israel, through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and a covenant is supposed to be respected by both parties. God had promised the patriarchs and their offspring protection and the land of Canaan under the condition that they stayed faithful to him. The law of Moses was still in the future at this point in history, but in order to reach to that stage faithfulness from Moses and the Israelites was required. A circumcision was an outward sign of being a follower of the one true God and a crystal clear divine commandment which was not optional. Moses was of course well aware of this commandment from God, yet he still neglected to obey him apparently due to fear of man – his father-in-law. That is like saying ”I respect you God and you have done so much for me and my people, showing us miracles, etc, but there are limits for how much I can obey you. I prefer to obey my father-in-law in this matter so that I can be on a good standing with him. That is more important than having a good relationship with you or being able to save the people of Israel”. Here is the rest of the story:

24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the Lord met him, and sought to kill him.25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.26 So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision. 27 And the Lord said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him.28 And Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him.29 And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel:30 And Aaron spake all the words which the Lord had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people.31 And the people believed: and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.

If Moses and the Israel would be faithful to God and stay away from sin (like murdering, stealing, lying, adultery, witchcraft, etc), it would mean that Israel would indeed be a ”peculiar” people who would be able to show other people that they (the Israelites) were a morally upright people who lived for the Lord. God is just but he also requires obedience from his people. If the Israelites were just like anyone else, God’s reputation would consequently also be attacked and other people would see no reason to seek the God of Israel nor improve their pagan life styles. Therefore it is not a light matter to choose to disobey God despite having seen divine miracles and despite knowing that breaking the covenant would risk the safety of his own family and many other Israelite families.

Ex. 19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

Below we can read the same story from the book of Jasher’s point of view. God really wanted to save his people from their Egyptian yoke. He was ”jealous of his people and his inheritance”.

Jasher 78:8 And Zipporah walked in the ways of the daughters of Jacob, she was nothing short of the righteousness of Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.9 And Zipporah conceived and bare a son and he called his name Gershom, for he said, I was a stranger in a foreign land; but he circumcised not his foreskin, at the command of Reuel his father-in-law.10 And she conceived again and bare a son, but circumcised his foreskin, and called his name Eliezer, for Moses said, Because the God of my fathers was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.11 And Pharaoh king of Egypt greatly increased the labor of the children of Israel in those days, and continued to make his yoke heavier upon the children of Israel.–16 And the Lord was jealous of his people and his inheritance, and heard their voice, and he resolved to take them out of the affliction of Egypt, to give them the land of Canaan for a possession.

Jasher 79:5 And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, return to Egypt, for all those men who sought thy life are dead, and thou shalt speak unto Pharaoh to send forth the children of Israel from his land.6 And the Lord showed him to do signs and wonders in Egypt before the eyes of Pharaoh and the eyes of his subjects, in order that they might believe that the Lord had sent him.7 And Moses hearkened to all that the Lord had commanded him, and he returned to his father-in-law and told him the thing, and Reuel said to him, Go in peace.8 And Moses rose up to go to Egypt, and he took his wife and sons with him, and he was at an inn in the road, and an angel of God came down, and sought an occasion against him.9 And he wished to kill him on account of his first born son, because he had not circumcised him, and had transgressed the covenant which the Lord had made with Abraham.10 For Moses had hearkened to the words of his father-in-law which he had spoken to him, not to circumcise his first born son, therefore he circumcised him not.11 And Zipporah saw the angel of the Lord seeking an occasion against Moses, and she knew that this thing was owing to his not having circumcised her son Gershom.12 And Zipporah hastened and took of the sharp rock stones that were there, and she circumcised her son, and delivered her husband and her son from the hand of the angel of the Lord.

”The Angel of the Lord” is not a created angel, but as you can see in this article it seems to be none other than a form of God and likely therefore a form av Jesus (who was with his Father from the beginning). Zipporah knew that the angel of God visited them due to Moses’ neglect to obey God when it comes to their first-born son’s circumcision, and maybe this was also according to the plans of the angel. If it was a tangible reaction that the angel was after, he certainly got one when their son Gershom eventually was circumcised – and Moses was thereafter delivered from the hand of the angel of the Lord. If a person neglects to obey God when it comes to simple matters due to fear of man, he might not be ready for greater matters like saving his people from Egypt. The presence of the angel of the Lord sorted it out, and he continued to hold his protective hand over Moses, his family and Israel.

Annonser

Paul said that he counted old ”things” loss for Christ, and rubbish or dung – Phil. 3:7-8

samvete

What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ – for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as RUBBISH / Phil. 3:7-8, KJV

In order to understand which ”things” he was talking about, we must of course read the context. The subject of this chapter concerns the issue of Jewish circumcision which is an example of a ceremonial law within the Law of Moses. The Bible tells us that the Law of Moses started with the time of Moses and it lasted until the time of Jesus (Gal. 3:19). Before and after this period man on earth was certainly not supposed to be lawless, and even today we are expected to live according to the Spirit instead of the flesh. Paul tells us in Romans 6 and 8 that if we live according to the flesh we will die and if we live according to the Spirit we will live. That is a condition for salvation – that we must make sure to abide in Christ.

In Phil. 3 Paul is giving serious instructions to the Philippians. He also explains that those who are the ”circumcision” (being circumcised in heart) are those who worship God in the Spirit. (I’ve chosen NKJV here in order to use a more simple language.):

Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, (NKJV)

Paul further explains that he himself has a background as a Jew under the law, and he thoroughly believed in the idea of circumcision in order to be obedient to the Law of Moses. He is talking about the circumcision which is in the flesh, rather than in the heart. When it comes to the law of Moses, Paul considered himself blameless – as in doing everything to keep all the multiple regulations down to the smallest detail and MORE.

4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

However, Jesus explained that the problem with the pharisees was that they were hypocrites and that they did NOT have a clean INSIDE despite their zeal to be obedient to their scriptures. In fact, they lived in lawlessness because they had unclean hearts! We are not under the law if we are led by the Spirit:

Matt. 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (KJV)

Matt. 23:3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.—13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.—  —25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Gal. 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Paul compares the status he had as a pharisee under the law of Moses, and which often included works ”to be seen by men”, with the new life in Christ which is not about being seen by men at all but about having a pure heart and by loving our neighbor as yourself. (We are not able to have a pure heart if we still sin. ) Paul gave up his own esteemed life (in the eyes of men) in order to be a servant of Christ, and that means that he also gave up earthly power and instead became an often despised christian. He thought his new life as a christian was well worth it, and he compared his old life – as a highly regarded pharisee – as nothing but dung. ”Loss of all things” could also include other worldly things, which amount to nothing in comparison with the pearl he found in Jesus:

7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ

Naturally it was not the Law of Moses that was considered rubbish because God wouldn’t make any bad laws for us during any time. Being obedient to God is never considered rubbish! As a pharisee, Paul didn’t realize that the Law of Moses would pass away, to be replaced with an era where the Holy Spirit is our ruler and Jesus Christ the King. Paul discovered that the new life in Christ was not about obeying the ceremonial Jewish laws any more (as before) but about having faith in Jesus! The righteousness which is from God includes the possibility to be cleansed from our sins in the blood of Jesus who died for our sins, and that happens upon our repentance and our FAITH in Jesus Christ. Repentance means that we confess our sins and make a decision to be servants of Jesus, leading to our new birth. Paul is clear that we are not able to serve two masters and still be saved. The Law of Moses is in our past, but this doesn’t mean that we have no laws to follow. It’s still a sin to murder, steal, commit adultery and lie. It’s still a sin to deny Jesus, to refuse to forgive a brother and to take the mark of the beast. We still risk the wrath of God if we combine obedience with disobedience and refuse to repent. :

 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

The subject concerns the resurrection from the death, and that is what Paul has in mind when he says that he is not already ”perfected”. Not even Jesus Christ was ”perfected” until after his glorification. We are able to live morally perfect here on earth, but the truth is of course that we have often chosen to be disobedient to God. Paul presses forward in holiness to reach the prize.

11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected (”perfect”, KJV); but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul refers to ”us, as many as are perfect”, and he encourages the Philippians to walk by the same rule and being of the same mind.

15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature (”perfect”, KJV), have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

Paul also said:

Phil 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain

and Paul made it very clear to the Galatians that it was nothing but wrong to suggest that circumcision (or other ceremonial laws) is a requirement for salvation. Paul was certainly not angry at the Galatians because they continued to teach the importance of avoiding murder, adultery, theft and lies, but about reverting back to the Law of Moses with the ceremonial laws. Being obedient to God by treating our neighbors as we would like to be treated ourselves, is not a sin and nothing to be mad about. If the Galatians were under the impression that circumcision still applied, then also the rest of the 613 still applied. If that is the case, Jesus Christ died in vain. We are saved by faith and not by the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses was to apply until the seed would come which is Jesus, but this doesn’t mean that we have no sets of laws to follow today. We are expected to live according to the Spirit, and if we believe in Jesus Christ, we love him and obey him.

Gal. 3:1  O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.—7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.— 19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

We are no longer under the Law (torah) but we are still under the moral law

The Early Church had a controversy with a group called ”the Judaizers” who were teaching justification by works of the law.

And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, except ye be circumcised after themanner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. (Acts 15:1)

In other words, they taught that Gentiles need to obey the law (the Torah) and perform the works of the law (circumcision) in order to be justified. Since Paul’s ministry was to the Gentiles, he dedicated a large portion of his writings in Romans and Galatians, which were to Gentile Churches, to write against the Judaizers.

You will notice that Paul continually mentioned circumcision when discussing justification by works of the law in both Romans and Galatians.

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? (Those who had the Torah) Is he not also of the Gentiles? (Those who did not have the Torah) Yes, of the Gentiles also. Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith. (Rom. 3:28-30)

Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only or upon the uncircumcision also? For we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? When he was in the circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. (Rom. 4:9-10)

Paul is arguing that Abraham was justified before circumcision, before the law of circumcision was given, and therefore the Gentiles too can be justified by faith without the work of the law of circumcision.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. (Gal. 6:15)

For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. (Gal. 5:6)

Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God (1 Cor. 7:19).

Paul continually and repeated referred to circumcision when discussing justification ”by works of the law” and said that circumcision does not ”availeth anything” and is ”nothing” but what matters is ”a new creature” ”faith which worketh by love” and ”keeping of the commandments”.

It needs to be understood that Paul was not coming against the preaching of repentance in his epistles when he discussed justification by works of the law. In Galatia the Judaizers came and convinced the Gentile Church there that they needed to be circumcised in order to be saved. Paul wrote his epistle to the Galatians to correct this error of the Judaizers. It was not that the Galatians were repenting of their sins and Paul thought, ”I better put a stop to this”. Paul certainly would not have any problem with Gentiles repenting of their sins since his God given ministry was to bring the Gentiles to repentance (Acts 26:20). When Paul preached to the Gentiles in Athens, he told them that God was calling all of them to repent (Acts 17:30). Paul said that we needed to be circumcised, not in our flesh, but in our hearts (Rom. 2:28-29). The circumcision of the heart is putting off your sins (Col. 2:11). Paul bemoaned those Gentiles in Corinth who had not repented of their uncleanness and fornication (2 Cor. 12:21). Paul explicitly said that we should not continue in our sins (Rom. 6:1-2) but that we should awake to righteousness and stop sinning (1 Cor. 15:34). Paul even warned the Galatians that if they lived sinful lives, they would not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21). It was the Apostle Paul who said ”after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath” (Rom. 2:5), and that ”repentance” leads ”to salvation” (2 Cor. 7:10). Clearly Paul would not have had any problems with Gentiles repenting of their sins. Rather, Paul was upset that the Gentile Church in Galatia started to believe falsehoods from the Judaizers about how to be saved.

A good example of how Gentiles find the forgiveness of sins is the story of Nineveh. The narrative records that the people believed God (Jonah 3:5) and turned from their sins (Jonah 3:8). When God saw this, He changed His plans and decided not to destroy them as He said He would (Jonah 3:10). These Gentiles did not need to adopt the Jewish customs, obey the Torah, or be circumcised in order to be pardoned. They were saved, or found the mercy of God, through simple repentance from sin and faith in God. Jesus even said that sinners will be condemned if they do not repent the way Nineveh did (Matt. 12:41). Therefore the way that Gentiles were saved through repentance and faith in the Old Testament is the same way that they are saved in the New Testament, according to Jesus. Repenting of sin is required in both the Old and New Testament as Jesus said and therefore repentance is not the works of the law Paul preached against.

We know that Jesus Christ taught repentance (Lk. 13:3) and Paul certainly would not have contradicted Jesus Christ since Paul was an Apostle of Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:1; Col. 1:1). Paul explicitly said that men ought to listen to the wholesome words of Jesus (1 Tim. 6:3). Paul was by no means attacking the preaching of repentance when he wrote against justification by works of the law. Paul was attacking the Judaizers and their false gospel that Gentiles must convert to Judaism, be circumcised, and obey the Torah.

Thanks to Jesse Morell