As I have been reading Gary DeMar’s sixth chapter of 10 Popular Prophecy Myths Exposed, I have found myself scratching my head, and asking “Just what is he getting at here?”
The Chapter is titled “The Myth that Animal Sacrifices and Circumcision are Everlasting Rites”.
While the Abrahamic covenant does indeed claim that it is an eternal covenant, the bible from its earliest pages tells us that God would one day circumcise the hearts of His people. Even Moses, who wrote about circumcision, told us that it was God’s intention to circumcise their hearts. Whether people circumcise their sons, or not, is immaterial, but it is not wrong.
Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. Deuteronomy 10:16
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 30:6
Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings. Jeremiah 4:4
There are also places in the Old Testament that speak of both circumcision of the flesh AND of the heart, such as Ezekiel 44:7 and 9, but does this mean that those who enter the Temple during the millennial reign will have to submit to physical circumcision? Is this a problem?
The bible certainly does state that Jesus will rule with a rod of iron during his earthly reign (Revelation 2:7, 12:5, 19:15), so what if He does enforce the circumcision part of the covenant? DeMar, as a postmillennialist does not believe that Jesus will return and reign on earth, so the question is wasted on him. What if Jesus requires that only those who are both physically and spiritually circumcised can enter the inner court of the Temple. Would that be a problem? Would a true believer refuse to submit to circumcision if the Lord required it of him?
DeMar’s problem is that he doesn’t believe in the Pre-Tribulation rapture of the Church, so he thinks this prohibition will include Church members, who are circumcised in heart. The true Church of Jesus Christ will have already been to Heaven, and will be 100% in bodies like Jesus Christ’s. They will return with Him and can come and go wherever He is, so if there was a prohibition against the uncircumcised it would not apply to the Church, but it might apply to those in natural bodies.
The millennial reign will be a very different time than the one in which we live today.
DeMar’s problem stems from Romans 2:28 versus the Old Testament command;
28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
Really, I think DeMar’s problem is one of misinterpreting the whole bible. He fails to differentiate between Old Covenant believers and New, and further, between New Covenant believers and Tribulation and Millennium believers. He thinks all believers are the same, but this is not what Scripture teaches. Scripture teaches that something different happened at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon all believers. Scripture also teaches that this age will end when the Holy Spirit steps out of the way for the Antichrist.
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. II Thessalonians 2:7
In this passage the words “let” and “letteth” mean “hinder” and “hinders”, and appears to be a reference to the Holy Spirit’s unique role through the Church. It is the presence of the Church, with believers permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit, that hinders the work of the Antichrist spirit.
DeMar would have us believe that this happened some 2,000 years ago, but the context of the passage would dictate that this will happen shortly before, or simultaneously with, the revealing of the Antichrist.
There is no promise, in Scripture, that the Holy Spirit will return and indwell believers, after the rapture of the Church. Once the Church is snatched, that is it! Though those who are left can be saved they will be proselytes of Israel, and not a part of the Church. Since this is the case, would it be a problem if they are required to be circumcised to enter the Sanctuary of the Temple? I think not.
I find it interesting, again and again, that Gary DeMar references a lot of verses, but ignores the context. On page 95 he references Leviticus 6:41 in the context of saying that God will spiritualize the command of circumcision, but he misses the next verse;
41 And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: 42Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.43 The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes.
In any discussion of the Abrahamic covenant, and the command to circumcise their sons, this passage is very important. God told them, at the beginning, that there would come a time when He would forget, or postpone, his covenant with Israel. Exactly what the Dispensationalists are saying! Isn’t He saying here that He will remember His covenant with their fathers at a time when they do have circumcised hearts? Absolutely!
Today the nation of Israel still does not have circumcised hearts, but He is bringing them back in unbelief as Ezekiel 37:1-8 tells us. There is flesh on the bones, but there is no life in them! Not yet!
He is doing this so that He can do a work in their hearts, with the goal of circumcising them! DeMar is trying to tell us that God can do this work in their hearts while they are scattered among the Gentiles, but 2,700 years in exile has not accomplished this feat! What difference would a few more years make? No. Only the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, the Great Tribulation, will be finally able to soften their hearts.
In this light, is it beyond reason that those who are in fleshly bodies will have to undergo circumcision, both physically and spiritually, before entering the Temple? I think it fits perfectly!
DeMar, however, may actually be on to something, in a backward sort of way; The bible speaks of a final rebellion at the end of the millennial reign (Rev. 20:7-9). Could it be that those uncircumcised, who are excluded from the Temple, will be those who rebel at this time? (Who else?) Will these people be unable to view the sacrifices, and to see the Lord Himself, because of their condition, and thus live in unbelief in the amazing world of the millennium? Not only is this possible, but highly likely.
What of his next point, that the return of animal sacrifices in the Temple of the millennium, is also a myth? Well, I did cover this in my last post, but let’s have another look;
Think about the meaning of this statement from Hebrews.
For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Hebrews 10:4
Does “not possible” mean that “it could have been possible at some time“? You see, if it was ever possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins, then this statement would be untrue. If it was ever possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sin, then Christ would not have had to die on the cross! God never changes, and thus, the sacrifices of the Old Testament temple did not take away their sins.
So why did God institute the sacrificial system? What about Moses’ statements that the sacrifices would accomplish atonement, and forgiveness for sins?
And he shall burn all his fat upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him. Leviticus 4:26
And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour unto the LORD; and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him. Leviticus 4:31
And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of the peace offerings; and the priest shall burn them upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the LORD: and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him. Leviticus 4:35
And the priest shall make an atonement for all the congregation of the children of Israel, and it shall be forgiven them; for it is ignorance: and they shall bring their offering, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD, and their sin offering before the LORD, for their ignorance: Numbers 15:25
Do we have a contradiction here, between Hebrews 10:4 and the writings of Moses? Do these passages actually say that the sacrifices accomplish propitiation, or satisfaction for sins? No! What God was doing was reacting to their act of faith, and transferring their sin, through time, to the cross of Christ. So they sacrificed animals, and God placed their sin on His Son, and forgave them. It will be the same during the Millennial reign.
The Old Testament sacrifices were a picture of something that was coming. The millennial sacrifices will be a picture of something that has already been accomplished.
If God did not change from at some time between 1500 BC, and the writing of Hebrews, then why would we expect that He would change for the millennial reign of Christ? It appears that the sacrificed offered during the millennial reign will be viewed exactly the same, by God, as they were during the age of Israel.
Here are a couple of paragraphs from DeMar’s book;
“In addition to the reinstitution of circumcision, dispensationalism requires that animal sacrifices for atonement must also be reinstituted. John C. Whitcomb, in his article on “The Millennial Temple” in LaHaye’s Prophecy Study Bible, writes that “five different offerings in Ezekiel (43:13–46:15), four of them with bloodletting, will serve God’s purposes. These offerings are not voluntary but obligatory; God will ‘accept’ people on the basis of these animal sacrifices (43:27), which make reconciliation [atonement] for the house of Israel (45:17, cf. 45:15).” Whitcomb attempts to mollify the problems associated with this unbiblical view by claiming that “the offerings will not take away sin (see Heb. 10:4), but they will be effective in sanctifying Israelites ceremonially because of His infinitely holy presence in their midst.”
This is an impossible interpretation for at least three reasons. First, these sacrifices are said to be “for atonement” (reconciliation) (Ezek. 45:15, 17) not, as Whitcomb claims, “as effective vehicles of divine instruction for Israel and the nations during the Millennial Kingdom.” Second, Jesus is the once for all sacrifice whose blood cleanses us from sin (Heb. 7:26–27; 8:13; 9:11–15; 10:5–22; 1 Peter 3:18). Third, sanctification comes by “the washing of water with the word” (Eph. 5:26) not by the washing of blood from animal sacrifices. ” (DeMar, 10 Popular Prophecy Myths Exposed, page 99)
Does DeMar think that the Old Testament saints were saved by the sacrifices on the altar of the Temple? Here he is pitting the New Testament against the Old, as if something has changed, yet he himself says that both Old Testament saints, and New, are one in Christ. Something changed, but it wasn’t God. Like many pastors today, DeMar forgets that ALL New Testament saints are permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit, something that was unheard of in Old Testament times.
The millennial sacrifices will be no more, and no less, about atonement than the original Old Testament sacrifices.
As we have seen, the writings of Moses said the same thing about sacrificial atonement that the prophetic passages say about the sacrifices during the Millennial reign.
6Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; 7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. Isaiah 56:6-7
15 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness. 17 For thus saith the Lord; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel; 18 Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually. Jeremiah 33:15-18
These passages very clearly state that there will be sacrifices offered during the millennial reign of Christ. DeMar, the Postmillennialists, Amillennialists, and Preterists, are denying the clear teaching of Scripture on this issue. Ultimately this is an attack on the character of God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
The Father has promised the Son an earthly throne, and DeMar denies that the Father will keep this. The Son has stated that He will one day have an earthly throne, but DeMar thinks He was mistaken! (John 18:36b “but NOW is my kingdom not from hence.” It will be at some time!) The Holy Spirit has inspired the entire bible, both Old Testament and New! DeMar makes Him out to be a liar, and sounds so pious in the process!
Once again, the problem with DeMar, as with all postmillennialists, is that he sees no difference between Old Testament saints and New. They reject the rapture of the Church, and the idea that Christ will set up an earthly throne in Jerusalem. In short, they reject and spiritualize every clear prophecy about all these things, all the while claiming to believe the literal interpretation of Scripture!
All church-age believers will be in glorified bodies during the millennial reign of Christ. Their bodies will be like that of Jesus Christ Himself! It matters not whether they were circumcised in the flesh in this life, or not. They will have unrestricted access to the Lord! The re-institution of the Old Testament law will have no affect on their standing with the Lord. The only people affected by this re-institution will be those living in fleshly bodies on the earth…the millennium saints.
The last statement of Jeremiah 33:16 is key to what is happening here; Though sacrifices will be offered during the millennial reign, those who offer them will get their righteousness from the Lord, not from their sacrifices, nor from the law!
In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness.
The more I read of DeMar’s book, the more alarmed I am getting! I am becoming more and more convinced that this philosophy will become the dominant theology of the Harlot Church of Revelation 17. It has a form of godliness, but simultaneously denies the power of God!