Sunday School: The Hard Heart

Hey, a quickie tonight. I go back to being productive tomorrow, very sad to say the least. The summer always go by too fast …

I’ve been studying the book of Jeremiah. I’ve gotten to chapter 10. The basic premise of the book is that Jeremiah is tasked with telling the people of Judah that their destruction is imminent because of their sin. One thing really strikes me here. I’ll post a few verses.

Jeremiah 5:23-25

23 But this people has a defiant and rebellious heart;
They have revolted and departed.
24 They do not say in their heart,
“Let us now fear the Lord our God,
Who gives rain, both the former and the latter, in its season.
He reserves for us the appointed weeks of the harvest.”
25 Your iniquities have turned these things away,
And your sins have withheld good from you.

Jeremiah 6:15-17

15 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination?
No! They were not at all ashamed;
Nor did they know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
At the time I punish them,
They shall be cast down,” says the Lord.

16 Thus says the Lord:

“Stand in the ways and see,
And ask for the old paths, where the good way is,
And walk in it;
Then you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.
17 Also, I set watchmen over you, saying,
‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’
But they said, ‘We will not listen.’

Jeremiah 7:23-26

23 But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.’ 24 Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. 25 Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have even sent to you all My servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them.26 Yet they did not obey Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers.

Jeremiah 8:4-6

“Moreover you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord:

“Will they fall and not rise?
Will one turn away and not return?
Why has this people slidden back,
Jerusalem, in a perpetual backsliding?
They hold fast to deceit,
They refuse to return.
I listened and heard,
But they do not speak aright.
No man repented of his wickedness,
Saying, ‘What have I done?’
Everyone turned to his own course,
As the horse rushes into the battle.

Jeremiah 8:12

Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination?
No! They were not at all ashamed,
Nor did they know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
In the time of their punishment
They shall be cast down,” says the Lord.

Jeremiah 3:6-13

The Lord said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: “Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot. And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’ But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also. So it came to pass, through her casual harlotry, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. 10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,” says the Lord.

11 Then the Lord said to me, “Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. 12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say:

‘Return, backsliding Israel,’ says the Lord;
‘I will not cause My anger to fall on you.
For I am merciful,’ says the Lord;
‘I will not remain angry forever.
13 Only acknowledge your iniquity,
That you have transgressed against the Lord your God,
And have scattered your charms
To alien deities under every green tree,
And you have not obeyed My voice,’ says the Lord.

I bolded the verses that focus on the point I’m making for this longer passage. Note that Israel did it first but Judah is considered worse by God. This is because Judah saw what happened to Israel yet they did the same thing anyway. In a phrase they knew better. Notice that God also says that all they need to do is acknowledge what they did and stop doing it. 

The other verses focus on Judah not acknowledging their sins. They don’t repent when called to do so. God hates it when we sin but these verses show that its the unrepentant heart that really sets God off. God called to them but their hearts were stubborn and they refused to repent. This is when God called down calamity on them.

If you sin all is not lost. God calls and waits with forgiveness. But the day of reckoning does come. Its not when we reach a certain number of sins but its when we refuse to heed the call to repent and sin no more. For us that day definitely comes when we die and sometimes before, if our hearts are so hard we can’t hear the Spirit anymore. 

Another interesting thing: read Exodus chapters 4-12 which tells of the various miracles Moses displayed before Pharaoh as he was telling Pharaoh to let the Jewish slaves go. Pharaoh refuses time and again. You’ll note that God hardens Pharaoh’s heart. But at first its Pharaoh who hardens his heart. Only after several miracles does the wording change to God hardens Pharaoh’s heart. Pharaoh had his chance but the offer wasn’t indefinite.

I can’t explain why God does what He does or when our time to repent runs out but God’s justice does not last forever. God’s mercy triumphs over His judgment but we have to accept it, first by accepting His Son Jesus as our Savior & Lord then after by repenting and turning from our sins whenever we commit them, especially when the sin in question is an ongoing struggle (porn, temper, addiction, laziness etc.). Its not OK for Christians to sin just because they are saved. 

Don’t let your heart be hardened as Petra says and have a great week.

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