New Heart and Old Ways

One of the strange alleyways of Christian thought is the one that assigns priority to first or ancient things even when no evidence exists for a golden human age. Not even Eden’s pristine moments hold out any example of excellence. The gold and goldplated items in the sacred tent are themselves eyeopening realities. At Sinai, however, the people declined a one-to-one with Yahweh and Moses’ protest was met with Yahweh’s resignation that they did not have the heart. This does not mean that they were afraid. It means that they did not have (and could not get, since the Lord was not yet incarnate much less glorified) a heart to receive God’s will. So what does Ezekiel’s prediction of new heart mean for Israel?

We can ask Isaiah. He confirms (29:13) that the Israelite kept his heart at a distance from Yahweh. Jewish religion had become nice talk.

And the Lord said: Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,

Jeremiah (13:10) tells a similar story.

This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own heart and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this loincloth, which is good for nothing.

Some people, including Christians, would like us to conduct our lives as if the events in the Gospels have no bearing on God’s will. They dress up for truth and salvation but put the one Way in a subsidiary position. They prefer the symbols to the Life.

Mark records (7:6-13) the same condition as Moses, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.

And he said to them, Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men. And he said to them, You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, Honor your father and your mother; and, Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die. But you say, If a man tells his father or his mother, Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.

When the world ruling power calls for allegiance and compliance with its actions and legislation the masses will think it is a good thing because they have not committed themselves to the truth of the gospel. We would be in great company if we accept the call for obedience to human institutions and secular powers – with their presumed new heart full of old lies – but we would be en route to the darkness ditch. The church is Christ’s body.

The new is not the old. Symbols and types are not saving realities. They never were.

We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. Hebrews 13:10

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