From Jeremiah 4-6
Circumcision signifies the cutting off of the (evil) flesh and entrance into the covenant people. Here circumcision is related to the heart. Jeremiah calls them to cut off the evil part of their heart, to repent, to return to the LORD. Q. What was the spiritual understanding behind circumcision?
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comment
The overview contains judgement upon judgement. There are a few exhortations but I found it interesting to note Jeremiah saying ‘I am full of the wrath of the LORD, I am weary of holding it in’ (Jer 6.11).
Today I chose an earlier passage to look at. Jeremiah proclaims;
4 “If you return, O Israel, declares the LORD, to me you should return. If you remove your detestable things from my presence, and do not waver,
2 and if you swear, ‘As the LORD lives,’ in truth, in justice, and in righteousness, then nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.” (Jer 4:1–2)
What stands out in these two verses is what the consequence will be if they return. The LORD says, ‘then nations will bless themselves in him’ (Jer 4.2). Surely the good example of God’s people returning to the LORD has a positive effect on other peoples being blessed in the LORD and glorying in him.
3 For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: “Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.
4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD; remove the foreskin of your hearts, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds.” (Jer 4:3–4)
Here we have an exhortation to return, but sadly Judah does not break up their fallow (uncultivated) ground and the wrath of the LORD comes on them. Circumcision signifies the cutting off of the (evil) flesh from the mans penis and entrance into the covenant people. Here circumcision is related to the heart. Jeremiah calls them to cut off the evil part of their heart, to repent, to return to the LORD.
They do not circumcise themselves to the LORD, spiritually cutting off the evil from their hearts. As a result they were either killed by invaders of sent into exile. They do return later to the land, but they did not change much. Same people, same hearts.
It wasn’t until Jesus made a new people from himself that we see this circumcision language again applied to hearts. These people who had their hearts circumcised heard about Jesus. They heard about his love for the sick, demon possessed and outcasts. They heard about his power over nature. They heard about his cruel death at the hands of his own people and being raised by God on the third day. They believe with their hearts that Jesus is LORD and will come again to deliver them from the wrath of God. Paul says of them;
11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. (Col 2:11–12)
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