Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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September 6 – Hardness Of Heart

“Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff and struck the dust of the earth, and there were gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became gnats in all the land of Egypt. The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, but they could not. So there were gnats on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, ‘This is the finger of God.’ But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.” Exodus 8:17-19

Devotional Thought For The Day

The “magicians” of Egypt [and other Near Eastern dynasties] were a mixture of “religious priest” and sorcerer.  These were polytheistic cultures, and although these magicians were able to produce some rather remarkable “signs” of the “power” of their “gods,” when confronted with servants of God, the only True and Living God, even they were able to recognize the difference and forced to acknowledge His existence and superiority.  Presumably Pharaoh was also forced to this conclusion – the evidence was before him and it was compelling.  However, in regard to his outward “posturing” toward God and His servants, Pharaoh continued to act as though God could be tampered with and perhaps even overcome.  This decision and choice of behavior, however, was not based on the evidence but rather dictated inwardly, within Pharaoh himself, because his “heart was hardened.”

These are the same dynamics at work in many of the people who are unbelievers and practitioners of false religion today.  There is some “power” and “wisdom” available in virtually every idolatrous group – and also in the God-given gifts of human intellect and ingenuity.  However, when confronted with the Word of God and the power of God, the only True and Living God, even these people are made aware of the difference – the unique and awesome superiority of God.  It is as the apostle observes: “They are without excuse.” [Rom. 1:20]  That many of them refuse to submit to God in repentance and genuine faith has nothing to do with the evidence.  For some the hypocrisy and superficiality of “playing religion,” with its socioeconomic and political benefits, is preferable.  For others, deep seated pride, arrogance, and insistence upon self-determination [self-deification] hardens their heart into blasphemous rejection of God. Regardless of the cause, it is pathetically sad to observe this preposterous and damning human behavior.

There is a good bit of “playing religion” also within “the church,” and it is part and parcel of our fallen sinful nature to “tamper” with God and dismiss His awesome power. For some, church is principally a matter of socioeconomic benefit, or a charade to compare themselves favorably with others, or even a matter of power and influence over others – and they prefer this to genuine repentance, faith, and submission to God. Whenever God’s Word is tampered with, tweaked, ignored, or disobeyed we are in practice denying His existence or His unique and awesome power and prerogative. There is evidence of this “cardiac-sclerosis,” hardening of heart, in each of us as well. Pray that our reaction to the evidence of God’s presence and His power not be that of these ancient magicians or Pharaoh – but rather honest repentance, joy in God’s gracious Word of forgiveness and mercy in Christ Jesus, and genuine submission to His will, as He has revealed it to us in His Word, Holy Scripture.

God’s invitation remains in full force for all of us: “‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the LORD: ‘though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.  If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.'” [Is. 1:18-20] So also Jesus urges all of us: “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” [Matt. 11:28-30] Such is the blessedness of all who take Him seriously, repenting and rejoicing in His gracious love, and allowing Him to be their God.

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, grant true repentance and faith to all of us, and to all people, in accordance with Your will. Grant also that we come to proper reverence and respect for You, submitting ourselves to Your Word, not adding to it or taking from it. Preserve us from all hardness of heart, Amen.