Circumcision of the Heart

June 2015

A Questioning Heart

One morning during my time alone with God, I had been reading about circumcision in the Bible.

In the Old Testament, God gave Abraham circumcision of the flesh as a sign of His covenant with him - that every male must have the foreskin of their private parts cut and removed... ouch!

Genesis 17:11-12

11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, ...

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul spoke about circumcision of the heart as a sign of the new covenant between God and His people. A physical, outward sign (of the flesh) was not good enough, it had to be an inward sign (of the heart):

Romans 2:28-29

28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 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 (the law).

Being a pedantic person, I asked God why use the technical term "circumcision" of the heart? why not a "repentant" heart or a "transformed" heart? It is somehow symbolically linked to the circumcision of the flesh, but how? I wanted a deeper explanation.

Revelation using Chicken Hearts

That very afternoon, God explained everything to me ---- using chicken hearts!

I was cooking chicken hearts. Yes, it sounds gross, but they make a really delicious Indonesian dish :) I would marinate them before frying them. Now chicken hearts explode when they are fried in hot oil due to the heat pressure on the air-filled heart chambers. To resolve this problem, my mother gave me a cooking tip of cutting the chicken hearts in half first before frying them, thereby releasing all the trapped air in the chambers, making frying more peaceful :)

As I went to cut a chicken heart, I found myself struggling. It was not so easy to cut, until I realise it was because each heart was covered with a clear, thin, yet tough membrane. Here is a picture of a couple of chicken hearts (the membrane layer is what makes them look shiny).

Chicken hearts covered with shiny membranes

Then suddenly, I saw the connection between circumcision of the heart and of the flesh - the membrane of the heart is reminiscent of the foreskin (of the flesh) I spoke about earlier! This membrane is like a veil over the heart, and so the following scripture suddenly came alive for me:

2 Corinthians 3: 12-17

12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

So, an uncircumcised heart is a heart that still has a membrane over it. Symbolically speaking, it still has a veil over it.

    • This membrane is what makes a man's heart hard that he would not turn to the Lord (thus he does not believe in God).

    • This membrane is what makes a heart become spiritually blind or dull.

    • This membrane is what makes a believer stay with the old covenant and not move on with the new (as the above scripture states).

It is only when the membrane (veil) is cut and removed that:

    • A heart will become softened and repentant.

    • A heart will become opened (accessible) to the Spirit of God that He may enter it...

    • ...Thus a heart that can rejoice in Christ, in the new covenant, causing a believer to be transformed and to be "born again".

Now the following scripture also came alive for me:

Hebrews 8:7-10

“The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.

9 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,

and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.

10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord.

I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.

God can only write His law on their hearts if He had access to them, if the membranes have been cut (i.e. hearts circumcised). It is in such hearts that the new covenant can operate. So how can we have our heart membrane cut and removed, how can we get our hearts circumcised?

The above scripture (2 Corinthians 3:16-17) says to "turn to the Lord" and it is His Holy Spirit who does the circumcision - from which there is freedom.

Not only freedom from the old covenant into the new (for believers), but freedom from a rebellious heart that refuse to accept Christ (for non-believers).

What's more, the circumcision of the heart is not only required on males, but on all people - both male and female.

In Awe

I stood there gazing at my chicken heart in awe. God has just given me a powerful illustration on circumcision of the heart. Out of all things, He used chicken hearts to do it, something familiar to me in my daily life to explain something spiritual in a deeper way. Only God does this, and only He can.

It blew me away for a moment --- and as I continued, I smiled at every chicken heart I was cutting, meditating on what I had just learnt.

Glory be to God!

My chicken heart dish turned out to be delicious (if I may say so), but more importantly -- never before has that dish become so meaningful to me :)

© Elma Larsen. All rights reserved.