Bible Readings for June 25th
Back in Deuteronomy 10:16, Moses had commanded the people of Israel to circumcise the foreskin of their hearts, and here in Deuteronomy 30, heart circumcision appears again as the key to unlocking the meaning of the entire Mosaic covenant.
Moses first instructs Israel about what they should do after they are scattered among the nations for disobeying the covenant (Deut. 30:1–10). If Israel begins to obey Yahweh’s commandments, then Yahweh will restore his people. But when Yahweh brings his people back after their exile, things would be different: “And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live” (Deut. 30:6).
The commandment Yahweh has given Israel, Moses insists, is not too hard for them (Deut. 30:11)—it is not as though Moses has asked them to ascend into heaven or to cross the wide oceans in order to discern Yahweh’s will (Deut. 30:12–13). Rather, “the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it” (Deut. 30:14). “Therefore,” Moses pleads, “choose life, that you and your offspring may live” (Deut. 30:19).
On the one hand, Moses is correct—Yahweh graciously unveiled his entire law through Moses at Mount Sinai, keeping nothing back. But on the other hand, obedience is not simple—not because the law is difficult, but because our hearts are sinful. For this reason, Israel ultimately failed to keep Yahweh’s covenant.
This is why the promise that Yahweh would circumcise his people’s hearts is so critical. If Israel must circumcise their own hearts, they will fail, but if Yahweh himself, by the work of his Holy Spirit, gives his people new life so that they love Yahweh and want to keep his commandments, then the commandments are no longer burdensome.
In the New Testament, we discover how Yahweh fulfilled this promise. First, God sent his Son Jesus Christ not only to cancel the debt of the law that we owed through the cross (Col. 2:14) but also to fulfill every aspect of the law’s demands in our place (Matt. 5:17–20). Second, God circumcised the hearts of all who trust in Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 2:29; Col. 2:11–12). Third, because of the heart circumcision that the Spirit has worked into our hearts, the Apostle John tells us that finally God’s commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3).
Heart circumcision was always the lynchpin. Without it, the law could only incite us to further sin (Rom. 7:7–24). But, because God kept his promise to circumcise his people’s hearts through Christ, we have come to enjoy the blessings of God’s covenant, now and forevermore.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.