The Covenant of Circumcision

In last month's Scarlet Thread article we took a look at Abraham.  Rather than move on to the next stop in the thread, this month we'll be looking at one of the covenants that God established with Abraham - the covenant of circumcision.

This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your posterity after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.  And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be a token or sign of the covenant (the promise or pledge) between Me and you.  He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male throughout your generations, whether born in [your] house or bought with [your] money from any foreigner not of your offspring.  He that is born in your house and he that is bought with your money must be circumcised; and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.  And the male who is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant. - Genesis 17:10-14

As you can see from this covenant, it was mandatory for every male whether they were born into the house or bought as a servant.  If a male was not circumcised, he was to be cut off from his people since he would have broken the covenant.

Let's look at a few more references to circumcision.


I also walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies--if then their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they then accept the punishment for their iniquity, then will I [earnestly] remember My covenant with Jacob, My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham, and [earnestly] remember the land. - Lev. 26:41-42

So circumcise the foreskin of your [minds and] hearts; be no longer stubborn and hardened. - Deut. 10:16

And the Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your [mind and] heart and with all your being, that you may live. - Deut. 30:6

Circumcise yourselves to the Lord and take away the foreskins of your hearts, you men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, lest My wrath go forth like fire [consuming all that gets in its way] and burn so that no one can quench it because of the evil of your doings. - Jeremiah 4:4

And you are in Him, made full and having come to fullness of life [in Christ you too are filled with the Godhead - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - and reach full spiritual stature]. And He is the Head of all rule and authority [of every angelic principality and power].  In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, but in a [spiritual] circumcision [performed by] Christ by stripping off the body of the flesh (the whole corrupt, carnal nature with its passions and lusts).  [Thus you were circumcised when] you were buried with Him in [your] baptism, in which you were also raised with Him [to a new life] through [your] faith in the working of God [as displayed] when He raised Him up from the dead. - Colossians 2:10-12


I found it very interesting that these passages, while dealing with circumcision, are dealing not with circumcision of the flesh, but of the heart.  It's a nice thought and I've heard many, many Christians speak about it before, but what does it mean exactly?  Is it more than a nice metaphor?

First let's take a look at what happens with physical circumcision.  The outer covering of skin is removed, which is rather painful if not done with anesthesia.  The newly exposed area is much more sensitive, and the health of the male and his future bride are both safeguarded.  How does this correspond to spiritual circumcision?

In the verses above we see that we are commanded to circumcise our own hearts, and we also see that God Himself will circumcise our hearts.  So in spiritual circumcision the toughened outer layer is removed from our hearts and minds - our attitudes, unforgiveness, pride, anything that gets in the way of our relationship with the Lord.  This isn't always a pleasant procedure and can, in fact, be quite painful.

Once this layer is removed our heart should be highly sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, enabling us to not only deepen our relationship with God, but allowing us to be used by God to minister His love and mercy to others thereby bringing His kingdom to those who need it most.  Also, because of this spiritual circumcision, our spiritual health is safeguarded, as is the spiritual health of those we come in contact with.

While the original covenant of physical circumcision was established with Abraham, and while it is his physical descendants through Isaac and Jacob that are bound to the physical covenant, we, as believers in the Messiah, are Abraham's spiritual offspring.  While we are not bound by the physical covenant of circumcision, I believe we, his spiritual children, are obliged to keep ourselves spiritually circumcised.  We still live in earthen vessels.  We face daily battles with our flesh, and without the help of God I don't think any of us would get very far in the fight.  And because of our current physical state, we need to search our hearts and minds daily, removing - circumcising - any offensive thought or wrong motive.  This isn't always easy, but it is necessary in order to remain sensitive to God's Spirit.  Let us each find a new joy in keeping ourselves free from every offensive thing and every thing that hinders our relationship with God.

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