All the people that came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness during the journey from Egypt had not…They were still uncircumcised because they had not been circumcised on the way.
Joshua 5:5, 7
Verse seven seems like a no brainer at first. Obviously they weren’t circumcised if it hadn’t happened on the way. But look deeper at why that was true. Circumcision was a specific command for God’s people. Why weren’t they circumcised? He had rescued them from slavery, performed countless miracles, led them, and fed them. Now, they were finally going to enter the Land He had promised to give them as their homeland, yet they were unprepared.
They had disobeyed one of God’s most important instructions to show they belonged to Him. This same error nearly prevented Moses from getting to Egypt in the first place. His wife had to circumcise their sons on the way because, for whatever reason, he had not carried out God’s command (Ex. 4:24-26). Was it too bloody? Too painful to inflict on an innocent baby? Inconvenient to have to care for the child as he healed?
The first generation of Israelites didn’t get to enter the Promised Land because of their disbelief; consequently they and their children had wandered in the desert another forty years. Apparently they didn’t teach their children to follow God wholeheartedly either. There was no free pass in to the Promised Land just because they were Israelites; the next generation had to decide whether they wanted to behave like God’s people or not.
The children suffered for their parents’ lack of obedience. It’s harder to be circumcised as an adult or older child, and takes longer to heal than as an eight day old (Lev. 12:3). It’s true that children can’t decide whether their parents obey the Lord or not, but there is an age of accountability when we must each choose for ourselves.
Your parents were not perfect. The consequences of their sins have been passed down to you. But you can choose to live differently. You can be “circumcised along the way”—that is—you can turn from your old ways and choose a new life in Christ. God will even help you do this: “The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live” (Deut. 30:6).
As you walk and pray this week, ask God what needs to be cut away from your heart so you can be spiritually pure and ready to receive all He has for you. If you are a parent, ask Him to show you what you can do for your children now to make their journey less painful later. And rejoice in being clean and new, stripped of all that would hold you back from being counted as one of God’s children.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:21
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