Today’s Readings :Exodus 8, Luke 11:37-54
Today’s two familiar readings separated in time by thousands of years tell a sad but all-too-familiar story.
Exodus 8 is another chapter in the unfolding story of the Israelites escape from Egypt. It seems this drama is playing out on two levels. At one level it is a showdown between “I am” the true God of the Israelites, and the false gods of Egypt. At another level it is a showdown between two men: Pharaoh king of Egypt and Moses, humble man of God.
Time after time we read of the Lord giving miraculous inexplicable signs of his power and sovereignty and Pharaoh’s hard-hearted response. Three times in this chapter alone Pharaoh is described as “hardening his heart” (vs 14, 16, 32) to God’s amazing demonstrations of power.
In Luke 11 a similar showdown in reaching it’s climax. The religious elite, trained in the God-breathed scriptures from birth are setting themselves against the humble man of God, Jesus. Like the story of the Exodus, time and time again Jesus demonstrates his authority and sovereignty by inexplicable acts of mercy and power with miracle after miracle. Like Pharaoh instead of bowing in submission to God’s Son, the Pharisees harden their hearts, time and time again.
Verse 39-41 make clear that the root of the problem is their heart. Their religion is skin deep and has not penetrated to their hearts. They need to clean out the inside of their hearts and not just the outward appearance.
How did the Pharisee’s get it so wrong?
It would be easy to look down unsympathetically on Pharaoh and judge his hard-heartedness. After all, he was antagonistic to God from the outset wasn’t he?
However, I think the reaction of the Pharisees to Jesus cannot be disregarded so easily. The Pharisees were often sincere in their devotion to God – enthusiastic, even fanatical (as Saul was). They knew the scriptures. They “loved” God. They were devoted.
How then did so many of them get it so wrong?
It was not external conformity to the law that was required to know God, it was a change of heart.
How is your heart?
The question for me from these two passage of scripture this morning is “How is my heart?”
The bible teaches that the heart is “deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9). Paul in Romans 7 describes his own personal struggle with his sin nature. The author to Hebrews warns about not allowing our hearts to become hard (Hebrews 3:8)
Today I would like to resist the temptation to “look down” on Pharoah and the Pharisee’s with an inward smirk of self-righteousness. Rather today I think I need to look deeply at my own heart with sober judgement to ensure I heed the warning in these two passages against a hard-hearted response to the Lord’s power and grace.
Lord, today give me a soft teachable loving heart like that of my saviour Jesus. Clean me, teach me and change me from the inside out, because you are the only one who can.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)