Why Did God Choose Circumcision?

The hopeful, beautiful, and terrible reason for the drastic covenant. /

Human beings can live as God intended only if flesh is put to death. In opposing flesh, Yahweh is not opposing humanity. He is acting to deliver humanity from everything that makes it bestial, every attempt to become more than human that makes humanity inhuman. In his war against flesh, Yahweh is at war with pride, heroic bravado, violence, the cascade of reciprocal vengeance, against Adam’s impatience and Cain’s envy and Lamech’s brutality and the lusts of the sons of God for the daughters of men. In seeking to kill flesh to save the human race, Yahweh ultimately aims to prosecute, condemn, and execute mortality, to put death to death.

The flood is the first great exemplification of this theme, as Yahweh’s Spirit wearies of the struggle with flesh (Gen. 6:3) and grieves over the damage to creation (Gen. 6:6–7), the violence that flesh invariably produces (Gen. 6:13). In the flood, Yahweh wipes the world clean of all flesh (Gen. 6:13, 17; 7:21).

Even after the flood, though, Yahweh sees that humankind is flesh and that the imagination of the heart is only evil from youth (Gen. 8:21). Yahweh’s evaluation is quickly confirmed in the fall of the nations at Babel (Gen. 11:1–9). The peoples who refused to scatter end up scattered and the men who sought to make an immortal name for themselves are left with the insulting name “Confusion.” Humanity, descended from one man and woman, and reborn after the flood in the sons of Noah, becomes fragmented and divided. Outside Eden, human flesh is distant from God. Long before Babel, this distance from God manifested itself in interpersonal division—Adam accused Eve, Cain murdered Abel, and the world was filled with violence. After ...

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Also in this Issue

Issue 47 / April 28, 2016
  1. Editor’s Note

    Issue 47: A good, dreadful covenant mark; wine’s life from grapes’ decay; and nature’s remedy. /

  2. Wine, Wine, Wine!

    We’ve turned dying fruit into a durable drink for millennia but only recently understood it. /

  3. How Nature Soothes the Soul

    Scientific evidence for the benefits of outdoor recreation. /

  4. The Cranes

    “Where along the migratory way” /

  5. Wonder on the Web

    Issue 47: Links to amazing stuff.

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