Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Hard Hearts reflect an Iron God

Something I've been gradually understanding for the last few years has to do with what we are able to receive. Hard-hearted people are unable to receive the true revelation of who God is. 
The folk in the OT were pretty tough people. I think of the divestment and death of Aaron, or the execution of Achan and his whole family for Achan's theft of items put under the ban at Ai, or David, allowing his prisoners among the Ammonite warriors to be sawn in two, or being made to pass through brick kilns (the modern translations make it seem as if he put them to hard labour).
For me the clue was where Jesus says, when asked about divorce, he said that Moses allowed it 'because of your hardness of heart'. Where there is softness and openness to forgiveness, divorce wouldn't even be contemplated. Yet what Moses wrote is the word of God. How can we reconcile this with what the NT says?
Is it possible that the Lord gives us, in his mercy, as much as we are capable of understanding, and that he allows himself to be misrepresented by our faulty witness, our hard hearts, and even dare I say it, the material, temporal limitations of paper and ink, the Bible?
It's as if he allows himself to be hidden from view by the hardness of men's hearts - like the veil in 2 Corinthians 3:14 which prevents 'dull-minded' people from understanding who Jesus is.

Like the parable of the talents, when the third servant, who 'knew' his master to be a hard man, hid his talent away. He was judged according to the picture he had of God. So often, it seems that our character reflects the picture we have of God. If I am hard, insensitive and aggressive, I will undoubtedly have the same picture of God and think or expect that he does or will act in such a way toward me.
Maybe this is why YHWH 'appears' hard in the OT - because much of it was written by necessarily hardened men - men who had known war, cruel times, the normal hardships of life in a pre-industrial Middle East. Yet, they were still men who had met and knew God, so there is enough in their stories to make the soft-hearted seeker 'see' who God is, IF he or she is open.
Perhaps this is the reason why some people appear as hard and cruel as they are - because the picture they have of God, G-d, or Allah is correspondingly cruel and hard.

Our hearts are the pages on which God writes his revelation. I suppose that in as much as I soften my heart, I will receive more revelation and come to know and understand the God who is love, better.

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