This week, during one of my morning quiet times, I read these soul-piercing words in Zechariah 7:11-14.”But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the LORD of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the LORD of hosts. ‘As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,’ says the LORD of hosts, and I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations that they had not known” (emphasis mine).
Hmm. That phrase “diamond-hard” really struck me. It refers to a heart that has persistently resisted the Word of the Lord and has, in this way, grown harder from one degree to another until it is virtually impenetrable. And though God is immensely merciful and patient and kind, he will eventually hand us over to our stubborn ways if we will not repent and humble ourselves before him.
In Israel’s case, this meant that they were driven from the prosperous land which God had given them as a gift and they suffered greatly in the process. Even then the merciful heart of God shone through because his intent in casting them into exile was to humble them that he might bless them again—which he did. But we should not miss the point that diamond-hard hearts led to soul-penetrating blows from the Almighty.
Paul said that the stories and prophecies of the Old Testament were written for our sake so that through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Romans 15:4). Thus, the design of Zechariah 7:11-14 is to warn us away from allowing diamond-hard hearts to develop within us, and to shepherd us toward the humility that eagerly receives and submits to the Word of the Lord, even when it’s hard to hear. But the question this leaves in my mind is this: how can we keep our hearts soft before the Lord?
The answer is multifaceted, of course, but I do believe that the foundation of it is fostering a love for the Word of God out of love for the God of the Word. In other words, the only medicine that will soften our hard hearts is the bright, brilliant, warm, transforming love of the Father who sent his only begotten Son that we might not perish but have everlasting life. And the capsule that contains this love is the words of God as found in the Bible.
So, my dear readers, I lovingly urge you to join me in giving ourselves to the Word of God and the God of the Word this year. Hear it, read it, memorize it, study it, meditate upon it, apply it to life, and teach it to others. As we do, may the Lord make our hearts as soft as clay in his loving hands.