Have you ever wondered why YeHoVaH demands physical circumcision? I know I have. Why is a male's genitals the target? I'm sure there are many speculations on that. Some people simply circumcise because it's an aesthetic preference or they think it's hygienic. I know there are medical explanations in favour of circumcision, but the bottom line for Disciples of Yeshua is that it is commanded. When I was coming into the knowledge of this Way, I became pregnant with a son, my first born. I heard the debate, but I had no idea what to do. I grew up with the mindset that circumcision was simply a tradition, not a commandment. At that point, I didn't know if circumcision was for people that believed in Jesus. I consulted Arthur Bailey and while he didn't tell me what to do, he just responded with the Word. I also consulted my Midwife, who was a non-believer, and basically listened to her criticise the practice as barbaric. After my husband and I spoke to her, I remember questioning why I would even ask someone not in the Faith about matters of faith? Regardless, even though this was very new to me and I was confused comparing Scripture with Church doctrine, I was drawn to have our son circumcised. After giving birth, we didn't even have a paediatrician picked out so circumcising him in 8 days looked bleak. I started to give up and just wanted the procedure done before we left the hospital, but for some reason we could never get the attending physician to perform it. I desired to be obedient to the 8th day, but I didn't know how to make that happen once we left the hospital. Finally my Midwife directed me to a Mohel and we were able to set up an appointment for him to come to our home and perform the circumcision on his 8th day of life - and on our dining room table. I know Father was directing behind the scenes to let the hospital circumcision fall through when he was 2 days old. He honoured our desire to be obedient even though we didn't have a clue what we were doing.
Nowadays, I'm much more knowledgeable about this Way and can advocate for the truth of the Scriptures. Like we've been covering the last several weeks with being an Evangelistic Community, knowing your identity is key. Many believers in Jesus are wrapped up in an identity called Christianity. The understanding that believers born out of covenant are grafted into the Commonwealth of Israel is not even embraced or realised. Knowing that we are part of this Commonwealth will allow many dots to be connected. We realise the commandments are for us and the promises of the covenant we enter into with YeHoVaH through the blood of Yeshua. BUT, then we get to the letters of Paul and more confusion sets in. Why? On the surface it looks that way, but the framework for the discussion of circumcision is simply hidden in the religious/political backdrop of the time. Do male believers need to be physically circumcised to believe in Yeshua? No. Do male believers need to be circumcised to come into the Faith? No. If it is a person's desire to love and walk with the Almighty, to follow His example in Yeshua, circumcision is not needed to begin the process. The desire and willingness to follow Him begins a circumcision of the heart that will last as long as one desires to walk with and obey Him. This circumcision of the heart is required for all of Israel, but there is no getting away from physical circumcision. Males are commanded to be physically circumcised, period. At some point in this walk, if a male has not been circumcised, he has to deal with coming into obedience to this command.
So the issue of circumcision surrounding the non-Hebrew believers in the New Testament revolves around the amalgamation of Judaism and belief in Yeshua. How were these gentiles supposed to come into the Faith? Well first, they need to be circumcised. But this was simply an attempt to hold on to an approach rooted in Judaism. That's how a proselyte of Judaism is initiated into the faith. Physical circumcision is not an initiation into faith in Messiah. Like Marcus pointed out so beautifully, for those of us not born into the covenant, a circumcision of heart proceeds the circumcision of the flesh. Circumcision of the heart is love Him with all our heart and soul Deuteronomy 30:6. We are told what He requires of us in Deuteronomy 10:12-13 - to fear, love, serve Him, walk in His ways, and keep His commandments. Doing this from the heart has always been Father's plan for us as circumcision of the heart was not first mentioned in Romans but Deuteronomy. Whether natural born or naturalised, circumcision of the flesh (males) and heart are required for both groups. Practicing the ritual of circumcision without circumcising the heart does not automatically mean a man is part of the covenant. The assumption that it did, reflected and still reflects the attitudes of many. Practicing the commandments from a place of ritualistic duty of culture is not what Father wants, but the love of the Almighty for us and our love for Him is the foundation upon which the covenant is properly observed. That heart must be circumcised, born again, trained from His Spirit. We can't please Him any other way. So we do not adhere to the understanding of circumcision from a theological perspective rooted in the wisdom of the Talmud or Church Father Credo. It's a two piece deal that Yeshua did not separate. Do I totally understand why men's genitals are instructed to be altered? Not entirely, but then again, I don't have to. He obviously has a good reason, even if I don't 100% understand. My job is to trust Him to do what He does and for me to follow my end of the deal......with a circumcised heart of course.