Circumcise Your Heart

Circumcise Your Heart

We are commanded by God to circumcise our hearts (Deuteronomy 10:16; Jeremiah 4:4). How does one go about fulfilling this injunction? What is the meaning of this metaphor?

In the language of Scripture, the heart is the seat of understanding. Just as the eye sees and the ears hear so does the heart understand and know (Isaiah 6:10). Scripture employs the metaphor of uncircumcision for the ear (Jeremiah 6:10). The uncircumcised ear cannot listen or hear. It would then follow that the uncircumcised heart cannot know or understand.

This interpretation is reinforced when we consider the context of the two passages in which our metaphor appears (Deuteronomy 10:16; Jeremiah 4:4). In both instances Scripture employs a different metaphor as a parallel to the metaphor under discussion. In Deuteronomy the Scripture speaks of ceasing to stiffen our necks. Throughout Scripture a stiff neck is a reference to stubbornness and a refusal to obey and submit. This would be parallel to a heart that refuses to acquire understanding that would necessitate a change in attitude.

In Jeremiah the prophet encourages us to plow our fallow ground and not sow among the thorns (Jeremiah 4:3). The context implies that the prophet is encouraging us to break the hardness of our heart, which would be compared to the unbroken thorny ground, before we plant with prayer, study of God’s word and practice of good deeds.

Leviticus 26:41 speaks of our uncircumcised hearts being humbled through the suffering of exile. This passage further reinforces our interpretation. The arrogant heart is set in its ways and its world view is not open for negotiation. The messages that God sends through His prophets and through the events that He is orchestrating do not move the uncircumcised heart because the uncircumcised heart is closed to the truth.

The call to circumcise our heart is a call to humility, a call to open ourselves up to new understanding. When God commands us to circumcise our heart He is encouraging us to let go of our preconceived notions which prevent us from comprehending His truth.

This activity is not an “all or nothing” proposition. There are many different levels of openness and acceptance of God’s truth. On the one hand you find people who cling so tightly to their world-view and completely close their hearts to the words of God that might overturn the beliefs that they cherish. These people will rehash their own doctrines, endlessly quoting the same few passages that they see as supportive of their creed, and refuse to interact in a meaningful way with the passages of Scripture that would force them to see the world in a new light.

On the other extreme you find people who made life-changing decisions because they opened their hearts to God’s truth. These people are willing to consider the fact that they are human and could make mistakes and their hearts remain open and accepting.

Most of us fall somewhere in between these two extremes. We may hesitate to consider inconvenient truths but we also  do not completely shut up our ears and hearts. Circumcision of the heart is a path of growth. We can all grow in our willingness to accept God’s truth and the injunction of Deuteronomy 10:16 is commanding us to move ever-forward on the path of humility and acceptance.

As human beings our activities are always limited and the scope of our understanding will always be nothing more than a dot against the background of God’s eternal truth. We can never fully open ourselves up to God’s truth on our own because our hearts are human and our abilities are inadequate. Indeed, God promises that He will intervene and circumcise our hearts to the degree that God’s truth becomes an integral part of our beings (Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 31:32; Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26). But God also tells us who it is that He will circumcise. God will circumcise the hearts of people who have already opened their hearts to Him (Deuteronomy 30:2). He will write His Law on the hearts of a people who are already carrying His Law in their heart (Isaiah 51:7).

If you want to circumcise your heart then you need to walk in the path of David, Israel’s King. He spelled out this path in Psalm 119. Begin with prayer and supplication to God, because our capacity for self-delusion is so deep. And do not just begin with prayer, but pray from beginning to end. But don’t just pray with your lips, pray with your heart and with your actions. Read God’s word, not to confirm the worldview that you already possess, but rather, allow God’s word to refine your worldview and even to shatter it. Open your heart to God’s truth and listen to His word. With God at your side you have nothing to fear.

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Thank You

Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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23 Responses to Circumcise Your Heart

  1. bography says:

    Thank you, Yisroel. Food for thought.

  2. Dina says:

    This is so inspiring!

  3. Dave says:

    Thank you Yisroel: It isn’t easy but it surely is necessary Doovid

  4. Concerned Reader says:

    Something many people don’t realize is that in the ancient world, in many cultures, the heart was believed to function in the same way as we see the brain functioning today. We see this fact in Plato, Aristotle, Galen, etc. As rabbi B showed, the heart was, “the seat of understanding.”

    Scripture is meant to engage both mind and body, and you cannot disassociate the two, because they are built to work together in harmony. An intellect not grounded in the practical practices, inhabits the clouds, but can’t apply the knowledge for good effect.

    You often hear evangelicals say “I believe the bible is a “heart issue,” but clearly they mean that in an emotional sense, not in the practical lived action sense that scripture and the ancients meant it.

    Excellent, excellent, rabbi. 🙂

  5. Arin says:

    It is not your responsibility to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it. Pirkei Avos 2:16

  6. Some to commend here, especially about the central place of the Law as a test of validity and the proof of reality. However there is also a serious error.
    ‘Our capacity for self-delusion is so deep’. Real circumcision is certainly not a slow, incremental transition, just as the transformation from a stony heart to a fleshy one is not either, or the resurrection of dry, dead bones to life.
    This is why Nicodemus knew all about the ‘new birth’, when Messiah warned him, that without it he would neither see nor enter the King’s realm.

    • charles soper There are two circumcisions – the natural one that God demands of us and the supernatural one that God will grant us. You cannot compare one to the other. 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

    • Bible819 says:

      Well said Charles.

      Spiritual Death to All men:

      “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; for in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die.”

      Spiritual Life:

      As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all the signs came to pass that day.

      Rebellion = Death

      Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil[a] spirit from the Lord tormented him.

      Question: I wish that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would place His Spirit on them!

      As the Spirit Said:

      But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit gives you life because of righteousness.

      If you don’t have the Spirit of God = You are dead!

    • charles soper, did your faith gradually grow as God revealed His love, power, and will for your life progressively as the years went by? or did you become a brand new man of God in a minute? It took 3 years in Arabian desert for Saul to become Paul; the dead bones in Ezekiel’s vision went through process of moving, shattering, and being covered with flesh and skin to become a great army; even human birth takes 10 months to be born!

      The conversation between Yeshua and Nicodemus is not about “NEW birth.”
      Don’t add the typical Christian terminology onto the text. It is about “Birth from ABOVE.”

      Further, You said Yeshua “WARNED” NIcodemus. I don’t think so. He ” COMMENDED” Nicodemus! He praised and confirmed Nicodemus’ correct observation which is impossible unless he is born again ( in Greek “again’ means also “above”).

      Look, Charles, Nicodemus said, “Rabbi, we KNOW that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” Nicodemus KNEW (‘ediow’ in Greek) the origin of Yeshua (from GOD! from ABOVE) and the powerful reign of God in Yeshua’s miracles.

      So when Yeshua said “except a man be born again, he cannot SEE (‘eidow’ in Greek) the kingdom of God,” He did not rebuke nor refute Nicodemus as if Nicodemus was flattering.
      What Yeshua has meant was this; “Nicodemus! you are a man who is born ABOVE (again)! That is why you can KNOW (‘eidow’) and SEE (‘eidow’) my origin (i am from God ABOVE!) and know (‘eidow’) and see (‘eidow’) that my miracles are all possible because of God’s reign (king’s dominating= the kingdom of God).

      I pray that God will circumcise the hearts of Christians to understand the Gospels.

      • Bible819 says:

        Gean,

        Your First Paragraph is rebuffed:

        1 Samuel 10:9

        As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all the signs came to pass that day.

        How long did it take for God to change Saul’s Heart?

        Born Again=New Birth

        The Brand Christians as uncircumcised is to take away from Gods Conversion.

        You don’t know how long it takes for God to change someones heart.

        Yeshua the Lion of the Tribe of Judah is my Lord!

        • Thanks for comment, Bible819. Then, do you believe that only if someone gets a new heart (or another heart), then he or she instantly becomes a new man (or another man)? God changed Saul’s heart, yes, he’s got another heart, heart ONLY. Yet according to Samuel the prophet, for Saul to be “another man” (1 Sam.10:6), or to be “Born Again or New Birth” by your term, he needed to receive NEW LEG as he depart from Samuel, NEW EAR as he heard the two men’s saying, NEW FEET to go forward to the plain of Tabor, NEW EYE to see three men going to Bethel, NEW HANDS to receive two loaves of bread, and NEW TONGUE to prophesy! Mere intellectual assent or mental believing in right New Testament doctrine cannot make you born again. We Christians must learn from Judaism how God transforms a person.

          • Bible819 says:

            Yeshua the Spirit never said

            “we must learn from Judaism how God transforms a person”

            As it is Written:

            But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. 15 Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand.

            Yeshua Reiterates by Saying:

            3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

            And again:

            But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”

            Clean is the Spiritual Rebirth.

          • “Yeshua the Spirit never said…”
            — “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Luke 16:31

            Have you ever noticed why Paul repeated the same message of verse 14 at verse 15? He didn’t have to! It is redundant! I believe Paul is talking about Christian’s ‘unwillingness of their HEARTS’ to understand the Law of Moses in verse 15.
            WE know this from the beginning of the same chapter where Paul was asserting the Christians had the Law written on their HEARTS!

            In verse 14, Paul is talking about ‘inability of their MINDS’ to understand the truth. Paul was ascribing this to God not to them. The Christians willingly ignore the eternal covenant of God with the Jews, the Jews providentially ignore the Good News of their Messiah. God had a plan for this in His sovereign wisdom until the Messiah comes.

            “you are already clean because of the word i have spoken to you”
            — Yes, Bible 819! Yeshua’s words were all from his Father according to John’s gospel, and the Jews all had God’s words much, much more than Christians had. Therefore, the Jews are already clean and already possess God’s rebirth in their mouth and heart.

          • Bible819 says:

            Gean,

            The Father speaking through Yeshua Said:

            If you had believed Moses, you would believe Me, because he wrote about Me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?

  7. I wished i could inscribe all the sentences of this article on the side notes space on my Bible. I have read prayerfully from the beginning to end and ended up shouting, “God, I will carry the Law in my heart and move ever forward on the path of humility and acceptance. Please intervene and circumcise my heart that i may understand your Law and walk in it.” Thank you so much my friend and Rabbi, I just love this classroom!

  8. Arin says:

    christianity is an antisemitic hoax that dupes the ignorant

    • Bible819 says:

      Yeshua called a nazarene did not put out antisemitic information. But he did expose evil and we hated him for it.

      • Arin says:

        jESAUs’ words in john 8 show he is antisemitic. His words are the cause of church antisemitism and the holocaust. jESAUs is a sinner who tries to get others to disobey God, Matt 19:12

        • Bible819 says:

          Was the 1st destruction and exile a result of antisemitism or Gods Judgement?

          Daniel said it best:

          we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.

          Why was the 2nd temple destroyed?

          • Arin says:

            Thanks for continuing to prove my point. Instead of acknowledging the antisemitism caused by jESAUs’ rhetoric, you say they had it coming. Zech 1:15 I am very angry with the nations that are at ease, for I was wroth a little, and they helped to do harm.’

          • Bible819 says:

            You are just like Adam:

            “The woman whom You gave me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

            You blame God
            You the Woman
            and
            You blame the Snake.

            not like

            Daniel who repented.

            Praise Yeshua who knows God wants repentance for the forgiveness of Sin!

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