BIBLICAL REFLECTIONS:CIRCUMCISION OF THE HEART

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Issued:Wednesday 9 may 201


“The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts.....so that you may love Him with all your heart and with all your soul and live.” (Exodus 30:6)

Circumcision portrays an outward manifestation of a covenant knit with God. He ordered Abraham to have all the male members of his household circumcised. “This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between you and me.” (Genesis 17:10-11) A covenant is like a signed document or an agreement. In the early days, they were sealed with blood, making it more binding.

Thus by the covenant of circumcision, one was establishing an agreement of obedience and purity with God by shedding off ‘the old life’ and committing one’s life to the LORD God Jehovah. It became a distinguishing mark between Jews and Gentile pagans, representing a new beginning, a new walk with God who had warned that, “Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.” (Genesis 17:14)

As all those who were born in the desert on their forty-year journey to the Promised Land were not circumcised --- as opposed to those who had left Egypt --- God required them to sign an agreement with Him. They had to be sanctified as well. So He ordered Joshua to “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.” (Joshua 5:3) This rite marked Israelites as God’s covenant people, a sign of true fellowship with God.

However, the Children of Israel were a stubborn lot just like some believers of today who take pleasure in what God has forbidden----“idolatry: the worship of foreign gods.” In so doing, they became unfaithful to their first love (God Himself). Each time they did, God delivered them up to their enemies. Every time they repented and were ready to turn back from their wicked ways God showed mercy. In a bid to guarantee their faithfulness, Moses told them “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 live.” (Exodus 30:6)

A circumcised heart is a repentant heart ready to walk with God; a heart that will bleed for God, that will live exclusively for God. A circumcised heart will associate itself with the things that pertain to God’s kingdom.

As we examine our hearts we too may have reason to undergo such an operation. Why, you may wonder? The Bible defines man’s heart as “... deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) Our Lord Jesus clarifies further how our hearts become defiled. He taught that “... nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these things come from inside and make a man ‘unclean’.” (Mark 7:20) ‘From within’ qualifies our thought-life, the things we ponder over, contemplate and execute. He further confirmed: “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34b) What takes centre-stage in our lives, governs our actions.

A depraved heart will churn out evil and wicked thoughts. Therefore part of our daily prayers should be, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my ways. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24) King David desired for a changed heart and we must also, in our bid to get closer to God, the Almighty.

The Apostle Paul sums it up by saying: “A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the spirit, not by the written code.” (Romans 2:28-29) It is time to get right with God based on our internal qualities not by what we portray outwardly; that is by what we want people to believe we are.

In sum, it is neither the fact that we have been baptised into Christianity and confirmed, nor that we are regular church-goers that counts, but rather the condition of our heart in our devotion and obedience. Just as meeting God’s requirement of a physical circumcision for the Jews was not enough, present-day Christians must be sensitive to the state of our hearts. We need not wait any longer for time is running out! “Circumcise your hearts therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer.” (Deuteronomy 10:16)

Author: Galandou Gorre-Ndiaye