I had no idea what to expect when my accountant in Naperville told me over lunch one afternoon last tax season how he had indeed read the Book of Romans per my suggestion but couldn’t get over how a certain “bizarre” topic kept coming up over and over and over.
He leaned across the table, almost as if he was going to share something inappropriate for others’ ears, and asked, in effect, “What’s with the endless discussion of circumcision?!”
I had to laugh, of course, and my subsequent 15-minute off-the-cuff explanation was met with a skeptical/quizzical look of, “Crazy, just crazy.”
In an old study I have on tape, Jordan refers to circumcision as “THE all-consuming, ultimate issue—it took precedence over every other observance under the Law (of Moses).”
He explains, “The circumcision that was practiced by the nation Israel had nothing to do with hygiene, health, or anything else somebody might want to circumcise somebody for today. It had to do with only one thing—it was a religious sign and a symbol; a seal of the covenant God had made with the nation Israel and because of that it had power with God.
“ . . . God didn’t give Abraham circumcision for all the reasons people talk about. You see, God erected a ‘middle wall of partition’ between Abraham and his seed and the nations through circumcision. Then when the Law came along, He fortified that wall by putting laws and statutes and judgments to make Israel a distinct, separate people. All this time He’s building this wall around His nation to separate them from everybody else and make it perfectly clear that they were different.
“All the dietary laws God gave back in Leviticus and Deuteronomy; He didn’t give those for their health benefits! I’m sorry, folks, eating catfish won’t make you sick. People think, ‘Eat like under the Mosaic Law and you’ll be healthy.’ No, He didn’t give them those rules back there to make them healthy. He gave them those rules to make them different, to make them distinct, to make them stand out as oddballs among the nations; to be ‘a peculiar people’—people who obviously belonged to God and not to the appetites of the world out there.”
The ancient procedure of removing the foreskin of the Jewish male baby at eight days of age even extended to Jesus Christ, as Luke 2 reports.
Jordan says, “Remember, circumcision was a mandatory religious ritual and Jesus Christ came and identified Himself completely and totally with His people, the nation
“He’s not doing it for some medical reason or anything like that. Sometimes you’ll hear people say, ‘Well, I’m going to follow the Lord in baptism.’ People ask me, ‘Why don’t you guys practice water baptism?’ My question to them is, ‘Why DO you?!’ Christ did a lot of things because of the program He lived under.
“From Galatians 5:2, we know that when Christ was circumcised according to the law, it made Him ‘a debtor to the whole law.’ In other words, in Isaiah it says He was ‘numbered with the transgressors.’
“Why does John the Baptist think he’s been told to baptize with water? To manifest Christ to Israel. Everybody who wanted to be identified with the Messiah in Israel, you know what they did? They got water baptized. They acknowledged the counsel of God against them. The people who rejected the counsel of God against them, they didn’t get baptized (Luke 7).
“What’s happening when Christ’s being circumcised, and with the purification offering and the sacrifice given, and what’s happening when He’s brought to the temple to be presented before the Lord . . . those are all done in fulfillment of the law.
“Now, you cannot circumcise children today for that reason. It’s real clear in Paul’s epistles that whether you’re circumcised or not circumcised, it doesn’t make any difference to God. And if it makes any difference to you because of a religious reason, you’re wrong!
“That is, if it makes any difference whether you are or aren’t—you get people who want to argue both ways and demand people be circumcised, and others who demand that they not be so you don’t dishonor God, but both of them, at least as far as Paul’s concerned, are wrong.”
The ‘middle wall of partition’ is not broken down until Paul’s ministry and, in Acts 3, Peter is preaching what Paul calls ‘the gospel of the circumcision.’ The covenant obviously had a gospel associated with it.
“In Acts 3:25, Peter says to the nation Israel, ‘Ye are the children of that covenant of circumcision,’ ” explains Jordan. “They’re still the children of that covenant of circumcision and, by the way, it was never an option.
“You remember in Exodus 4 where Moses has been out in the desert for 40 years and now he’s going to return to Egypt? God sends him back after the burning bush to deliver Israel.
“Moses’ kids aren’t circumcised and God almost killed Moses for having two uncircumcised boys. In Joshua 5, when the generation of the nation that was born in the wilderness and hadn’t died was being taken into the Promised Land, it says they were all uncircumcised and Joshua had to circumcise all of them before they went in or God would kill them! It made a difference then, but now it doesn’t.”