You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:1-13 NIV
To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Yet the LORD set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today. Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. Deuteronomy 10:14-16 NIV
In the Old Testament, circumcision was God’s appointed outward sign of his covenant with the Israelites. But Moses, David, Jeremiah, Stephen and Paul also talk of circumcision in terms of the heart. In the Bible our emotions, thoughts, motivations and our very souls live in our hearts.
In Psalm 139:23-24 David prays, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” When we pray these verses for ourselves, or for South Fellowship Church, we are inviting God to examine our motivations, our anxious thoughts, our fears to reveal any sin, any offensive attitude toward God or toward others. Jeremiah said “Their ears are closed (uncircumcised in the Hebrew) so they cannot hear. The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it,” Jeremiah 6:10b. He was describing the people of Judah before the exile as not having listened to nor even hearing God’s word. In Acts 7:51 Stephen uses similar words to describe the Sanhedrin in his speech immediately before he was stoned to death.
Jeremiah pleads with Judah to, “circumcise yourselves to the Lord, circumcise your hearts, you men of Judah and people of Jerusalem or my wrath will break out and burn like fire,” Jeremiah 4:4. Consecrating ourselves to God and to his purposes involves first hearing God’s message. Then it involves preparation, confession of sin, cleansing, examination of our motivations, eliminating harmful habits, and includes time for healing.
Moses records in Deuteronomy 10:12-13, “And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?” Next Moses described everything God created and how he specifically loves and chose the Hebrew people. Because of this – Moses asked the Hebrews to, “circumcise your hearts therefore and do not be stiff-necked any longer,” Deuteronomy 10:16.
Compare David’s Psalm 139 and Moses’ plea in Deuteronomy 10:12-22. Notice how the creator has expressed his love for us and how he knows us intimately, and how he wants us to hear and know him.
By Grace Hunter