While it is said, To day if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
I. THE VOICE OF GOD! Ah! it is a wonderful thing that the High and Holy One should condescend to speak to a rebellious and apostate race for their good.
1. And if you ask how He utters His voice to man, I answer, in the first place, it is uttered through the medium of external nature. By those who will listen to it, the voice is heard above, below, and around them. And yet there are men in this age of science and education, who can tread upon the green carpet of the earth, bespread with fruit and flower, without any responding emotions to the Giver of them all; who appear deaf to the countless notes by which His voice is uttered, and His wisdom, power and love proclaimed, and to whom it is requisite now as of old to say, "If ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart."
2. I next observe, that the voice of God is uttered through the medium of passing events. Whatever occurrence takes place, the really wise man hears in it a message from the throne of the Eternal. When affluence and power are bestowed, he hears the voice of God declaring," Here are means and opportunities for promoting My glory and advancing the welfare of My creatures. Make a right use of them. De a wise steward over them." When, on the other hand, poverty comes, he hears the voice of God admonishing, "Learn the perishable nature of earthly wealth, and lay up for thyself treasures in heaven." When sickness and bereavement come with their desponding and painful associations, he hears the voice of God declaring, "It is good for thee to be afflicted; before thou wast afflicted thou wentest wrong; but now thou shalt learn my statutes."
3. I next observe, that the voice of God is uttered through the medium of human instruction and example. Here a believing husband seeks to impress his wife with the truths of the gospel; there a wife, whose affections are set " on things above," deplores the excessive worldliness of her husband's mind.
4. I observe, further, that the voice of God is uttered through the medium of His inspired Word.
II. THE NATURE, OR THE MANNER AND CHARACTER OF THE RESISTANCE MADE BY MAN TO THE VOICE of God. The resistance commonly offered to the Divine appeals is not that of "the fool, who saith in his heart, there is no God," nor that of the recklessly worldly or the profoundly infidel, who cry out, "What is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto Him?" The resistance offered by the bulk of the impenitent, is that described by the expression, "hardening the heart as in the provocation"; a delay and a disinclination to act up to the convictions of conscience from a deep rooted love of sin, like that of the people in the wilderness, than which nothing can be more provoking to the Holy One of Israel. When men disobey what they believe to be the voice of God, they must try to find some plausible excuse for their disobedience, or they must be most uncomfortable and uneasy in their minds. The individual who is frequently employed in gathering pleas for the neglect of religion soon becomes an adept in the work of self-justification. Having engaged in a warfare with his reason, his judgment and the best affections of his nature, he has nearly gained the victory, and the consequence is that he feels less religious responsibility than before, and is become almost inaccessible to any means of conviction. Now this is precisely what the Scripture means by " hardening the heart"; and this is the very thing that is done by those in a Christian land, who refuse to become Christians indeed and in truth.
(H. Hughes, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.