A New Heart–Revisited

Greetings, from the midst of the longest year of our lives, 2020! This year is barely half over but it feels like a hundred years have past since New Years’ Day 2020. We find ourselves in a world very different than the one we thought we lived in just a few months ago. This is an unprecedented time that we find ourselves. It feels as if we were going in one direction, hit a wall and are now going in another. There are days that I forget how I am supposed to live and carry on with life. We keep getting reminded that “the new normal” is upon us, something that disgusts and dismays many of us. I constantly ask myself, “What am I supposed to do with this?” How am I supposed to navigate in this so-called “new world?” Where can I find answers?

Those answers can be found in the same place I have always find them. It is during times like these that I need to hear the still small voice of God like I’ve never heard it before. I need his reassurance. I need his hope. I need him to rekindle my joy. But most of all I need him.

While the following statement is true everyday, there are just some days when God reveals old truth in a new, powerful and exciting way. Oh, how I love the Word of God. The words of the psalmist who penned Psalm 119 ring true in my ears today. There, the author expounds on the wonderful things God has taught him and will continue to teach him. The words of God bring life and life to the full.

This morning, I found myself reading through the book of Deuteronomy again (no surprise for those of you who know me). But, for as many times as I have read it, today, I see something new that was there all along. In chapter 29, verse 4 (in the NLT) Moses tells the people of Israel that “the Lord has not given you minds that understand, nor eyes that see, nor ears that hear …” These words are spoken to Israel at a time when they were expected to renew the covenant and demonstrate wholehearted obedience to the One who had rescued them from the Egyptian oppression some forty years before.

Before I go any further, I need to make it abundantly clear that I do not believe Israel’s disobedience came because God made them unable to do so. Later, in chapter 30, it is God himself who promises to give his people a new heart, something the people are not able or are unwilling to do themselves, an action that will make wholehearted obedience to him a reality at last.

Deuteronomy 29:4 can easily be taken out of context to support the assumption that God has rendered them unable to understand and obey. But left in context with the events of chapters 28, the remainder of 29, 30 and the rest of Deuteronomy another picture emerges.

The word that the translators of the NLT rendered as “mind” is the same Hebrew word most often translated “heart.” In fact, other contemporary English translations do translate this word here in 29:4 as “heart,” and that may be an appropriate translation. The Hebrew word does indeed mean heart, but also the mind, will, intellect, seat of intellect. However, I believe God’s word here through Moses is demonstrating a contrast between the mind and intellect and the obedient heart.

In 29:4, despite everything that Israel has known, seen and heard, they still do not understand God’s purpose for them and what obedience looks like. The remainder of the chapter summarizes Israel’s history to date–all that they had seen and heard–but still do not understand. The people’s inability to understand God’s expectations for them will lead them away from God, as well as what will be necessary for them the return to God to receive his grace and mercy anew. Chapter 30 begins with a foreshadowing of what Israel has not yet fully experienced, the full outpouring of God’s blessings on them. But in a shocking twist, once Israel returns to God, he will do what they cannot (or will not) do for themselves–change their hearts–so that wholehearted obedience now becomes a reality. The same Hebrew root word translated as heart that Moses used in 29:4 is found here. The contrast is striking. The same heart, mind, seat of intellect that could not understand will be transformed, made anew by the hand of God himself. Wholehearted obedience would not only be possible but a reality.

Brothers and sisters, what was yet future for Israel is now in our reach. We live in a world where our faith, resolve and obedience is being tested and tried everyday. We need new hearts to continue to live in this world as faithful witnesses to him, what he has done and what he is continuing to do in our midst. We have trouble seeing what he is doing in the world today. Fear and dread is clouding our perception of God. We need to be renewed and reconciled to him daily to ensure we continue to live as his people, his faithful remnant in the world today. Today is the day to surrender our hearts to God so he can do what only he can, change our hearts so that wholehearted obedience to him becomes a reality. Even if we have been walking with Christ for decades, we can still use a heart transplant from time to time, so that our relationship, our obedience, our love for God is fresh and new. Only then can we navigate the “new world” around us in ways that are faithful and obedient to him.

Have you had your heart transplant today?

Being his,

Jackie

The King’s Daughter

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