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The hardened hearts club

John 12:37-43

“But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: 

    “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:

“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.”

These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spake of Him. 

Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess {Him} lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

This passage of verses can be very easily misunderstood and therefore must be explained piece by piece to make a comprehensive whole. 

To begin,  the “them” in the first verse refers to the “people” in general. The verse states that they-the people- had witnessed many signs that Jesus had done but they still did not believe "in" Him. The word translated as “in” here in the NKJV is translated as “on” in the KJV and it is the Hebrew word #1519- “eis”. What is very interesting about this word is that Thayer’s Greek Lexicon avers that it can refer to a place entered or an entrance. With this clarity we can perceive the truth of the statement and the ensuing statements. Although Jesus did a number of signs in the sight of these “people” they did not choose to believe that He was the way to God and therefore did not enter into the kingdom-into their salvation- through Him. This was their choice- not God’s. We will discuss this point further later on. 

    At this point, the most poignant message is that we cannot be so ignorant as to believe that this type of heart reaction is isolated to that time period. Today there are many many people that see signs and wonders performed by Jesus through the hands of His saints that refuse to believe that Jesus is the way to God. They are hardening their hearts as the people described in the passage did. 

    This is an interesting phenomenon because it was prophesied by Isaiah in the 53rd chapter of that book. Isaiah, however, did not specify who it was that would not believe the report of the Lord and thus these “people” and anyone else to whom the signs of Jesus have been shown, choose of their own free will to be the ones to fulfill that prophecy. This choice that is made by people is not arbitrary and ill effective as some believe it to be. On the contrary, when the choice is voluntarily made, as it was here, then the person cannot believe. They have hardened themselves by an act of their own wills and when that choice is made {like all choices}, it is honored and upheld by God. Many people foolishly believe that when they choose not to believe something that God has shown them then He will just keep “working” on them until they do believe. This is untrue. 

    What actually happens is precisely that which has been delineated here… the Lord upholds their decision. That is not to say, however that a believer cannot pray for them so that they are given more chances and opportunities to change their opinions. To that point, the Lord provokes His children to pray for all people everywhere so that all of those who have chosen not to believe should be given more chances to change their opinions. When the body of Christ selfishly refuses to pray for all people everywhere in this way, then the Lord is restricted. That may be an appalling thought, but it is nevertheless absolutely true. God only gets involved in this earth realm when He is invited to do so by the mouths of His people. This truth is precisely the reason that Jesus here refers back to the words of the prophet Isaiah… 

    He said that the words of Isaiah the prophet had to be fulfilled. These words that prophesy the the unbelief of these people were not what the Lord wanted. He wanted them all to believe in Jesus Christ the Messiah. But knowing what someone will do and causing them to do it are two different things. This is one type of unbelieving heart. Another type is described in verses 42&43. 

    The Word says that there were rulers who believed in Jesus but because of the religious norms at the time, they refused to confess that they believed that Jesus was the Messiah. This they did because they were afraid to be shunned from the Synagogue. 

    At that time, the Synagogue was the center of Jewish life. It was responsible not only for matters of religion but of financial assistance, legal matters, social interactions, etc. To be removed from the Synagogue meant that you had nowhere to worship, to pay tithes, to receive forgiveness of sin, to socialize, to learn about current affairs, to make business deals, etc. It was the center of life for the Jew in every way. Therefore when these rulers were faced with their choice, they only took one step toward Jesus as Messiah, but that step was in vain. To believe and not confess is not salvation for the Scripture states that we must believe with our hearts and confess with our mouths {Romans 10:10}. Scripture also states that even the demons believe, and they tremble! {James 2:19} These rulers were displaying what God calls the “fear of man.” In John 12:43 God clearly states that these rulers loved the "praise of men more than the praise of God.” This is the motivation behind the fear of man. To boil it down to its simplest state, we can understand the fear of man as an attitude that comes from believing man is your source. Sometimes people believe that other people are the source for their emotional stability, happiness, finances, safety, deliverance, etc. This is exactly what the devil wants people to believe because when they do put this level of trust in other people, then the people in whom they are trusting can be manipulated and influenced by the devil thereby trapping those who have trusted in them. Trusting in man is simply not safe - it brings a snare according to Proverbs 29:25. 

    The saddest state of the church has recently been revealed due to the restrictions placed on it due to the Covid-19 outbreak. This virus has caused the government to force the closure of churches everywhere and the churches have complied with little or no fight. This is exactly the same thing that Jesus is talking about in John 12:43. We see the danger of this trusting in man or “fear of man” expressed clearly in Revelation 13. Between verse 16 & 17, we are told that the wicked one, the anti-Christ causes the people to receive his mark-the mark of the beast- on their heads or hands so that they can purchase goods for sustaining life. I believe there are two main reasons that the church,  or who was supposedly the church,  was so easy for the wicked one to conquer. First, they were used to relying on man as their source and thereby could “reason” out why they would comply with such a request and second, because they were afraid to go against the systems of men. They were bound by a fear of man and they loved their own lives to death. 

            The conclusion of the matter is that the Lord only gets involved when the words of His creation ask Him to get involved. He does not harden hearts but He respects the decisions of people who harden their own hearts. There are two reasons designated in these verses for hardened hearts: first that people just refuse to believe that Jesus is the Messiah and second that people believe He is but are afraid of the consequences of acting on that belief. Both choices will place a person far away from God!!

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