This past week we had a double Torah portion of Tazria-Metzorah. I just want to focus on a single verse from the first portion, Leviticus 12:3. This might seem an “interesting” verse to focus on, it is the verse dealing with circumcision: on the eighth day the flesh shall be circumcised. I have talked about this before, and have an entire class on this in the Kosher Pastor course, why do the Jewish people put so much importance on this? Why does the Apostle Paul, in the New Testament, refer to “those of us who are called the circumcised”? Why does King David in the Old Testament say about Goliath “this uncircumcised Philistine”?
The Jewish people do indeed put great importance on this surgical procedure, but that’s just it – it is not only about the procedure. I have talked before about the word, arelah, which refers to a covering or blockage. Nine out of ten times in the bible this refers to a forbidden fruit that is not supposed to be eaten, or a blockage of the heart, or a blockage of the ears – you are not listening to God. This word, spiritually speaking, refers to something that is in the way, that is blocking, your relationship with God. It means there is something that needs to be removed. So why the specificity in this verse that it is the flesh that has to be removed? After all, it is a surgical procedure that is very specific in the removal of the male foreskin.
The ancient rabbis of Israel say this: the bible specifies the flesh because as there is a physical circumcision, there has to be an inward circumcision. We see that Abraham had to circumcise himself, he had to circumcise Isaac and all the men who had gone for a while without circumcision. All had to be done at once, in the wilderness. So really, what this verse is all about, is that inward circumcision, the circumcision of the heart that is most important. We can talk about the bodily surgical procedure, but there can still be that blockage between the person and God that needs to be removed.
Now the circumcision of the heart that Paul talks about in the New Testament is nothing new. Even in the book of Deuteronomy and other places in the Torah, Moses talks about the circumcision of the heart. Paul says there is a difference between those who are circumcised, Jewish at birth, and those living out their Jewishness in a spiritual way. He says there may be someone who is not circumcised in the flesh but is spiritually being Jewish, truly following the God of Israel. Where someone circumcised may be regarded as Jewish, they may not be living for God at all. That is why I wanted to choose this verse. Even someone who has gone through a physical circumcision needs to experience a circumcision of the heart.
A lot of times in the bible circumcision is used as a euphemism for a conversion to Judaism. I practice and study Messianic Judaism but I have not converted to Judaism; gone through the formal process of conversion. In our ministry, and our parent ministry Ahavat Ami, we talk about the absolute need for people to experience a conversion of the heart. That is the circumcision that we really need. The outward sign, the physical, should only be a representation of what is happening on the inside, at the heart level, and that my friends is the most important thing of all.
Are you someone who has gone through a conversion of the heart? Are you following the one true God of Israel? If not I would urge you to dig deep into the scriptures, to study, to have that conversion of the heart. Don’t just go through the religious motions but experience that circumcision of the heart and soul.
We are in this wonderful season of counting the Omer. We count up not down to Shavuot or the feast of the Pentecost which is the anniversary of the giving of the Torah at Sinai. We will be having our second annual Night of the Bride, an amazing twelve hours of teaching and learning. More to come and I hope you will join us.
If you want to study with me, click on the application for the Kosher Pastor program on this website and if you are of African descent or are African we have scholarships available at af.shuvu.tv.
Shalom and Kol Tuv