Exodus 12:43-51 Men may look at our appearance, but God searches our hearts

Exodus 12:43-51 Men may look at our appearance, but God searches our hearts

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover: no foreigner is to eat of it; but every man’s slave purchased with money, after you have circumcised him, then he may eat of it. A sojourner or a hired servant shall not eat of it. It is to be eaten in a single house; you are not to bring forth any of the flesh outside of the house, nor are you to break any bone of it. All the congregation of Israel are to celebrate this. But if a stranger sojourns with you, and celebrates the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near to celebrate it; and he shall be like a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person may eat of it. The same law shall apply to the native as to the stranger who sojourns among you.” Then all the sons of Israel did so; they did just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron. And on that same day the Lord brought the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts.

Background

The exodus of a large mixed multitude who had presumably not been circumcised, but now joined Israel would have made it an acute issue going forward. The Lord addressed this issue by specifying the qualifications for participation in the future feasts. God welcomes all to come to Him, but only those who are circumcised are allowed to participate in the Passover covenant of freedom. Circumcision is a symbolic act of purifying a person’s heart making him righteous and acceptable to God. It is an outward expression of an inner conviction to live for God. With those who are willing to live for God, God makes a covenant to protect and to prosper him. Most of Israelites, despite being circumcised and having received the Passover covenant, perished outside the promised land. They failed to enter in because their hearts remained uncircumcised. Therefore, we must ask God to search our hearts continually. In so doing, we may know if we are walking on the path of salvation, or if we are deceiving ourselves. Today’s devotion teaches: Men may look at our appearance, but God searches our hearts.

Observation

At Succoth, Moses and Aaron were given strict regulations pertaining to who can and cannot participate in the Passover ordinance. Anyone (Israelite or foreigner) can participate in the feast as long as he is circumcised. The regulation does not discriminate a person by virtue of his social status, tribe or moral background. Once he is circumcised, he shall be like a native of the land.

Truth

Men may look at our appearance, but God searches our hearts

The significance of circumcision

God does not appraise a person according to his moral, tribal or social background, but his heart posture. Circumcision is a symbolic ritual of purifying a person’s heart. It signifies a change of moral direction, a repentance by turning away from evil and turning towards God. As circumcision makes a permanent mark, it also signifies an enduring covenant with God that cannot be easily broken.

That said, circumcision cannot veil a person from God’s searching eyes. Scripture says,

And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. – Hebrews 4:13

Circumcision without a change of moral direction or repentance is no circumcision at all. Thus, it is of paramount importance to know that God looks at the heart and not at the appearance of circumcision. And when God sees a heart that is penitent, He makes a covenant with Him. Circumcision is an outward expression of an inner conviction.

The significance of water baptism

As circumcision is mandated for the Jew, Jesus commanded all believers (Jews and non-Jews) to be baptised in water. Baptism signifies the death of the old self that is corrupt in sin, and the resurrection of the new self that is alive in the Spirit. It is not the external ritual of baptism that is of the essence. But the inner change of heart to live by the directives of the Holy Spirit. Baptism is merely an outward expression of an inner conviction to live for God.

Many churchgoers when asked if they are saved, will recount how they have recited the sinner’s prayer, and having completed the membership class, were baptised on a certain date. This is no different from the attitude of the Jews who placed their confidence in men’s tradition: knowledge of the law, circumcision and participation in the Sabbath worship. Jesus rebuked the Jews,

And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
‘This people honors ME with their lips,
But their heart is far away from ME.
‘But in vain do they worship ME,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’
Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”
He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. –  Mark 7:6-9

Jesus is the way

Many in the churches today hold to the tradition of men; they were baptised and they sing praises to God offering gifts to Him on a weekly basis. But their hearts continue to lust after fame, power and money. Their baptism is no baptism at all. Jesus laid down the way of salvation: which is to walk in His footsteps.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” – John 14:6

“I am the way, and the truth” means to live out the truth, Jesus’s way. Indeed, only those who endeavour to live in the manner that Jesus lived, though they are imperfect, are counted worthy to come to the Father. Jesus stated explicitly the way His disciples should live,

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. – Matthew 19:29

“For My name’s sake” means to obey Jesus’s command while forsaking all things (houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms) that hinder him. And with those who live like Him God makes a covenant to protect and to prosper them forever. And they will experience blessings beyond what they can think or imagine (will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life).

Application

Do you place your confidence in water baptism or your knowledge of the bible? Instead, did you examine if you have been growing in Christ-likeness? The evidence of salvation is a life that is bearing the fruit of Christ-likeness while following in His footsteps. When Jesus returns as Judge, He will not quiz us on whether we were baptised or if we understood the tenets of faith. But rather, He will judge by searching our hearts and minds and the fruit we bear (see Matthew 25:31-46). Therefore, let us search ourselves continually as God appraises us according to Jesus’s way of living. The prophet Jeremiah spoke of the deceitfulness of the heart who hides behind the veil of religion.

“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
“I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give to each man according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds. – Jeremiah 17:9-10

By appraising ourselves continually, we acquire God’s appraisal of who we really are. In so doing, we may know if we are walking in the path of salvation, or if we are deceiving ourselves.

Dear Lord, I recognise that I am incapable of appraising myself accurately. Search my heart and reveal to me its secrets. I acknowledge my blindness to the truth. Remove the veil of hypocrisy and false religion from me and regenerate my heart according to Christ’s virtues. Cause me to walk out of my darkness. Cause me to be kinder and more forgiving. Cause me to be more dependent on your counsel. Give me the faith to obey your directives amidst oppositions. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.


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