Exodus 7:1-25; Matthew 19:1-12; Psalms 24:3-6; Proverbs 10:17
OT: “You must say whatever I command you; then Aaron your brother must declare it to Pharaoh so that he will let the Israelites go from his land. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart and multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. Pharaoh will not listen to you, but I will put my hand into Egypt and bring the military divisions of my people the Israelites out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the Israelites from among them.”” (Exodus 7:2-5 CSB)
One thing that can be confusing is the idea of God hardening people’s hearts. God doesn’t actually harden people’s hearts – that would go completely against His just nature. God does not prevent people from hardening their hearts and will even give them over to their hardened heart – but the actual hardening is self-imposed by choice. When Moses came to Pharaoh, Pharaoh had 2 choices: 1) he could heed Moses’ request and become known as one of the greatest emancipators of all time, or 2) he could harden his heart, refuse Moses’ request, and end up being humiliated by God. Either way, the Israelites were going to be liberated. Unfortunately for Pharaoh, he chose the latter option, and God gave him over to his hardened heart, and Pharaoh’s hardened heart set up a scenario for God to be glorified over Pharaoh and the many Egyptian gods that he worshiped.
NT: “Some Pharisees approached him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife on any grounds?” “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that he who created them in the beginning made them male and female, and he also said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” “Why then,” they asked him, “did Moses command us to give divorce papers and to send her away?” He told them, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of the hardness of your hearts, but it was not like that from the beginning. I tell you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another commits adultery.”” (Matthew 19:3-9 CSB)
The Pharisees, hoping to trap Jesus in a compromise, asked Him about divorce. Moses made provisions for divorce in Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Since then, there were 2 schools of thought that had arisen in different sects of Pharisaical thought: 1) a liberal view that said a man could divorce his wife for any reason and 2) a more conservative belief that a man could only divorce his wife for sexual indecencies. Instead of referring to the legal provision, Jesus went all the way back to the beginning to describe the original intent of marriage – that a man and a woman were to be joined together as one and that they would never be separated. However, because of hardness of heart, Moses permitted (not commanded) divorce for specific reasons. According to Moses, you didn’t have to divorce, but you were permitted to. But God’s best desire is that divorce doesn’t happen. That brings us to hardness of heart – which is the cause of so many issues in humanity. When someone hardens their heart, they resist goodness, kindness, justice, humility, selflessness, love, etc. A hard heart leads people to become abusive, to become uncaring, to become unfaithful, to become unloving… the list goes on and on. If only we could cure the heart issues, then marriages could be reconciled and divorce wouldn’t need to happen. But hardness of heart is a present reality that must be dealt with when it happens. God doesn’t force people to have softened and pure hearts any more than He causes people to have hard hearts, thus divorce is permitted – but never desired.
Psalms: “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not appealed to what is false, and who has not sworn deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who inquire of him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah” (Psalms 24:3-6 CSB)
David gets to the key issue at the center of humanities ails: the heart. Who are the ones that are allowed to stand before the Lord and enjoy His blessing and presence? Those who have clean hands and pure hearts… as opposed to corrupt and hardened hearts. How then, can a person who has sinned have hands that are clean and hearts that are pure? That is where Jesus comes in. Throughout the Old Testament, Prophets prophesied of a time when God would give His people new hearts of flesh and not of stone – hearts that were able to know and do His will. That is exactly what Jesus does when we place our faith in Him and become spiritually born again – we are made into new creations, with new hearts and clean hands… and through confession and repentance, we stay clean and pure. Heart issues dealt with if we stay submitted to Him.