Hardened Hearts

If faith comes from God, why does He “harden the hearts” of others?  Is your heart hardened today?  Why didn’t all of Israel believe in Jesus as the Messiah?

John 12:37-43

37 But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT? AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED?”  39 For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, 40 “ HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM.” 41 These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him. 42 Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; 43  for they loved the approval of men rather than theapproval of God.

This passage is yet another hard pill to swallow.  To some of us, it doesn’t make sense that others would see and hear about Jesus healing the sick and even raising people from the dead, yet didn’t believe in Him.  Maybe someone else will have a different explanation than this one.  John’s passage here reminds us that faith is up to God alone.  Surely, we have to seek out in order to hear Him (remember the knock and it will be answered passage?), but it is up to God to make us believe.

The first reference to the Old Testament scripture is from Isaiah 53.  Isaiah here was foretelling what would happen to the Messiah during His time on earth.  The second reference is to Isaiah 6:9-13, which speaks of the hardening of hearts of Israel.  What’s the point of all this?  Why did God harden the hearts of the Jews?  Seems kind of counter-productive, doesn’t it?

In Romans 3, Paul talks about this very situation.  We have heard that the hardening of the Jews’ hearts was so that the Gentile could be saved.  Certainly, this statement is in there, but what do we make of it?  I have often heard this, but never could wrap my head around it.  That is, until today.  You see, the Jews were under “The Law,” the Mosaic Law they received form God while wandering the desert.  In keeping this Law, they would be deemed perfect.  We know, however, keeping this Law was impossible and therefore they were not perfect.  Enter Christ, who fulfills the law and then is sacrificed for the sins of all.  Why cannot the Jews all be saved?  Why are some of them hardened of heart…specifically by God?

I think that the reasoning behind this is to show that salvation does not come from a bloodline or even centuries of trying to keep the Law.  If an entire people group were instantly saved in this fashion, the minds and hearts of men (both those saved and those witnessing the salvation), then the attention would turn from God and His Glory and towards “what did they do that they were saved?”  We know that salvation isn’t up to us.  We cannot earn grace.  Wouldn’t it seem as though Israel earned grace if they were all instantly saved?  Furthermore, we know that all of Israel will be restored.  If that would have happened immediately, then what does that mean for the rest of us (Gentiles)?  I have read commentary that the reason all of Israel did not believe is so that the Gentiles could be saved.

God has given us an opportunity to believe in Him before it is too late.  Certainly, this seems like an “end of times” message, but that is what we are facing here.  This is why not all believe.  I was talking with some friends the other day about the return of Christ and was contemplating how blessed that “last person” will feel when they believe in God and then Christ returns.  It’s like being the last person in the store before it closes or the one who fulfills the capacity of a lifeboat on a sinking ship.  That person will feel the most blessed. (I digress)

Where are you at in this story?  Are you skipping over it because it doesn’t apply to you?  Are you already a believer and this is “just information”?  Maybe you don’t believe and you think this is all hogwash, interesting that you read it all through, isn’t it?  Maybe you are starting to understand the love God has for us, all of His children, and how He earnestly desires a relationship with us.  What will you do today with His Word?

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