This week a member of our Jerusalem congregation celebrated the circumcision of his first born son. Many of his large, extended, Sephardic Israeli family were present. The event itself was a significant witness that our faith in Yeshua is a continuation of the covenants of our forefathers, not a denial of them.
This week the European Council passed a non-binding resolution defining circumcision as a ‘violation of the physical integrity of children.’ Many in Europe would like to see the practice outlawed. Interestingly, Jews and Muslims are likely to be allies on this issue, since circumcision is also part of the Islamic religion (Genesis 17:23).
This week also coincided with the Torah portion concerning Abraham, including the covenant of circumcision (Genesis 12-17). Last week’s Torah portion concerned the flood of Noah, and God’s covenant with him (Genesis 6-11). Let’s compare briefly the covenants of Abraham and Noah.
Noah’s covenant preceded that of Abraham’s. Therefore, Abraham’s covenant may be seen as a subset and a development of Noah’s covenant. Abraham’s covenant serves the earlier plan already set forth by Noah’s.
Noah’s covenant contains God’s destiny for the nations of the world (Genesis 9:16), while Abraham’s deals with the Jewish people primarily (Genesis 17:19). Noah’s covenant contains God’s will for the entire planet earth, while Abraham’s deals with the land of Israel. The purpose of the Jewish people and the land of Israel is to be a blessing for the sake of the rest of the nations and lands of the earth.
The sign of Noah’s covenant is a glorious rainbow, while the sign of the Abrahamic is a bloody foreskin. Each of these signs has symbolic meaning, ultimately having to do with Yeshua (Jesus) himself. One is heavenly; the other is earthly – pointing to Yeshua as both son of God and son of Man.
The rainbow is a picture of the international church (Revelation 7:9), in all its diversity. It is similar to the seven-fold lampstand (Revelation 1:20), yet has the additional element of showing different colors. The colors represent the different ethnic groups, cultures, and languages of the nations on earth.
As the rainbow shines with light, so will resurrected saints shine with glory (John 17:22; I Corinthians 15:41-43). As the colors are found in perfect harmony, so will we come to perfect unity in faith (John 17:23). As the rainbow reflects the light of the sun, so will we reflect the face of Yeshua which shines like the sun (Revelation 1:16). [There is a rainbow surrounding the throne of God (Revelation 4:3).]
Circumcision points to the birth of Yeshua and His physical lineage from Abraham and David (Matthew 1:1, Romans 1:3). The birth of Yeshua was the mystery of God being manifested in the flesh (John 1:14; I Timothy 3:16). Yeshua was not only born into this world, He was circumcised when He got here (Luke 2:21).
Circumcision represents God’s faithfulness to His covenants: past, present and future (Romans 15:8). Circumcision is parallel to the crucifixion. In both cases, Yeshua’s flesh was pierced and bled. Circumcision is a foreshadow of the Temple sacrifices and of Yeshua’s sacrifice. Yeshua confirmed the Old Covenant at His circumcision and the New Covenant at His crucifixion.
Asher serves as president of Tikkun Global family of ministries and congregations, dedicated to the dual restoration of Israel and the Church. He is founder of the Revive Israel five-fold ministry team, and oversees both Ahavat Yeshua and Tiferet Yeshua congregations in Israel.
He and his wife Betty share a passion for personal prayer and devotion, local evangelism and discipleship in Hebrew, and unity of the Body of believers worldwide.
Asher was raised in a conservative Jewish home and holds degrees from Harvard University, Baltimore Hebrew College and Messiah Biblical Institute. He has authored numerous books, tracts and articles.