[Joshua 5] Angels and Circumcision of the Heart. In this chapter Joshua makes sure the people are circumcised. What does circumcision of the heart mean? What are the consequences? Did you know that angels are always near when circumcision is an issue among God’s people? Circumcision is connected with God’s covenant in our lives and angels are beings whose purpose is to implement God’s covenant. As believers if our hearts are uncircumcised the angels will not be present as they otherwise should be. If you want all that God has for you regarding angelic protection and power you must find out what circumcision of heart means to you.
[Jos 5:1-15 KJV] 1 And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which [were] on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which [were] by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.
The kings of the Amorites were Og and Sihon. Og’s name means “long necked” or “willful”. Sihon’s name means “to sweep away by force”. The name Amorite means “to be a sayer or a talker”. When God begins to do things in your life people will start talking. They will war against you with their words. They will “sweep you away” (Sihon) or dismiss you with their words. They will “will” you not to be blessed or to make it. These are the first enemies you will encounter as you move from your problem (wilderness) to your potential (promised land).
In truth there is only one thing people will despise you for more than your failure and that is your success. In your failure you confirm their secret criticisms and hatred of you. In your success you defy every high opinion they have of themselves and will drive them to prayer and every effort to craft a viewpoint that your so-called blessing will not last. The bitter root that is in people like this is fear. Notice that their hearts melted. They are afraid they will not achieve their purposes in life and cannot imagine where both you and they can be blessed. They have many sophisticated ways to discourage you because they are “sayers – fast talkers”. If you don’t guard yourself from needing to be seen and heard you will fall prey to this trap of the enemy.
With this potential challenge ahead what was God’s instruction to Joshua?
2 At that time the LORD said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time. 3 And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins.
When people are talking about you and criticizing you and plotting against you (in Jesus’ name no less) this is a time that you think you want to be at your best. However in God’s purposes this is a time to assure the circumcision of your heart. Circumcision of any kind can be a difficult experience that will hinder your forward momentum. The heart is circumcised with the sharp knife of the word of God. For many the word is dull like a butter knife because we aren’t willing for it to cut on us (only upon others). We don’t look deeply into the scriptures and we don’t apply what we see to ourselves. We must look at what we see in our lives and as Heb. 4 says allow the word to discern and divine for us our situation and our heart’s condition.
Remember that circumcision is performed on that part of you that has to do with procreation. Circumcision of the heart likewise is on that deepest most intimate part of your being. It involved not only allowing God to deal with but also to cut away something of yourself in order to set you aside for Himself and His glory. Circumcision cuts on that part of you that reproduces who you are and the fact is that there are aspects of who you are that God has no intention of allow to be reproduced in those around you. Hence the circumcision of the heart is painfully necessary.
4 And this [is] the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, [that were] males, [even] all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt. 5 Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people [that were] born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, [them] they had not circumcised. 6 For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people [that were] men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: unto whom the LORD sware that he would not shew them the land, which the LORD sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey. 7 And their children, [whom] he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way. 8 And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole.
Now what an amazing thing. God commanded them to circuzmcise their children in the commands of Moses. Nonetheless not one single male child was circumcised for over forty years. They had the cloud by day and the fire by night and they said yes that is the glory of the God who commanded us to circumcise our children – but they never followed through. In Exodus when Moses refused to circumcise his sons the angel of the Lord sought to kill him. Moses hesitated to circumcise his sons because his wife wasn’t in agreement regarding the practice. Only when her husband was about to die did Zipporah finally relent and obey God. Could this be what Jesus (very conversant with the scripture) was referring to in Matthew 10:34 when he said regarding family situations that he did not come to bring peace but a sword?
There are times in marriages and family situations that we often hear Christians say “I just want to keep the peace…” That is not your highest obligation. When you have unsaved loved ones who will not make heaven their home it is not going to be possible to keep the peace. 2 Cor. 6:15 says what concord has Christ with Belial? That doesn’t mean we delight to be contentious but at the same time you have to establish your fidelities. I’ve seen homes destroyed while Christian spouses were keeping the peace with a perverted idea of what God wanted in their marriage situations.
Remember as well that although the people didn’t obey in this very vital area of commandment they did however complain continually against God. They complained about the wilderness. They complained about the food. They accused God of bringing them into the wilderness to kill the very children they refused to circumcise. It has been said “you can have faith for yourself but you can’t take chances with children…” This betrays a deep seated lack of faith. What you allow to come between you and God – God will remove. We must hold ourselves accountable not to what man says or demands but to what God is calling for in our lives even if it isn’t convenient or comfortable.
People always complain to me “I’ve done everything I know to do. I’ve obeyed God…” If that is true then God’s word is a lie and you are justified for God isn’t coming through with His promise. What is more likely is there is a point like these uncircumcised children where you have given yourself a pass for one reason or another. We have to ask God to open our eyes and show us where we are falling short and causing ourselves to be excluded from what God has promised. The result understand will not be instantaneous breakthrough but it will put us in the process that leads to what we have been asking God for. These things must be talked about. These are the discussions that many Christian leaders won’t have with their people. Instead they give them coping strategies for enduring the consequences of tepid faith and even outright disobedience. It isn’t necessary for things to remain as they are. Things can be different for you. Breakthrough is possible but you must be prepared for circumcision of the heart.
9 And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day. 10 And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho. 11 And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched [corn] in the selfsame day. 12 And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year. 13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, [Art] thou for us, or for our adversaries? 14 And he said, Nay; but [as] captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? 15 And the captain of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest [is] holy. And Joshua did so.
When the uncircumcised among the people complied with what God required the manna ceased. Why? Because they were moving from the wilderness to Canaan. Receiving from God was going to be a different proposition. It is interesting that angels showed up around the circumcision of Moses children and here they are again. Anytime circumcision is called for angels are in evidence. Suddenly angels are getting involved. We wonder at times where the angels are. Angels are custodians of the covenant. Remember the angel that sought to kill Moses because he refused to circumcise his children. If we refuse to walk in circumcision of heart the angels will be held back out of mercy toward us. Angels don’t know anything about mercy or good intentions. Angels only know about the covenant. Solomon said this:
[Ecc 5:6 KJV] 6 Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it [was] an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?
This is a very grave circumstance. We need the ministry of angels. Their whole purpose is to work in our lives. But if there is within us an uncircumcised heart, areas of compromise and dishonesty toward God’s word we exclude ourselves from the victory they are necessary for us to see. They are not on our side, they are on the Lord’s side and anything IN US that is against God or contrary to His nature will affect what they do or do not do. If you want to see the angels serving their purpose in your life you must then at all costs find out what circumcision of heart looks like for you and ask the Father to show you the glaring blind spots where there is conspicuous disobedience in your life that you have totally ignored.