Jeremiah 11:Jeremiah 11 harkens back to the time when the children of Israel, having recently been delivered from Egypt, were camped in front of Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19). There, God established his covenant with them. He chose them to be his special people. As such, they would be richly blessed as long as they obeyed God’s commandments.
But the Israelites did not fulfill their end of the bargain. They did not honor God’s covenant by obeying him. They rejected both him and his law, choosing instead to worship pagan gods. Even though the Lord repeatedly warned and urged his people to obey him, they “did not listen or even pay attention. Instead, they stubbornly followed their own evil desires” (11:7-8). The Hebrew of this last phrase could be translated more literally: “Everyone walked in the stubbornness of their evil heart.”
The word “stubbornness” depicts the persistent rebellion of God’s people against him. Their hearts had been hardened against the Lord. Even when he warned them about the negative consequences of their behavior, the Israelites continued to do as they pleased. Time and again they said “No” to the Lord.
What would be the opposite of a stubborn heart? It would be an open heart, one that seeks God and his ways. It would be a repentant heart, which is willing to admit failure. It would be a compliant heart, one eager to receive and to do God’s will. It would be a tender heart, one that is easily touched by God’s Spirit. It would be a heart of flesh, rather than a heart of stone.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What is the state of your heart in relationship to the Lord? Do you have a stubborn heart? Perhaps in some ways, but not in others? What helps you to have an open, repentant, compliant, tender, and fleshly heart?PRAYER: O Lord, as I read this chapter from Jeremiah, I remember ways that my heart has been stubborn in resisting your will. I know it sounds silly, but there are times when I’d rather trust in my wisdom than yours. And sometimes I resist your will even when you repeatedly call and convict me. Forgive me, Lord, for having such a stubborn heart.
May my heart be wholly yours. May I be open to your will, and not just open, but eager to perceive and to do it. May I have ears to hear what you are saying to me, even if your word is not always pleasant. As I go through this life, may my heart be continually softened to you as I experience your magnificent grace and all-surpassing wisdom.
In the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.