Long ago, in the Garden of Eden, there lived a man named Adam and a woman named Eve. These two people were the first to ever walk the earth with the LORD and there was no sin and everything was perfect. Adam and Eve were in perfect unison with God, and they knew nothing of shame or regret, but along came the serpent who would change all of humanity forever. This serpent was wily and deceiving. He wanted nothing more than to take Adam and Eve away from their Heavenly Father, so he slithered his way into the garden and caught Eve’s attention. “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’” Eve responded, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” The cunning serpent got Eve to believe she wouldn’t die if she partook of the fruit. “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Being deceived, Eve took a bite of the fruit and gave some to her husband as well (Genesis 3:1-6). That’s the day humanity died and sin was revealed in the world. Nothing has been the same ever since.
If we were to examine Adam and Eve’s hearts when all of this went down, we might conclude that they turned their hearts away from the LORD to do something that God clearly told them not to do. They were created in God’s image, just like us, which means they were given hearts of flesh which would hold God’s Spirit forevermore. Unfortunately, the heart of flesh turned into a heart of stone when sin entered the world. What does it mean to have a heart of stone? Let’s look at the Egyptian Pharaoh who held the Israelites as slaves during Moses’ day…
“Now there arose a new king over Egypt who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, ‘Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land (Exodus 1:8-10).’” Pharaoh wanted to deal shrewdly with the Israelites, not because they did him harm, but because their numbers were large. He then held the Israelites captive for many years, putting them into forced labor and bondage. Would you say that Pharaoh had a heart of stone? I would.
Many times throughout the book of Exodus, you can read how Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. As God poured out the plagues on Egypt, Pharaoh hated it and you would get a glimmer of hope that Pharaoh’s heart was changing, but, when things would get calm, he would harden his heart and force God to pour out more judgement on the Egyptian people:
Exodus 7:13- “And Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them…”
Exodus 8:19- “But Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them…”
Exodus 8:15 “But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not heed them…”
Exodus 8:32- “But Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also…”
These are only about half of the times the Bible mentions how Pharaoh’s heart was hardened as God poured out the plagues. I wish I could tell you that Pharaoh had a change of heart, but he fought the Israelites all the way through the Red Sea. Pharaoh’s heart was full of anger, deceit, and it lacked any grace or love. I hate to say it, but I’ve been like Pharaoh so many times it’s rather embarrassing. Every once in a while, when someone angers me, I get shaken and the Pharaoh in me will come out. That’s when it’s time to repent and ask for forgiveness. It’s hard, but you have to do it to get back in God’s good graces.
In God’s restoration of Israel in Ezekiel 11, God promised to give the Israelites one heart and He said he would put a heart of flesh in them to replace their hearts of stone. Did you know that, when we become believers, God makes us into a new creation (1 Corinthians 5:17)? All of our old self is cast away and we are given new life in God the Father. He no longer remembers our sins (Hebrews 8:12) and we become heirs of His Kingdom (Ephesians 3:6). Our obedience to God makes us look more like Him, which is what He intended from the Garden of Eden until today and forever going forward.
What does your heart look like today? Are you stuck in a state of sin that is making your heart hard as a rock? Or are you abiding in God’s Word, giving grace to others and living to please God? “As in water face reflects face, so a man’s heart reveals the man (Proverbs 27:19).” Over the years I’ve learned that you can see Jesus in people who are truly following Him. These people are taking up their cross daily. They are denying “self” and following the LORD’s ways. These people have soft hearts and you can see it through the fruit that their lives are bearing. We can learn a lot by watching them and asking the LORD for discernment. The Bible and the Holy Spirit are the best resource for learning what God wants for us.
Jesus has the softest heart of any man who walked the earth. Does this mean that He didn’t get mad? Absolutely not! But His anger was righteous, and He followed through on God’s commandments to love your neighbor. He never faltered or hated anyone. The love Jesus gives, His agape love, is the reason His heart never hardened. If we look to Jesus, we can find the Way to a soft and comforting heart. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (John 16:33).”
Father, I come before your throne of grace today to say I am sorry for all of the times I had the heart of Pharaoh. I used to be so angry at the world, LORD, and it was a very lonely place to be. Thank You for showing me the way into the light of life. Thank You for showing me that my heart would be softened if I had simply denied myself, taken up my cross and followed You. You deserve all of the glory and grace for every good thing in my life. You’ve made me new. Thank You for my heart of flesh. Let this heart show others Your Son who died to save my life. Let them come to You just like I did, LORD. I ask this in Jesus’s Holy Name! Amen!
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