Circumcision, the woman, and the Kinsman Redeemer
In dealing with women in ministry, the question has been asked of me, isn’t circumcision a proof that God only wants men to minister through leading and teaching since God gave the sign of circumcision for males only to his people in the Old Testament? Did God give preferential treatment to males when he brought them into the Abrahamic covenant in the Old Testament through circumcision?
While some believe that the entrance into the Abrahamic covenant of blessing through circumcision gave preferential treatment for males, the fact is that only the males had a necessary ritual of entrance into the covenant and without this ritual, they were rejected as part of the covenant. Females entered the covenant without restriction and without rejection. To understand the reasons why, we need to look at the biblical requirement for circumcision.
Circumcision was performed on babies when they were 8 days old and if the parents did not circumcise their baby boy, the baby was rejected.
Gen 17:14 “But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”
Who did the circumcision?
It is an interesting fact that babies did not circumcise themselves. Also, the failure of the father to cut off his son’s foreskin would result in that baby being cut off from the people of God. This means that the physical act of circumcision was done by a father to his son without the son having done anything sinful of his own. This was a generational sign done to the next generation and then passed on to the following generations. When Israel disobeyed God in the wilderness for 40 years, one of the ways they disobeyed Him was their failure to circumcise their sons. After the fathers all died in the wilderness, Joshua took the responsibility to circumcise all of the males who were the sons of the disobedient fathers who fell in the desert. Joshua did the circumcisions so that these sons would be included in God’s covenant and enter into the promised land. The females were allowed to go into the promised land without restriction.
God’s restriction on males
To understand God’s restriction on males and how it relates to the Kinsman Redeemer we need to understand the physical and spiritual sign that God gave as a symbol for sin. The scriptural symbol for sin is the foreskin of the male.
While only males carried the symbol of sin in their body, both males and females carried the spiritual symbol of sin. God said the spiritual symbol of sin must be cut off to be right with him.
Deuteronomy 10:16 So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.
Deuteronomy 30:6 Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.
Jeremiah 4:4 “Circumcise yourselves to the LORD And remove the foreskins of your heart, Men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Or else My wrath will go forth like fire And burn with none to quench it, Because of the evil of your deeds.”
Spiritual symbol of sin
The spiritual symbol of sin is called the “foreskin” of our heart. It needs to be cut off from our heart so that we can be right with God. The Abrahamic covenant focused on the fleshly sign of sin, the fleshly foreskin on the males, the New Covenant in our Lord Jesus focuses on the spiritual sign of sin, the uncircumcised heart. We must circumcise our heart through repentance by turning away from sin (Deut. 10:16.) However, God himself does the actual work by completely removing our sin (Deut 30:6) and God gives us a new heart.
Ezekiel 36:26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
While a female also have a piece of physical skin that will be removed when she is married, her skin of her virginity is a symbol of purity, not a symbol of sin. This is important because the Messiah had to come through a virgin alone and no male would be involved in passing on of the seed of Adam to the Messiah. The male alone has the physical symbol of sin in his body, so the Messiah’s birth through a virgin woman would produce an untainted, and sinless Messiah with no sin nature.
Sign of righteousness
Circumcision was created to be a sign of righteousness, but it was also created to be something that was done to a person, not something that one does for one self. Circumcision symbolizes that righteousness does not originate from us but given to us through the grace of God. Romans 4:11 explains:
Rom 4:11 and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them,
Circumcision was a seal of righteousness. It was a seal, a sign of the cutting off of sin that results in a righteous standing before God.
The physical sign of sin had to be cut off in order for a male to enter God’s Abrahamic covenant. Only the males carried this sign of sin in their body. The cutting off of the sign of sin was the seal of righteousness. It was a sign of the physical, fleshly standing before God. Abraham received this sign while he was yet uncircumcised. Abraham’s circumcision was God’s work of grace, not a work that Abraham accomplished. This is why the cutting off of the physical sign of sin was done to babies who could not accomplish this “work” for themselves.
Why is there a physical sign of sin only on the males when the spiritual sign of sin is on both males and females? The answer is shown in the sin nature that we all inherit from Adam. The sin nature comes through the one man, but we add to that our own burden of sin. Because we have a sin nature, and because we ourselves practice our own sin, we are under a double condemnation of sin.
The first condemnation of sin is the sin nature that we have inherited through Adam.
Psalms 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
Psalms 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb; These who speak lies go astray from birth.
We all have inherited a sin nature that causes us to sin from a little child onward. No one needs to teach a child how to lie. A little child sins naturally because the child is born with a sin nature. Scripture also says that sin entered the world through one man. It doesn’t say that it was just corruption and decay that entered the world, but “sin” itself entered the world.
Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—
Notice in this Scripture that the death that came through sin “spread” to all men. The Greek word that is translated as “spread” is dierchomai and it means to pass through. How did death pass through all humans? The literal Greek says:
Romans 5:12 Because of this as even as through one human the sin into the world entered and through the sin the death and thus into all humans the death passed through on which all sinned.
Sin entered the world
It is clear from the literal translation that the sinful rebellion that entered the world is passed through all humans. As a result of having a sin nature, all humans are subject to death. Because we have a sin nature, we ourselves sin. The Greek says “on which” all sinned. It is what has been passed through to us, “on which” or on the basis of this, all sin.
Romans 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
We enter the world in a dying body because we have inherited the sin nature from Adam and death follows to all who are descendants of Adam by his seed because these are the ones who were “in” Adam when he sinned. All of us are the seed of Adam and all of us were there inside him in the form of his seed when he sinned. It was Adam’s one sin that caused us to start our life as dying beings. The fact that we enter the world in a body that is susceptible to sickness and death proves that we inherit Adam’s sin nature since death follows sin. There would be no death if sin didn’t exist first.
Romans 5:15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.
It wasn’t just that we enter this life in a dying body, we also enter into a fleshly body that has inherited the sin nature. We were created as sinners because of Adam’s sin. Adam’s sin caused both a physical death and a spiritual separation from God. The very day that Adam sinned, he was separated from God and kicked out of the garden. We inherit this separation from God because we were “in” Adam when he sinned. Romans 5:19 proves that it wasn’t just our death that came as a result of Adam’s sin, but we were made sinners through Adam’s sin:
Romans 5:19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.
How is it through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners? “The many” were made sinners because Adam’s sin was spread to us by inheritance. By the one man’s sin, we inherited his rebellion, and this spread to all of Adam’s offspring, tainting us even in our mother’s womb. We are tainted from the beginning because we are the seed of Adam. Romans 5:19 makes a strong point that one man’s sin made the many to be sinners.
Scripture also makes it clear that this sin is brought into the world, not by Eve and through her seed, but by Adam. Scripture also makes it clear that the one who would pay for our sin must be a Kinsman Redeemer belonging to Adam’s line, yet without sin. Jesus must be the last “Adam” not the last “Eve” or the last “Abraham”. The one who started the sin must be redeemed by the life and work of the “last” Adam. The word Redeemer in the Hebrew is “gaal” and it means to act as a redeemer to a deceased kinsman, to redeem or buy back from bondage. Jesus is that Kinsman Redeemer who buys back from bondage all that was lost by Adam’s sin. For Jesus to be the Redeemer, he must be a perfect sacrifice without sin or blemish.
Jesus was born from a virgin without having a human father so that he would not have the inherited sin nature that comes through the seed of the man. Jesus is the only human born who is not a seed of Adam. Jesus was not in Adam when Adam sinned. When God showed in his word that the male has the only one who had the physical sign of sin, God was giving the word that the Messiah would not come through the seed of the man. The foreskin is a powerful symbol of sin. It must be cut off because the foreskin is identified with the sin and rebellion of Adam.
Scripture also tells us that the father can affect the seed within him.
Hebrews 7:9, 10 And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.
If scripture reveals that the seed within the father can be credited with the act of the father, then the seed within the father can also be credited with the sinful rebellion when Adam fell just as scripture says. Scripture very clearly says that Adam brought sin into the world. He brought sin into the world just as surely as Levi paid tithes while he was in his father’s loins.
Why was Jesus born with a foreskin?
If it is true that the male transfers the sin nature of Adam (Adam’s seed) to Adam’s fleshly descendants, then why was Jesus born with a foreskin that needed to be cut off? The reason that Jesus had a foreskin, is because Jesus had to be made like us in all ways, yet without sin.
Romans 8:3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
Jesus was sent in the “likeness of sinful flesh”. What was that “likeness” of sinful flesh? Jesus was born without inherited sin, but he did have the symbol of sin in his body just as all other men had. Jesus had a foreskin, and this foreskin had to be cut off in order to fulfill the law.
Although Jesus was without inherited sin because he received his humanity through the woman’s seed alone, Jesus still had to fulfill all of the law on our behalf. In the same way, although Jesus had no sin of his own, Jesus had to fulfill the law by being baptized. Baptism symbolizes the washing away of sin by cutting off the foreskin of the heart, yet Jesus had no sin to be washed away and no foreskin of his heart that needed to be cut away. But because he was to fulfill the entire law on our behalf, Jesus needed to go through each of these acts in order to be identified with us in our sin so that he could be our sin bearer.
As the sin-bearer of the entire human race, and as the last Adam, Jesus needed to be a descendant of Adam, yet not come through Adam’s tainted seed. How is that possible? God bypassed the man’s seed by going through the woman’s seed which had not been tainted with Adam’s sin. God bypassed the one who brought sin and stain into our lives by going through the very one who had been deceived by Satan. Click here to read how God did this by reading my article on Adam as head of the family.
To sum up the importance of circumcision and the importance of cutting off of sin, we need to see that:
1. Only Adam brought sin into the world.
2. Adam alone was kicked out of the garden as the one whom God pinpointed as the one who would continue to rebel against God’s rules and eat from the tree that was no longer available to him.
3. Adam’s seed was not used to bring the Messiah into the world.
4. Only the males have the physical sign of sin (foreskin)
5. Death is passed through to each one of us because of Adam’s sin.
6. The sin nature that we inherit causes us to practice sinning on our own.
5. Jesus was made in the image of the first Adam and Jesus had a foreskin as the physical sign of sin, although he himself was not sinful.
6. Entrance into God’s family requires the removal of the foreskin of our hearts, and this is a requirement of both males and females.
7. We are saved by grace through faith and it is God who removes the symbol of sin from our hearts, and He is the one who makes us clean.
The Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts
As born-again Christians we need to allow the Spirit to do his work in our hearts. The Jewish nation had the symbol of fleshly circumcision but they resisted God and would not allow God to do the work in their hearts.
Act 7:51 “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.
What started through Abraham with a fleshly symbol, is now a spiritual symbol of the work that God has done in our hearts.
Rom 2:28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.
Rom 2:29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.
Was the male more important than the female?
In answer to the question about circumcision, this rite of entrance into the Abrahamic covenant was not a lifting up of the male as more important than the female. Females were not given circumcision because sin does not pass through from the seed of Eve. The sign of circumcision was God’s finger pointing toward the birth of the Messiah through the seed of the woman. Praise God that he knew a way to bring the Messiah as our kinsman Redeemer without the stain of inherited sin. Christ and Christ alone was the unblemished lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!