Is it a coincidence that in countries like Canada and the United States, considered to be great places to live and somewhat wealthy, we have a higher rate of heart disease, often caused by hardening of the arteries?
Is our physical epidemic of hardening of the arteries symbolic of a more deadly hardening of our heart against the guidance, laws and commands for us as human beings in how to love our neighbours?
In the Old Testament of the KJV Bible, YHWH is often heard issuing the warnings either directly or through His prophets, not to “harden not your hearts.”
- Exodus 14:17 “And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.”
- Josh 11:20 “For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses.”
- 1 Sam 6:6 “Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed?”
In the New Testament of the KJV Bible the warning continues. Obviously we were as stubborn in our ways then as we are today. It appears we continued carrying the baggage and bad habits of our ancestors. It seems I am not the only person who has to learn things the difficult way.
If there were a “New New Testament” to cover the peoples of today, I have no doubt the warning would be as applicable, if not more so than in the New Testament.
I take heart when I recall words I heard in Scriptures that tell us Yeshua,
learned obedience through the things he suffered.
If Yeshua needed to learn how to be obedient I am encouraged and not as dis-heartened when I mess up.
- Heb 3:8 “Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:”
- Heb 3:15 “While it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.”
- Heb 4:7 “Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, Today, after so long a time; as it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
I see no difference in the meaning of these warnings about not hardening our hearts than in the time of Pharaoh. Pharaoh knew what was the right thing to do, yet he repeatedly refused despite the miracle warnings from YHWH through Moshe (Moses).
However, and please note this. It was YHWH who would not allow Pharaoh to change his mind and let the people go.
We know what is right and still we “test” the Lord’s kindness and patience. Look at the increase of natural disasters, things that no man can control? We here in Canada used to be earthquake and flood free, so to speak, compared to the United States. Well, not so much any more. It’s crossing the borders because up to this day we have always seemed to follow in the footsteps of our neighbour south of the border, our “big sister.”
Now, let’s talk about our obesity issues in wealthy Canada and the United States. Let’s talk about the heart attacks because of hardening of the arteries caused by fast food diets. We here in North America (Canada and USA) are known for being the greatest “fast food” consumers of the world – not something I am proud of at all.
I balked the day, several years ago, that I heard an ad for Starbuck’s new amazing $18.00 cup of specialty coffee! Really, $18.00? Used to feed a whole family through charitable organizations on less than that for a month!
Maybe if we took all that money we spend on food that is killing us and gave it to organizations to feed the widows and the orphans (as commanded by Scripture) we’ have a win-win situation. We get to live longer and so do the widows and children because their basic needs could be met?
- Isa 10:2 “To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless!”
- Jer 49:11 “Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in me.”
- Mat 23:14 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows‘ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.”
- Jas 1:27 “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
We Are All Neighbours
Neighbours can be described in different ways, depending on the subject of the discussion. For instance the people living in the apartment beside me are my immediate neighbours, the people on my street are my neighbourhood neighbours, the people in Nova Scotia are the neighbours of the people living in New Brunswick, and so on.
If we connect all of these connections we will find that we are all neighbours of each other.
In the KJV Bible the word “neighbour” is found 107 times in 100 verses, from Exodus to Proverbs. What’s interesting is that the majority of these teachings about our neighbours are found in Exodus, and consequentially, the teachings are in respect of how YHWH can and does “harden the heart of Pharaoh”; makes Pharaoh stubborn in his refusal to set the Hebrew children free.
If we can look at our own leaders who appear to be hardhearted and stubborn in their refusals to do what we believe to be the right thing, i.e. like with Pharaoh, perhaps we should be thinking that it is the Lord who is hardening that person’s heart in order to show a greater audience that He, YHWH is in control; that Pharaohs, PMs, Kings, Queens continue to reign only with His permission.
He can turn the hearts of leaders, parents, husbands, wives, children, etc. towards or against one another.
We do need to consider what is going on behind what is seen? What possible plans could be unfolding at the hand of the Lord in all of the chaos that swarms around us?
Rulers, Leaders & Judges
Beginning in the Old Testament, Scriptures are replete with instructions for handling different situations that arise as regards our relationship with our neighbours. It also speaks about the rulers, the leaders and the judges and how they are to handle conflicts and render judgement in various scenarios.
As a guide, I would ask that when you read these words from Scripture, you keep in mind that they are applicable not only to you and I as individuals but to leaders, rulers, judges and kings when they are contemplating matters concerning other jurisdictions and all the peoples worldwide. We are neighbours. We have man made borders, but this earth was created for human kind, without borders.
Our borders are a form of land division, but they cannot remove the fact that no matter which side of what border we live on, we are still neighbours.
- Lev 19:15 “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.”
- Lev 19:18 “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.”
- Deut 5:20 “Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.”
- Prov 3:28 “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
- Prov 11:9 “An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.”
- Prov 16:29 “A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good.”