Circumcision: not a widely talked about subject, but I’m finding that it is an important one. God’s been teaching me a lot, which means I’m going to write a lot, so grab a cup of your favorite hot drink, make sure your are in a comfy chair, and read on my friend!
Circumcision isn’t just a male procedure done days after birth. Its roots are in a covenant made between God and man.
In the Old Testament, God established the covenant of circumcision when he commanded Abraham to cut the foreskin of every male from 8 days old and above, whether he was born into the family or bought as a slave. If man broke the covenant, God said that he would be cut off from his people. Abraham obeyed, and at the age of 99, he was circumcised.
In Exodus chapter four, we read about an encounter that Moses had with God. Moses just had heard God from the midst of the burning bush, and began making his way to Egypt from Midian, with his wife and son, to meet up with Aaron and proclaim to Pharaoh God’s message, “Let My people go.” Toward the end of chapter four, we read that God sought to kill Moses. So Zipporah, Moses’ wife, grabs a sharp stone, circumcises their son, and throws the foreskin at the feet of Moses, declaring to him, “Surely you are a husband of blood to me” (Ex. 4:25). Then, God stopped trying to kill Moses. BIZARRE! What just happened there? Did God seek to cut Moses off from His people because his son, or possibly himself as well, were not circumcised?
Deuteronomy 30:6 records these words of Moses to the children of Israel: “And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”
In Joshua 5:2-9, Joshua circumcised a whole bunch of the Israelites. Fathers who came out of the Egyptian captivity died, not having circumcised their own boys, so God commanded Joshua to rise up in the fathers place and do it. These are the Lord’s words to Joshua, after the circumcisions: “This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” The act of cutting off the flesh rolled away the reproach.
What does this mean for us today? We are not under the law, but we are under grace. We can’t just circumcise the males to be right with God, so is circumcision irrelevant to our individual lives and relationships with Him? The New Testament sheds light on what circumcision is to us today.
Romans 4:11 & 12 says, “And he (Abraham) received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness may be imputed to them also, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.”
Colossians 2:11-13 says, “In Him (Jesus Christ) you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirement that was against us which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” AMEN!
Jesus paid it all when He died on the cross. Here is the lesson God is teaching me through all of this, and the point I want to clearly convey:
Jesus Christ was cut off for our sakes. What we deserved (God’s wrath and punishment), Jesus took that we might be clothed in His righteousness and named a Child of God. Upon that revelation, a cutting of the sins and fleshly desires of our hearts must take place, because that is a response of commitment and love.
Back to when circumcision was established: Abraham was not made righteous at his moment of obedience to be circumcised; rather, he was righteous at the moment he believed God. Then, the outward action of circumcision symbolized in inward action of his heart. So too, we are not justified by any works that we can to. We cannot cut off our flesh ourselves, show it to God, and say, “Here, I’ve done it. I’ve become righteous”. In this is love, not that we loved Him, but that He loved us and laid down His life for us (1 John 4:10).
Jesus Christ, God in human form, the only guiltless man, cut off for us, bearing our sin and shame, dying in our place; this is love. Jesus did the work, He fulfilled the law, and now our circumcision is of our hearts, not made with hands. The only work is that we believe on Him whom He sent (John 6:29).
I pray that many young people today get to hear this message about their Savior. I pray that they realize that Jesus took all that they deserve, because we all deserve hell and eternally being cut off from God. I pray that as Christians, we don’t think that we’ve earned God’s approval by disassociating with the world, but that we are reminded that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. I pray that as we walk, we trust and rely upon God’s love and never try to earn our righteousness through moral acts, but remember that Jesus Christ did it all. I pray that we identify with our Savior and that we never try to sew on the flesh we have cut off.
Circumcision; what a great subject! I definitely think it should be talked about more.