Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so that we may obey it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so that we may obey it?’ No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so that you may obey it.
Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (NIV)
Read: Deuteronomy 30:1-20
Consider: On first reading it might seem strange that Moses speaks to the Israelites in the following way: The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live (Deuteronomy 30:6). Circumcision of male children signified the child’s participation in the covenant between God and the Israelites. The covenant relationship was first established in Genesis 15 and renewed in Genesis 17. Thus circumcision was a sign of the covenant.
Even at this early stage in the Israelites’ history, God is pointing them forwards to the time when his covenant relationship would require believers to have ‘their hearts circumcised by God’. When Moses spoke these words to the Jews, you can be sure that there would have been some who would be confused, and might even have voiced their doubts as to how ‘circumcision of the heart’ could even be possible. This should remind us of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus recorded in John 3. When Jesus said: Very truly I tell you, no-one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again (John 3:3), Nicodemus replied, How can someone be born when they are old? (3:4). It is clear that Jesus was not speaking of something physical, but spiritual. Despite this, Nicodemus did not understand. Being ‘born again’ alludes to the new life that is to be found in Christ: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17). The apostle Paul could also say: Neither circumcision not uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation Galatians 6:15).
Paul clarified the spiritual nature of the new creation in his letter to the Romans, when he said: A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code (Romans 2:28-29).
If we were to apply this to us today, we need to understand that things like baptism, confirmation, being a church member, being born into a Christian home or country, all mean nothing, if they are not accompanied by the transforming nature of the new creation in the life of the individual. It is complete spiritual renewal that is necessary, not tinkering at the edges in an attempt to make us more acceptable to God.
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice and hold fast to him (Deuteronomy 30:19-20a). What will you do? Will you choose life?
Pray: Father, we choose life! May your Holy Spirit work in our hearts, to bring about the spiritual transformation that only the new creation can produce in us. Amen
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