Circumcision, like Baptism, has become a tradition, custom or requirement that differentiates greatly between the religions of the world. ‘Jews’ are well known adherents to a physical circumcision as a way to continue the Covenant of Circumcision between Abraham and God. Muslims consider circumcision an act of ‘purification’ and Christians are split on whether a physical circumcision is required. Catholics are against it and Orthodox Christians are for it. Many protestant Christians, like Catholics, see a water Baptism as the replacement or extension of Circumcision, but this approach varies between denominations.
Consider, as well, the discrepancies between government guidance on the issue. In the US, the government has framed circumcision as a health issue. World War II recruits were routinely circumcised. It is still a commonplace procedure for infants prior to leaving the hospital. Many parents support the practice in adherence to government health guidance. In 1965 over 85% of the US population circumcised male infants. That number has been dropping ever since. Meanwhile, several European countries have tried to outright ban the practice. With such a dizzying array of understanding and motivation for circumcision, has anyone actually cut to the heart of what God calls for?
The first mention of circumcision in the Bible is in Genesis 17.
“And God said to Abraham… This is My Covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your seed after you; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; it shall be a token/sign of the Covenant between Me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised…”Genesis 17:9-12
Likewise, Moses was told by God;
“And the LORD spoke to Moses saying, Speak to the Children of Israel, saying, If a woman has conceived seed, and born a man child … in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.”Leviticus 12:1-3
Token of the Covenant
Consider that the Law is a shadow, and not the very image of the thing as Barnabas so clearly explained in Hebrews.
“For the Law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.”Hebrews 10:1
Physical circumcision at the time of Abraham and Moses, was a shadow of a spiritual circumcision. God made this clear when He said it was a ‘token’ of the covenant. How is this a token of the Covenant? You need to understand the Covenant in order to understand how ‘cutting away’ a little piece of flesh could be a token or shadow of the Covenant.
What is the Covenant?
“But this shall be the Covenant that I will make with the House of Israel… I will put My Law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My People.”Jeremiah 31:33
Is the New Testament in agreement with this?
“For this is the Covenant that I will make with the House of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people:”Hebrews 8:10; Hebrews 10:16
In order to fulfill the Covenant, what flesh needs to be cut away? The flesh on your private parts or your fleshly mindset as discussed in the article on Baptism? You can not understand God’s Words if your ears and hearts have not been circumcised. In other words, cut away your mental focus on the flesh, such as physical circumcision, but also the ways of the world that are contrary to God. Barnabas makes this clear as crystal.
“And therefore the Scripture again speaks concerning our ears, that God has circumcised them, together with our hearts…Therefore He has circumcised our ears that we should hear His Word, and understand. But as for the Jews trust (in physical circumcision) it is abolished. For the circumcision of which God spoke, was not of the flesh…. This is what the Lord your God says, Sow not among thorns (wicked false teachers); but circumcise yourselves to the Lord your God. And what does He mean by this saying? Listen to your Lord. And again He says, Circumcise the hardness of your heart, and harden not your neck…”Barnabas 8:1-8
Hardness of Heart
Is God calling for open heart surgery? Not physically. Barnabas did not come up with this understanding on his own.
“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear/reverence the LORD your God, to walk in His Ways, and to love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul, to keep the Commandments of the LORD and His Statutes… Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your hearts, and be no more stiff necked.”Deuteronomy 10:12-16
How do you circumcise the foreskin of your heart? Again, by putting away the abominations that God has commanded against and the teachings by false prophets. Turn away from your traditions and fleshly mindset that is against God, His Ways and His Commandments.
“If you will return, O Israel, says the LORD, return to Me: and if you will put away your abominations out of My sight… Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart… lest My Fury come forth like fire… because of the evil of your doings.”Jeremiah 4:4
Circumcised become Uncircumcised?
Paul wrote quite a bit about circumcision. He points out that the circumcised can become uncircumcised. Was Paul a doctor promoting restorative surgery? No. He makes it clear that circumcision of the fleshly mindset is directly related to the ones who keep the Law. In order to keep the Law, you must have an understanding in your mind and heart of what it spiritually means! If your understanding is stuck in the fleshly or physical interpretation of the Law, you have not ‘cut off’ the flesh(-ly mindset). Another example of this fleshly mindset is the belief that Baptism requires a dunk in physical water.
“For circumcision truly profits, if you keep the Law, but if you are a breaker of the Law, your circumcision is made un-circumcision. Therefore if the (physically) uncircumcised keep that righteousness of the Law, shall not his (physical) uncircumcision by counted for (spiritual) circumcision? The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys (fullfills) the Law will judge you, even though you have the written letter of the Law and the (physical) circumcision, (you) are a transgressor of the Law … circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit(-ual understanding), and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God… “Romans 2:25-29
Circumcision is of the heart and mind. Cut away your fleshly understanding of God’s Word and replace it with spiritual meaning. You can only come to understand God and His Will by looking into His Word for the spiritual meaning.
“But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”John 4:23-24
Turn back to God
God has made it very clear throughout His Word that His People have turned away from Him, and therefore He has, likewise, turned away from them. How have they turned away from God? By focusing on fleshly/physical and ceremonial works of the Law.
“To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me? says the Lord: I am full of burnt offerings… I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When you come to appear before Me, who has required this at your hand… Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination to Me; your new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot have with, it is iniquity (evil/sin), even the solemn meeting (funerals). Your new moons and your appointed feasts (holidays) My Soul hates… And when you spread forth your hands, I will hide My Eyes from you, yes, when you make many prayers, I will not hear:”Isaiah 1:11-15
Likewise, in the Book of 2nd Esdras God says:
“When you offer to Me I will turn My face from you: for your solemn feast-days, your new moons, and your circumcisions, have I forsaken.”2 Esdras 1:31
What are you to do? Let’s continue in Isaiah 1:
“Wash yourself, make yourself clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My Eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well/right; seek judgement…”Isaiah 1:16-17
Circumcise Your Heart
It is time to turn to God and look to His Word for what He wants. What has He taught from the beginning? He is not looking for the ceremonial or physical works of the Law. Likewise, feast days or holidays and traditions taught by men are an abomination to Him.
God wants you to come to the spiritual understanding of His Words and Law. To do that, you need to turn to Him with a whole heart. If your ‘religious’ leaders are stuck in the fleshly mindset of teaching a physical circumcision, turn away from them, and turn to God. Circumcise them and their ways from your life.