Strangle title, huh? I wasn't reading about circumcision, actually, I was reading about our hearts. Strange how God pairs these two things together, but He does so in both the Old and New Testaments.
The context is important because the promise is after a list of blessings (and what happens if you try to take advantage them, but defile God in your heart). Note: promises and blessings are biblically two different things... but that's for another day ;)
"The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love Him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live."
According to Easton's 1897 Biblical Dictionary:
"covenant" is: a contract or agreement between two parties. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word berith is always thus translated. Berith is derived from a root which means "to cut," and hence a covenant is a "cutting."
The symbolic separation of His people the Israelites from the rest, setting them aside, making a covenant with them bound in blood that required a transaction and a cutting, is physically manifested in this "cutting" or circumcision of the body. Then all who saw them would know that they had changed something in a rather substantial way as a sign of a much deeper covenant bond.
New Testament References
"...And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God's Spirit..." Along with 1 Corinthians 7 and Romans 4.
Other Old Testament References
Genesis 17:10, Deut 10:17, Josh 5:2-8 among many others.
What does this have to do with me?
We (Gentiles) are included in this promise for two reasons:
1-We are Abraham's children
Romans 4:11b, 16b "....So Abraham is the spiritual father of those who have faith....Abraham is the father of all who believe."
2-Abraham's promise is our promise, honored by God
Galatians 3:29 "And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God's promise to Abraham belongs to you."
The point is--returning back to the original verse, Deut 30:6--we have this image of cutting off the extra, removing what is not necessary, preparing to make something clean--even if pain is initially involved. It will hurt. But it will heal. We cannot do this ourselves. But God promises that He will do it for us. And in doing so, we will be more able to obey, serve, and most importantly love with both our spiritual and emotional beings. And the ultimate promise that gives us most hope: we may truly live. It's not a means to an end, nor is it the end in and of itself. We will reap the benefits of the process--letting God teach us, prune us, mold us into loving with our whole heart and whole soul--but in the end, we will experience LIFE. That's what it's all about and why He came: "I have come that they might have LIFE and life abundantly!" (John 10:10b).
As we enter this new year, I'm counting on that promise: that God will circumcise my heart (even if it hurts) so that I will love Him with wild abandon and so that I will truly live. Amen!