Jeremiah 17:1-4, 2 Timothy 3:1–9, 1 Peter 2:4–10, Luke 3:7-8
Imagine having a heart so hard that you need an iron needle or a diamond point to put a mark in it. That is the hardness of the human heart, not just toward God, toward their fellow man as well. The Israelites were completely and utterly spiritually lost. The diamond point and the iron stylus were engraving the loss of that which they valued. Their idols and treasures were taken away. Their freedom was taken from them. It wasn’t that God didn’t offer a choice, God did. They chose to ignore it. Whether it was pride, stupidity, ignorance, or poor training, we will never know. It could be a combination of it all. This was not the last time either.
When Paul writes to Timothy, there are already difficulties. They are under Roman rule. From a Jewish perspective, they are almost at the same level as their forebears that suffered previously. Instead of writing something positive, Paul warned Timothy that it was going to be worse. The list of issues that Paul writes about is really nothing new. How they form in people’s lives, how they are reinforced, how they are lived out may look different, but the basic reality is that there is nothing new under the sun. There will always be deceivers, whose hearts are hard. God still uses an iron stylus and a diamond point on our hearts.
Yet not all hearts of stone are equal. Jesus Christ is the heart of our faith. Peter called Jesus a stone that people tripped over. As the “rejected” stone, Jesus also became the cornerstone of our faith. When Jesus is the heart made of stone, it solid, firm, and the basis of our faith. There is a transformation here. The original heart of stone is one that rejects God. The new heart of stone is God. Weird isn’t it? There is a time where John warns the Jews that God can make a whole new family from a bunch of rocks. We are the rocks; we are the family.
1) Normally we think of hearts of stone as bad. What do you think of it now?
2) Engraving on stone is difficult. One generally does it if the value of the stone is high, or the contribution of the stone to the greater whole is high. Why do you think God spends so much effort engraving on hearts of stone?
3) We are quick to point at others regarding their “hearts of stone” toward God. Reread Jeremiah and Timothy. Where is God calling you to soften your heart toward him?
FD) What is a cornerstone? What does it mean when we say that Jesus is our cornerstone?