Circumcision of the Heart
by Christine Egbert
I’ve written many articles about anti-Semitism begetting Replacement Theology. In this article, I’ll focus on a more subtle form of anti-Semitism. This form doesn’t lead to Replacement Theology. It’s not based on hating Jews. This subtle form is based on a false assumption inculcated into many believers (including some Messianic Jews and Hebrew Roots Christians), through centuries of teaching by Replacement Theologians. What is this false teaching? It’s that Jews, all Jews, believe in and teach a works-based salvation, salvation attained through keeping Torah. But that’s not true! Scripture does not teach that, nor do all Jewish believers. Abraham was saved by faith, a faith he expressed through obedience in keeping God’s Torah.
What Scripture Teaches
Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6, and James 2:23 all declare this same truth: Abraham believed God. It was Abraham’s faith (which begat Abraham’s faithfulness) that God accounted as Abraham’s righteousness. This is what Scripture teaches, both Old and New Testaments. This is what righteous Jews have always believed and taught. (I’ll deal with what the unrighteous believe and teach later in this article).
Genesis 26:5 declares, “Abraham obeyed me and did everything I required of him, My commandments (mitzvot), My decrees, and My Torah.” Through faith Abraham kept the Torah long before God’s finger wrote it on tablets of stone and gave them to Moses.
Exodus 24:12 – “And the LORD (Yahweh) said to Moses, Come up to Me to the mountain, and be there. And I will give to you the tablets of stone and the Torah and the commandments which I have written, to teach them.”
Exodus 31:18 – “And when He finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave to Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God.”
Paul explained it this way in Romans 3:21 – “…the righteousness of God has been revealed apart from Torah, being witnessed by the Torah and Prophets.”
Paul, a Jew, a Pharisee of Pharisees, who was taught by Gamliel, the grandson of Hillel, the head Rabbi of the House (School) of Hillel, went on to explain this further in verses 27-31. “Through what Torah? Of works? No, but through a Torah of faith. We conclude then that a man is justified by faith without works of Torah. Or is God the God of Jews only and not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of Gentiles too. There is ONE God who will justify circumcision by faith and uncircumcision through faith. Then is Torah annulled through faith? Let it not be! We establish Torah!”
Chabad.org, an Orthodox Jewish website says this:
“Circumcision reflects a spiritual service. We find two references to this concept in the Torah. One verse declares, “You shall circumcise the foreskin of your heart.” The second declares, “The Lord, your God, will circumcise your heart.” There are two aspects of circumcision: one [performed by man in his striving to elevate himself] from below to above. This service necessitates the circumcision of the heart, the service of repentance (in Hebrew, return), as it is written, “You shall return to the Lord, your God.” This return is expressed through the fulfillment of Torah and its commandments, and it will lead to the future redemption, as our Sages declared, “If the Jewish people turn to God in repentance they will be redeemed, and if not, they won’t be.”
Uncircumcised Hearts, Ears & Lips
Uncircumcised hearts are closed, rocky, impervious to God’s truth. They cherry pick verses in the Bible, out of context, trying to prove what they already believe. Their duplicity brings confusion. It causes what appears to be contradictions.
Romans 3:20 – “Therefore by the deeds of the Torah shall no flesh be justified…” and Galatians 3:13 – “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law” are craftily used to promote their agenda. They dismiss other verses like Romans 7:14 – “…we know that the Torah is spiritual.” 1 John 3:7 – “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous,” and Romans 8:3-7 – in which Paul explains that God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to condemn sin in the flesh so that, “the righteousness of the Torah might be fulfilled in us, who walk NOT after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For those who are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh, but those who are after the Spirit mind the things of the Spirit (The Torah is spiritual). For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the Torah of God.”
Uncircumcised ears hear only what they want to hear. Uncircumcised lips speak falsehood, through either ignorance or malice.
Scripture teaches that sin (which 1 John 3:4 defines as a violation of Torah) begins in the heart. It must, therefore, be dealt with through circumcision of the heart. Circumcising one’s flesh, without circumcising one’s heart, holds no value. It is therefore hypocrisy, and hypocrisy is an abomination to God.
Psalms 78:18-22 – “…they tested God in their heart, by asking food for their souls. And they spoke against God, saying, Shall God be able to set a table in the wilderness? Behold! He struck the rock and the waters gushed out, and the torrents were overflowing. Can He also give us bread? Will He provide flesh for His people? The LORD (Yahweh) heard and He passed over, and a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger went up against Israel because they did not believe God and trusted not in His salvation.”
Daniel, the Prophet, was saved by faith in God.
Daniel 6:23 – “Then the king was exceedingly glad over him. And he commanded to bring up Daniel from the den. And Daniel was brought out of the den, and no harm was found on him, because he trusted in his God.”
Nineveh escaped judgment and was saved through faith in God.
Jonah 3:4-5 – “Jonah began to enter a day’s journey into the city. And he cried out and said, ‘Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overturned!’ And the men of Nineveh believed in God, and they called a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least…”
Through the Prophet Ezekiel, God makes it clear that He wants both: circumcision of the Heart and Flesh.
Ezekiel 44:7-9 – “…when you brought in the sons of aliens, uncircumcised of heart and uncircumcised of flesh, to be in My sanctuary, to profane it, even My house, when you bring near My bread, the fat and the blood. And they have broken My covenant by all your abominations. And you have not kept the charge of My holy things, but you have set them as keepers of My charge in My sanctuary, for themselves. So says the Lord GOD (Yahweh): No son of an alien, uncircumcised of heart and uncircumcised of flesh, shall enter into My sanctuary…”
Just as there are thousands of Christian denominations, there have always been varying sects within Judaism. During the first century, Jews from the House of Shammai believed (and taught) what we would call “works-based” salvation. Others, Jews like Paul, who was a Pharisee, taught by Gamliel, from the House of Hillel, did not.
When I hear people, who’ve put their faith in Jesus (Yeshua), say things like “Judaism is works-based” it bothers me. Judaism is not and has never been monolithic. Rabbinic Judaism did not exist in Scripture. Rabbinic Judaism gained predominance during the 2nd to 6th centuries. It became mainstream during the 6th Century, after the codification of the Talmud. Today, God is calling out to Christians and Jews, “Come out of her My people! Return to Me! Walk in My Paths!”
The GOOD NEWS is this: A remnant from both Christianity and Judaism have had their hearts, ears, and lips circumcised. We hear God, and we are returning. Orthodox Rabbis, in Israel and around the globe, are finding Israel’s Messiah, Jesus (Yeshua) in Israel’s Prayer Books, in the Hebrew letters of Torah, and even in the Zohar. For God cannot be put into a theological box. His ways are not our ways. And Christians like me (who started out Roman Catholic then became Protestant) are contending for the faith that was once handed to the saints.