Exodus 8-9; Acts 20; Psalm 56-57
Two hearts are revealed in our readings today.
There is the heart of Pharaoh – which we are told continually is hardened towards God’s people, and thus of course to God, himself. Pharaoh is outwardly utterly secure – all the wealth of Egypt belongs to him, and even his magicians seem to be able to control the natural world, to manipulate it, if rather perversely, towards the judgement of God. Externally strong, internally hard.
Then there is the heart of the Psalmist – exposed to the destroying storms, trampled on by his foes, lying down amongst lions that greedily devour human prey. Externally weak, and yet whose heart is steadfast, turned continually to God that in the midst of adversities, he sings and makes melody – he so rejoices as to awake the dawn.
In the eyes of the world, Pharaoh symbolises life, but his heart is dead. In the eyes of the world the Psalmist symbolises death, but his heart is Alive!
We see this summed up in Paul, in the difficulties he faces, and yet living as though he sees him who is invisible. And from this heart of Life, Life comes forth. Constantly breaking bread with the disciples, the bread of life sustains him and is a fountain of life even to those who have died. What is more his heart for his young churches leads him into the sacrificial life, pouring out his life for them, preaching through the night, never ‘shrinking from doing anything helpful, proclaiming the message to you and teaching publicly from house to house’ – ‘for tree years, night and day, I did not cease to warn you.’
His heart is open to the one who Is Life – he follows him in obedience towards Jerusalem – the story of his Lord cannot have been far from his mind at anytime. His heart is open, Alive – Captive to the Spirit. May it be also for us who hear these words.