Bits of Torah Truths, Parshiot Behar and Bechukotai, What does it mean to have a circumcised heart?

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This weeks reading is a double portion from Parshiot Behar and Bechukotai (Vayikra / Leviticus 25:1-27:34).  In the reading from Parashat Behar (“on the mountain”) we find the mitzvah to observe the year of Jubilee.  During this year, the land is to be fallow,  (25:1-12), all property is to revert back to its original owner (25:13-28), all slaves are to be set free (25:39-54), and all debts are to be released.  Parashat Bechukotai begins with God stating to observe His Mitzvot (Commandments) so that the rains will come and the land will produce its fruit in its seasons (26:3-5).  Walking in God’s ways will bring peace to the land, remove harmful beasts, and no sword will pass through the land (26:6).  The scriptures say that when we obey God’s Mitzvot our enemies will run and fall before us (26:7-8) and God will make His dwelling among us (26:11).  The Scriptures go on to say that if the people fail to keep His commandments and reject His statutes (26:14-15) He will appoint a sudden terror, a consumption, and a fever over them, and the sowing of seed will be useless because your enemies will eat it up (26:16), the people will fall before their enemies and the people will flea even when no one is pursuing them (26:17).  Continuing in sin results in the increase in punishment (26:21-29), the Lord will lay waste to the cities (26:31), and scatter the people among the nations (26:33).  While studying the Scriptures we read that when one obeys God and His mitzvot the Lord will make his dwelling among His people and walk among them saying “and I will be their God and they will be my people.”  

כתבי הקודש / The Holy Scriptures  

ספר ויקרא פרק כו
מא   אַף-אֲנִי אֵלֵךְ עִמָּם בְּקֶרִי וְהֵבֵאתִי אֹתָם בְּאֶרֶץ אֹיְבֵיהֶם אוֹ-אָז יִכָּנַע לְבָבָם הֶעָרֵל וְאָז יִרְצוּ אֶת-עֲוֹנָם: מב   וְזָכַרְתִּי אֶת-בְּרִיתִי יַעֲקוֹב וְאַף אֶת-בְּרִיתִי יִצְחָק וְאַף אֶת-בְּרִיתִי אַבְרָהָם אֶזְכֹּר וְהָאָרֶץ אֶזְכֹּר:

Vayikra / Leviticus 26:41-42
26:41 I also was acting with hostility against them, to bring them into the land of their enemies or if their uncircumcised heart becomes humbled so that they then make amends for their iniquity, 26:42 then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land. (NASB)

Studying these Scriptures we read the consequences of living in sin before the Lord Almighty, obeying God results in rain coming in its season, and our land being free from wild beasts and our enemies.  On the other hand, disobeying God’s word will cause prosperity to stop and our enemies to attack.  The Lord God says that if the people, who were brought into the land of their enemies would humble their “uncircumcised heart” and repent the Lord would remember His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  In the Torah we read in various places God speaking of the circumcision of the heart.  What does it mean to have a circumcised heart?  Circumcision was a part of the covenant that God made with Abraham.  Circumcision required that loose skin be removed from the male body which was done when a boy is 8 days old in a ritual known as a “brit milah.”  According to the passage here, God speaks of the circumcision of the heart and not of the body.  What the Lord is saying here is that it isn’t enough to just change one part of your body, you must also change your heart on the inside too.  During circumcision, generally speaking, one cuts off the loose foreskin and pulls the skin back and then puts everything together into a new shape.  This is the imagery that is described is needed for our hearts.  We must allow the Spirit to cut off the loose areas of our hearts. In a boy’s circumcision the part that is cut off is discarded.  Upon coming to the Lord, there are parts of our hearts that must be cut off and discarded, such as hate, violent-tendency, lust, greed, pride, malice, discontent, prejudice and much more.  All of these things must be circumcised and cast away.  Similar to male circumcision our new circumcised hearts must take on a new shape upon discarding the old.  In Yeshua the Messiah, our hearts are shaped to love God and others.  When the Messiah walked this earth, a rich man asked him what is the greatest commandment.  Yeshua responded saying that one must love the Lord God with all his heart, mind, and strength, and to love his neighbor as himself.  It is by the power and indwelling of the Holy Spirit that God enables us to do just that.  In 2 Thessalonians 1:5-9 Paul speaks of the Lord’s return saying “1:5 This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. 1:6 For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 1:7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 1:8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 1:9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power. ”  (NASB)   Here Paul says the Lord is returning to deal out retribution who do not know God and who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  What does it mean to “obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus?”  According to the Hebrew text in Devarim / Deuteronomy 28:1, listening, harkening (שמע תשמע) is synonymous to obeying and doing the command of God.  How does one obey the gospel of our Lord Yeshua?  How does one live with a circumcised heart before God?  BTT_Parashat Behar-Bechukotai-2013

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Duane D. Miller received his Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. Degree in Chemical Engineering from The University of Akron Ohio. He is currently a Chemical Engineering Researcher. Duane’s research expertise has focused upon functional materials development for the control, conversion, and release of process gases in Energy production technologies. His R&D interests include computational chemistry, developing novel technologies for converting biomass to fuels and studying their fundamental interactions during the chemical conversion process. His past experience includes sorbent development for pre- and post-combustion CO2 and SO2 capture, selective absorption of H2S from methane streams, O2 capture for oxy-fuel combustion, photocatalytic reduction of alcohols, NOx reduction catalysis, the development of oxygen carriers to combust fossil fuels (CH4 and coal) for the chemical looping combustion processes, and the extraction of rare earth elements using patent pending sorbents. His research expertise has focused on operando-characterization using Infrared, Raman, and UV-Vis spectroscopy to observe the nature of the catalytic active sites and reaction intermediates under realistic reaction conditions, allowing direct correlation of molecular/electronic structures with catalyst performance during Gas-Solid / Liquid-Solid Adsorption and Photocatalytic Processes with real time online analysis of reaction products using ICP-MS and mass spectrometry. His current work involves a multi-disciplinary approach to developing, understanding, and improving the catalytic gasification of coal and methane, high temperature chemical looping combustion, and the catalytic decomposition and gasification of biomass and coal using novel microwave reactor.​ He has been studying the Hebrew Scriptures and the Torah for 20+ years and sharing what he has learned. The studies developed for MATSATI.COM are freely to be used by everyone, to God be the Glory!