OT19 | Eden to Exile

NT Connect: Ephesians 4:17-24

Weekly Reading: Judges 1-5

Hardness of Heart

These first few chapters of Judges take us from the Lord delivering his people into the Promised Land to his people hardening their hearts and turning their back in him. After the death of Joshua and his contemporaries, “there arose a generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which he had done for Israel.  Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals,” (Judge 2:10-11 NASB).

The children of God wandered in the wilderness due to disobedience.  And, even now in the Promised Land, Israel “turned aside quickly from the way in which their fathers had walked in obeying the commandments of the Lord; they did not do as their fathers” (Judges 2:17 NASB). Scripture’s judgment on them is clear: “The sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgot the Lord their God” (Judges 3:7 NASB).

Are we much different today than the Israelites of old?  Are we any less prone to wander than they were?

Our reading from Ephesians 4:17-24 allows us to see how things are not all that different for us today.  Futile minds, darkened understandings, ignorance, hardened hearts, callousness, impurity and greediness, are found both outside AND inside the Church.

But, as Paul states, we “did not learn Christ in this way” (Ephesians 4:20 NASB). The phrases above describe who we were before Christ, not who we are now in Christ.  If that’s how we are walking today, we are need to lay it aside (Ephesians 4:22).

Futile minds, darkened understandings, ignorance, hardened hearts, callousness, impurity and greediness within the Church are symptoms of a much more insidious issue – the deceitfulness of sin.  Paul states that our “old self” continues to be “corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit” (Ephesians 4:22 NASB).

What’s the remedy? (1) Renewal of the mind and (2) putting on the new self (Ephesians 4:23-24). How’s this best done? (1) Meditation on and memorization of God’s Word (Psalm 119:11) and (2) living in authentic community with others (Hebrews 3:13).

Is your heart hardened/callous or soft/tender?  If you find your heart to be hardened, ask God to give you a tender heart.  He is the only one who can turn a heart of stone into a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).

May this song that the Church has sung since the 1700s be our prayer today:

     Oh, to grace how great a debtor
     Daily I’m constrained to be
     Let that goodness like a fetter
     Bind my wandering heart to Thee
     Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
     Prone to leave the God I love
     Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it
     Seal it for Thy courts above.

 

Scott Smith