The New Life Mission

Sermons

Subject 11 : The Tabernacle

[11-6] (Genesis 17:1-14) The Promise of God Established in His Covenant of Circumcision Is Still Effective for Us

(Genesis 17:1-14)
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.’ Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: ‘As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.’ And God said to Abraham: ‘As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.’”
 
 
In chapter 17 of the Book of Genesis, the covenant of circumcision that God established with Abraham shows us the spiritual circumcision by which all the sins are cut off from the Israelites by putting their hands on the head of their sacrificial offering in the Tabernacle and thus passing their sins on to it. In other words, the covenant that God established with Abraham was the prefiguration of the sin offering and the burnt offering. The promise that God made to Abraham with circumcision, that He would be his God and the God of his descendants, prophesied, with respect to the Tabernacle, that Abraham’s descendants were to pass their sins onto their sacrificial offering by putting their hands on its head. We must also realize and believe that this shows us, in addition, that in the New Testament’s time Jesus would take upon all the sins of the world with His baptism received from John.
God promised Abraham, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them…. So shall your descendants be” (Genesis 15:5). Appearing again before Abraham, God promised once more, “I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you” (Genesis 17:6-7).
The promise that God made to Abraham and his descendants came through circumcision. This circumcision coincided with the laying on of hands that would be performed when the Israelites were to give their sacrificial offering to God. It also foretold, for the New Testament’s time, the remission of sin fulfilled by Jesus taking upon the sins of the world with His baptism received from John. We must realize and believe that the Old Testament’s circumcision promised by God to Abraham is manifested in the New Testament by the spiritual circumcision of the washing of sin fulfilled by the baptism of Jesus. And it tells us, in addition, that the faith of Abraham was also needed by the Israelites when giving the sacrificial offering in the Tabernacle.
God told Abraham, “You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant” (Genesis 17:11-12). God, in other words, made His promise to Abraham and his descendants through circumcision. He promised that He would be Abraham’s God and the God of his descendants, but in return, Abraham and his descendants were to be circumcised: “He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant” (Genesis 17:13).
This is why of all the people of the world, only the Israeli men had cut out their foreskins from the days of Abraham. Nowadays, circumcision has become much more widespread because of its health benefits, but at the time, only the Israeli males were circumcised. This was the mark of God’s promise to Abraham, and God made him and the people of Israel, his descendants, to carry in their flesh this sign of the covenant that He established with them.
Genesis 17:11 says, “you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.” So the circumcision was the mark of the covenant. To recapitulate, this is how God made His promise: “How do you know that you are My people? You know it by looking at the scars of your circumcision. From now on, every male born among you should be circumcised on his foreskin. In this way, My covenant will be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. I promise you to be your God and the God of your descendants. And I promise you to bless you, to multiply you, to make you enter into the land of Canaan and live in it forever, and to make nations of you and raise kings from you” (Genesis 17:4-14).
God said that the covenant that He established with Abraham and his descendants would be found in their flesh. God’s promise was imprinted, in other words, in the scars of the circumscribed Israeli men. God made His promise to the people of Israel through their circumcision, and, accordingly, whether men were circumcised or not determined whether they were the descendants of Abraham or not. Those who were circumcised, therefore, were recognized and blessed by God as Abraham’s descendants, while the uncircumcised were not recognized as such.
 
 
Abraham Is Actually a Very Important Man for the People of Israel
 
For the people of Israel, the man more important than even Moses, the father of the Law, is none other than Abraham, the father of faith. Though there are many Israelites who do not remember Noah, few, if any, fail to remember Abraham. Only a handful of them may remember Shem, Seth, or Methuselah, but Abraham remains as the unforgettable father of faith for all the people of Israel. They all recognize, believe, and follow him as the father of their nation. As such, the promise that God made to the Israelites through Abraham still remains effective.
The people of Israel are wholly convinced of themselves, believing, “We are the descendants of Abraham. Our people carry the sign of circumcision in our flesh. God is therefore our God, and we are His own people.” The reason why the Israelites consider themselves as the chosen people is because they still believe in the covenant that God established with Abraham through circumcision.
Abraham had two wives: his lawful wife Sarai who was named Sarah by God later, and his second wife Hagar, who had been Sarai’s maidservant. Because it looked as though Sarai would bear him no child, Abraham, in his own thoughts, sought to have a child through Hagar (Genesis 16:1-4). But God said clearly that because Sarai was the lawful wife of Abraham, it would be through her own child that He would give Abraham as many descendants as the stars in the sky. Since God promised that He would recognize only those born of Sarai’s body as His people, Ishmael, who was born from the second wife Hagar, was not recognized as such before God.
Were the people of Israel not to be circumcised, the promise that God made to them would become ineffective. God told them to be circumcised as the sign of His covenant so that this covenant would be in their flesh. As such, the Israelites made sure to be circumcised, since being uncircumcised would render God’s promise ineffective. There is probably no one among the people of Israel who was not circumcised, for they know too well that the uncircumcised is like the Gentiles, to whom God’s promise is irrelevant.
 
 
The Spiritual Circumcision
 
The covenant that God established with Abraham and his descendants was wholly accomplished through the remission of all sins fulfilled by Jesus Christ when He came to this earth and took upon the sins of mankind by being baptized by John the Baptist.
God told the Israelites to make the gate of the court of the Tabernacle and its covering veil by weaving them with blue, purple, and scarlet thread and fine woven linen (Exodus 26:31, 27:16). Through this detailed form of the Tabernacle, God has taught us the salvation coming through Jesus Christ. Those who believe in the truth that the Lord came to this earth, took upon the sins of the mankind with His baptism received from John at the age of 30, died on the Cross, rose from the dead again, and thereby has forgiven us of all our sins—they are all Abraham’s descendants. God has become the God of those who believe in the Tabernacle’s blue, purple, and scarlet thread and fine woven linen.
By believing in the baptism of Jesus, we must all be spiritually circumcised. This spiritual circumcision is none other than cutting off the sins of our hearts by believing that all our sins were passed on to Jesus Christ through His baptism (Romans 2:29).
As such, those who have received the remission of sin today by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit manifested in the blue, purple, and scarlet thread and the fine woven linen are all kings of God’s Kingdom and His own children. Just as God promised, “kings shall come from you" (Genesis 17:6), His people are indeed rising up throughout the entire world.
If we want to become Abraham’s descendants, we have to believe in the baptism that Jesus received on this earth and His blood on the Cross. As such, I cannot emphasize enough just how important it is to know and believe in the baptism of Jesus. Jesus Christ is the King of kings. He is the King of kings who came wearing a purple rob (John 19:5). Jesus Christ is the King of the universe and its Creator. As He is God’s only begotten Son, He came to this earth in obedience to the Father’s will, and to deliver us from our sins, He took upon all our sins with His baptism all at once. To blot out our sins, He cut out all our sins from our hearts and put them onto His own body with His baptism, and was judged for all our sins by shedding His blood on the Cross. As such, all who believe in this truth can become Abraham’s descendants.
Abraham, his family, and his descendants were all physically circumcised. Even the slaves bought with money from the Gentiles were circumcised. When they believed in the covenant and were circumcised, even these Gentile slaves were blessed, and God also became their God. As such, it is by faith that we become the children of God, by faith that we are blessed by God, by faith that we enter Heaven, and by faith that we live as kings on this earth. In the New Testament’s time, this faith is the faith of those who believe that Jesus took upon all the sins of the world with His baptism.
However, some people claim that this baptism of Jesus is not that important, for they believe that they have been forgiven for their sins by believing only in His blood on the Cross. Although they believe in the laying on of hands on the head of the sacrificial offering performed in the age of the Tabernacle, they place little important on Jesus’ own baptism. They therefore insist that because Abraham’s faith was approved before the first advent of Jesus on this earth and even far before the Tabernacle of Moses, they are still saved only by believing in the Word of the blood of the Cross, even without believing in the clear Word of Jesus’ baptism.
But we must remember that when God told Abraham to bring Him a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon—all to make Abraham realize that He would give the land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants as their inheritance—God had in His mind the burnt offering of sacrifice by fire. Genesis 15:17 says, “And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces.” God had also approved the sacrificial burnt offering of Abel and his faith, but He did not approve the faith of Cain, who did not believe in this burnt offering of sacrifice.
Among today’s Christians, there are too many people who mistakenly understand that they are saved just by believing in Jesus blindly, without ever being spiritually circumcised in faith. They believe only in the crucifixion of Jesus, without believing in the truth that all their sins were passed onto Jesus through His baptism. These people can never become God’s own people, for believing in such a way can never blot out their sins from their hearts. As God said that the sign of His covenant is in the flesh of the circumcised, the uncircumcised therefore has nothing to do with this promise of God.
Can people be saved from sin without believing in the baptism that Jesus received from John the Baptist? Can such people become God’s children? Can they enter Heaven? Can they become kings of His Kingdom? The answer to these questions is a resounding no! The main passage that we have read today provides the clear evidence for this answer. Today, the promise that God had made to Abraham is the same promise that He has made to you and me, those of us who have received the remission of sin by believing Jesus Christ as our Savior, in His baptism and His blood on the Cross. To those who thus believe, the same Word of blessings that God spoke to Abraham is applicable.
 
 
The True Believers of Jesus Do Not Follow the Doctrines of Their Own Making
 
The Word of God in the Bible is the definite and clear truth of salvation; the more we read and ponder over it, the more definite and the clearer it becomes. Among today’s Christians, there are many whose faith is mistaken, believing in and following God based on their own thoughts, and yet unaware that what they believe in is actually false. The very foundation of such people’s faith is wrong. Believing blindly that Jesus has saved them anyway may be enough to satisfy their self-consciousness, but they must realize that God does not approve their blind faith.
Our Lord said that whoever wants to follow Him must first deny him/herself and carry his/her cross. Whoever believes in the Word of God must put down his/her own thoughts and believe according to what the Word of God actually says. Today, you and I must believe in the remission of sin that Jesus Christ has given us by coming to this earth, taking upon and carrying the sins of the world with His baptism, shedding His blood on the Cross, and rising again from the dead.
In these days, there are way too many people who do not believe so, but who blindly hold onto the name of Jesus, saying that they have their own way of believing. The faith of such people has nothing to do with the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by Jesus. For example, there are some people who claim that Jesus showed up while they were praying in some deep mountains, insisting that this is how they were saved. In another example, there are those who claim that their sins all disappeared while they went to a church, fasted, and stayed up all night praying, because they were agonized by their sins, which they could not get rid of with their prayers of repentance.
These kinds of faith have nothing to do with the true salvation that comes only through the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by our Lord. Where does it say in the Word of God that He would forgive our sins if we have such kinds of faith? Nowhere! These people, vaguely aware that God is the absolute One and that Jesus is the Almighty, are borrowing the name of Christ, adding their shallow and uncertain knowledge of God onto their unreliable faith—they are thereby calling God’s name in vain, forgetting their own sins, and garnering even more wrath of God. Such people have constructed their own fictitious Jesus and their own version of salvation, and believe in these figments of their own imagination.
Genesis 17:14 says, “And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.” God has clearly promised us that He would save us from our sins through the spiritual circumcision. And God has also promised us unambiguously that only those who are born again of the water and the Spirit would become His children. As such, those who believe only in Jesus’ blood on the Cross without believing in His baptism cannot ever become God’s children. Such people have betrayed God, for they have not believed in the gospel promised by God, and they are therefore to be cut off from God’s people and accursed by Him.
The foundation of faith that can save us from our sins is none other than the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Only when the gospel of the water and the Spirit is laid out as our foundation can we firmly and wholly believe in the Word of God. How can the spiritual Gentiles whose hearts remain spiritually uncircumcised can ever take the Word of God to their hearts? They can never do this! Because the gospel of the water and the Spirit allows us to be spiritually circumcised, enabling us to become God’s children, without having this very definite foundation, the Word of God can come to us only as intellectual knowledge.
This is why the spiritual teachings of the born-again servants can be understandable and available only to those who basically believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. In other words, only those who are born again of the water and the Spirit can hear and understand the Word of God. When we meet people who, being ignorant of the gospel of the water and the Spirit, claim to have been born again only through the blood of the Cross, although they say that we all believe in the same God, we nevertheless feel as if we are speaking of an entirely different God. Who is the real God here? The real God is the God who gave His Word of promise to Abraham.
God promised Abraham and his descendants, “My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant” (Genesis 17:13). Where is the sign telling us that we have received the remission of our sins? It is found in our hearts. By believing in the baptism of Jesus Christ with our hearts, we have become the children of God, whose hearts have received the spiritual circumcision by believing in the true gospel. We became His children by believing with our hearts that the Lord was baptized because of our sins to take upon all these sins of ours and that we have become spiritually circumcised.
It is by our faith in this truth that we passed all our sins onto Jesus Christ, and Jesus, in turn, carried these sins to the Cross, was crucified in our place, rose from the dead again, and thereby has saved us from all our sins. It is by faith, in other words, that we have become God’s children. It is by faith that we have become sinless. Do we then have any more sin left in us? Of course not! We have no sin whatsoever! All this was fulfilled by the truly marvelous truth of the gospel.
 
 
How Can You and I Become Abraham’s Descendants?
 
We have become Abraham’s descendants because we were spiritually circumcised by believing in the works of Jesus manifested in the blue, purple, and scarlet thread of the Tabernacle. It is because we believed in the baptism of Jesus and His blood on the Cross that we have been spiritually circumcised and become God’s children. It is because we believed that Jesus took upon all our sins with His baptism and was judged for all our sins on the Cross that we have received the remission of sin. This is how you and I have become Abraham’s descendants spiritually.
Those who are born again of the water and the Spirit must now recognize who they really are. You and I, we who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, are all God’s children and His own people, who have been spiritually circumcised by faith.
We are the kings of the coming Millennial Kingdom, who would reign over all the creations of God and enjoy His entire splendor. This is how our status has now changed. Do the people of this world know who we really are? They do not. But we are the ones whose spiritual status has changed by believing in the Word of God. As such, we can now know ourselves clearly and unambiguously.
Those who have been born again by the Word of God know who they really are. We are fundamentally different from those who are prone to advertise themselves in their worldly religious communities, who preach false doctrines even as they are completely ignorant, and who look coldly upon the born-again, the true people of God. As the people of Israel believe themselves to be the chosen people and regard the descendants of Ishmael differently, we who are the spiritual descendants of Abraham also have the right to consider ourselves as the chosen people of God.
Those of us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit have fortunately become, through our faith, Abraham’s descendants. We can enter the Kingdom of Heaven by our faith in the gospel of the blue, purple, and scarlet thread manifested in the Tabernacle.
And just as God promised Abraham that He would make his descendants as many as the stars in the sky, we can witness with our eyes the actual fulfillment of this covenant to us. This is the blessing that God has bestowed on us.
Through the circumcision of our hearts, God has saved us from the sins of the world. And this circumcision of faith is made of the blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and the fine woven linen used to make the gate of the Tabernacle.