What Does It Mean to Have a Circumcised Heart?

Circumcision Was the Sign of the Abrahamic Covenant

Why did YHVH choose the curious ritual of physical circumcision as the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant and as an identifying mark of an Israelite? We will explore the spiritual ramifications and implications of this seemingly archaic ritual that many modernists decry as being barbaric. But aside from the antipathy that some people have toward circumcision, more importantly, how does the Creator view it? Maybe he knows something that we don’t. Moreover, the mores of man’s culture, no matter the time period past or present, seldom align with the heart and mind of YHVH Elohim because, not surprisingly, the ways of sinful humans are always, to one degree or another, incongruent with if not antithetical to those of man’s Creator as the Bible, the word of Elohim, chronicles from beginning to end.

While the Bible teaches that physical circumcision is not a salvation requirement (see Acts chapter 15 and Acts 10:44–48), it is, however, by no means a passé, irrelevant and out-of-date ritual. For example, in the future, this rite will be a requirement for people desiring to be priests in YHVH’s millennial temple (Ezek 44:7, 9). Why? Because circumcision, like baptism for the remission of sins, is an act of obedience that shows one’s willingness “to go all the way with YHVH”, to identify with the Abrahamic Covenant and the physical nation of Israel. If a man, for example, willingly subjects himself to being circumcised, this proves that he is serious about following the God of the Israelites and becoming a part of that nation. What’s more, for the children of Israel, circumcision was like a passport or national identity card in a sea of heathen nations; it was a visible symbol proving that you were a citizen of the nation of Israel and not a pagan Gentile. Therefore, it was requirement that all men who desired to take Passover to be circumcised, and those who did not keep the Passover were to be cut off from Israel (Exod 12:47–48).

Again, in the new covenant era, the Testimony of Yeshua (the New Testament) is clear that circumcision of the heart—a non-gender specific requirement for salvation—and not physical circumcision is what YHVH really cares about, but it still behoves one to study the spiritual symbolism of physical circumcision. 

The following bullet points offer some insights as to the spiritual significance behind the interesting and ancient circumcision ritual.

  • YHVH told Abraham that physical circumcision was to be “a sign” (the Hebrew word oth pronounced owt) meaning “a literally and visible sign of or token” representing the blood covenant between Elohim and Abraham and his descendants (Gen 17:11). In a physical and practical sense, circumcision is a literal, physical sign that goes before or in front of a man anatomically.
  • Circumcision symbolizes purification of the heart from sinful unrighteousness by cutting away a piece of the flesh, the foreskin, which would otherwise be a carrier of filth and potential disease.
  • Circumcision is a seal of holiness and righteousness. How? The foreskin that is removed is round like a ring. A ring signifies a bond or union (like a wedding ring) and is worn constantly even as the circular sign that is left after a man is circumcised is worn constantly.
  • Circumcision occurs on a baby boy at eight days of age. Eight is the biblical number that symbolizes “new beginnings.” Both physical and heart circumcision signify the consecration of a person to YHVH, and the commencement of a covenantal relationship between that person and his Maker (Gen 17:12). The significance of covenant in the Bible as well as in the cultures of the ancient Near East cannot be over-estimated, for, like a treaty, it was a matter of life and death between the various parties, even as the Abrahamic Covenant is the basis of our salvation—a life and death proposition for both the saint the sinner (see Romans chapter four).
  • The rite of circumcision whether it is physical or of the heart is painful and humiliating. Heart circumcision involves repentance from sin and self denial—a painful process involving self-examination and the putting away of the filth and defilement of sin through repentance and then determining to walk in righteous obedience to YHVH Elohim (Gen 34:20–25 cp. Acts 2:37).
  • From the penis flows the seed of life. Circumcision is a sign that one’s seed or physical offspring should and could be righteous and consecrated to YHVH.
  • In Romans 4:11, Paul teaches us that circumcision is a sign, mark or token, and a seal (placed on a man) signifying ownership similar to an impression or stamp made by the signet ring of an ancient king or person of authority . Circumcision spoke of Abraham’s dedication to be righteousness and the faith that he had in YHVH who “owned” Abraham.
  • And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised. (Rom 4:11–12)

Circumcision of the Heart

Although the rite of circumcision was the physical and an outward sign on a man’s body to signify in a real way that he associated himself with the Abrahamic Covenant—the covenant of salvation (Romans chapter four), the greater, ultimate and higher sign of the covenant was a circumcised heart. To this day, many Jews circumcise their boy babies in a ceremony called a brit milah or simply a bris for short, but then many of these the boys grow up and live a totally secular life devoid of Elohim and largely ignore his Torah-laws. So in reality, for them, the ritual of circumcision means little or nothing. This is because their hearts have not been circumcised to love and obey YHVH.

Contrary to what many Christians believe, circumcision of the heart is not of New Testament origination, but originated with YHVH in the time of Moses. Physical circumcision pointed to, was the ultimate goal of or prefigured heart circumcision.

Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer. (Deut 10:16)

And YHVH your Elohim will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love YHVH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. (Deut 30:6) 

For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of Elohim. (Rom 2:25–29)

Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. (Rom 4:9–12)

Physical circumcision was to be an outward sign of an inward spiritual, heart reality, not the cause of it. If it were, then women would not be able to come into a faith-based and salvation relationship with YHVH because they have no foreskin. That’s why Paul writes,

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This is a gospel-oriented Torah study. Our goal is to connect the good news of Yeshua the Messiah (the gospel message) to its Hebraic, pro-Torah roots or foundations. The information given here is more than head knowledge. Understanding and wisdom (the right application of knowledge that is based on truth) is taught thus making biblical truth practical, relevant and applicable to your daily life. The truths of the Bible not only have the power to transform your life here and now for the better, but eventually to take you past the veil of death and into eternity.

This Torah study is subdivided in sections by topic in a magazine format thus making it easy to watch at several sittings.

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This is a gospel-oriented Torah study. Our goal is to connect the good news of Yeshua the Messiah (the gospel message) to its Hebraic, pro-Torah roots or foundations. The information given here is more than head knowledge. Understanding and wisdom (the right application of knowledge that is based on truth) is taught thus making biblical truth practical, relevant and applicable to your daily life. The truths of the Bible not only have the power to transform your life here and now for the better, but eventually to take you past the veil of death and into eternity.

This Torah study is subdivided in sections by topic in a magazine format thus making it easy to watch at several sittings.

Free written study guides are available for downloading at https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/parshio….

May you be blessed as you watch this video.