Iniquity Not Yet Full #1

Monday, May 12, 2014

“But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full” (Genesis 15:16 KJV).

Today’s Scripture expressly declares why the God of the Bible “takes His time” when dealing with sinful mankind.

“Where is the promise of Jesus Christ’s coming?” From believers still asking in faith (cf. Matthew 24:3) to scoffers still asking in ridicule (cf. 2 Peter 3:3,4), it has been queried ad nauseam. How sad a commentary—it is one of many questions to which the Bible already gave answers many, many centuries ago!

In the context of today’s Scripture, Abram—whom God will rename “Abraham” in chapter 17—is nomadic, travelling and camping throughout the land of Canaan, the Promised Land, much of today’s Middle East. Here, JEHOVAH God personally and formally deeded that real estate to Abraham and his descendants, the nation Israel, as an everlasting possession (Genesis 15:1-21; cf. Genesis 17:8).

Moreover, God informs Abram of the future: “And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full” (verses 13-16, today’s Scripture within its immediate context).

God tells Abram that his seed, the nation that will come from his bowels, cannot inherit and dwell in the Promised Land yet. Israel must spend 400 years down in Egypt, most of that time in slavery. Entering Egypt as a tribe of less than 100 people, Israel will return to Canaan (the Promised Land) as a nation of some two million! Why this four-century delay? God’s Word could not be plainer—the original inhabitants of Canaan had not sinned enough yet for Him to displace them and install the Jews (today’s Scripture).

How patient is our God….

A Heart Transplant for Israel #11

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh(Ezekiel 36:26 KJV).

The Great Physician must perform this surgery if His beloved patient is to live!

Israel’s religious leaders, representative of the nation, wrongly believed that all that was required of them was to be Abraham’s biological children (that is, physically circumcised). They ignored that they had to be “born again” (see John 3:1-8). In addition to the physical birth that God gave Israel when He rescued them from Egyptian slavery (Exodus 4:22; 1 Kings 8:53; Hosea 11:1), they were to have a spiritual birth, salvation from the bondage of sin (see John 3:1-8; John 8:33-59).

Moses, in his final sermon to Israel, said: “If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: and the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live (Deuteronomy 30:4-6).

God’s Word meant nothing to most Jews because they did not have a circumcision of the heart (they were still dead in their sins, headed for eternal hellfire). If they were to be used of God, they had to have the faith, righteousness, and spiritual circumcision their father Abraham had.

Just as the Prophet Jeremiah later reminded Israel that God’s wrath was coming—the Babylonians would take them out of the Promised Land for at least 70 years—Moses said God (Jesus Christ at His Second Coming) would regather Israel, bring her back into her land, spiritually circumcise her, and make her a kingdom of priests, a nation He could finally use forever and ever in the earth. Today’s Scripture will thus be fulfilled….

A Heart Transplant for Israel #10

Monday, March 31, 2014

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh(Ezekiel 36:26 KJV).

The Great Physician must perform this surgery if His beloved patient is to live!

God instituted physical circumcision with Abraham to show him that his posterity—the nation Israel that would come through his son Isaac, grandson Jacob, and 12 great-grandsons (Israel’s 12 tribes)—would not come about due to Abraham’s (fallible) human performance, but JEHOVAH’S divine power. In every way, Israel would be God’s nation, God’s creation; contrariwise, the (uncircumcised) Gentiles were under Satan’s control (Ephesians 2:1-12).

Once physical circumcision was incorporated into the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 12:3), its underlying spiritual truth (spiritual circumcision) was overlooked. Israel worshipped physical circumcision instead of remembering what really mattered—the spiritual circumcision it symbolized. Jews bragged about their physical circumcision (today’s equivalent is, “Look, we joined the church, confessed our sins, gave a tithe, got water baptized…!”). The Scriptures say that while this generated “the praise of men,” the circumcision that God ultimately looked for in a Jew was regeneration, a cutting off of the Adamic nature, dead to sin and able to be used of JEHOVAH (Romans 2:28,29).

The Prophet Jeremiah, rebuking Israel for her apostasy and warning her of God’s impending chastisement (the Babylonian invasion and captivity just a few decades away), preached: “For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem” (4:3,4). Moses urged Israel, Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked [rebellious toward God’s Word]” (Deuteronomy 10:16).

Israel had their physical foreskins removed, but they still had a heart problem—they had not submitted to God’s righteousness and were rebelling against God’s will for them (sin; Jeremiah 17:9). They were still attached to their sin nature, and until they confessed (admitted) their wickedness, God could not give them the heart transplant they so desperately needed….

A Heart Transplant for Israel #9

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh(Ezekiel 36:26 KJV).

The Great Physician must perform this surgery if His beloved patient is to live!

In the prophetic program, God deals with a Jew on a two-fold basis—personal and national. For example, God wanted every individual Jew to be a priest (Isaiah 61:6; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10) so that the entire nation Israel would be a “kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:5,6; 1 Peter 2:5,9). In Jesus Christ’s earthly kingdom (yet future), Israel is to become God’s chief nation in the earth, a holy nation, the agency whom God will use to reach pagan Gentiles with His salvation (Zechariah 8:20-23; Matthew 28:19,20; Acts 1:8; et al.). However, Israel cannot lead others to salvation unless she herself is saved from Satan and her own sins.

Recall that when God promised childless Abraham a son (and a nation, Israel; Genesis 12:1-3), and did not bring it to pass until many years later, Abraham grew impatient. After waiting for a decade and still no child from God, Abraham listened to his wife and fathered a son, Ishmael, through her handmaid (Genesis 16:1-6). Twelve years later, God appeared to Abraham and instituted his physical circumcision (Genesis chapter 17). A year later, God gave Abraham, aged 100 and unable to father children, a son, Isaac, through his wife Sarah (Genesis chapter 21).

Galatians says that Ishmael was “born after the flesh” (4:23,29)—Abraham’s performance—while it says that Isaac was born “by promise, born after the Spirit” (4:23,29)—God the Holy Ghost’s performance. If God could ever use a nation born of Abraham, it could never come by human performance (Abraham’s sons were sinners, Adam’s sons)—that nation’s creation would have to be solely God’s working. Physical circumcision was God teaching Abraham and his seed through Isaac that they were dead to the flesh, sin (their performance), and the very reason they existed as a nation was because of what He did for them, not because of what they did for Him….

A Heart Transplant for Israel #8

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh(Ezekiel 36:26 KJV).

The Great Physician must perform this surgery if His beloved patient is to live!

Israel wrongly believed they had automatic righteousness because they had JEHOVAH’S laws. They called Gentiles “sinners” and they overlooked their own shortcomings. In fact, the Scriptures say that the Gentiles, who did not have God’s laws, lived up to at least some of those standards; Israel, who had God’s laws, behaved just as badly or worse (Romans 2:1-27)! This ungodly behavior of Israel made Gentiles especially opposed to Israel’s God.

The Apostle Paul elaborated that Israel’s physical circumcision did not matter eternally unless it had an underlying spiritual (inward) circumcision. God wanted Israel to be physically and spiritually circumcised. “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter [the Law]; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:28,29). Israel’s outward circumcision was actually the symbol of the spiritual circumcision God would accomplish for them!

“For the Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22a). Remember, physical circumcision was “the sign” of the Abrahamic Covenant; it was “a seal of the righteousness of the faith which [Abraham] had being uncircumcised” (Romans 4:11). Physical circumcision reminded Israel of the faith they were to have in God’s Word, the faith that their father Abraham had. That faith Abraham had caused God to declare him righteous, cut off from Adam’s fallen nature, spiritually circumcised (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3).

Hence, physical circumcision indicated that Israel was God’s people (to be used for His glory). However, He could not use them (as sinners) until He also gave them a spiritual circumcision, a “circumcision of the heart(Romans 2:29). Today’s Scripture shows how the Old Testament prophets foretold that God purposed to severe Israel from their Adamic sin nature….

A Heart Transplant for Israel #6

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh(Ezekiel 36:26 KJV).

The Great Physician must perform this surgery if His beloved patient is to live!

In Genesis 17:10-14, where physical circumcision first appears in Scripture, God promised Abraham: “This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you…. and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.”

The Apostle Paul explained the significance of Israel’s physical circumcision by explaining what Abraham’s physical circumcision meant before God: “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted [imputed, credited] unto him for righteousness…. 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 circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:” (Romans 4:3,9-11).

Abraham believed God’s promise to him, and although Abraham was a sinner, God looked at Abraham’s faith in His Word to him and He considered Abraham righteous (right standing before God). Paul is quoting Genesis 15:6. Sometime later, in Genesis chapter 17, God instituted physical circumcision for Abraham and his seed. According to Romans 4:11 (bolded above), that physical circumcision symbolized the righteousness God offered to Abraham and his seed….

A Heart Transplant for Israel #1

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26 KJV).

The Great Physician must perform this surgery if His beloved patient is to live!

Physical circumcision first appears in Scripture in Genesis 17:10-14: “[10] This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. [11] And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. [12] And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. [13] He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. [14] And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.”

This is a further development of the Abrahamic Covenant first given in Genesis 12:1-3, God’s promise to Abraham, the father of the nation Israel. Until this point in human history, God had not instructed mankind to physically circumcise male babies.

Note that Genesis 17:11 teaches that physical circumcision was “a token of the covenant betwixt [God] and [Israel],” the outward sign of God’s promise to Abraham—“the Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22a). Thus, the Abrahamic Covenant is also called “the covenant of circumcision” (Acts 7:8). When a Jew saw his physical circumcision, it reminded him of God’s covenant with his father Abraham and himself. God rejected any uncircumcised men living in the midst of Israel: physical circumcision was a serious matter, but why? What was so special about Abraham and his seed (that is, his descendants), and how does physical circumcision explain today’s Scripture?

Let us search the Scriptures….