The crossing over from reproach to respect discussed in a prior article (recorded in Joshua 5:1-9) could only occur via holiness, which was another crossing over. The lack of circumcision during the wilderness wandering was a sign of the generation’s apathy. Israel’s only concern at the time was physical appetite. They were walking in selfishness and became unable to receive blessings from God. Since this played a large role in the reproach they experienced, their crossing over into respect first demanded a crossing over from uncleanness to holiness.
Circumcision is more than a physical cutting off of flesh that was part of the covenant between God and Israel. It is an obedient action that outwardly signaled an inward cutting. It symbolizes the removal of sin’s corruption within the circumcised person—the end of sin’s reign making room for God to be the Lord and Savior of one’s life. It marks the end of the works, the thoughts, and the beliefs of the flesh. At its heart, circumcision is a picture of the elimination of selfishness.
This self-centeredness was the marking point of Israel’s time wandering in the wilderness. That is also the center of our experiences with reproach today. To cross over requires humility and surrender. In order to be free from the control of words spoken against us, we must adopt a humble attitude that is willing to believe the words of God over the words of others. We must grow in our ability to trust God, believing that his way is best and to follow him. Verses 8 and 9 show clearly that the results of this death to the flesh are inner healing and a crossing over from reproach to respect.