Calloused Hearts

Acts 28:27 ‘For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.'

In December 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie was leading his Scottish Highlanders to London. They managed to reached Derby, about 100 miles outside of the capital city. His revolution was within weeks of victory because the Hanoverians were in a panic and making plans to leave Britain altogether. The Jacobite rebellion that had begun months before, with the raising of House of Stuart Standard and the gathering of the Scottish clans on the shores of Glenfinnan, was within reach of its goals to overthrow King George. But then some bad winter weather set in, creating disharmony among the chieftains, which led to disunity in the Prince’s headquarters.

Arguments occurred, with Charlie’s favorites vying for power against the loyal chiefs. Because victory was so near, people were more interested in ensuring for themselves powerful places in the new government than actually finishing the rebellion. Rivals created discord and the Prince started to refuse to listen to his most loyal Scottish commanders. He favored those who had come over from France with him, rather than those who knew what sacrifices and soldiering would be required to seal their victory.

The result was chaos in command and division throughout the Jacobite Army. And so, on 17 December, 1745, the rebels made a grave error by deciding to retreat for the winter. They began to lose the war at that point, because they wouldn’t listen to one another. There was no room for negotiation; there was no consensus of strategy, and so the Jacobite rebellion was defeated from within itself.

The same accusations are made about the Mediterranean Jewish communities who are faced with the Gospel and the message of Jesus Christ. Instead of listening to the new hope that the first Christians bring, they reject God’s counsel through Christ, and so their faithful communities begin to fracture, with no possibility of being healed or restored to God. This is also something that we as a denomination need to take seriously. Christ’s message has not changed and His ministry has not thwarted from His purpose: to save human souls. We, however, have been distracted by our own voices and decisions, which is leading down to a path of division, defeat, and destruction. If we don’t pay attention to the painful and prophetic voice of God in our midst, then we, too, will reach a point of no return and no restoration. There is no confusion about what God says and what His message is: we are the ones who create confusion for ourselves; we are the ones who foolishly rebel against His word.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, in the midst of yet another busy and hurried year, we keep trying to make and take short-cuts with our faith. Forgive us for being disrespectful and disloyal to You. Help us to get back on the path that You have outlined and prepared for us. May we follow You, instead of falling over ourselves. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart

Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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