You’ve been literally following (cloud by day; fire by night) God for 40 years. In that time, you’ve eaten mysterious white stuff that shows up at dawn and melts by noon. Your clothes and sandals don’t wear out. Water mysteriously appears in the desert. In other words, 40 years of nothing much. Nothing much? Seriously? Isn’t just that short list above enough? Apparently not.
The covenant of circumcision between God and Abraham was abandoned. Many scholars have concluded that as circumcision was also practiced by the Egyptians, there was some sort of circumcision ban for the Israelites. While the Scriptures do not say that, there was an issue revolving around Moses’ son not being circumcised (Exodus 4:24–26), which would indicate that Moses did not practice it. At the same time, circumcision was part of living out the law.
Despite the Abrahamic covenantal requirement. Despite its requirement for Passover, being part of the tribe, or participating in the communal religious life, circumcision wasn’t being done. Were the Israelites completely clueless, including Moses? One could argue that the adults were circumcised. They just didn’t circumcise their sons (i.e., pass on the faith and covenant). Is that really any better?
What was God thinking? Throughout the journey, the Israelites were tested and tried. Yet, circumcision didn’t come up. Other tests of faith occurred, but this still didn’t come up. It almost seems that God wrote them off…not completely, but that they had lost their place as THE people who went into the Promised Land.
In a blood action (blood representing life), the Israelite males were circumcised. God’s words made it clear that the time of the desert journey was over. There was a new path and a new journey before the Israelites. It was now the next generation’s responsibility to carry things forward, and the did. However…
“That whole generation was also gathered to their ancestors. After them, another generation rose up who did not know the LORD or the works he had done for Israel.” —Judges 2:10
1) Traditions and habits intended to develop and trained often get tossed aside because they are the “old way”. What traditions and habits have you dismissed?
2) We are quick to see our traditions and habits being discarded, but fail to see those that we discarded. Why is that?
3) New traditions and habits can be just as powerful as old ones. What new ones can you help to build and pass on?
4) No tradition or habit is any good unless effectively passed on to the next generation of believers. What will you do to pass it on?