In scripture, the Israelites had no covenant with God because of their DNA. Israel’s covenant with God was based on physical circumcision and the Law of Moses.
When God established his covenant with Abraham, which was to be passed on to his descendants, God said the following to Abraham:
This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant. ~ Genesis 17:10-14
Notice the following points:
1. Circumcision was the token of the covenant.
2. Circumcision was in the male’s flesh. This is why women did not have the same status as men under the first covenant, and why Paul specifically says, there is no male or female in Christ.
3. Not only were Abraham’s physical descendants circumcised, but those who were not of Abraham’s seed were also to be circumcised because the SEAL of the covenant was not DNA, but circumcision.
The nation of Israel, under the Law, did not consist of physical descendants of Abraham ONLY. This is why the modern day Zionist movement is so scripturally out of line. It promotes the ideology that the nation of Israel in scripture was exclusively the physical descendants of Abraham, thus the covenant predicated on physical DNA continues. This is incorrect and the breeding ground for dual covenant theology.
A Jew is a Jew because of the covenant of circumcision and obedience to the law of God.
Now that Christ has come, it is no longer circumcision in the flesh which is the token of the covenant, but circumcision of the heart. It is no longer the letter of the law given to ancient Israel, but the law of God inscribed on our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who sanctifies us and leads us into a godly and holy life, lived from a new heart in Christ.
God’s covenant with ancient Israel in the flesh was never predicated on their DNA. It was always predicated on circumcision and the Law given through Moses: every single time!
4. The uncircumcised was cut off from the people of God.
After the first generation of Israelites exited Israel, God made a covenant with them at Sinai, where he gave them the 10 Commandments. After this generation of Israelites provoked God’s wrath by choosing not to trust him, God swore in his anger that they would not enter the promised land, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb.
God caused them to wonder in the wilderness for 40 years until they died off and their children become adults.
After the 40 years had expired, the second generation of Israelites were given the same Law by Moses, which the first generation had despised.
The book of Deuteronomy records this second giving of the Law in the final days of Moses, at which time Joshua became the successor to Moses.
The context in Deuteronomy most likely occurred over about a week or so period of time, and happened just prior to Israel’s entrance into the promised land under the leadership of Joshua.
Before this new generation of Israelites could go in and possess the land, they had to be circumcised. We read the following in the book of Joshua:
At that time the Lord said unto Joshua, make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time. And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt. Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised. For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord: unto whom the Lord sware that he would not shew them the land, which the Lord sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey. And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way ~ Joshua 5:2-7
The physical circumcision given to Israel was a foreshadowing of that which would come through Christ, namely, circumcision of the heart.
And just as the ancient Israelites could not enter and possess the promised land without first being circumcised, so we too must undergo a spiritual circumcision (a changed heart) so that we may obey God completely and enter the rest he has for us.