Has Your Heart been “Hardened”?
This question has nothing to do with whether you believe in Yeshua the son of God. Instead it refers to your daily walk with God. If you are not “walking with God”, then your heart has been hardened.
Yeshua cites from Isaiah to explain that many hearts have been hardened, but those whose hearts are NOT hardened are faithful servants who are identified as a remnant. Are you a faithful servant, or has your heart been hardened? Listen to Yeshua’s words. His quotation of Isaiah is in capital letters.
13 “Therefore I speak to them [the crowd that has come to hear him speak, which we can identify with the large number of Christian believers today] in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
14 “1In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, ‘YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE;
15 FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.’
16 “But blessed are your eyes [referring to the disciples who are faithful servants], because they see; and your ears, because they hear. Mat 13:13-16 citing Is 6:9-10
A literal interpretation, which is taken without consideration of the context of the quotation from Isaiah, often concludes that failure to hear and see refers to those Jews (or anyone for that matter) who have not believed in Yeshua the Messiah. This is a common and unfortunate interpretation because, when considering the citation from Isaiah, three important principles emerge. First, hardening of the heart refers to a failure to walk in righteousness as we read in God’s words of instruction to Israel.
“What does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deut 10:12
Second, God will annul the obduracy of His people when they walk in His ways. This annulment refers to both a present and a future time.
Third, those to whom God annuls the obduracy are identified as servants, and are further referred to as a remnant.
The immediate citation from Isaiah gives words of God that Isaiah is to speak to the people of Israel. Listen carefully and compare the Isaiah passage with Yeshua’s words.
9 “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand.’
10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.” Isa 6:9-10
We are startled to learn that God causes hearts to be hardened. “Render the hearts of this people insensitive,” he instructs Isaiah. What appears to be a lack of God’s compassion is actually a form of “testing” whereby we bring upon ourselves the consequences of ungodly behavior and God allows natural consequences as a form of instruction because God desires that all of His people repent and turn to Him. This hardening of hearts is also a means of “separation” so God can divide the holy from the unholy, which allows Him to identify a righteous remnant.
In an article entitled, “Did Jesus cite Isaiah 6:9-10” (AboAdademi University Press, 2010), Hiroaki Yoshimura concludes that “The remnant of Israel is one of the major motifs of the book of Isaiah as can be shown by the words that refer to the remnant, sha’ar, she’erit, pleitah, as well as the associated verb yatar”. Those listening to Yeshua cite from Isaiah would have known this.
The immediate verse cited by Yeshua (Isaiah 6:9-10) shows that the hardening motif is connected with the concept of the remnant. Those who see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts will “return and be healed”. “Return” is the Hebrew word “shuv” that means to turn or return, and thus is used of repentance. Those who “turn” to God have completely left behind their worldly thoughts and actions that the heart represents. “To be healed” is a Hebrew word (rapha) that also conveys, besides healing, a purification that leads to a holy and righteous condition.
After citing Isaiah, Yeshua speaks directly to his disciples, those who are dedicated to following him in loyal obedience and service. “Blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.” Again we turn to Isaiah whose remnant motif includes the purification of God’s people. All of God’s people are exposed to this purification process, which the enemy nations represent (Assyria, Babylon, and the Babylonian captivity). Yet, only some of the people will respond to this purification by turning to God in faithful obedience. Isaiah calls this small number a remnant. In Isaiah 6:13, those who remain after a series of destruction and devastation are called “holy seed”. Thus, this call for purification is Yeshua’s message to those who desire to be his disciples.
We began this brief study with the question, “Has your heart been hardened?” The question was followed by the suggestion that hardening of the heart refers to a failure to “walk with God” by faithful obedience and humble service. Therefore, we will leave you to ponder God’s description of Noah, who is identified in Scripture as the first remnant, and to encourage you to follow Noah’s example.
“Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God” (Gen 6:9). We see two requirements for walking with God, righteousness that is walking in the ways of God, and a condition called “blameless”, which is the Hebrew word “tamim“ that is used to describe the animal that was given to God as a holy sacrifice. Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans that we are to be a “living and holy sacrifice”. This refers to our dedicated service when we shed our worldly ways (becoming an unblemished offering) and give ourselves willingly to our Lord (as faithful servants). When we are dedicated to loyal obedience and humble service we can indeed “walk with God” because our hearts are no longer hardened.