The Heart of the Matter
The King James Bible has 884 references to the heart of man, and yes, God does know it. The heart we begin life with has this inside. We mya begin as innocent babies, but as we mature the divided heart becomes evident. We want to do good – we do not. We want the best – but we seek other options. We want truth but we speak lies. Adulthood is coming to grips with our basic nature. And then seeking an answer to our personal dilemna.
As a child we have hearts that can be brought to God because they are soft and pliable. But as we grow, if we do not heed the spriit of god calling to us hearts become hardened. This is soemthing we do as we respond to life.
This doesn’t happen overnight. Zechariah 7:12 Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts.
The story of Moses appealing to Pharaoh to let his people go is one of the increasing hardening of the heart in response to the pleas. God continued to give the ruler of Egypt a chance to change his mind. Changing you mind is fairly easy. When I discovered old produce at one grocery store I changed my mind and went to another. That kind of change is easy as the rationale is obvious. But when an attitude of change is required, that is a different story. Pharaoh was asked to substitute mercy for judgment – grace for law. He saw profits flying out the window. He could not afford to release his slaves. And his heart became hardened. It was a combination of God hardening his heart and he doing it as well.
Exodus 14:4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord. And they did so. 1 Samuel 6:6 Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed?
And that is the way God deals with us all. He gives us a challenge and then waits to see our response.
In these passage as in Exodus we see that the basic problem is self-will, The Pharaoh wants his own will. God has another will. Moses presents the will of God. This is the pattern of salvation. Man provides the call of God, and then a response is expected. Many believers will tell you of how over a period of years they knew God was calling them but they hesitated or backed off, and then finally obeyed. But how much easier it is to response properly and quickly.
We a;l struggle with a divided heart – art of us want our will and another part wants God’s will. Psalm 86:11 Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.
Clearly the Old Testament shows no hope for the hardened, evil heart of man. But there is a promise.
The cure is in Ezekiel 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
Curiously enough as you may know, God’s promises require a blood sacrifice to enforce a covenant, or a completed promise. In the Old Testament there is no sacrifice for this promise, not one time. But in the New Testament the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross does acknowledge this. That is why the Bible can say that the sacrifice of Jesus is the one and final blood sacrifice.
This is a good starting prayer.
Job 26:13 For God makes my heart soft, and the Almighty troubles me;