Comparison of the Physical and the Spiritual Circumcision


Notwithstanding the above, the physical circumcision still seems like a very strange request for our God to make of his people. The allowance of God to forgive past sins was provided to the Children of Israel through the physical sacrifice of livestock and/or agricultural produce. This changed when the Law was replaced by the acceptance of Christ as one’s saviour. This acceptance of the sacrifice of the Lamb’s death enabled the freely provided forgiveness from God for all one’s sins past, present and future, subject to the retention of a contrite spirit.


So it is the modus operandi for our God to pre-figure a spiritual New Testament sacrifice with a physical one in the Old Testament. Whilst the Old Testament scriptures identify the requirement for both the physical and the spiritual circumcisions, the New Testament requirement for circumcision is purely that of the heart:


25  For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. 
26  Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? 
27  And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? 
28  For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 
29  But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. (Romans 2)


1  What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? (Romans 3)


5  But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. 
6  And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. 
7  And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 
8  And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 
9  And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. (Acts 15)


In fact the best example of uncircumcised righteousness was Abraham himself who was clearly deemed righteous by God before his circumcision, the circumcision (or un-circumcision) being more for application to his son and (physical and spiritual) heirs:


9  Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. 
10  How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.
11  And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: 
12  And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.
13  For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. (Romans 4)


So it would seem that a faithful and righteous heart has always been what God has sought in mankind and that the circumcision of the flesh was merely a way that God was able to indicate in a physical way to early man what he really expected from spiritual mankind. This latter was made clear to Jew and Gentile alike during the first century as a result of Christ’s sacrifice:


11  Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 
12  That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 
13  But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2)


In the same vein it is by no means the case that the fleshly circumcision would make one a better person:


10  For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: (Titus 1)


This is all the more reason to return to the requirement of a faithful heart rather than a purely fleshly mark. It is also worthy of note that the Law was not so much replaced by a faithful heart as justified by it. A faithful hearted one will naturally try to obey God’s laws without needing to have them imposed upon him:


28  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. 
29  Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:
30  Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. 
31  Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. (Romans 3)


The original fleshly circumcision was used as a mark to differentiate Abraham’s stock, God’s chosen people, from those not chosen, i.e., the nations or gentiles. The spiritual circumcision enabled God to declare through his son, Jesus Christ, that the covenant of circumcision was eventually to be provided freely for all who were of a faithful and righteous disposition. This marked the end of the differentiation of God’s people from the world enabling all to be God’s chosen people by enabling all to choose Jehovah as their one true God through the sacrifice of his son Jesus Christ:


11  Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. (Colossians 3)


Unsurprisingly the early Jews who accepted Christ as their saviour at the time of the apostles must have found it difficult to align the new promise with the old law, the promise being now shared with those of the circumcised heart rather than the circumcised foreskin. It can only be hoped that their early faith in the new system of things was counted in their favour given the certain prejudice from their Jewish families and friends surrounding the matter of their apparent leaving of the Abrahamic circumcision covenant:


44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 
45  And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 
46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, (Acts 10) 


The Abrahamic Circumcision Covenant

God chose Abraham to make his first covenant with mankind on earth, but what a way to sign the papers; literally in blood:


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. (Genesis 17)


23  And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him. 
24  And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.
25  And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 
26  In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son.
27  And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him. (Genesis 17)


Clearly this was a major act of faith on Abraham’s part. I must say that if I had been asked by God to do this I might find myself at least asking the question as to why such an act as circumcision would serve to seal a covenant. In this light, whilst the account from which the following scripture is taken is somewhat obscure and not fully understood, it is clear here that Zipporah, Moses’ wife, was not overly impressed with the circumcision requirement as far as her son was concerned. She made her views known to God's representative in no uncertain terms:


25  Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. 
26  So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision. (Exodus 4)


Now it is probably generally understood by many Christians that the circumcision of the physical foreskin foreshadowed the circumcision of the spiritual heart. What has proved surprising to the writer is that, in researching the scriptures around this topic, is that the circumcising of the heart was also an Old Testament requirement:


16  Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. (Deuteronomy 10)


6  And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. (Deuteronomy 30)


It is interesting that Deuteronomy 10 makes a requirement on the individual to perform the ‘open heart surgery’ whereas Deuteronomy 30 states that God himself will perform this delicate operation. If we go back to consider the circumcision of the heart as described in my earlier paper MHS then this does fit that profile in that the individual must be prepared to open his heart towards God and, in so doing, makes himself available for the circumcision. So the individual must carry out the pre-op preparatory work prior to presenting himself as the patient to the master surgeon in the O.R.

What a strange and rather scary thing God asked of Abraham in Genesis 17. At the tender age of 99 he was requested to remove his foreskin to which he was, no doubt, very attached. Maybe that was the point! After many decades of being foreskin-less, the writer of this paper, a physical Jew, is finally asking why. Why would God put an apparently redundant piece of flesh on man’s most sensitive and personal bodily organ merely to cut it off again? This paper attempts to answer this question and, as usual, the writer believes he is in for yet another voyage of discovery with little idea as to where it might lead. Oh, by the way, you may notice that, compared to the rest of the web-site, this paper is bereft of pictures or images; you will no doubt agree this to be prudent policy for a Christian web-site given the subject matter! 

Circumcision

Jewish Lords' Witness

Circumcision and the Fair Sex


On a final note on the subject, one interesting question arises in that physical circumcision is the exclusive province of the male of the species (at least as far as God and the Jews are concerned!). However I have it on good authority that the additional pleasurable aspects of the male foreskin are enjoyed by both parties during sexual intercourse. Assuming God’s requirement of the appropriate marital status of the two parties were to be properly maintained, then it would appear therefore that the physical and spiritual circumcision effectively applies to both sexes equally as would seem to be appropriate.

Circumcision in The Kingdom

One matter of curiosity arises in my mind. Will non-Adamic mankind in The Kingdom of God on Earth be resurrected/born with or without a foreskin? My thinking is that genetically the only differences between Adamic and non-Adamic mankind is that the latter will not age, will not suffer from any genetic imperfections and, with a perfectly functioning immune system, will not become diseased in any way. Other than those 'small' details, their genetic programming should be identical according to current LW understandings. It was Abraham that was party to the  'Circumcision Covenant' so he clearly had a foreskin at birth. Since Abraham was a genetic son of Adam, the latter must also have had a foreskin and God's curse on Adam, after he sinned, was to supplant Adam's non-Adamic body with an Adamic equivalent. We are not told that Adam lost or gained any body parts as a result of the curse so we must assume that he had a foreskin both before and after he became Adamic:

17 and of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou dost not eat of it, for in the day of thine eating of it -- dying thou dost die.' (Genesis 2)

So if non-Adamic man is otherwise genetically equivalent to Adamic man then they would be resurrected and created complete with foreskins. Of course if I had thought to check out the scriptures more fully, I would have found the answer to this question ready to hand. According to LW understandings, Jesus was born as an aging non-Adamic human baby, i.e. a human that had no other genetic imperfections other than aging and who would suffer from no diseases having a perfect immune system (see LW main web-site at 
Understanding [46] Did the Holy Spirit commit adultery with the virgin Mary?). That baby, therefore, had to have had a foreskin since we are told that Jesus was circumcised in accordance with Jewish Law. As we are not told of any surprises at the ceremony we can only assume that Jesus was therefore born complete with a non-Adamic foreskin:

21 And when eight days were fulfilled to circumcise the child, then was his name called Jesus, having been so called by the messenger before his being conceived in the womb.  (Luke 2)

Also since those resurrected into the Kingdom will be spiritual Jews with circumcised hearts there will be no need for a physical circumcision in addition. In that sense they will be as the first gentiles who found faith in our Lord as we saw earlier in this paper.

So it looks as if I will receive the extra and, heretofore, unexpected gift of a foreskin in the Kingdom. Yet another (albeit relatively small) blessing to look forward to!


The Symbolism of the Foreskin


Notwithstanding all the above scriptures, the symbolism associated with the fleshly circumcision still needs an explanation. Why would God create Adam and his sons with a disposable part to the physical anatomy of their most delicate organ? Having read up some material on the function of the foreskin it would appear that, amongst other uses, it allegedly enhances the pleasure of sexual intercourse. I say ‘allegedly’ since, as a physical Jew, I have to take this information on trust not having been in the position of being able to compare the act in both conditions. It does, however, seem like a reasonable as well as a much-supported view. On this basis therefore it appears that our God provided his fleshly children with the potential for a wonderful physical and emotional experience and then proceeded to ask for that experience to be compromised as a demonstration of obedience to him. Born a physical Jew I clearly have not missed what I effectively never had. Abraham, however, must have known something of what he was giving up; although at 99 years of age I am not certain how important that might have been to him! Nonetheless it must have seemed like a very significant sacrifice for Abraham to commit to on his side of the covenant with God.


So how does this physical sacrifice pre-figure the commitment of the Christian circumcision of the heart? If the fleshly circumcision was one to partially sacrifice a physical pleasure in the service of God then surely the circumcision of the heart is of a similar nature in that it requires today’s Christian to be prepared to put God before his other desires. It does not require a removal of those desires, since I am certain that God wants us to enjoy the physical side of his creation, but it does require subordinating them to the requirements of our God. The following scriptures relate to man’s pleasures being sanctioned by God but recognising that those pleasures should take their proper place in our priorities by serving God first:


6  How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights! (The Song of Solomon 7)


4  Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (Psalms 37)


4  Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; (2Timothy 3) 
 
The Song of Solomon, in particular, demonstrates that the physical attraction of lovers is a God-given blessing albeit one which needs to be enjoyed with some care and perhaps frustration in unrequited love. Whilst God does not seem to have condemned Solomon for his sizeable harem, and therefore his presumable sexual appetite, it nonetheless caused that king some grief. So this would seem to confirm that God wants us to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh but that we need to recognise the dangers of not adequately managing our actions and expectations in that area. This is shown clearly in 1Kings 11 in which God became angry with Solomon, not because he had many wives and concubines and not directly because many of them were not of the Jewish faith, but because Solomon allowed those ‘foreign’ women to cause him to follow other gods:


1  But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites;
2  Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. 
3  And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. 
4  For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. 
5  For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. (1Kings 11) 


Despite the notion that circumcision was a practice that God used to identify his people apart from all the uncircumcised races of the earth, the gentiles, there are records of circumcision in the form of Egyptian wall paintings that pre-date Abraham’s circumcision. According to the Lords’ Witness’s biblical chronology, [101] The Master Chronology of God's people from Adam to Armageddon:(
http://www.truebiblecode.com/understanding101.html), Abraham would have been circumcised in 1920BC whereas, depending on which commentator one believes, the Egyptian artefacts point to a time as early as 2300BC for circumcisions in the land of Egypt. Circumcision has therefore never been a unique practice of the Jews although the bible frequently makes clear distinction between the circumcised Jews and the uncircumcised gentiles. So it was not primarily God’s purpose to physically mark, and thereby differentiate his people to the nations, but more to bring his people into line by their putting His requirements before their own pleasures of the flesh.