Joshua and Judges: Circumcision of the heart, part 8. Jos 5:2-10; Jer 9:26; Num 14:28-35.

Class Outline:

Title: Joshua and Judges: Circumcision of the heart, part 8. JOS 5:2-10; JER 9:26; NUM 14:28-35.


Announcements / opening prayer:



Our fourth reference in the OT to the true meaning of circumcision is in Jer 9.


JER 9:23 Thus says the Lord, "Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches;


JER 9:24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things, "declares the Lord.


The True Wisdom. - It is not a reliance on one's own wisdom and strength that brings well-being, but the knowledge of the Lord and of His dealings in grace and justice.


Truth and wisdom have only one true source. Others claim to be the source of it, but they are all created things, and so they cannot be. They either agree with the source or they don't. We must look to the source that we can behold - the person of God in the Lord Jesus Christ.


In verse 23 he mentions the delusive objects of confidence on which the children of this world are wont to pride themselves: their own wisdom, strength, and riches. These things do not save from ruin. Safety is secured only by "having understanding and knowing God." These two ideas are so closely connected, that the second may be looked on as giving the nearer definition of the first. The having of understanding must manifest itself in the knowing of the Lord.


Understand and know the Lord who does:

Lovingkindness - strength, steadfastness, and love.

Justice - renders the right verdict.

Righteousness - always upright.


He who has attained to this knowledge will seek to practice these virtues towards his fellow-men, because only in these has God pleasure and so they are the only things that are truly pleasurable.


JER 9:25 "Behold, the days are coming," declares the Lord, "that I will punish all who are circumcised and yet uncircumcised — 


JER 9:26 Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the sons of Ammon, and Moab, and all those inhabiting the desert who clip the hair on their temples; for all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised of heart."


The other nations did not practice circumcision, but by being uncircumcised of heart, Israel conducted themselves just like them.


This is the elect of God behaving as if they were not. They have the overt sign of God's covenant but they rejected the obligation that it placed upon them.


Circumcision involved the obligation to walk blameless before God (GEN 17:1), and, as sign of the covenant, to keep God's commandments.


If this condition was not fulfilled, if the heart remained uncircumcised, Israel lost all pre-eminence over the heathen, and was devoid of all room for glorying in the sight of God, just as the heathen were, who know not God the Lord, who have turned the truth of God into unrighteousness, and in their unrighteousness have become liable to the judgment of God.


GEN 17:1-2

Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him,

"I am God Almighty;

Walk before Me, and be blameless.

"And I will establish My covenant between Me and you,

And I will multiply you exceedingly."


But, this is the message that God has for you. If you attempt to apply our text to the historical Jews of the past, or to any branch of Christendom which places undue emphasis on ritual forms, you will have lost the point of the story.


It is God's message to you. He requires a circumcised heart.


PSA 51:6

Behold, Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being,

And in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know wisdom.


He is telling you that He requires truth in the inward parts.


You must not have outward forms without inward holiness. You are to rend your heart and not your garments as a sign of repentance from sin and a hunger for righteousness.


JOE 2:13

And rend your heart and not your garments.

"Now return to the Lord your God,

For He is gracious and compassionate,

Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness,

And relenting of evil.


All of us, to some extent, realize how inadequate our heart really was when we didn't have a conscience that agreed with God. We recognize that old heart had to be rent. New wine cannot be put in old wineskins. The old skins will burst, and so they should. The context of Joel 2:13 is an Israel who sees idol worship as preferable to worship of Jehovah. Our hearts must change within. An overt show of repentance is meaningless. God is not pleased or impressed with rituals.


ROM 12:2

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.


ISA 1:13

"Bring your worthless offerings no longer,

Incense is an abomination to Me.

New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies-

I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly [meeting].


A heart filled with iniquity and a solemn meeting, such as a feast day, do not go together.


This reveals that there were some in Israel who were giving outward signs of repentance but inwardly their hearts hadn't changed. It is much easier to play the part then to come to the real awakening of evil thinking, admit it to yourself, take responsibility for it rather than blaming someone else, and then determining to change to a heart that pursues righteousness.


In the church, all rituals, save one, have been outmoded. Circumcision or any other over ritual, besides the Lord's Supper, no longer has any meaning. And the Lord's Supper is not just to be an overt procedure as is abundantly clear in 1Co where the Corinthians were doing just that but not celebrating the feast in their hearts and in unity with all believers.


JOS 5:1 Now it came about when all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard how the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the sons of Israel until they had crossed, that their hearts melted, and there was no spirit in them any longer, because of the sons of Israel.


JOS 5:2 At that time the Lord said to Joshua, "Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time."


JOS 5:3 So Joshua made himself flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth.


JOS 5:4 And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, died in the wilderness along the way, after they came out of Egypt.


JOS 5:5 For all the people who came out were circumcised, but all the people who were born in the wilderness along the way as they came out of Egypt had not been circumcised.


JOS 5:6 For the sons of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, that is, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished because they did not listen to the voice of the Lord, to whom the Lord had sworn that He would not let them see the land which the Lord had sworn to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey.


Hence the reason is given as to why some of the men were not circumcised.