A Hardened Heart        

How and when does the heart of a man become hard?

God does not want any man to perish; but man, thinking he is wise,
      rejects God's warnings and stubbornly chooses his own downfall. (2 Pe 39)

Consider three men; two from the Old Testament and one from the New.

Abel offered his sacrifice with faith (= assurance of things hoped for.  Heb 111)
He did not just hope, but God assured him of his forgiveness.
It was therefore with joy that he gave the best he could as a thank offering.
Cain had no such joy. He was jealous of Abel; murderously angry.
The Lord personally warned him,
      "sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."  Gen 47
But Cain did not even try to do so.
He immediately devised and executed an evil plot to kill his brother.
And what is more, he never repented of what he had done. He only expressed regret of the just punishment that God imposed.
He was not the first or the last to pay a high price for ignoring God's warning.
(His Dad and Mum were the first!)

Then there was Pharaoh
5 times he chose to refuse to listen to God or a man sent by God.
Only then did God harden Pharaoh's heart.

Plague   Exd
1 So Pharaoh's heart remained hardened; he would not listen to Moses 722
2 But Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses 815
3 But Pharaoh's heart was hardened and he would not listen to Moses 819
4 But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also 832
5 But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened 97
6 But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh and he did not listen to Moses 912
7 So the heart of Pharaoh was hardened 935
8 (Pharaoh 'confesses' his sin, but he did not repent)
But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart
9 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart 1027
10 The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt 148


Jesus delighted in the expensive expression of Mary, the prostitute,
      when she knew she was forgiven. The disciples considered it a shocking waste.
So Jesus corrected them, "She has done a beautiful thing to me. ...
Wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world,
      what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."
  Math 2610-13
The disciples realised they had erred and saw that once more,
      God's thoughts are different from man's.  (Is 558)
All except Judas, who thought he knew best and rejected the Lord's correction.
He immediately went out and betrayed the Son of God for 30 silver coins.  (Math 2615)
That was his God given right; to accept or to reject. But his choice was disastrous.
The Lord knew that Judas had gone to the chief priests, so what did he do about it?

Next evening at the last supper he gave him every opportunity to repent from his foolish ways.
The Lord of Glory washed their feet; including those of Judas.  (Jn 132-5)
He openly told them that one of them would betray him.  (Jn 1310-21)
He sat Judas in the place of honour, next to him.  (Jn 1326)
He gave Judas the bread.  (Jn 1327a)
So, when he still refused to repent, he told him, "What you are about to do, do quickly."
      Then the scripture adds, "And it was night."  Jn 1327b, 30

Let us never be like these three men, who by their own choice,
      failed in the day of God's opportunity by rejecting God's gracious warning.
Their regret is eternal and tragically unnecessary.
Jesus said, "Whoever has (hunger for God) will be given more, and he will have an abundance.
Whoever does not have (and is content without God) even what he has shall be taken from him."  Math 1312

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him,
      but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
      Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools."
 Ro 121,22

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice
      is like a wise man who built his house on the rock."
 Math 724
The heart of such a man is not hard nor unresponsive. He delights to hear and obey.
And our gracious God delights to reveal the secrets of the kingdom of heaven,
      to reveal the truth and give him assurance and faith.  (Math 1311)