Tuesday, May 7, 2019

And God Closed Their Eyes

I cringe a bit every time I read a passage of the Bible that refers to God closing someone's eyes or hardening their hearts to the things of Him. How can a God of justice prevent someone from believing, and then condemn them for their unbelief?

Isaiah 44:18-19, referring to idol worshipers and their wooden idols -

They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand.
No one stops to think,
    no one has the knowledge or understanding to say,
“Half of it I used for fuel;
    I even baked bread over its coals,
    I roasted meat and I ate.
Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left?
    Shall I bow down to a block of wood?”

Matthew 13:15

“Though seeing, they do not see;
    though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
    you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
    they hardly hear with their ears,
    and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
    hear with their ears,
    understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’

Luke 16:27-31
The story of the rich man and Lazarus, the beggar who lived outside the gates of the rich man's home.  Both died. The rich man was sent to Hades, and Lazarus to heaven.  The rich man sees Lazarus across the chasm and speaks:

“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

It occurred to me that maybe I've had it backwards all this time.  Instead of God closing their minds and then they couldn't understand, perhaps the unbelief came first - a choice made, a destiny chosen - and then God closed their eyes, their minds, and their hearts to the things of Him.  We have all we need - God's Word - to make that first choice of belief of unbelief.  So, yes, we have a God of justice.  If you reject Him, you don't get the what He offers - not in this life, and not in the next life.  But if you repent, you'll be forgiven and restored and your eyes will be opened.  And that's the good news.

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