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Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will punish all who are circumcised only in the flesh; Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon, Moab and all who live in the desert in distant places. For all these nations are really uncircumcised, and even the whole house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart.

Genesis 17:9-11 shows that circumcision was a sign of the covenant between God and His chosen people:

Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you.”

The prophecy in Jeremiah shows that God was judging the Gentile nations equally alongside the nation of Israel, which had broken its covenant with God. Israel was not circumcised in the way that mattered to God – their hearts were spiritually unclean. They, and the Gentile nations, were going to be judged by God equally as not being in covenant relationship with Him.

I understand that Jeremiah was warning about the consequences of idolatry and abandoning true worship. God brought Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian armies back to destroy and desolate Judah and Jerusalem, then restored His people after 70 years. Then, in Jeremiah 23:5-6 we have a prophecy of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.

My question is this: Based on the prophecies that point to the second coming of Christ Jesus when he comes to judge the nations, does Jeremiah 9:25-26 suggest there is to be a modern-day fulfilment?

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The question is about God's punishment on nations that violate his covenant with Abraham and his descendants. That includes the descendants of Isaac, but nations other than Israel were also descendants of Abraham and were also required to be physically circumcised.

Point One is that physical circumcision was no longer required for the people who would be brought into the New Covenant of faith once Jesus inaugurated that. The New Testament is perfectly clear about that, also that Jews and Gentile are equally enabled by God to enter into this relationship with him via the New Covenant.

Any modern-day application of that particular part of Jeremiah's prophecy will have nothing to do with physical circumcision.

Point Two relates to the punishment God brought upon Israel and those other nations. History shows the initial fulfilment - literal war, death and destruction, with God prompting and using nations like Egypt and Babylon to execute this judgment. Only yesterday I was reading Jeremiah chapter 47, with specific mention of these locations drawing me up short, to wonder about what's going on right now. Some details state:

"The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Philistines, before Pharaoh smote Gaza.... Behold, waters rise up out of the north, and shall be an overflowing flood, and shall overflow the land, and all that is therein; the city, and them that dwell therein: then the men shall cry, and all the inhabitants of the land shall howl... the fathers shall not look back to their children for feebleness of hands; because of the day that cometh to spoil all the Philistines, and to cut off from Tyre and Sidon every helper that remaineth; for the Lord will spoil the Philistines... Baldness is come upon Gaza; Ashkelon is cut off with the remnant of the valley: how long wilt thou cut thyself?" Jeremiah chapter 47, A.V.

The initial fulfilment happened around two and a half thousand years ago. But is there any basis for thinking God's punishment will have a second fulfilment now? The passage used by the OP requires other statements written by Jeremiah at that time, such as the one I have pointed to, to obtain the whole picture. There are others regarding Moab, Egypt, Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Elam and Babylon.

But Point Two requires the same understanding as does future application for Point One: the literal initial application becomes symbolic, spiritual application in the future. Spiritual principles need to be worked out, and then an understanding for today may become clear.

One principle is the centuries of hatred against Israel that many nations have to this day. Chapter 48 lists various principles that will incur God's judgment: "because thou hast trusted in thy works and in thy treasures, thou shalt also be taken (v.7); Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully (v.10); Make him drunken: for he magnified himself against the Lord: Moab also shall wallow in his vomit, and he also shall be in derision. For was not Israel a derision unto thee? (vss.26-27); Moab is exceeding proud, his loftiness, and his arrogancy, and his pride, and the haughtiness of his heart.(v.29) Moab shall be destroyed from being a people, because he hath magnified himself against the Lord. (v.42) I will bring the calamity of Esau upon him, the time that I will visit him." (ch.49 v.8)

Any application today should surely be for all the nations to examine themselves in light of God's historic dealings with those nations, to see if they are guilty of the same things that are so abhorrent to God. It is for all who are in the New Covenant today to see if they are guilty of the same things that brought God's judgment on those in the Old Covenant. This is because other prophecies speak of a future judgment coming on the whole earth, at Christ's second coming. How do all the nations, and all those claiming to be in covenant relationship with God today measure up? Will they stand, or will they fall at his visitation, accompanied by the outpouring of judgments from heaven as foretold in Revelation?

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In my view, Jeremiah 9:25-26 does not constitute a dual prophecy specifically pointing to the second coming of Christ. Instead, it is a prophecy that only foretelling the destruction of these nations by Babylon. The judgement it revealed is a set example for subsequent nations that engage in similar idolatrous practices, extending all the way to the second coming of Christ. Paul himself acknowledged this revelation, as reflected in his commentary in Romans 2:25-29 (with credit to Stephen Disraeli's insight)

In Jeremiah 9:26, there is a need for an explanation regarding why the people of Egypt, Edom, Ammon, Moab and all who live in the wilderness in distant places were among those described as "circumcised only in the flesh" (NIV) as mentioned in Jeremiah 9:25.

It appears that circumcision is a common practice in the ancient Near East, not limited to the descendants of Abraham. However, their practices may have variation according to their cultures. An article issued by Jack M Sasson of The University of North Carolina, title "Circumcision in the Ancient Near East"page 474, reveal that the Egyptian circumcision involved a dorsal incision upon the foreskin, which liberated the glans penis. In contrast, the Hebrews amputated the prepuce and thus exposed the corona of the penis. This significant difference in technique constituted to the Lord's command in Joshua 5:2, required the Israelites to undergo circumcision once again at Gilgal.

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    +1 I think you are on the right track in saying this prophecy does not pertain to the Second Coming. However, the nations listed in the OP were not destroyed by Babylon. See my answer here for details. Nov 12, 2023 at 17:38
  • @DanFefferman - My reference is on Jeremiah 25:8-38. Nov 13, 2023 at 2:29
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    @DanFefferman - you make a valid point that the nations listed in Jeremiah 9:25-26 were not destroyed by Babylon. Indeed, those nations (under modern names) still exist.
    – Lesley
    Nov 13, 2023 at 11:06
  • @VincentWong - I appreciate your information about circumcision, but it is the spiritual circumcision of the heart that matters since the introduction of the New Covenant.
    – Lesley
    Nov 13, 2023 at 11:08
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    @Lesley - I am not against the spiritual circumcision of the heart. I gave my short answer to your question in the 1st paragraph and I concur to Romans 2:25-29. Anne's answer is detailed and I have nothing more to add. The rest of my answer is a response to the comments under your question, about the circumcision of the nations surrounding Israel mentioned in Jeremiah 9:26. I just share an enlightenment from the article of Jack M Sasson. Nov 13, 2023 at 14:13
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Something many people don't know is Edomites didn't go extinct in the old testament period. They still existed in the Hellenistic period, their name was Idumeans, and they were forced to convert to Judaism in the Maccabean period. So, the descendants of Edomites are Jews (I'm not saying Jews are edomites, only that a fraction of their ancestry comes from the Edomites that were forced to convert).

This is the wikipedia link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edom#Conversion_to_Judaism

Moabites and Philistines were the 2 nations that went extinct in the Babylonian invasion period. Edomites became assimilated into the Jews, and Ammonites simply became Aramean speaking Christians in the Byzantine period.

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    – Community Bot
    Nov 16, 2023 at 14:32
  • Thank you for your contribution, Walter. I found the link you provided most interesting as it relates to the history of Edom and Jordan. However, you have not actually answered the question about a possible modern-day application of Jeremiah 9:26-27. Any views on that?
    – Lesley
    Nov 16, 2023 at 17:21

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