"So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.Deuteronomy 10:16(NASB)
Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness... and as God's elect nation, Israel was expected to trust in the Lord with all their heart and soul and mind and strength. They were to trust in the Lord and not rely on their own limited understanding. They were to heed His Word, obey His commandments, trust in His faithfulness, circumcise their hearts, and love the Lord with their whole being.
As God's covenant nation who had been redeemed from slavery in Egypt, they covenanted to do all that the Lord had said. "All that the Lord has said will we do and be obedient," they proudly proclaimed! This was recorded in the books of Moses for God had promised that if they paid heed to His Word and obeyed His commands, He would be their God and bless them abundantly and they would be His people.
Physical circumcision had been given to Abraham and his descendants as a sign of God's promise to them. It was given to represent the outward sign of an inward, spiritual circumcision of the heart where God's will is preferred before one's own will, God's Word is heeded, trusted, observed, and obeyed - and God's glory becomes the single desire of the heart.
But within days of promising to keep God's Word on Mount Sinai, the people of Israel started to murmur against the Lord and His provision. They became reckless and disobedient. They rebelled against the Lord and criticised Moses, and they turned to foreign idols and lusted after the gods of the Gentiles.
As a result of their disobedience, their hearts became hardened and their attitude became haughty, prideful, stubborn, and stiff-necked. Instead of entering the Promised Land, the people wandered aimlessly in the desert. For forty long years, the people of Israel had to wander in the wilderness because they murmured against the Lord and became a 'stiff-necked' and disobedient people.
With two exceptions, the whole generation of Israelites died in the wilderness and were buried there because of their disobedience. Finally, when the next generation had reached maturity, Moses stood up and repeated the covenant relationship which Israel had with the Lord and warned them of the importance to pay heed to God's Word - and circumcise their hearts. "So circumcise your hearts," they were commanded, "and stiffen your neck no longer."
After forty years of wandering, Moses once again rehearsed the need to trust in the Lord with all their heart and mind and soul and strength... to heed His Word, obey His commandments, trust in His faithfulness, and circumcise their hearts. He did this in the ears of a new generation of Israelites. They were to spiritually circumcise their hearts just as they had been physically circumcised, and they were to put away their pride and hardness of heart.
After years of national rebellion and stubbornness, Israel was called to circumcise their hearts. They were commanded to change their ways, to repent of their sins, and to follow God's statutes and commands. They were to put off their former ways and renew the spirit of their mind. They were to be holy, for the Lord their God was holy.
As Christians, who are ministers of a new and better covenant through the blood of Jesus Christ, we are advised that all Scripture is given for our learning and is profitable for our teaching, correction, and training in righteousness. We are to remember that Israel's failings are an object lesson to us - to ensure that we do not make the same mistakes that they made.
Like Israel, we too are to have our hearts circumcised spiritually. We are to put off the old and be clothed in Christ's righteousness. We are to look to Jesus as we die to our self-interest and trust in Him. We are to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. We are to submit to the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit - knowing that His grace is sufficient.
The man or woman who walks in newness of life, who has died to self and who lives for Christ, is the one that is growing in grace and maturing in the faith as they stand firm on the Word of truth. Therefore, let us heed these words and examine our hearts to see if we are walking in spirit and truth. Let us ensure that our hearts are circumcised and in right standing with the Lord - lest we become stiff-necked and forfeit the blessings that God has prepared for those that love Him.
Heavenly Father, how I bless and thank You that we are saved by grace through faith. I pray that I may maintain a circumcised heart to Your praise and glory as I trust in Your Word and walk in Your ways, so that I may grow in grace and in a knowledge of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, in Whose name I pray, AMEN.