Ephesians 2:11-13 - 11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
We live in a world of symbols. Whether it be the American flag, the golden arches of McDonald’s, the peace sign or a yellow smiley face, these symbols all represent something.
In the Old Testament, God gave a symbol. Do you know what it was? Circumcision. In Genesis 17:1-14, God established a covenant with Abraham: that God would establish a people through Abraham. God told Abraham to circumcise himself and every male who was part of his tribe (Gen. 17:10). Circumcision signified that Israel belonged to God. Those who were not Jewish by ethnicity were considered “the uncircumcision.”
In Ephesians 2:11, Paul is asking the non-Jewish Christians to remember that they were once part of “the uncircumcision,” which means they were once outside of God’s covenant. Being outside of God’s covenant had several horrible implications. They were “separated from Christ,” meaning they did not have a relationship with Jesus. They were “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel,” meaning they were not considered part of God’s people. They were “strangers to the covenants of promise,” meaning they did not know or understand God’s truth and promises. As you can imagine, this left them in a terrible predicament because it meant they had “no hope” and were living “without God.” If the story ended there it would be depressing.
Thankfully verse 13 says, “But now.” With these two little words, Paul reminded the Christians that things had changed dramatically. Why? Paul said, “in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” The good news is that God makes it possible for those who were (or are) far off from God to be brought near. This is covenantal language. To be brought near to God is to be brought into covenant with God.
Now, we have a new symbol: the cross. Because Jesus died on the cross and shed his blood to atone for our sins, we (who were once far off from God) can be brought near to God through faith in Jesus. Now, we are part of God’s people. Now, we are recipients of the covenantal promises. Now, we have hope because we have God.
• How does being near to God make a difference in your life?
• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for bringing you near to him.