Blessed is the one who always trembles before God, but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble. Proverbs 28:14
Sometimes life just gets hard. Particularly when you have to watch people you love suffer. We hurt when they hurt, and we don’t like it. So when people or circumstances inflict pain, our hearts get a little stony toward those responsible. We want to shut them out at best, and at worst, give them a taste of their own medicine.
But something happens when we allow our hearts to harden toward people. They begin to harden toward God.
You see, God loves people. He’s for them. All of them. And He offered up His Son on a cross to rekindle selfless love in the hearts of humanity. So the still, small voice of Jesus will incline our hearts toward mercy. Forgiveness. Love that covers a multitude of sin. Truth.
And when we insist on something else—anger, bitterness, retribution, deception—we harden our hearts to the leadership of our Lord. If we persist in denying Him, we will find ourselves in serious trouble.
Look at how God responds to perpetually hardening our hearts to His voice.
And now, because you have done all these things, declares the Lord, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer, therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, and in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I cast out all your kinsmen, all the offspring of Ephraim. Jeremiah 7:13-15
When we allow our hearts to harden toward what God is speaking, we harden our hearts toward God. And when we bear His name—claiming a position in His house—He will not tolerate our refusal of Him indefinitely. When we persist in disregarding His Word, eventually His presence withdraws and we relinquish the safety He brings.
That’s not all. God added this astonishing command to Jeremiah in verse 16.
“As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you.”
Can you imagine how Jeremiah must have felt hearing those words? God commanded him not to pray for these people who bore God’s name.
Judgment had fallen against the people of God. And Jeremiah couldn’t stop it. God told him not to even try.
I wonder if that thought unsettles you like it does me. God instructed Jeremiah not to intercede. He would not hear prayer on the matter. Surely this seems out of God’s character.
But this wasn’t the only time it happened. Here’s another.
For I solemnly warned your fathers when I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, warning them persistently, even to this day, saying, Obey my voice. Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart…”
Again the Lord said to me, “A conspiracy exists among the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear my words. They have gone after other gods to serve them. The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant that I made with their fathers. Therefore, thus says the Lord, Behold, I am bringing disaster upon them that they cannot escape. Though they cry to me, I will not listen to them. Jeremiah 11:7-11
Did you notice in both passages that God warned them persistently? Over and over, God extended mercy, imploring them to respond. Yet these members of God’s house repeatedly rejected His cries, refusing to acknowledge His desires. Their hardened hearts unleashed consequences that could not be undone.
And again God commanded Jeremiah.
“Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble. What right has my beloved in my house, when she has done many vile deeds?…” Verses 14-15
Oh, brothers and sisters. Verse 15 brings me to my knees. What right has my beloved in my house, when she has done many vile deeds?
Indeed. What rights can we expect God to honor when we abuse our position in His house? How long will He suffer us to disregard Him when He speaks?
Are you listening, beloved?
It’s easy to feel discouraged by the condition of the church today. In many places, an enemy has misconstrued grace for license. Holiness seems foreign. The people of God resemble the world far more than Jesus. We build our own kingdoms with little regard for Christ’s.
Yet with all of this, something stirs deep within me.
You see. God hasn’t commanded me not to pray. Quite the contrary. His Spirit calls me to my knees. And that, beloved, means we have not yet wandered so far that we can’t return.
Do you hear Him calling too?
As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” Hebrews 3:15
God speaks, beloved. Our future depends on how we respond.