The Old Testament encourages and inspires me. Though I am not bound by many of its laws or customs any more, there's a lot of beauty and timelessness in some of these ancient ways that teach me how to live under the new covenant. Today, a few thoughts on...
This was the command given to Abraham at the first covenant: circumcise yourself. You say that you love Me, Abraham? Cut off a piece of your anatomy you would never have considered removable. Then do the same to your son, and all males born from this point forward. And convince the other men of your family, your tribe to do the same.
Great idea, God. Sounds like...fun?
Circumcision was the mark of a committed man. You could tell a man was a man of God by whether or not he carried a foreskin. Now, I don't know why God chose the foreskin. Really, it could have been anything. Like a Nazarite, don't cut your hair. Lop off your baby toe. Pull out your left thumbnail. There wasn't a precedent for a covenant; it literally could have been any command, any piece of the body that the Lord asked to be dedicate to Him. He chose the foreskin, then told the nations this was the sign.
But let's be honest - who was looking?
We're well beyond the invention of clothing here. Several generations removed from fig leaves in the garden. Men were covered up. If you wanted to see a man's "covenant," you'd have to ask him, pants him, or kill him. How awkward are those options?
We also know that when a man was asked to prove his godliness or his faithfulness, he gathered a testimony of witnesses or handed over a personal item of value to authenticate his word. He didn't just pull his pants down and say, "See?"
So if circumcision was the mark of a man in the covenant but it wasn't an outward sign or the greatest witness of faith, then what was the point?
That was entirely the point.
Circumcision was a communal declaration of the covenant - "We, the nation of Israel, stand before God and dedicate ourselves according to His desire." But after the wound healed, it was the intimate, personal reminder of a personal covenant with an intimate God who wanted more than the foreskin.
I have two nephews. One is circumcised; the other is not. Neither choice had anything to do with covenants or religion. I've heard the testimonies on both sides of the health and cleanliness battle, as well as the argument for aesthetics. None of these were God's primary concern. What He wanted was exposure.
He wanted these men to remove their covering. To bare a sensitive, tender place of their flesh and leave it open. To expose an embarrassing spot and be unable to change their minds about it. He wanted them to uncover this place where both urine and semen flowed out of them. Waste and life.
God wanted nothing to stand between them and their pouring out, what He was pouring out of their lives - passion and excess. He didn't want them to have to push anything aside; instead, He wanted a direct connection. He wanted their rawness exposed so that He could use it and they could know it...and between He and they, that's all it was. Expose yourself to Me so that you can expose Me to the world.
We can know this with fair certainty because God's Word uses the analogy of circumcision again and again, when God says to circumcise our hearts. (Deuteronomy 10, and many others.) That is the takeaway for a New Testament life, one that doesn't require a foreskin but requires exposure. Circumcision of the heart. What He's saying is: Uncover your heart. Expose the raw place beneath whatever you've built up. Stop blocking yourself from pouring out, from letting me use you. Whether it's excess or life that's about to come out of you, let it flow. Both are to my glory.
Circumcise your heart so that nothing stands between you and the way I want to use you.
You know you're exposed so that you can expose God through your life, but you don't walk around exposing yourself. It's just between you and God. Something you know when you stand naked before Him. The mark of the new covenant, a piece of your heart given for Him.