Deut. 10:16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.
Deut. 30:6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
Jeremiah 4:4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.
So, was this command something they could do, or is it like the command to “be born again” which brings us to Nicodemus’s question, ‘How can I do this…it is impossible!’ The command would bring you to cry out to God to do what we cannot. My question would be: What is a circumcised heart?
Hello Brother John,
Thank you for your insightful question! In the verses you list, God applies an outward sign to an inward heart issue.
Throughout the entire Bible, the combination of the word circumcise with the word heart occurs only in the three verses you note. In Deuteronomy 10:16 and Jeremiah 4:4 God commands His hearers to circumcise their hearts. Yet, in Deuteronomy 30:6, the Scripture says God will circumcise the hearts of those who turn to Him (cf. Deut. 30:1ff.). Therefore, your analogy to the new birth and the question of Nicodemus, “How can these things be?” (John 3:9) is right on target. When Jesus answered that Nicodemus must believe in Him (John 3:16), He was letting Nicodemus know being born again occurs through faith in Jesus for God to do what man cannot.
So, what is a circumcised heart? Romans 2:29 is the only verse in the Bible that combines the word circumcision with the word heart, and it addresses the question by saying, “But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not of the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Paul’s use of the phrase in the spirit may parallel Jesus’ emphasis to Nicodemus when He said, “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). If we accept this equivalence, the implication is that a circumcised heart parallels regeneration. Or if it’s something similar, and not regeneration in the New Testament sense, another word may more accurately describe what took place.
Further insight is offered from explicit statements of Scripture. First is the fact that some Old Testament saints had God’s law in their hearts (Is. 51:7; Ps. 37:31; 40:8). The circumcised heart seems to fit this description. This reality is also what God promised would be given to Israel in the future through the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 39:25-27). And second is that Old Testament saints were saved in the same way New Testament saints are—by faith (Rom. 4:1-13)—and not only were they so justified, they also lived as we are to live—by faith (Heb. 11).
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