Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Cutting Off our Stiff Necks

**Note - Again, Blogger is being superbly frustrating and highlighting random things and I can't change it.  The highlighted parts are no more important than the rest...

Deuteronomy 10:16 - So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.

What does it mean to circumcise your heart?

The Hebrew word used here is muwl which means "to circumcise, let oneself be circumcised, cut, be cut off" (Strong's 4135).  The lexicon, more precisely explains it as , "to remove unpure things from your purge, because the foreskin was regarded as unclean and profane."  Basically what this verse means for us is that it isn't about "cutting away a part of the flesh," but rather, "purification of the soul" (Clarke). So what does purification of the soul or circumcision of the heart look like?  Matthew Henry describes it as this: "Cast away from you all corrupt affections and inclinations, which hinder you from fearing and loving God...Away with all filthiness and...naughtiness, which obstruct the free course of the word of God to your hearts."  

Sometimes the imagery that the Bible uses makes me giggle.  What exactly does it mean to "stiffen your neck?"

Referring back to the Hebrew, the word for "stiffen" is qashah (pronounced "kashaw").  It means "to be hard, be severe, be fierce, be harsh" and the lexicon, when combining it with 'oreph, or neck, explains it "to make hard, harden...the neck, i.e. to be obstinate, stubborn" (Strong's H7185Strong's H6203).  So if anyone ever tells you you're being "stiff-necked" they mean - "you are being stubborn!"  :)

So why combine these two things?  What do circumcision of the heart and stubbornness have to do with each other?

As Henry states, "the circumcision of the heart makes it ready to yield to God and draw His yoke."  Circumcision of the heart is key to our relationship with Christ.  We need to "cut off" the filthy and unpure because it is the filthy, unclean things that are making us stubborn and obstinate!  Without them we are much less "stiff-necked" and much more likely to yield to what God has in store for us!

Take a moment to examine your relationship with Christ.  Is there an area where you are being stubborn or where you need to "cut-off" the filthiness?  Confess that area with a mentor or trusted acquaintance.  Have them help to hold you accountable to changing that!

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