When They Don’t Understand

Today as we look at the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we are looking also at the reactions of those with whom the Holy Spirit asks us to share. Sometimes they just don’t seem to understand. Isaiah was sanctioned by God to speak to the Children of Israel, and what God tells him, doesn’t seem to make much sense to everyone. Isaiah 6:9-10 says, “And he replied: Go! Say to these people: Keep listening, but do not understand; keep looking, but do not perceive. Make the minds of these people dull; deafen their ears and blind their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their minds, turn back, and be healed.” (CSB) Is God telling Isaiah that He will blind eyes, deafen ears, and block understanding? No, He will never keep us from understanding, seeing, or hearing.

I looked in J. Vernon McGee’s commentary on Isaiah, and this is his assessment of these verses. “God never hardens hearts that would otherwise be soft. God simply brings the hardness to the surface; He does not make the heart hard. He does not make blind the eyes of those who want to see, but apart from His intervention, they would never see. Nothing but the foolish blasphemy of men would say that God hardens or blinds. Isaiah’s job was to take a message of light to the people. Light merely reveals the blindness of the people. In darkness they do not know if they are blind or not.”

I have a friend who is very “anti” anything Christian. He makes his feelings abundantly clear in what he says. He considers Christians to be foolish, blind to the “truth” of what is going on around us, and he is very vocal about his feelings. I am trying to show him love and share with him the reason I believe what I believe, and that also includes some of my political standings on issues. My husband thinks I may be “casting pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6), and he may be right. However, I feel in my heart that the Holy Spirit is telling me not to give up on my friend. As hard-hearted as he seems, I pray that there is some bit of softening going on. I realize that there will come a time when God says, “OK, this has gone on long enough, he has made up his mind,” and will give him over to a “reprobate mind.” (Romans 1:28) God has patience, and His patience is long, but there will come a time when He says, “Enough is enough.” I don’t know when that time will be for my friend, but I have this sense that I should try to share the Gospel with Him until the Holy Spirit says, “Stop, He’s made up his mind, he has hardened his heart.”

J. Vernon McGee also shared a story in his commentary about a mining accident where there was a mine collapse and miners were trapped underground. When rescuers were able to finally reach them, the first thing they did was send down a light and turn it on for the miners to see. One of the miners said, “Why doesn’t someone turn on a light?” It was then that they realized the poor man had been blinded by the explosion.” The presence of the light revealed his blindness.

Just as the light revealed blindness for the miners, so does the Scripture. As the Holy Spirit imparts wisdom and understanding to those who believe, it also reveals the hard-heartedness of those who don’t believe. Remember when Moses went to Pharaoh to release the Children of Israel from Egypt?
The Bible says that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. Some versions say that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but all God did was reveal the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart, God did not harden his heart. No amount of Moses pleading with Pharaoh was going to change his mind. In fact, at the end, when Pharaoh did release the Israelites because the last plague cost him the death of his first-born son, he changed his mind again and went after them, to his doom.

So, what are we to do when others don’t understand what we are sharing? It is true, Jesus said not to cast pearls before swine, meaning don’t waste your time on someone who will never believe because of their hardness of heart. My issue is, how are we to know when that person has made that final decision to close their heart to Jesus? When others don’t understand or don’t care to understand, the Holy Spirit will prompt us in what we are to do. He will tell us whether we are to keep trying to share with them or give them over to their decision to reject Christ.

I also believe in the power of prayer. I’ve seen it in my own family. After years of prayer for a relative who rejected anything dealing with the church, even though she was raised in church, she is now seeking God with all her heart, attending church, and pouring herself into Bible Study and trying to learn all she can. My heart is overjoyed at what God has done! When it seemed like she would never turn back to God, the Spirit kept telling me, “Don’t give up!” He knew that her heart was bruised, but not hardened and He gently drew her back to Himself.

God has a plan and we need to show love and compassion to those who seem hard-hearted against the Gospel. We should pray for them and let God do the work He must do to reach them, whether or not they have eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart after the things of God.

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