Intimacy in relationship has driven me to consider the revelation of the Scripture at a depth I would never have considered. Certainly it has brought me to a place of discovering what should have been obvious all along and to all who believe. And that is:
Before there can be intimacy, there must be circumcision.
God is after intimacy. This has been his purpose from the beginning. The early church didn’t fully understand, and Jesus couldn’t tell them while He was still in the flesh. He said that they were not ready to hear it yet. Their Jewish roots made it too difficult to believe. It remained for Paul to receive the revelation of Christ IN him, and the New Testament makes very clear what a very difficult time those from the Jewish culture had with understanding and receiving what Paul had been commissioned to say, “first to the Jew, and then to the Gentile,” Romans 1:16.
What is or, what was it, that made the intimacy that God was after, so difficult to attain? It was the flesh:
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;” Hebrews 10:19, 20.
The problem or barrier or hindrance was flesh, even His flesh, certainly our flesh. Galatians 5:24: “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” Colossians 2:10-15: “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”
I should include the elaboration of Ephesians 2:13-19: “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;”
This just to point out, that God didn’t just provide a knothole through the veil; He “broke it down;” He “took it out of the way;” He “abolished” it; He nailed it to the cross! It’s gone. He left no room for the flesh to do anything. Everything that would be done from now on would be done by His Son in the hearts of those who received Him.
God’s Son was the last Adam. There are no more, and there haven’t been since Jesus. They were all wiped out at the cross, past present and future. Christ in us the hope of Glory is all that remains for both Jew and Gentile. In Him, and He in us everything we used to be has been done away; Jew, Gentile, male, female, slave, free. It’s all gone, because He is the point of it all. And we still don’t get it.
We are still peeking through a knothole.
It was in the furnace of relationship that I came to understand:
The crucifixion of Christ is the circumcision of God.
That was very important. The word that I got as I lay awake in my bed thinking about all of this was:
According to Webster: “a whole burnt offering,… burnt whole,….An offering the whole of which is burned; burnt offering…great or total destruction of life, especially by fire.” 1 Peter 3:18: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:”
Speaking of the Passover: “And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and the purtenance thereof. And ye shall let nothing of it remain unil the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire,” Exodus 12:8-10.
“Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth,” 1 Corinthians 5:7, 8
I cite these last two passages to make the point that another way of looking at the cross is that it is the fire of God on His own burnt offering. The Passover commanded in Exodus is only a shadow, the “reality is found in Christ.” But the description of the shadow gives us a rough idea of what was going on at the cross. Christ is our Passover. The “HOLOCAUST” is what happened to him.
Why did it have to happen?
It had to happen because God was after intimacy, and to do that there had to be a cutting off of the flesh. Paul said to the Corinthians, “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified,” 1 Corinthians 2:2. There is a new morning coming, and by that morning, all that is flesh shall be utterly consumed as by fire.
I would like to paraphrase for present purposes: “I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him circumcised.”
Paul, a Jew, was the one who God chose to bring this message, and the price he paid was enormous. What I think I saw this morning is that the more recent holocaust, also very Jewish, was for the purpose of making the same point. One has to wonder in our own day how many more have to die to make the point.
If God is the blessed controller of all things then:
The answer is intimacy, and there is no other way except Jesus, and Him circumcised. The holocaust then is a sign, a very costly sign, but then so was the cross, and so was the suffering of Paul. The sign is first for the Jew, the religious, and then for the Gentile, the clueless, (Ninevah) whose crime was that they didn’t know their left hand from their right, Jonah 4:10. In each case, God used those who had the sign of outer circumcision already in their body. Was it a sign of the failure of the Jews? The answer lies in asking a couple of other questions. Was it a sign of the failure of Jesus? Was it a sign of the failure of Paul? Clearly the answer is. No! In Jesus’ and Paul’s case it was more a sign of God’s love. Is that too big a sacrifice to even consider in the most recent instance? Perhaps only because we haven’t yet grasped what God is really after in those who are His.
The real point was another circumcision – a circumcision of the heart – a cutting off of the old man completely. I should also note that even among the latter day Gentiles, Germany was particularly uncircumcised even in the flesh. Where could the point be better made for the Church than in Germany, the home of Luther?
In fact where and when could the point be better made to the Church, as it presently exists and is understood by the world, then in Europe, where Germany, the seat of Protestantism and Italy, the seat of Catholicism, were allied together against the Lord, and against his anointed. We have got to get beyond Catholicism and Protestantism where Luther left us. A continued preoccupation with externals is just not going to do it.
If I have seen it right, then the circumcision message is very important,
and it is for now.
The cross, alone was not enough to explain what God was really after in us. It remained for Paul to experience and explain it. Only someone who knew the law as he did could have any hope of understanding and explaining it to the Jews. It was not Peter who had the last word on the gospel, it was Paul who got to say, “If anyone comes to you with any other gospel than the one I preached to you let him be accursed.”
Peter could not say that about his gospel, because the only true gospel was yet incomplete until Paul saw it and explained it. Peter, however, did get the last word, and he used his last word to affirm what Paul had already written. At least, that’s the way God put it together for us on whom the end of the age has come.
The question is, “Is the Holocaust enough to finally get through to the Church that God is not interested in outer circumcision, not interested in religion, but only in the reality of His Son.” If we are ever going to understand His love, we are going to have to love as he loved us. You can’t do that alone, and if we only do it vertically in relationship to God, we are kidding ourselves. It is quite obvious that we are no longer kidding the Ninevites. You can identify a Jew by outer circumcision. You can identify a Christian by inner circumcision.
“And they’ll know we are Christians by our love by our love,
and they’ll know that we are Christians by our love.”
Where the business of religion is concerned, the real money is to be made by concentrating on the outer things. If the Holocaust is not enough to make the point, what is it going to take?
We could repent now and avoid the rush.
God help us.
Jay Ferris Sat, 25 May 2001