“Cut away the thick calluses from your heart and stop being so willfully hard-headed. God, your God, is the God of all gods, God is the Master of all masters, a God immense and powerful and awesome. God doesn’t play favorites, takes no bribes, makes sure orphans and widows are treated fairly, takes loving care of foreigners by seeing that they get food and clothing.” ~ Deut. 10: 15 – 18
In our text today, the people of Israel are called to a heart-level of justice that goes beyond merely following the letter of the law. We’re used to that sort of exhortation in the New Testament. But our text is taken from the book of Deuteronomy, seven hundred years before the incarnation of Jesus.
In most translations we would read these familiar words, “circumcise your hearts.” Circumcision was the tangible sign of both the chosenness of God’s people and their submission to the One who called them Beloved children. In this passage, the people of Israel are given a glimpse of what New Testament believers in Jesus understood more fully: the wildness of the Spirit interacting with our spirits to reveal God’s heart to us. The journey of faith isn’t merely about following rules and regulations. It is about opening our hearts to be surprised, enlarged, and engaged with the things that are on God’s heart.
What our text tells us is that God, this immense, powerful, awesome God, looks to the weak, the marginalized, the ones easily forgotten at best, reviled at worst. God’s heart is for the foreigner even as God focuses on the chosen people of Israel. God’s heart is to move the heart of God’s people to dismantle injustice – in the midst of a book giving the law, to keep God’s people pure, holy, and set apart from the other nations. Let’s not miss what is being revealed here.
There is no scapegoating here. No justification to marginalize those different from the majority. God’s heart is to include and to ensure the equitable care of all. May our hearts be open to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
Why do you think this passage talks about God’s immense power in the context of God’s action towards the vulnerable and marginalized?
Do you think the spirit of this passage can be applied to the just treatment of LGBTQ+ people in the church today? Why or why not?
In what ways might your own heart be callused? How can you begin to open up in that area?