Archive for September, 2010

for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.
Mark 6:52

And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart?
Mark 8:17

The first quote in Mark 6 comes on a day when Jesus has fed 5,000 men on 5 loaves and two fish. After that the disciples had taken a boat across the sea while Jesus stayed behind to pray. They saw Jesus walking across the water toward them on a very blustery night and thought he was a ghost.

The second quote in Mark 8 happens after Jesus has fed 4,000 with seven loaves and a few fish. Again, the disciples are leaving in a ship and just noticed they forgot to pack any food for the trip and did not have more than one loaf in the boat with them.

They had seen 5000 fed with 5 loaves and 2 fish, and just earlier that day had been part of 4000 being fed with 7 loaves and a few fish, and now, with one loaf and an entire sea full of fish all around them, they were worried about how to feed a dozen after Jesus had said, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.”

Totally clueless. Jesus had not been talking about loaves of bread at all, but had given a caution about the metaphorical ‘leaven’ of the Pharisees.

Hard hearts leave people clueless.

Jesus had spoken in a series of rhetorical questions, not as a harsh rebuke. He was trying to get them to think more spiritually. This shows that he knew they were capable of it. If their hearts had been in the right place, their mind would have caught on.


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18 being darkened in their understanding,
excluded from the life of God
because of the ignorance that is in them,
because of the hardness of their heart;
19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality
for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

Ephesians 4:18, 19


The eighteenth verse lays out the progression that was hinted at in yesterday’s verse:

hard hearts → blinded minds

This is the reason that there are no small lies; merely variations in the recipe for singeing the conscience and cooking the soul. Every lie darkens the heart a little bit more. Every time a lie is told, truth is lost. Those who twist the truth are stewing their own souls.

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12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
Hebrews 3:12, 13

These verses take for granted that there was a group fellowship that could look out for each other and encourage each other.

Verse 13 plainly states that sin hardens hearts. Not only that, it is the deceitfulness aspect of sin that hardens hearts. People who have hard hearts are often so deceived that they do not even know how repulsive they appear to others. Instead of being sorry, they think something is wrong with the people who find them disgusting.

These verses also hint that hardening is a process. The greater the unbelief in God’s justice, more lies a person tells; and the more they brush them off as being water over the dam when the lie is exposed, the harder and more disgusting they become.

Notice that in verse 12, unbelief is not neutral. Unbelief is evil. That is another thing they never told me in Sunday school. Class was taught in the context that belief in god is good, unbelief is neutral, and belief in idols is bad. Few places reveal why unbelief is evil better than these verses do: Unbelief is evil because it deceives a person into believing there is no accountability, that they will never be paid according to ALL their works. They think the y will get rewards for their good works, but that works that sprout from unbelief are a draw; no harm, no foul. But there was harm even though they were in denial.

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Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. … Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God … While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
Hebrews 3:8-10, 12, 15

Last week’s blogs dealt mainly with Old Testament scripture about hard hearts. Several examples were given of God’s use of hard hearts to bring knowledge to the people, honor to Himself, and to eventually remove the wicked. The examples also pointed out a fourth item associated with hard hearts: signs and wonders. Signs and wonders are miraculous, but they are not necessarily good or desirable miracles, such as the ten plagues sent against Egypt.

This week’s blogs look at the New Testament teaching on hard hearts, beginning with the verses from Hebrews that refer to an Old Testament incident. The third chapter of Hebrews is reminding the letter reader of the waters of Meribah. There, under the state of hard hearts, God performed a sin and wonder to prove Himself worthy of honor. But by this time, He had expected the people to have enough knowledge to trust Him.

During the exodus from Egypt, the congregation had journeyed in stages through the wilderness. When they camped at Rephidim, there was no water for the people to drink. Quarrels ensued. The NSV tells the story this way:

2The people quarreled with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’ Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?’ 3But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?’ 4So Moses cried out to the LORD, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.’ 5The LORD said to Moses, ‘Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.’ Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.
Exodus 17:2-6

Moses renamed the place Meribah, meaning “quarrelling.”

Paul presents that example to the Hebrews of his day because people are stubborn and unwilling to trust God. They do not depend on Him to work things out, but take it upon themselves to “help things along” with lies and intentional withholding of exculpatory information. Their hard hearts are perverting justice and in the end, they will succeed in bringing the wrath of God upon themselves.

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Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He had severely dealt with them, did they not allow the people to go, and they departed?
1 Samuel 6:6

Here is the story to set that verse in context:

Israel had tried using—actually misusing the Ark as a talisman or lucky charm to win a battle. That was foolish and the Ark was captured. Whether or not the Philistines thought the Ark would bring them power, make their on god Dagon happy with such a trophy, or could be used for ransom payments, none of that happened. Before long, the Philistines were suffering miserably.

The Ark of the Lord had been in the country of the Philistines for seven months when their leaders called together their priests and psychics for a conference on what to do about the Ark of the Lord, specifically, what was the best way to get rid of it.

The spiritualists were of a consensus that they needed to send the Ark of the God of Israel back along with a guilt offering as recompense. These guys were experts on religion and they were familiar with what had happened to Pharaoh over three centuries before. They knew the Israelites served a strict God who was big on justice, and injured justice demands satisfaction. They decided that the two afflictions of tumors and mice that they were experiencing were enough; there was no point in enduring an additional eight plagues and having their kids die like Pharaoh did. They were going to un-stubborn their hearts, return the Ark, and send along a trespass offering to boot.

The guilt offering took on a rather peculiar and somewhat pagan form; they made five gold images of the tumors and five replicas of the mice that ravaged the land. Five working out as one set for each of the lords of the Philistines. Odd offering that it was, it was unmistakable what it represented. Injured justice demands satisfaction. God will not give his approval to wrong judgment. The gold tumors and mice showed exactly why they had humbled themselves.

In the end, come Judgment Day, the innocent are going to be exonerated and God will demand satisfaction from those who harmed and stole from His children. Hardening you heart and waiting to be humbled instead of repenting now will make you susceptible to more plagues in the future. The Philistines had to make an open show of repentance to return the Ark. If they had gone into their bedroom at midnight and said, “Dear God, I am sorry, Please remove my tumor and get the mice out of my house,” that would not have worked because it did not satisfy Justice.

The Philistine diviners blamed the people, not God, for hardening their hearts, and they recognized that they must honor God and take action for restoration.

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But Sihon king of Heshbon was not willing for us to pass through his land; for the LORD your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, in order to deliver him into your hand, as he is today,

Deuteronomy 2:30

For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, to meet Israel in battle in order that he might utterly destroy them…

Joshua 11:20

That when the wicked sprouted up like grass
And all who did iniquity flourished,
It was only that they might be destroyed forevermore.

Psalm 92:7


Hardening of the Heart Leads to Removal.

It often seems to take a while, but ultimately, it shall be that God shall destroy them for ever.

It is okay to triumph in the foresight that the wicked liars will be destroyed.

Too often the misguided religious crew will try to make you feel horribly guilty about this. Even the few that will admit that the destruction is proper seem to have an overwhelming compulsion to warn you that “It is God’s job, YOU should not be seeking their destruction; YOU are not allowed to be happy about it.” To which I say, Pffft!

Really, if the judgment of sin cannot be a cause for rejoicing, they have missed one of the central points and main purposes for the Word of God to be given to mankind!

It is okay to yearn to see God in His Sovereignty rule over the wicked.
It is okay to want to see God keep His promises and judge the wicked.
It is okay to pray like David prayed in Psalm 58.
It is okay to want Jesus to tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.
It is okay to sing because the evildoers will be forever destroyed. Revelation 19 speaks of the roar of the multitude singing Hallelujah—repeatedly.

Hardheartedness will—eventually—result in removal by God.

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And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, … that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.
Exodus 7: 3a, 4b

There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all other they took in battle. 20 For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses.
Joshua 11:19, 20

You will give them obstinacy of heart as Your curse to them.
Lamentations 3:65

Remember the list from which we are working:

1. Signs and Wonders by God
2. Honor of God
3. Knowledge of God
4. Judgment by God
5. Removal by God

Today we are on the fourth point: Judgment

The last example from Lamentations 3:65 is almost an archetype of “be careful what you wish for!” They had wanted to be callous, and now God would give them hardheartedness as a curse.
In the Septuagint, the word “obstinacy” is rendered “a covering of the heart.”  This denotes a blindness, which makes a person not only unsympathetic, but insolent as well.

God’s judicial hardening of unrepentant sinners is a phenomenon conspicuously evident in both the O.T. and the N.T. God’s hardening the hearts of evil men does not exonerate or excuse their wickedness and rebellion. It just means that when a human being has morally rejected God’s claim upon his life and persists in a course of wickedness, that God retaliates against that person by “hardening” or “darkening” his heart, thus enabling the wicked one to walk in the way he has chosen without further restraint. Paul mentioned this in Romans, and it appears that a course of wickedness willingly pursued by a sinner will result, even in these present times, in God’s disabling, darkening, or hardening his mind (the Biblical “heart”), so that, having already chosen evil, the hardened soul is incapable of intelligent decisions involving morality, and even including many practical considerations. Even a fool, for instance, should have known better than to rush into the Red Sea following Israel’s crossing, but Pharaoh, whose heart the Lord had hardened, went right in with his whole army, only to be drowned!

Coffman, James Burton. “Commentary on Joshua 11”. “Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament”. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA.

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