Let’s look at a few instances where we find that phrase used. We read in Genesis 17:14, “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.” The Lord made His covenant with Abraham, declaring in Genesis 17:6, “And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.” The sign and seal of that covenant was circumcision, where the Lord commanded that all young baby boys should be circumcised on the 8th day. (Genesis 17:10-13). If one was not circumcised, then they were to be “cut off from His people.”

There are two main chains of thoughts concerning being ‘cut off’. Some believe it to mean that the disobedient or offending person would be cut off from the fellowship and company of his people. This person would be ostracized from the nation of Israel for his disobedience. Another thought concerning being ‘cut off’ is that it refers to the death or execution of that person. It seems that either one could be correct at different times and for different reasons. Circumcision is a type of ‘cutting off the flesh’ with an eye towards living in the spirit and not walking in the flesh. If one should refuse this rite of circumcision and refuse to declare himself ‘cut off from the world’ then he would be ‘cut off from his people.’ In the case of a child, instead of an adult, the child would be cut off, teaching the parents of the seriousness of circumcision and the severity for disobedience.

Exodus 31:14 is different. That says, “Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, THAT SOUL SHALL BE CUT OFF FROM AMONG HIS PEOPLE.” In this case, the keeping of the Sabbath day was commanded of the Lord’s people. To disobey this law would cause the offender to be “cut off from among his people.” However, this portion declares plainly what this cutting off refers to. It refers to actual death. They shall “surely be put to death.” Exodus 9:15 obviously refers to a death sentence. That says, “For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth.”

The ‘cut off from’ expression is found only in the Old Testament and is mentioned 47 times. In this ‘day of grace’ in which we live, we find more room for confession and forgiveness than those under the Law. However, for each one of these directives to ‘cut off’ someone, it surely shows the seriousness of obeying God’s Word. The Lord calls for obedience from among His people. We read in Psalms 18:30 (and in 2 Samuel 22:31), “As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.” Since God’s way is perfect, shouldn’t we seek to obey it? Shouldn’t be bow our wills to the will of the Lord, knowing that His way in perfect, this it will honor Him, and that it will be a blessing to us? (255.10)