“And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” —Deuteronomy 30:6
When—then, then—when, and in between the two thens, the heart of the passage, which is a passage about the heart. That’s the structure of our text. Antecedent, consequent, the heart, consequent, antecedent.
But as we begin to analyze the antecedent, it is critical that we determine if the antecedent is temporal or conditional. Is the antecedent an “if” or a “when?” Is this an if-then or a when-then statement? While there is indeed an “if-ness” that is sensed on the surface, it is the “when-ness” of this passage that is most pronounced. This passage is not so much telling us what should be, though it does speak to that, as it is telling us what will be.
The central portion of our text is made up of promises, the consequents. At the heart of these promises is a promise that stands out. It is a promise that meets the conditions necessary for all the other promises. If you just lump all the promises together, you have a chicken or the egg conundrum. It appears that the chicken is laying the egg that hatches the very same aforementioned chicken. When Israel returns to Yahweh and loves Him with all her heart and all her soul, then God will restore her. But then, we are told that Yahweh will circumcise the hearts of His people so that they love him with all their heart and all their soul. Here is a promise that meets the temporal conditions that result in the consequent blessings promised. Here is a promise that guarantees all the other promises. That is why we have a “when” instead of an “if.” God will give them a new heart. They will return. He will bless.
The Old Covenant is not identical to the New, but neither is it antithetical to it. The Old is not an administration of the New, but it does advance it. The Old holds forth the New in promise. The gospel flower of the New that comes into full bloom in Christ is held forth at this point by the stem of the law as a bud of promise. Everything about the Old shouts flower, but, again, it holds it forth as a bud of promise. It is with Christ that spring comes and the bud blooms. And with the budding flower, seed falls to the ground. And that seed does not return void. It accomplishes God’s purpose. It brings forth life. And that life is a new heart—anew heart that loves Yahweh with its all, that hears his voice, that obeys His commands.