Harden not your heart

It is natural for us to want our own way. Everyone has likes and dislikes, preferences that guide our behavior. God’s preferences are established through election, a divine selection process that results in one person being favored over another (1589) such as with Jacob and Esau. “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Romans 9:13).

God’s ways are likened to a road that represents a course of life or mode of action (1870). When Jesus walked on the earth, he followed a particular pathway that he referred to as the will of his Father. Jesus said, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:39). The Greek word translated will, thelema (thel´ – ay – mah) means choice, “what one wishes or has determined shall be done” (2307).

In Psalm 95, God is referred to as our Maker. It says in verses 6 – 7, “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.” The act of kneeling or bowing down before the LORD is an act of submission. It shows that we are willing to honor his preferences above our own.

In Psalm 95, we are instructed, “To day if you will hear his voice, harden not your heart as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness” (Psalm 95:7-8). In order to hear God’s voice, we must give him our undivided attention (8085). The word translated harden, qâshâh (kaw – shaw´) means to be dense. It conveys the idea of not being able to get through to someone. “This word marks the restlessness, impatience, petulance, and irritability with which Pharaoh’s course of action was characterized while he was resisting the urgent appeals of both Moses and his own people” (7185).

Many times when God speaks to us, we don’t pay attention because we are too busy or have already decided what we think will work best for us. It took the Israelites 40 years to get to the point where they were willing to give God’s way a chance. They vacillated between going forward to the Promised Land and heading back to Egypt where they had been slaves for hundreds of years. The bottom line was they didn’t understand God’s ways and were unwilling to step out in faith (Psalm 95:10).

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