Choices and Hard Hearts

Scripture Focus: Exodus 7.1-5
1I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. 2 You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. 3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, 4 he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. 5 And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.”

Luke 10.10-12, 16
10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

Reflection: Choices and Hard Hearts
By John Tillman

Pharaoh’s heart is the prototypical story about hardened hearts in the Bible. His story affects how we see the topic and the process of how a heart is hardened. Nearly half of the occurrences of the word “harden” in the NIV text are in reference to Pharaoh or the Egyptians.

We also see hardened hearts and the response of Christ’s messengers to them in our reading from Luke. God used Moses as a stand-in and had Moses use Aaron as a prophet. Jesus sends his 72 followers out as prophets of his message as well. 

“Whoever rejects you rejects me and the one who sent me,” Jesus said. Whoever rejected the apostles or other disciples, rejected Jesus, and rejected God the Father. When Pharoah rejected Aarron, he rejected Moses, and he rejected Yahweh.

In both stories, God’s messengers carried his peace. They performed miracles, healings, and signs. Yet there were those who missed (or denied) the miracles. Jesus knew some would reject his messengers. God knew Pharaoh would reject his messengers. In doing so, these hearers were rejecting God himself and bringing judgment on themselves.

Before we think of ourselves as messengers of God, we first need to consider ourselves with sober judgment.

Are we people of peace (Luke 10.5-6) or Pharaohs relying on violence? (Exodus 5.14-15, 20-21) Are we rejecting God by rejecting his messengers because they don’t look the way or sound the way we think they should? (“In Amaziah’s Shoes: Amos 7.10-17)

The scriptures contrast moments of Pharaoh hardening his own heart and God hardening it. (Exodus 4.21; 7.3; 8.15, 32; 9.12-34; 10.20, 27; 11.10) Even Pharaoh gets multiple chances to do the right thing. When he fails to see the miracles for what they are and refuses to heed God’s messengers, God gives him over to the path of rebellion he chose. 

Hardened hearts happen in stages. Our choices matter. Our hearts are hardened or softened day after day. Do we hear and obey? Our heart will grow softer, more sensitive, and better able to obey in the future. Do we hear and turn away? Our heart will grow harder, colder, less able to respond to the loving call of God.

Softening your heart is something that occurs not in one single moment, but rather through a lifelong process. Untended, our hearts harden and lean away from God. Only by continual cultivation will the soil of our hearts remain soft, fertile soil for fruitful expressions of the gospel.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
My lips will sing with joy when I play to you, and so will my soul, which you have redeemed. — Psalm 68.28

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle
Today’s Readings
Exodus 7 (Listen – 3:29) 
Luke 10 (Listen – 5:40)

Read more about For Those Yet Unseeing — Worldwide Prayer
We assume that faith comes easily when we witness miracles. We are wrong.

Read more about The Miracle of Faith
His greatest miracles were helping the faithless to believe again. Helping the cynical to trust again. Helping the hardened to love again.

An Amazed Faith :: Worldwide Prayer

Luke 8.25
“Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.
In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

Reflection: An Amazed Faith :: Worldwide Prayer
By John Tillman

We can become complacent about Christ’s nature. The disciples did. Being so close to him—seeing him sweat, and eat, and wearily lie down to sleep in the back of the boat—they often saw only the man. But in the storm, they see him for who he is.

Seeing Jesus truly is always shocking. No matter how great a grasp of the incarnation we think we have, our intellectualism has a hard time grappling with Jesus rebuking the wind and waves. 

A Jesus this powerful is frightening. If he rebukes the wind and waves what about us? 

He might ask us to do…anything. He might send us to save…anyone. He might ask us to give…everything.

This prayer of redemption confesses our position, and expresses wonder and thankfulness that Christ, despite our weak faith, works his redemptive power in our lives.

Prayer for Redemption from Ukraine

God Almighty,

When my mind rejects earthly vanity
And when I raise my soul to you
I tremble and feel joyous.
I see you in awakening nature,
In the stream’s murmur and the mighty ocean’s waves.
You rule all the universe, everything is created by you and is subject to you.

Nobody, nothing can resist you.
Every creature who breaks your laws perishes.
And me? How dare I not obey you,
To seek something of my own.
I sinned, but you loved me, looked for me, found me, forgave me, and adopted me as your child.

I cannot comprehend the depth of your love!
How could you for the sake of someone like me,
Send your son, Jesus Christ?
How could it be that despite my weak faith
Jesus suffered and died and
Gave me the right to unite with you 
And be yours for all eternity?

My precious Jesus,
What a great joy it is to rely on you,
To confide in you,
To love you and to wait for you every day!

Help me, my Lord, to always carry in my body
Your death, so that your life may be revealed
In me daily till we meet with you in Heaven!

*Prayer from Hallowed be Thy Name, L. A. (Tony) Cupit, ed., Hallowed be Your Name: A collection of prayers from around the world

Prayer: The Greeting
You have rescued my soul from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living. — Psalm 56.11-12

Today’s Readings
Exodus 5 (Listen – 3:15) 
Luke 8 (Listen – 8:09)

This Weekend’s Readings
Exodus 6 (Listen – 3:56), Luke 9 (Listen – 8:05)
Exodus 7 (Listen – 3:29), Luke 10 (Listen – 5:40)

Thank You!
Thank you for reading and a huge thank you to those who donate to our ministry, keeping The Park Forum ad-free and enabling us to continue to produce fresh content. Every year our donors help us produce over 100,000 words of free devotionals. Follow this link to support our readers.

Read more about Fear in the Boat :: Readers’ Choice :: TBT
This devotion spoke to me in a moment where I almost forgot where I was. The words reminded me of the faithfulness of Jesus. I pictured myself in that ‘boat’, and Christ showing me who he is, I was on the Rock. — Azikiwe Calhoun

Read more about Faith After the Storm
Jesus asleep on the pillow is a punching bag for our emotions. Asleep, he cannot hear or dispute our complaints, our fears, our version of events. But Jesus standing and rebuking the storm rebukes us as well. “Quiet. Be still.”

Spur a spiritual rhythm of refreshment right in your inbox
By joining this email list you are giving us permission to send you devotional emails each weekday and to communicate occasionally regarding other aspects of the ministry.
100% Privacy. We don't spam.