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Circumcision


1. The Everlasting Covenant

We read in the Scriptures that YaHuWaH, the Creator of the universe, made an 'everlasting covenant' with Abraham and his descendants to be their Elohim. We also learn that all true believers in YAHUSHUA the Messiah - of whatever nation - are included in this covenant, being reckoned the 'children of Abraham'.


For more on this point see Who/What is a Jew?


Covenants, as any solicitor will confirm, have conditions, promises, tokens, time limits and penalties etc. They are also signed and sealed. The 'everlasting covenant' is no exception: it has all these and much more. As far as time is concerned, it is everlasting. It continues for all time. This article, however, is about circumcision, not about the 'everlasting covenant;' which is only briefly mentioned here.


The dictionary definition of the word 'circumcision' is: "to cut off the foreskin of a male person as a religious rite or surgically." In scripture the act of circumcision - of males only - is referred to as the 'token of the everlasting covenant.' The circumcising of females is barbaric and unscriptural. Here is the first scriptural record concerning male circumcision:


Genesis 17: 1: And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, YaHuWaH appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty Elohim; walk before Me, and be thou perfect.
2: And I will make My covenant between Me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
3: And Abram fell on his face: and Elohim talked with him, saying,
4: As for Me, behold, My covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
5: Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
6: And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
7: And I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be an Elohim unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
8: And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their Elohim.
9: And Elohim said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep My covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
10: This is My covenant, which ye shall keep, between Me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.
11: And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt Me and you.
12: And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.
13: He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
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.

You will agree that this is very powerful legal language. When the Most High makes an agreement which He says is everlasting, you can be certain that is what He means. Bear this eternal fact in mind as you read this article.


2. The Early Church

Those who had accepted the Messiah were to continue circumcising their sons.


3. What does Circumcision Signify?

What high level condition does the act of 'cutting off the foreskin' symbolize? After all no one is born circumcised. The answer is as follows. Physical circumcision is a personal token of:


  • Faith in YaHuWaH, the Elohim of Abraham, Isaac and Israel.
  • Obedience to His commandments.
  • A putting away of the lusts of the flesh.
  • A new creature.
  • Being set apart to YaHuWaH.

In short, circumcision is a token of faith and set apartness.


The teaching that 'circumcision is a sign of holiness' is not new. It is found in the Old Testament. The Most High has always required that His people have circumcised hearts (motives/thoughts) and lips (words). Even the fruit of their trees was to be dedicated and holy.


Exodus 6:12 "And Moshe spake before YaHuWaH, saying, Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips?"
Deuteronomy 10:16 "Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked."
Leviticus 19:23 "And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of."
Leviticus 26:41 "And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity:"
Jeremiah 4:4 circumcise yourselves to YaHuWaH, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings." ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest My fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings."

Yes, circumcision is an age-old, personal sign of faith, obedience and absolute commitment to YaHuWaH the Almighty Elohim of Israel. That's what the Scriptures teach.


4. True Conversion

The Set Apart (Holy) Spirit was (and still is) fully aware of this fact: and, in my opinion, temporarily postponed implementation of the 'everlasting sign of circumcision,' just as He did during Israel's 40 year wilderness wanderings in the days of Moshe. But the everlasting covenant was, and still is, alive. After Israel's 40 year wilderness wanderings YaHuWaH gave this instruction to Joshua:


Joshua 5: 2: At that time YaHuWaH said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.
3: And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins.
4: And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt.
5: Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised.
6: For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of YaHuWaH: unto whom YaHuWaH sware that he would not shew them the land, which YaHuWaH sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey.
7: And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way.
8: And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole.
9: And YaHuWaH said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day.

5. What of the Future?

That story about Joshua circumcising the Israelites with 'flint knives' just before they entered the Promised Land has great spiritual significance. It is a dramatized prophecy, a type of the 'true circumcision' that is due to be performed by YAHUSHUA the Messiah just before we enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Joshua was a type of the Messiah: and the Promised Land a type of the Kingdom of Heaven. YAHUSHUA the Savior is due to circumcise the thoughts, motives, words and actions of his people before he leads us into the Kingdom of Heaven. Before we enter that eternal abode, he will cut away every vestige of sin from our minds and bodies. Then, for the very first time in our lives, we will become absolutely holy people. That is what physical circumcision stands for. Under his Father's instruction the Savior YAHUSHUA will perform that spiritual operation just as Joshua did in days gone by before Israel entered the land of Canaan. The 'flint knife' is itself a symbol of YAHUSHUA's power to cut away every inclination to sin.


What exactly will the Savior do at that time? The answer is: He will circumcise our minds by writing His Father's Torah on the tablets of our souls. We will then eternally reflect YaHuWaH 's character and will. That is the true circumcision, the everlasting token of the everlasting covenant.


Notice that this covenant is made with the House of Israel. It is new in that now YaHuWaH 's Torah is written on the mind. Previously it had been written on tablets of stone; but alas! Israel's promises to obey it had proved false. In the new covenant, when the Savior writes His Father's Torah on the believer's heart and soul, spiritually circumcises him/her so to speak, then that sacred Torah will be kept to perfection. That is what circumcision signifies.


What of Circumcision Now?

Spiritual Circumcision will be performed on our minds and glorified bodies by YAHUSHUA the Messiah, just before we enter the Kingdom of Heaven. That is what the experience in Joshua chapter 5 tells us.


The Eternal Temple

Bible prophecy further indicates that only the circumcised in heart and flesh will enter the Temple detailed in Ezekiel chapters 40 to 47. Who are these people who will officiate as priests in that eternal sanctuary? Who will be excluded? The prophecy says that the uncircumcised will be excluded from that sacred place. I repeat: when the eternal Temple is finally erected and YaHuWaH takes His place in it, only the circumcised in heart and flesh will enter, be they converted Gentiles or blood-born Israelites. That is what this prophecy is saying.


Ezekiel 44:9 "Thus saith the Master YaHuWaH ; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel."

From this text we can see that 'no stranger' (Gentile convert) uncircumcised in the mind and flesh will enter the eternal Temple. He may worship from a distance; but he will not enter the set apart place and serve as the priests do. In ancient days, Gentile believers in YaHuWaH used to worship from a distance, standing in the place called the 'Court of the Gentiles.' In the new covenant, believing Gentiles who do not baulk at the idea of being classified as Israelites are grafted into the Olive of Israel. Those appointed to the priesthood to wait on YaHuWaH in the Eternal Temple will be circumcised in heart (mind) and flesh. The 'eternal covenant of circumcision' will then be in full operation. Having been temporarily suspended in the past, it will come into its own when YAHUSHUA circumcises His people with His own hand, symbolized by Joshua's 'flint knife.' The Everlasting Covenant, as its name implies, will then continue for all time - never to be violated.


6. The Everlasting Covenant

It is not possible to over-emphasize the importance of the everlasting covenant and YaHuWaH 's promise to be our Elohim if we trust and obey Him.


Here are some texts concerning the everlasting covenant:


Parties

YaHuWaH and His people Israel. (See Who/What is a Jew?)

Conditions

That we keep YaHuWaH 's commandments

1 Chronicles 16:17 "And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant,"
Psalm 105:10 "And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant:"

Blessing

Jeremiah 32:40 "And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me."

Reasons for Punishment

Isaiah 24:5 "The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant."

Promise to Live with His People for Evermore

Ezekiel 37:26 "Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore."

Personal Token of Holiness

Genesis 17:13 "He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant."

Communal Sign of Sanctification

Exodus 31: 13: "Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily My Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am YaHuWaH that doth sanctify you.
14: 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 ...
16: Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant."

7. Summary

  • The everlasting covenant YaHuWaH made with Abraham the 'father of the faithful' and his descendants is - 'to be our Elohim!' Faith in YAHUSHUA the Messiah makes one a child of Abraham. (Gen.17:7)
  • Physical Circumcision is a 'token' of the everlasting covenant. Abraham and his male descendants were subsequently circumcised. (Gen.17:11)
  • Physical Circumcision signifies being set apart to YaHuWaH, faith and obedience, a new creature.
  • Currently there are multiplied millions of circumcised males on earth. But by no stretch of the imagination can we say that they are all holy and obedient to YaHuWaH the Almighty Elohim of Israel.
  • True Circumcision will, nonetheless, be performed on the faithful by YAHUSHUA the Savior just before we enter the kingdom of heaven. He will perform this act with His own hand when He writes His Father's Torah on our minds and actions. We will then become 100% set apart people. That coming event is prefigured by Joshua's circumcision of Israel just before the nation took possession of Canaan. Prophecy further indicates that those who will officiate as priests in the Eternal Temple (from which flows the River of Life) will be circumcised in mind and flesh.

    The Everlasting Covenant is, indeed - everlasting! (Joshua 5, Ezekiel 44:9)