Verse of the Day Devotion: Jeremiah 9:25
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, that I will punish all who are circumcised and yet uncircumcised.” Jeremiah 9:25
God, through Jeremiah the prophet, is saying that all will be treated the same when it comes to whether they are Jews or gentiles. Both shall equally feel the stroke of God’s justice, their transgressions essentially being the same, aside from the Jews advantage of being Israel. What this verse is pointing out is a hypocrisy that many Israelites commit, but most times are ignored because of the emphasis placed on the obedience required in keeping the law. Note the words in our focus verse. ‘all who are circumcised and yet uncircumcised’. What Jeremiah is showing is there are many Jews who are physically circumcised yet did not act like it.
Circumcision was widely practiced in the ancient middle east, with the exception of the Philistines and Babylonians, along with all the nations mentioned in the next verse. “Egypt and Judah, and Edom and the sons of Ammon, and Moab and all those inhabiting the desert who clip the hair on their temples; for all the nations are uncircumcised,” Jeremiah 9:26a. One interesting point here is that Judah is include in this list. God was showing Jeremiah that Judah, a tribe of Israel, was one of the nations who were uncircumcised. But how can this be, for they were Jews and they followed the law. Look at the last part of this verse. “and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised of heart.” Jeremiah 9:26b.
Jeremiah was not saying they were not circumcised physically, for this was pretty much done to a new born baby boy on the eighth day after his birth. What he is referring to is a circumcision of the heart. This term, circumcision of the heart, refers to having a pure heart, separated to God. Paul puts it this way. “For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.” Romans 2:25-29. Notice the wording here, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter.” Paul argues that Jewish circumcision is only an outward sign of being set apart to God. However, if the heart is sinful, then physical circumcision means nothing for physical circumcision and a sinful heart, which is an uncircumcised heart, are at odds with each other. Physical circumcision alone cannot make a heart right with God.
Physical circumcision is merely an outward act. God wanted more from the Jews than merely following the law. And He wants this from Christians as well. We can own a bible and do things that are associated with Christian behavior and still have a heart that seeks ungodly behavior. Just because we do the things people expect of Christians, does not mean our hearts are devoted to God and His ways. I want to encourage everyone to look inside their heart and see if we have made God the most important thing in our lives. The question is, are we only a Christian outwardly, or are we one inwardly as well, having a strong and loving relationship with Christ? Remember, as Paul said regarding Jews and circumcision, we are not a Christian if we are only one outwardly.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.