Today if ye hear his voice, harden not your hearts. (Hebrews 4:7)
The Pharaoh of the Exodus has come down through history as the ruler with the hardened heart. When the Israelites were in Egyptian captivity it was Pharaoh whose hardened heart refused, over and over again, to let God's people go. As the result of his stubbornness God's wrath fell upon the land of the Nile. Furthermore, Pharaoh's defiant attitude caused him to lose 600 chariots and 1,200 of his best men when they were all engulfed and drowned in the Red Sea.
The hardened heart is a stubborn attitude that leads a person to reject God's will. It is an act of defiance, but seldom one of ignorance. We know the message, but we reject part or all of it. We may, for instance, believe that God's laws are primarily designed to promote a harsh, sanctimonious view of others. This is what many New Ager's think -- that traditional Christians are too judgmental. So they pick the part of God's message they like -- love, for instance -- and apply that as the essence of the law, while rejecting the rest of it. They are dead wrong, of course. Forbearance and humbleness is the way of Christ, not self-righteousness. But their hardened hearts will not accept this truth. They believe what their hardened hearts want to believe.
When God's ethical standards seem too high, people can suffer hardened hearts. When He allows personal tragedy to strike, hearts may harden against Him. When He leads us on paths where we do not want to go, that may harden hearts. Total submission to His will softens hearts, and God's people must always have a soft heart toward their Creator. A soft heart is also an open heart, open to His will and open to His plan for our lives.
---© 2002 Ed Price. From 'The Loving Heart'
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