Circumcision of the heart

“Circumcision of the heart” sounds strange and even a little funny for a modern person. But God Himself in the book of Hebrews speaks of circumcision of the heart. And today it has the same profound meaning for us as it did in the time of Abraham, when God first commanded circumcision.

To understand the essence of circumcision of the heart, we first need to study the rite of circumcision of the flesh.

We find the first mention of this in the 12th and 15th chapters of Genesis. God made unconditional promises to Abraham:

that his descendants will be more than the stars in the sky;

that through his descendants all nations will be blessed;

that a great land will be given to the people of Abraham;

and that all who bless them will also be blessed.

Then, in the 17th chapter of Genesis, we read:

“This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. 11“And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. 12“And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants. 13“A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.”

(Genesis 17: 10-13)

What is the essence of circumcision?

The key point here is that circumcision was to be a “sign of the covenant” that was already given to Abraham without any conditions.

Several hundred years later, the circumcision rite became part of the Law of Moses, when God gave instructions about male children: “On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised.” (Leviticus 12: 3).

This practice has continued from generation to generation. It was only when the people of Israel were forced to wander in the wilderness for 40 years that circumcision was temporarily abandoned.

Some reputable theologians believe that God demanded that this generation die due to their refusal to believe Him when He commanded them to enter the promised land (Numbers 14: 32-35). Therefore, the rejected generation stopped practicing circumcision.

The rebellious people of Israel, wandering like a lost sheep in the wilderness, were instantly brought out of the covenant. They refused to believe God’s promise when He told them to take the land, and now they were paying the price for their rebellion …

But with God’s punishment comes God’s love: when the 40-year wanderings came to an end, the covenant and all its blessings returned.

As soon as the people of Israel crossed the Jordan into a land flowing with milk and honey, the Lord God immediately commanded Joshua: “At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.”” (Joshua 5: 2).

Now that they were in the promised land, having returned to the faith, enjoying obedience and fellowship with God, the practice of circumcision was restored and God blessed the people of Israel.

Israel has always had a special place in the eyes of God. He chose one people to show the way to Himself and to spread His love among all other nations. Since circumcision was a sign of the covenant, which included this blessing of a universal human scale, its meaning went beyond just a national rite.

Beyond the physical

We cannot physically show the world that we have been circumcised. But God’s covenant extends far beyond the physical. A way has been revealed to us through which our words and actions can show other nations that we were once touched by God. In Deuteronomy 30: 6 we read His promise:

“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 l.”

This type of circumcision is, by definition, circumcision of the spirit, not the flesh. It touches the heart of a person, his soul, his essence, his views and relationship with God. Because the topic of inner circumcision is so important, God reiterates and re-emphasizes its importance. For example, in Deuteronomy 10: 12-16:

“Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the LORD’S commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good? “Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it. “Yet on your fathers did the LORD set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you above all peoples, as it is this day. “So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.”

Inner man

Over and over again God tests the inner, authentic man. His persistent gaze will not allow us to hide behind the façade of social status, feigned mannerisms or the walls of materialism. Before God, every person is what he really is. Intimate thoughts that he would like to hide from the rest of the world are instantly exposed in the light of God’s presence.

The Lord requires us to keep all of His statutes and laws. But which of us can observe them every day of our lives? The Prophet writes about this:

“We are all made like unclean things, and all our righteousness is like filthy rags; and we all have faded like a leaf, and our iniquities like the wind carry us away ” (Isaiah 64: 6)

So what happens? On the one hand, God tells us to keep all of His decrees. On the other hand, the prophet recognizes the real spiritual state of a person: we are all far from perfect and can hardly constantly observe the entire Law.

However, as we read in Deuteronomy 30: 6, God does not expect us to cut off our own hearts. He says he will do it himself. But how? And then what does He expect from us? Let’s take a look at Leviticus 26: 40-42:

“If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me, and also in their acting with hostility against Me— I also was acting with hostility against them, to bring them into the land of their enemies—or if their uncircumcised heart becomes humbled so that they then make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land. ”

Just once a year?

Is that all? Do we need to confess our iniquity and rebellion against God? Well, okay, we actually do this at least once a year on Yom Kippur. But admitting is not enough, our uncircumcised heart must submit, become humble.

It is like a spiritual operation. But we realize that we do not have the divine power to do this – to change our own hearts. And then we remember that God himself promised us this operation.

But how?

King David knew this secret. After he sinned against God by taking Bathsheba, in Psalm 51: 10-12, he pleads with Him:

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. ”

David said, “Take not your Holy Spirit from me.” The Holy Spirit, the great Ruach HaKodesh, is a renewing force. It was the Holy Spirit of God that brought peace, comfort and joy to David. He knew what it was like to live when the Spirit of God dwells in you and when He leaves you.

It is this Spirit that David calls to create in him a pure heart, that is, to renew it. In other words, it is God’s Holy Spirit who does the circumcision of the heart.

From Abraham to David, from David to you and me, the rite of internal circumcision does not stop.

He promised everyone who trusts in the Messiah, the Anointed One of Israel, that the Holy Spirit will dwell in him and circumcise his heart, making him right before God.

At some point, we all appear before the Lord as uncircumcised and unrenewed seekers of truth. Like living beings of flesh and blood, but without the Spirit of God within us. We are looking for our truth and go our own way.

Maybe you, too, have been walking for a long time, looking for and asking questions, not finding spiritual answers that can change the heart; knowing that the answers exist even though you haven’t found them yet.

You can do it right now…

Perhaps it is now that God is telling you that through your faith in the Messiah Jesus, His Spirit will circumcise your heart and renew you forever.

When you confess the Messiah Jesus as your Lord and Savior, the sacrificed Lamb of God, whose coming was predicted by the ancient prophets of Israel, then you too will be able to stand next to other people who believe in Him and fully appreciate the words of Saul of Tarsus.

Saul, an Israelite theologian who later became the apostle Paul, writes of the enduring circumcision of the heart:

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 9For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,”

“and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. ” (Colossians 2: 8-9, 11-14)

We pray that you too will seek, find and be renewed by His Spirit.

by Robert Friedman /



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