(043) – THE HARDENING OF ISRAEL

 

“A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and thus all Israel will be saved” (Rm. 11:25,26). The impression we get from this text is that God, in his love for the Gentiles, and in his intention to save them, hardened his people Israel just until the Gentiles were saved, planning to save his people, also, afterwards.

Jehovah declares that he never knew the gentile peoples; that he knew only Israel (Amos 3:1-2). In Deut. 14:2 Jehovah declares that he chose Israel among all the peoples to be his own people. These two statements go against Ps 24:1, where Jehovah says: “The earth is the Lord’s and all that it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it”. Egypt and Pharaoh were not of Jehovah. Joseph, sold as a slave by his brothers, ended up being governor of Egypt. When there was a great famine, Joseph sent for his family, seventy people in all (Gen. 46:26,27). They multiplied and became a numerous people, in the land of Goshen, there in Egypt. After Joseph’s death, the new Pharaoh made them slaves, under unbearable oppression. Now Jehovah came down from heaven to deliver his people of those that were not his people, that is, the Egyptians. He chose Moses, which received power to torment the Egyptians with plagues, ten in all. The plagues were so terrible that Pharaoh decided to let the people go free, but Jehovah hardened Pharaoh’s heart to hold them back. Pharaoh was not bad, and many times he meant to let them go. After each plague, Moses showed up before Pharaoh and said: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me” (Ex. 7:16; 8:1, etc.). But Jehovah hardened Pharaoh, each time (Ex. 4:21; 7:3; 10:27; 11:10; 14:4,17). Pharaoh and his people were gentiles. Jehovah hardened them and killed them with plagues, hail and the death of all their first-born. Finally, he drowned Pharaoh’s armies in the sea, and saved his people, which years later would die in the wilderness for the hardness of their hearts. It is well worth mentioning that Gentiles were abominable in the eyes of Jehovah for their idols (2 Kings 16:3). In Psalm 59:8 we read that Jehovah laughs at the gentiles.

This statement also goes against John 3:16, where we read that the Father “so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” to save whoever believes. “Whoever” includes Gentiles and Jews, for God is the God of all, not only of the Jews (Rom. 3:29). Jehovah, nevertheless, was God only to Israel, and hardened the hearts of the Egyptians, to save his people, who, years later ended up killed by the same Jehovah in the wilderness (Jude 5; Num. 14:28-37).

Jehovah, then, begins a new process — the hardening of his own people. In a fantastic vision, Isaiah saw Jehovah sitting on a high throne surrounded by seraphim. Isaiah thought that he was going to die, but one of the seraphim touched his lips with a coal from the altar and purified him. Jehovah, then, said: Whom am I going to send? Isaiah, fascinated, answered: “Here I am. Send me!” (Is. 6:6-8). Isaiah thought that he was going to save his sinful people (Is. 6:5). Jehovah, though, send him on the darkest mission he could have ever imagined: To blind the eyes of his people, and to harden their ears not to hear, so that they would not turn back from their evil ways (Is. 6:10). Poor Isaiah, which had to fulfill such order! The people became blind, deaf, and hard-hearted (Is. 43:8; Jer. 6:28). As much as the people cried out to Jehovah, he did not hear them. “WHY, O JEHOVAH, DOST THOU CAUSE US TO STRAY FROM THY WAYS, AND HARDEN OUR HEART FROM FEARING THEE?” (Is. 63:17).

The inconsistency resides in that Jehovah had hardened his people so that they did not believe or obey, and, afterwards, complained of their hardness of heart (Deut 10:16; 2 Chr. 30:8,9; Ps. 95:8). But Jehovah himself had hardened them and blinded their prophets, so that the people would not have anyone to open their eyes (Is. 29:10-12)! Jehovah said that their hardened hearts had caused the destruction of the kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 17:14-23). One thing becomes very clear: Jehovah hardened the hearts of the Egyptians to kill and to destroy. Then, he hardened his people to kill and to destroy them. Did not those millions of souls have any value to Jehovah?

The Bible reveals more instances of the hardening that Jehovah brought about: Jehovah did not approve of Hophni and Phinehas, sons of Eli, the priest, and wished to kill them. He, then, dulled their ears so that they did not hear the rebuke of their father. “‘No, my sons; for the report is not good which I hear Jehovah’s people circulating. If one man sins against another, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against Jehovah, who can intercede for him?’ But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for Jehovah desired to put them to death” (1 Sam. 2:24,25).

Jehovah prohibited the Hebrews to marry women of the people of Canaan (Deut. 7:1-4; Josh. 23:12,13; Ezra 9:1,2). Nevertheless, the spirit of Jehovah pushed Samson to the region of the Philistines. Living there, he saw a beautiful woman that pleased his eyes. His father pleaded in vain with him, that he did not sin against the law of Jehovah (Judges 13:25; 14:1-4). The text ends up by saying that the father of Samson did not know that this came from Jehovah. Samson’s sensuality was Jehovah’s doing, who had hardened Samson.

Jehovah hardened Rehoboam so that he would lay a heavy yoke on the people. The intent of Jehovah was to split the kingdom because of Solomon’s sin. Absurd! What did the people have to do with the sin of Solomon?  Perhaps Jehovah should have set a less wise king on the throne (1 Kings 11:29-40). In this text, the prophet Ahijah prophesied, from Jehovah, the division of the kingdom. Later on, Rehoboam son of Solomon acted unwisely, because the prophecy had to be fulfilled (1 Kings 12:15). In the Old Testament, the fate of the people was a sealed matter.

The peoples of Canaan were all gentiles. Jehovah hardened them that they would not let Israel enter the land “For it was of Jehovah to harden their hearts, to meet Israel in battle in order that he might utterly destroy them, that they might receive no mercy, but that he might destroy them, just as Jehovah had commanded Moses” (Josh. 11:20).

When Israel began to go into Canaan, the king Sihon opposed them with his armies, but Joshua overcame them and killed men, women and children. Who caused this slaughter? Jehovah did, who had hardened the heart of Sihon, intending to destroy that city (Deut 2:30-34). What was Jehovah’s purpose?  He meant to terrify the surrounding nations (Deut. 2:24,25).

Jesus would certainly send an army of missionaries to save them (Mark 16:15,16), for Jesus came into the world to save sinful men (1 Tim. 1:15). And Jesus says that that is the will of the Father (John 6:38-40).

Jesus is opposed to the bloodshed of Jehovah, the destroyer of souls. When Jesus went to Jerusalem, he asked the disciples to go ahead and prepare a place for them to rest. The people of that village did not receive Jesus. James and John said to him: “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them as Elijah did? But He turned and rebuked them and said, ‘You do not know what kind of spirit you are of’” (Luke 9:51-56).

Paul, though, said that the god of this world has blinded the understanding of the unbelieving, that they might not believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:4). It is interesting that, just as Jehovah did such things in the Old Testament, the god of this world does them in these present times!

By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira

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