Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Heart: First Mention

This post is part of a continuing study on The Greatest Commandment
Use that link to read other articles in this series.

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved [a]in His heart.

Genesis 6:5 & 6, NASB

Evil Hearts

It behooves us to observe the first instance in scripture that mentions "the heart." In our English Bibles, Genesis 6 is that portion. Here, God looks upon the heart of man and what he sees becomes the catalyst for the destruction of mankind.

Here, we find that a heart can be evil. We also find that our evil hearts bring grief to God's heart. The creator feels a close connection to his creation. He desires to have a relationship with mankind. But holiness cannot mingle with wickedness.

Notice that Noah finds favor in God's eyes according to verse 8. Notice also that scripture does not say his heart was pure or holy or reformed. We know he was righteous, blameless and that he walked with God (v. 9), but we are left to assume that God includes his heart in the initial discouraging assessment.

The difference is that Noah strove for righteousness and blamelessness despite his heart condition. He desired to walk with God. He obeyed God's commands to the best of his abilities. Therefore, though scripture does not come out and tell us that Noah's heart was pure, we can assume that his heart was at least purified by virtue of his relationship with God. All mankind is born with this heart condition. All mankind is given the opportunity to walk with God. However, only a few take up the challenge and respond to God's call.

Heart Intention

Though this passage contains a word translated into English as "heart" it is not the same word used in Dueteronomy 6:5. A short discussion of that portion follows:
Now Abraham journeyed from there toward the land of the Negev, and settled between Kadesh and Shur; then he sojourned in Gerar. Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is married.” Now Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, “Lord, will You slay a nation, even though blameless? Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. Now therefore, restore the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”

Genesis 20:1-7, NASB
It is interesting that the first time we see this term for heart is in reference to Abimelech. Notice that scripture concerned with the intentions of Abimelech's heart as he attempted to commit sin. This sin that Abimelech would have committed would have been inadvertent, as he had no way of knowing that Sarah was married to Abraham. On the contrary, Abimelech was deceived and made to believe that Sarah was Abraham's sister.

Note what this passage says about God's sense of justice. He realizes that we are frail and may commit evil unwittingly. A sin committed in ignorance is still detestable to God, but his judgement is mitigated by the circumstances. This principle is expounded on in other passages which insist that God is a discerner of hearts. He knows man's true intentions.

Abimelech is given an opportunity to correct his error given new revelation. Abimelech can prove the integrity of his heart by returning Sarah to Abraham, which is exactly what he does. This is also a major theme in scripture: Your sinful character is revealed by God's proclamations, how are you going to respond to it?


Your responses to the things scripture reveals says a lot about your heart and how devoted it is to God. It was true for both Noah and Abimelech. It is also true for you.
Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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