Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Hardened Hearts - A Brief Biblical Survey - Part 2

(continued from Part 1) In this section, we address the hardenings of several other kings and nations than Pharaoh and the Egyptians.

2. The Hardening of Sihon's Heart

Deuteronomy 2:30-32
But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day. And the LORD said unto me, "Behold, I have begun to give Sihon and his land before thee: begin to possess, that thou mayest inherit his land." Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight at Jahaz.

As you can see, this is a similar situation to that of Pharaoh. There is a king, and the reason he does not cooperate with the people of Israel is that God has a different plan for him. God's plan for Sihon is his people's destruction and the dispossession of his land for the people of Israel.

Here, hardening is connected with making Sihon obstinate. This is a similar concept to the "not hearkening" that Pharaoh was engaged in.

3. The Hardening of the Canaanites

Joshua 11:15-20
As the LORD commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the LORD commanded Moses. So Joshua took all that land, the hills, and all the south country, and all the land of Goshen, and the valley, and the plain, and the mountain of Israel, and the valley of the same; even from the mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir, even unto Baalgad in the valley of Lebanon under mount Hermon: and all their kings he took, and smote them, and slew them. Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all other they took in battle. 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.

This is something similar to the hardening of Pharaoh's heart as well, particularly at the end. Recall how God hardened Pharaoh's heart so that he chased after the Israelites? Now, God hardened the hearts of the Canaanites (except for the Gibeonites) so that they came against Israel in battle and were destroyed. They each surely knew of the fate of the other Canaanites who had tried to fight Israel, yet they continued to fight rather than suing for peace or fleeing to another land. Notice as well that the reason is given as being "that they might have no favour" and that God would destroy them.

4. The Hardening of Zedekiah

2 Chronicles 36:11-13
Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the LORD. And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the LORD God of Israel.

We are simply told that Zedekiah did these things. Nevertheless, this was the means by which judgment was brought against the nation of Judah. For Scripture tells us, speaking of his brother Jehoiakim:

2 Kings 24:1-4
In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him. And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servants the prophets. Surely at the commandment of the LORD came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did; and also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the LORD would not pardon.

And more specifically about Zedekiah:

2 Kings 24:18-20
Zedekiah was twenty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. For through the anger of the LORD it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, until he had cast them out from his presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

Thus, it is not a stretch for us to say that although Zedekiah hardened his heart, the Lord took credit for this, by saying that it was "through the anger of the LORD" that "it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah ... that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon."

5. The Hardening of Nebuchadnezzar

Daniel 5:18-21
O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: and for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: and he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.

Here Nebuchadnezzar is described has having his mind "hardened in pride" and his "heart ... lifted up" (which is symbolic of pride). The specific actor is not specified, though it seems to be suggesting that those are things that Nebuchadnezzar did to himself. Nevertheless, the overarching purpose of the events was to show God's complete and ultimate sovereignty: "till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will."

(to be continued)


Anonymous said...

How can I follow the debate?

Turretinfan said...

I understand that if you go into the PalTalk system it will be one of the Christian chatrooms. I apologize that I don't have more details than that. I understand that folks plan to record the debate. In which case, we should be able to provide an mp3 after the debate as well.