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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE HARD HEARTED

Psalm 95:6-9 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God; and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My work.

The first few verses of this Psalm are often read at the beginning of many public worship services. It seems to bring a serene quietness upon the audience and makes each person more attuned to the holiness of the worship hour. It relates the joy of singing praises to a God that is the vary foundation of our religious beliefs. God is the solid rock, which is the basis of our worship to Him. It is a confession of God as our Creator as well as the Creator of the universe and all that it contains, from the depths of the earth to its highest mountains, from its seas to its dry land. This is the God we worship, the God that created all things. We are His creation - we are His people. We are like His sheep. He provides for us, protects us and governs our sojourn here on earth as a good shepherd. From this we ask the question: Why would anyone bow down, or kneel before, any one, or anything else, to worship other than God, ourCreator?

The latter part of verse 7 and verse 8 holds an admonition to the worshiper. When you hear the word of God, whether in His written word or contained in a message from a preacher or teacher, we are to be open minded and receptive to the truths found therein. We are not to harden our hearts to the will of God as did the Israelites in their wilderness wanderings. Throughout the generations of the nation of Israel there are incidents, too numerous to mention here, of their indifference and hard heartedness toward God. Here, we are warned not to be as they were. We are not to have a hard heart. We are not to have a heart that is callous, insensitive, unfeeling, and incapable of understanding and obeying God's Holy Word.

A hard heart can take many forms that make it unreceptive to studying and obeying the will of God. It can be a rebellious heart. Jeremiah 5:20-24 refers to the Israelites as having a rebellious heart. This type of heart is opposed to control, and resists authority. It is obvious that a rebellious heart would not submit to God's will, but would substitute its own will in its stead. A hard heart can also be a proud heart. Proverbs 16:5 says, everyone that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord. Although pride has some good aspects, here it is discussed in its negative meaning. Pride is an exaggerated high opinion of one's self. It is full of conceit, haughtiness, and arrogance. Certainly a proud heart is not open and receptive to receiving God's word. A heart full of evil can be included in the category of hard heartedness. In the days of Noah, it is said that God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. When the heart is totally consumed with evil thoughts, there is no room in one's heart to be mindful of the things of God.

A hard heart is an impenitent heart. But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God (Romans 2:5). An impenitent heart is one that has no remorse, it is without regret or shame, it is steeped in sin beyond the point of repentance or the seeking of atonement. It is the condition of the Jew's heart as described in John 12:37-40, But though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him: that the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Isaiah said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. Like the rebellious Jews, do we deny the miracles performed that confirm Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Savior of the world? Are our eyes blind and our hearts hardened to the point that we are beyond repentance?

Our lesson concludes with the consequences of the person having an impenitent, hard heart. 2 Thessalonians 2:8-9 says that in the final day of judgment, God will take vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord. God forbid that you are among the hard hearted.