“At that time the LORD said to Joshua: ‘Make flint knives and circumcise the sons of Israel a second time.’…Though all the people who came out had been circumcised, yet all the people who were born on the way in the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt had not been circumcised.” Joshua 5:2, 5
How extraordinarily painful this must have been. For grown men to undergo circumcision, the sign of their covenant with the Lord God. As this thought crossed my mind, the Lord reminded me of the following passage:
“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the LORD set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe.” (Deuteronomy 10:12-17)
“Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart.” This is the phrase my thoughts were specifically drawn to. And God began to reveal truths about this, which I pray He will help me unfold here.
This is an intentional act of sacrifice on our part. It is a choice to no longer allow our hearts and emotions to rule us, but rather to let the truth and peace of Christ rule in our hearts. We are choosing to cut off that which is unholy, that which is not honoring to our God. Because we want His glory. We want His light. We want His joy. We want Him to reign in us, and that means sacrificing whatever is not pleasing to Him—whatever displays a lack of faith in His wisdom, power, and steadfast love.
It’s going to hurt. And it’s going to be extremely difficult. It will require a strength and determination beyond ourselves, because to choose this goes directly against our sinful, selfish, prideful human nature. We tend to be stubborn. To want what we want when we want it, to justify things that pull us away from our Lord, to attempt to cover up conviction so that we can continue living as we please without thought to consequences or to the God whose Spirit we are grieving.
Fearing the Lord, walking in all His ways, loving and serving Him with all our heart and soul, is not something we can do halfway. We can’t just partially surrender. We can’t just offer Him part of our heart and then cling to stubbornness and sin in the dark corners. He requires all of it. He knows the difficulty of what He is asking. He knows how much it can hurt. But He empowers us to accomplish this because He knows its importance. And He knows the outcome. Freedom. Absolute, joy-filled freedom. The kind of freedom that the psalmist wrote of in Psalm 119:32, “I will run in the way of your commandments, for you set my heart free!” (footnote translation used).
Our God is great and mighty. He is holy, righteous, and reigns in the splendor of majesty. He deserves our surrender. We owe Him praise. He alone has glory that fills the skies and He alone will be exalted.
As painful as it can be to lay all of ourselves down at the altar—our dreams, our plans, our relationships, the idols we’ve created and the sins we cling to—there is good reason to give it all over. Our God is worthy. And we can be assured that all of His commandments, every single one, are commanded for our good. They are not burdensome for us unless we are fighting against them. Today, in this moment, let us surrender. All of it. Let us choose faith, because it is victory for us.
“But the LORD is the true God;
he is the living God and the everlasting King.
At his wrath the earth quakes,
and the nations cannot endure his indignation…
It is he who made the earth by his power,
who established the world by his wisdom,
and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.
When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens,
and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth.
He makes lightning for the rain,
and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses”