David Grabbe, reminding us that the trek through the Red Sea occurred on the seventh day of Unleavened Bread, points out that other historical events also occurred on that day, including the toppling of the walls of Jericho and the healing of the lame man near the Pool of Bethsaida, after his having endured his infirmity 38 years. The ancient Israelites moved in the desert but had made no progress in getting Egypt out of their hearts. When God restored Israel through Joshua, He gave them credit for the time that had walked, indicating that in all cases, He was doing virtually all the heavy lifting, but was demanding that the Israelites exercise faith, doing something concrete to indicate their willingness to participate in the covenant. The walls of Jericho were, in effect, already history when Joshua's men began their march around the city. When we make our covenant with God, we must move forward exercising faith, doing our part in the overcoming/ sanctification process, realizing God is in charge of the entire process.
John Ritenbaugh, focusing on the practice of circumcision in both the old and new covenants, comments that the practice was first mentioned in Genesis 17. Archeologists have found evidence that it was practiced in all Semitic cultures as well as Egyptian cultures, especially among the priesthood. Although the non-Israelite cultures viewed circumcision as a rite of passage (performed at age 13 or even 18), the Israelites attached religious significance, performing the rite when a boy was eight days old. Every Israelite male carried with him a constant reminder of his professed promise of loyalty to God. Circumcision was the special sign God gave Abraham indicating that his descendants would ascend to greatness, acquiring physical and spiritual blessings of inheritance. The spiritual principle is still binding on anyone called into God's family. The descendants of Ishmael have assimilated into the Arab population in North Africa, spawning the violent Islam religion. Through Abraham's, Isaac's, and Jacob's descendants, the world would be blessed with material and political greatness. Circumcision is only an outward sign, largely as a means of identification, setting the Israelite people apart from the rest of the world. Strangers who desired to participate in the blessings of the commonwealth of Israel and the covenant of promise had to undergo circumcision. In order to receive the spiritual promises given to the Israel of God, we are to undergo circumcision of the heart, cleansing the mind from sin. Baptism, in effect, has replaced physical circumcision. Though physical circumcision is not necessary for salvation, it does have hygienic benefits and will be practiced during the Millennium.
The new man is a consistent New Testament figure. Charles Whitaker shows that he is one who is reconciled to God and has chosen to collaborate with God in creating a totally new mind—one just like Christ's!
Jesus lists judgment as the first of the weightier matters in Matthew 23, verse. This article explains this term and shows why judgment is a major part of Christianity.
Why must we put leaven out, yet we do not have to circumcise our boys? Earl Henn explains this apparent contradiction.
John Ritenbaugh insists that the New Covenant was designed by God in order to circumcise the heart, making it possible for God's laws to be permanently written in our hearts and reflected in our behavior (Hebrews 8:10; 10:16). External rites such as circumcision or baptism do not automatically make Christians. If one is circumcised or baptized and then breaks God's laws, he is instantaneously uncircumcised or unbaptized and blasphemes the name of God (Romans 2:24).
John Ritenbaugh teaches that, following Abraham's example, a life centered on God is a way of inner peace—an inner strength that keeps life from falling apart. Focusing upon God gets the focus off from ourselves and onto something more enduring, reliable, and permanent than us. If we give ourselves to God (through the New Covenant) in complete surrender, allowing Him to shape character in us, then He will forgive our sins, removing the death penalty, enabling us to live in hope, giving us direct access to Him, providing a relationship with Him, giving us a more abundant, purposeful, meaningful life. The Covenant, initiated by God, must be on God's terms. Obedience is not outward compliance, but must come from the inside out. We should not confuse the sign (circumcision, baptism, putting out leaven, etc.) from the reality it represents.
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