I have a question about Passover - do men have to be physically circumcised in order to partake of Passover? Or is circumcision of the heart adequate? Exodus 12:48 seems to say they cannot partake unless they are circumcised.
Great question, and the answer is no (with a caveat). Anyone, man or woman, with the "right" heart for YHWH can enjoy Passover. But the thing is, once a man becomes a Torah observant Believer, he MUST, at some point, become physically circumcised as well, because that is part of YHWH's Covenant with His people. (If he TRULY belongs to YHWH, he will most likely be convicted to do it, anyway. But he shouldn't do it "just because" Torah commands it. The HEART has to "be right" before taking such a step. Remember, we are ONE in Messiah. Same God, same rules. Please see our article on this.
You see, the events of verse 48 occurred during Exodus times before Yeshua came onto the scene. The Egyptians (pagans) in those days had NOT YET known who YHWH (the God of the Hebrews) really was. All they knew is that they witnessed the Ten Plagues in Egypt, with this powerful God of the Hebrews "winning"....They were actually still "on the outside" because it wasn't until many actually followed Moshe out of Egypt that they ultimately became absorbed into one of the Tribes...
YHWH was trying to show them with the plagues that there was a distinction between HIS people and the rest of the world who didn't know Him. Not until you are a Believer should you bother with His Torah commandments. And even then, unless you are "all in" for Him, living your life completely for Him, should you even bother getting circumcised. You can't fool Him. There is no gray area.
So, the first Passover was really for ONLY those who knew YHWH. All Hebrews were circumcised, because that was part of the Abrahamic covenant. YHWH wanted only HIS people to experience the "Passover" to show unity and how His people were "set apart" from the world. The "mixed crowd" which follows the Hebrews out of Egypt (a mix of Egyptians, and pagans of other nationalities) were not only not circumcised but they served, (up to that point), other gods. YHWH was simply declaring, "putting His foot down", so to speak, that no one serving other gods would participate in His Passover.
That still holds true today... Only today, uncircumcised men, believers and followers of YHWH, can certainly attend a seder because YHWH is their God. But that doesn't make them truly HIS - UNLESS they're both circumcised in the heart and convicted to the circumcision of the flesh to uphold His covenant with Abraham.