One would think it obvious that human beings come in two sexes only—male and female. In the 77 generations from Adam to Jesus the human genome got plenty mixed as far as genes from Adam and from Eve. But usually the sex of a child is plain to see at birth. Sadly gender confusion, often promulgated in schools, is very great among the young these days. We are made in the very image of God!
We are about 50 more generations from Jesus today. The human genome is incredibly complex but the sex-determining chromosome always comes from the father. So we should expect masculinity and femininity to range widely all within normal boundaries in the world. We are all bearers of the image of God, and He likes variety.
It should also be obvious that men and women are identical in spirit (the spirit is our core identity as persons)—but we are different in soul and body. Jesus saves and makes whole, members of both sexes, by somewhat different paths, and the end result is complimentary not sameness.
For now, forget that we are fallen boys and girls in a confused world, living in a bad time history. None of us asked to be born nor did we chose our parents. We might not have had the best parents nor sat under teachers who were whole persons tuned-in to God. But we each are greatly loved by our Creator. Jesus came that we might each have real life and have it more abundantly.
Circumcision is a guy thing. Male babies have extra skin over the front end of their penises from birth. The foreskin can be cut off or left intact. This is often done soon after birth—so men don’t always have a choice in the matter. But infant circumcision is minor surgery almost always. Some men are proud to be uncut or they may elect surgery as adults. To cut or not to cut is not a big deal Biblically speaking.
But it turns out that circumcision as an inner issue is of major importance—physical circumcision is only a shadow. The inner meaning “Circumcision of the Heart” is a neglected issue in churches and schools today. It’s time to reboot and rediscover truth about ourselves and our Maker that has been overlooked for several generations.
Reality for today’s world
To get intensely practical, our sexual drive and sexual life achieves the design goal of God only when each male surrenders his instincts and desires to the interior rule of Jesus Christ. Most men know all about masturbation and accept it as normal and natural--which it's not! Hookups are taken for granted by many in the younger generations. Marriage itself is under assault as never before, and for good reason.
Boys are usually OK until puberty. Then suddenly all sorts of physical changes occur, and powerful emotions and desires spring to life, like sleeping dragons aroused. This is the time boys need a dad most of all. But loving fathers are almost unknown today—so most boys get their first sexual education from the boys’ locker room, by self discovery, by experimentation with peers, or from predators (male and female). Movies and readily available porn only fan the flames.
Many assume that marriage in and of itself fixes everything but this is very seldom true.
It is an monstrous lie that abstinence from sex, if one is unmarried, is undesirable and unattainable! Jesus, a single man, knows better. He is looking forward to receiving His Bride, in a great union in New Jerusalem soon. Jesus lived out 30+ years among us when He was here, without spot or blemish. His Bride will have been revirginized when she marries Jesus. That's a tall order, but our Creator knows what He is doing. Abstinence is not easily won for single guys, but marriage has even greater challenges. It Takes Three to Tango and the Third Party is Jesus.
The solution for us guys especially, is restored inner mastery of all our emotions and desires. The process can, for a young man, be like wrestling a wild animal or taking on a ferocious dragon. But with Jesus in full control as our Captain (He leads even of the very armies of God), every boy, every man who trusts and follows Jesus is on the winning team of life.
By nature, boys are made to be fighters and soldiers and conquerors! The interior contest in each of us is usually projected out into the world -- but dealing with interior matters is where real victory is won.
...Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” (Matthew 15:16-20)
The Proverbs of Solomon are intensely practical:
My son, give attention to my words. Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, And put perverse lips far from you. Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.” (Proverbs 4:20-27)
God told the young prophet Jeremiah to tough it out with His master:
“If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, Then how can you contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, In which you trusted, they wearied you, Then how will you do in the flooding of the Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5)
The battle to be fought and won is not about outer space but about inner space!
Think of the following as more about mastering one’s inner dragons than winning at chess or competing in a wrestling match.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints...” (Ephesians 6:10-19)
Wimps and sissies and girlish boys have never won any popularity contents. Wholeness in a man is a matter of discipleship with Jesus—life makes it obvious who are the men, who are the boys, who are the drop outs!
“I beg you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove (in experience) what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” (Matthew 16:24-27)
Convinced? There is much more that can be said about being a whole man in God through an interior training regimen led by Jesus Christ.
The Commander of the Army of the Lord
And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?”
So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”
And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”
Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:13-15)
The physical rite if circumcision itself seems to have been originated by God at one special stage in Abraham’s spiritual development.
Genesis 12 records the whole story of this man’s life as he journeyed from Ur in Southern Iraq where his whole family knew only the Babylonian moon god [Al Illah]. Abraham, responding to the call of the one true God, Yahweh Elohim, became the spiritual father of nations.
Genesis 17 gives us the full details:
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations.
“No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
And God said to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you:
Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant.
He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”
Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.”
Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!”
Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.” Then He finished talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.
So Abraham took Ishmael his son, all who were born in his house and all who were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very same day, as God had said to him.
Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.
And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.
That very same day Abraham was circumcised, and his son Ishmael; and all the men of his house, born in the house or bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.
Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, lived about 20 centuries before Jesus was born, so the notion that true circumcision was a matter of the heart was well known among the Jews. The following short paper (from Jews for Jesus) summarizes all this Old Testament history and moves on to introduce the radically new truth on the subject by the Apostles of Jesus.
A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.” (Genesis 17:10-13).
What is Circumcision All About?
The key here is that circumcision was to be a “sign of the covenant” that had already been given, with no strings attached, to Abraham.
The rite of circumcision was made a part of the Law of Moses several hundred years later when God gave instruction concerning the birth of a male: “And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised” (Leviticus 12:3).
This practice was continued generation after generation, but when the nation of Israel was forced to wander 40 years in the wilderness the rite of circumcision temporarily ceased.
Some authorities believe God demanded this generation died out because of their refusal to believe Him when He told them to enter the promised land (Numbers 14:32-35). And so a rejected generation no longer practiced circumcision.
The disobedient nation of Israel, roaming like lost sheep in the wilderness, were momentarily taken out of the covenant. They had refused to believe God’s promise when He told them to take the land, and now they were paying for their rebellion...
Yet with God’s punishment comes God’s love, for when the 40 year journey was ending, the covenant—and all its blessings—returned.
As soon as the nation of Israel crossed the Jordan into the land of milk and honey the Lord God immediately gave a command to Joshua: “At that time the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.’ ” (Joshua 5:2.)
Now that they were in the land, back in the place of faith enjoying obedience and fellowship with God, the practice of circumcision was restored and the people of Israel were blessed by God.
Israel has always had a special place in the sight of God. He chose the nation to point the way to Himself and to spread His love among all the nations. Since circumcision was the sign of the covenant which involved this universal blessing, it had significance beyond its observance as a national rite.
Beyond the Physical
Practically, we can’t show the world we’ve been circumcised, but God’s covenant extends further than just the physical realm. A way has been provided in which our words and actions can show the nations God has touched us. We read His promise in Deuteronomy 30:6:
“Moreover, 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, in order that you may live.”
This type of circumcision, by definition a circumcision of the spirit and not the flesh, goes to the heart of a man, to his soul, his essence, his attitudes and relationship with God. Because this theme of an inner circumcision is so important, God repeats and stresses it, as in Deuteronomy 10:12-16:
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
And to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?
Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it.
Yet on your fathers did the Lord set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you above all peoples, as it is this day.
Circumcise then your heart, and stiffen your neck no more.”
The Inner Man/Woman
Over and over again God probes the inner man, the real person. His discerning eyes won’t allow us to hide behind social facades, adopted mannerisms or walls of materialism. Before God each man is seen just as he is. His innermost thoughts, thoughts he may wish to hide from the world, are exposed by the light of God.
God requires us to keep all His statutes and laws, and yet which one of us can possibly keep all of them all the days of our lives? The prophet writes:
“For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)
On one hand God tells us to keep all His statutes. On the other the prophet recognizes the human condition: we all fall short of perfection and therefore cannot possibly keep all the Law all the time.
Yet, as we read in Deuteronomy 30:6, God does not expect us to circumcise our own hearts. He says He will do that. But how? And what does He expect from us? Let’s look at Leviticus 26:40-42:
“If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me, and also in their acting with hostility against Me—
I also was acting with hostility against them, to bring them into the land of their enemies—or if their uncircumcised heart becomes humbled so that they then make amends for their iniquity,
Then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land.”
Just Once a Year?
Ah, is that it? Must we confess our iniquity and rebellion against God? Fine, maybe we do this once a year at Yom Kippur. But, in addition to confession, our uncircumcised heart must become humble. This appears to be a spiritual operation, but we sense within ourselves that we lack the divine power necessary to perform this—to change our own heart. Then we remember this is an operation God said He would perform. But how?
King David knew the secret, for after he had sinned against God by taking Bathsheba, he pleaded, in Psalm 51:10-12:
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Thy presence, and do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit.”
David said, “Do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me.” The Holy Spirit, the Ruach Ha’kodesh of the ages is the renewing force. It was the Holy Spirit of God which brought peace, comfort and joy to David. He knew what it was like to live both with and without God’s Spirit dwelling within him.
It’s this very Spirit which David called upon to create a clean heart within him—to renew him. In other words, it is the Holy Spirit of God which performs the circumcision of the heart.
From Abraham to David to you, the inner circumcision continues. Today we have a promise from God, a promise He always keeps. He has promised for every person who places his trust in the Messiah, in the Anointed One of Israel, this Holy Spirit will indwell him and circumcise his heart, making it right with God. At some point we all face God as uncircumcised, unrenewed searchers after truth. We stand as animated beings of flesh without God’s Spirit inside us. We seek our own truth and walk our own paths.
Perhaps you’ve searched and walked and questioned without finding the heart-changing, spiritual answers you’ve known are there but have never discovered.
You Can Do This Right Now...
Maybe now God is telling you that by placing your faith in Messiah Jesus His Spirit will circumcise your heart and refresh you today and forever.
As you confess Messiah Jesus as Lord and Savior, the One promised by the ancient prophets of Israel, the sacrificed Lamb of God, you too will be able to stand with other believers in Him and fully appreciate the words of Saul of Tarsus. Saul, an ancient scholar of Israel who became the apostle Paul, writes of an eternal circumcision of the heart:
“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Messiah.
For in Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form.
And in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Messiah.
Having been buried with Him in baptism (of the Spirit), in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.
Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:8-9, 11-14 New Testament)
We pray you, too, will seek, find and be refreshed by His Spirit.
From Ray Stedman:
In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of your sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ." (Colossians 2:11)
That is an astonishing statement. Many scholars equate circumcision with baptism, holding that Christian baptism has taken the place of the Old Testament rite of circumcision. But if you look carefully at this verse it is clear that this is not true. If we are Christians, says Paul, we have been both circumcised and baptized. Thus, they are not the same thing.
I will never forget an incident that occurred a number of years ago here at the church. A young man came to my office carrying a thick Bible under his arm, which he had been reading. Looking at me very earnestly, he said to me, "Would you circumcise me?" After I had picked myself up from the floor, I explained to him why,one, he did not need physical circumcision, and, two, what circumcision meant. I pointed out that it was an eloquent symbol when it was properly understood.
Because circumcision is a minor surgical operation on the male sex organ it has been a subject that many people have avoided. That is too bad, since God ordained both the operation and the organ upon which it would be performed. Thus, it makes sense to understand what he is saying to us by means of circumcision. For centuries, males have equated their manhood with their sex organs. Certain ribald remarks you may hear from time to time confirm that. It is not strange, really, that it should be so because it reflects an inherent, even instinctive understanding, that in some sense the male sex organ stands for the man himself. God has determined it so. At birth the male organ is covered with a loose cap of flesh. That covering symbolizes the hidden male ego, suppressed and disguised. It suggests that what a man really is in his innermost being is covered over; but it is there. What that is is expressed by the Spanish word "macho." Macho stands for proud confidence in one's own ability; it means self-centered egoism. That is what we have become in the fall. (The man, of course, stands for the whole race, male and female alike.) The male foreskin is a picture God has employed to teach us that egoism, the sinful pride within us, is hidden to us. We do not see anything wrong with it. But when a male is circumcised, it is a symbolic way of saying that what is hidden is now revealed. The wrongness of it is exposed so we can see it for what it really is. Fallen humanity is revealed for what it really is.
Thus when our Lord was crucified, the sin that he assumed on our behalf was removed---that is the point. It is what Scripture calls the "circumcision of the heart." Observe how Paul explains that here: "In him you were circumcised in the putting off of your sinful nature." The foreskin of the flesh is a symbol of the fallen nature, the flesh, within us. When we become a Christian it is revealed for what it truly is, worthless in God's sight! It does not advance us or help us in any way in his sight. To be proud and independent and sinfully selfish will never help us or find value in God's sight. That is why Scripture says plainly, "They that are in the flesh cannot please God." Jesus himself said, "Without me, you can do nothing." The natural life, the old Adamic nature, is of no value any more. Then Paul moves to the next step, which is baptism. In baptism, he declares, you were:
"...buried with him and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead, and when you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive in Christ." (Colossians 2:12)
That is what baptism means. Circumcision symbolizes the death of Jesus and our death with him, our dying to sin, as Romans 5 and 6 argues. But baptism stands for our new life with him. When someone is immersed in the waters of baptism he is not left there, he is brought out again to a new life. That is what baptism reflects: the work of the Spirit in imparting new life from Christ, a new humanity, the human spirit made alive. It is the difference between a true Christian and a merely professing Christian. The true Christian has been made alive in Christ. He has a whole new basis for living. The third step in this process of sharing in Christ is given next.
"He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to his cross." (Colossians 2:14)
Here Paul declares the forgiveness of sins for which the law, the "written code with its regulations," condemned us. That condemnation is now removed by the death of Christ on our behalf. He paid for all our sins, the sins we committed in the past, the sins we are going to commit to day, and the sins we shall commit in the future. Sin is no longer an issue in our relationship with God. It affects our fellowship but not our relationship. He has fully dealt with it. We need to acknowledge our sin in order to enter into the benefit of that forgiveness, but forgiveness is already there in the heart of God. What a wonderful truth! I do not think I rejoice in anything more than the fact that my sins, my mistakes, my failures, my unloving words, my unkind attitudes and my selfish actions have been forgiven. Every day God gives me a new slate, a new unspoiled day, to live through by his grace. Our sins have been forgiven. Paul sees them as "nailed to the cross," so they no longer can condemn us. The law is not done away with, but the condemnation of it is. We are made free and told "Go, and sin no more." The last step is, we are freed from the power of these evil beings: Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
These are the world rulers of darkness, the clever, malevolent, malignant beings who keep inserting into human thinking wrong ideas, dangerous thoughts, attitudes and teachings that set us at naught with one another, and make us go for one another's throat, keeping enmity and strife stirring in the human family. What has happened to them? Paul declares that when Jesus died he seized these powers by the throat, chained them, and dragged them in triumph behind him, like a Roman general marching through the streets of Rome, his chained captives walking behind in total subjugation. That is why John can say "Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world." There is no need, therefore, to give way to evil teaching or evil temptations, for we have a Power and a Person within who is superior to anything Satan can throw against us---the world, the flesh or the devil! That is the teaching of this passage. Paul is encouraging the Colossians to see that there is absolutely no need to believe the doctrines, the teachings or the rituals that he will next enunciate to them.
Neither do we need to believe them! If we understand who we are in Christ, and what we have in him, there is no need to be weak, faltering, or failing. We may rise up and be the men and women that God intended us to be.
Also by Ray Stedman, The Circumcised Life. (El Shaddai)
Question for my friend Bryce Self:
Are there any uncircumcised Philistines in the professing church today? If they submit to the rule of Jesus who will inherit all the foreskins? New converts from the hookup Millennials will certainly need circumcising.
David tried his best as a young man in training.
Then Saul said, “Thus you shall say to David: ‘The king does not desire any dowry but one hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to take vengeance on the king’s enemies.’ ” But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines. So when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to become the king’s son-in-law. Now the days had not expired; therefore David arose and went, he and his men, and killed two hundred men of the Philistines. And David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full count to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him Michal his daughter as a wife. Thus Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him; and Saul was still more afraid of David. So Saul became David’s enemy continually. Then the princes of the Philistines went out to war. And so it was, whenever they went out, that David behaved more wisely than all the servants of Saul, so that his name became highly esteemed.“ (1 Samuel 18)
Also Nehemiah 13:
“On that day they read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people, and in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever come into the assembly of God, because they had not met the children of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them. However, our God turned the curse into a blessing. So it was, when they had heard the Law, that they separated all the mixed multitude from Israel.”
Not physical circumcision, obviously, but about holiness!
"Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears."
For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.” And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”)
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.
See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,”indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:14-29)
Reply by Bryce,
Not sure if it’s worth accomplishing great exploits if it’s only to gain a Michal. That did not turn out well for anyone.
Actually a trap by Saul (the old man, fallen Adam) to eliminate David (new man, in Christ’s image). But David took the bait.
“Achieving” in God for recognition, advancement, reward…. these are the things the Gentiles seek after.
David obviously had his own circumcision issues! No just Bathsheba, but all his actual wives (seven as I recall?). Amnon, Tamar, Absalom—a kingdom in rebellion and ruins with David in exile. All because David was uncircumcised in heart. But it took a long time, with much grief and agony for him, for others, even for the nation because of his station. |
No less God’s man, however, truly repentant in the end, and recipient of an everlasting covenant—the sure mercies of David, a lamp in Jerusalem, a tabernacle to be raised again, a throne enduring to the ages.
The man mentioned most by name in the entire Bible after Jesus Himself.
All the generation born in the wilderness had not been circumcised, but had to be before entering the Land to gain their inheritance. That will preach.
The distressed, the dispossessed, the debtors, the discontented—all gathering to David at Adullam where the glory of Israel dwelt in a cave! This is the way of Jesus: the last, the least, the little, the lost—the dead. They become His “might men” and chief captains by sharing His exile, shame, rejection, grief. Only then can whatever puny field of lentils we inherit be defended from the invaders, when we’ve learned to fight His way (Via Crucis) and for Him not ourselves.
“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe ALL that the prophets have said! Ought not Messiah to have first suffered all these things, and then to enter into his glory?”Jesus was circumcised. Even in His risen and glorified humanity, He still bears in the flesh the scars of His obedience—the circumcision certainly no less than the nail-scars and the wound of the lance.
See a classic message by Ray Stedman, The Circumcised Life
Wikipedia: Circumcision in the Hebrew Bible
Charles Wesley: The Circumcision of the Heart
Ancient Origins: History of Circumcision
Primitive Circumcision still goes on in certain remote tribes
It’s a tourist attraction in many places in fact!
“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says:
“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.”
Question: "What is circumcision of the heart?"
The idea of “circumcision of the heart” is found in Romans 2:29. It refers to having a pure heart, separated unto God. Paul writes, “A Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter.” These words conclude a sometimes confusing passage of Scripture regarding circumcision and the Christian. Verses 25-29 provide context:
“For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.”
Paul is discussing the role of the Old Testament Law as it relates to Christianity. He argues that Jewish circumcision is only an outward sign of being set apart to God. However, if the heart is sinful, then physical circumcision is of no avail. A circumcised body and a sinful heart are at odds with each other. Rather than focus on external rites, Paul focuses on the condition of the heart. Using circumcision as a metaphor, he says that only the Holy Spirit can purify a heart and set us apart to God. Ultimately, circumcision cannot make a person right with God; the Law is not enough. A person’s heart must change. Paul calls this change “circumcision of the heart.”
This concept was not original with the apostle Paul. As a Jew trained in the Law of Moses, he was certainly aware of this discussion from Deuteronomy 30. There, the Lord used the same metaphor to communicate His desire for a holy people: “And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live” (Deuteronomy 30:6). Physical circumcision was a sign of Israel’s covenant with God; circumcision of the heart, therefore, would indicate Israel’s being set apart to love God fully, inside and out.
John the Baptist warned the Pharisees against taking pride in their physical heritage and boasting in their circumcision: “Do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham” (Matthew 3:9).
True “children of Abraham” are those who follow Abraham’s example of believing God (Genesis 15:6). Physical circumcision does not make one a child of God; faith does. Believers in Jesus Christ can truly say they are children of “Father Abraham.” “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29).
God has always wanted more from His people than just external conformity to a set of rules. He has always wanted them to possess a heart to love, know and follow Him. That’s why God is not concerned with a circumcision of the flesh. Even in the Old Testament, God’s priority was a spiritual circumcision of the heart:
“Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, circumcise your hearts, you men of Judah and people of Jerusalem, or my wrath will break out and burn like fire because of the evil you have done” (Jeremiah 4:4).
Both Testaments focus on the need for repentance and inward change in order to be right with God. In Jesus, the Law has been fulfilled (Matthew 5:17). Through Him, a person can be made right with God and receive eternal life (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). As Paul said, true circumcision is a matter of the heart, performed by the Spirit of God. (GotQuestions.org)
Jesus was circumcised on the 8th day of his life, according to the Jewish tradition. This took place at a time in history when non-Jewish men were uncut. Jesus was crucified naked as an adult man, age about thirty. [See: Wedding Garments.] Crosses in the Roman world lined the main roads in and out of those colonies that rebelled against Roman rule. Crosses were not high off the ground, just above eye level. Roman soldiers were on duty to prevent looting of the victims garments and to shoo aware birds and rats. The Roman soldiers were uncut of course and surely they poked fun at Jesus for not having a foreskin. Among other things, crucifixion was shameful and humiliating to understate things.
An ancient legend suggests that the first wedding ring was the dried foreskin of the groom. This would have been a clear pledge that a man was consecrating his male member to godly sexual congress with his wife. She in turn would have kept her virginity for her husband.
In the real world of today, almost none of us has lived a pristine life so as to arrive at the wedding unstained. Fortunately cleansing, healing has always been available from the God brought us into existence as sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. All who will may come to the Second Adam, Jesus, for a complete rebuild. Marriage as an institution from God has lost its holiness and meaning as our culture reverts to pagan living all over again!
Down through history what was claimed to be the holy prepuce, or foreskin of Jesus was venerated by the Catholic Church based only on Apocryphal Legends. (Twelve such relics were claimed over time). The institution of ritual circumcision dates at least as far back as Abraham, c. 2000 BC.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. “And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. “No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. “I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. “Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” And God said to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. “This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; “and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. “He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. “He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. “And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.” Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. “And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.” Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!” Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. “And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. “But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.” Then He finished talking with him, and God went up from Abraham. So Abraham took Ishmael his son, all who were born in his house and all who were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very same day, as God had said to him. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. That very same day Abraham was circumcised, and his son Ishmael; and all the men of his house, born in the house or bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him. (Genesis 17)
At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again the second time.” So Joshua made flint knives for himself, and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: All the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness on the way, after they had come out of Egypt. For all the people who came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness, on the way as they came out of Egypt, had not been circumcised. For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people who were men of war, who came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they did not obey the voice of the LORD--to whom the LORD swore that He would not show them the land which the LORD had sworn to their fathers that He would give us, “a land flowing with milk and honey.”
Then Joshua circumcised their sons whom He raised up in their place; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way. So it was, when they had finished circumcising all the people, that they stayed in their places in the camp till they were healed. Then the LORD said to Joshua, “This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” Therefore the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day. (Joshua 5:1-9)
“So when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to become the king’s son-in-law. Now the days had not expired; therefore David arose and went, he and his men, and killed two hundred men of the Philistines. And David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full count to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law.“ (1 Samuel 18)
For centuries virtually the only circumcised males in the world were descendants of Abraham. In the First Century the Apostle Paul circumcised Timothy, a young Jewish male. In those days athletic games were often in the nude, to Greek men could be immediately identified and Jewish males also.
Male followers of Jesus today need not be physically altered since all us experience at conversion a new inner circumcision of the heart.
For in Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. In Him 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 requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. (Colossians 2:9-16)In today’s society, it is rare for one man and one woman to live together in union with Jesus Christ.. Two men or two women can certainly love each other deeply with loyal love but without any sexual expression taking place.
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