He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.
If you look at this verse in your Bible it will likely have a footnote symbol at the end of it. When you look at the footnote it will tell you it is from Isaiah 6:10. Now I don’t know about you, but I am curious enough to want to see Isaiah 6:10 and see how closely they match one another. So here is Isaiah 6:10
Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.
So I asked myself what would lead God to have Isaiah say this to the people of Israel and then what would lead John to say it in his book. The answer in Isaiah is found in the prior chapter where we read
They have harps and lyres at their banquets, pipes and timbrels and wine,
but they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord, no respect for the work of His hands.
Then sheep will graze as in their own pasture; lambs will feed among the ruins of the rich.
Thus we see Israel has been warned in chapter five where they have no respect for the work of His hands and because of this rich will be brought low and their homes and land will be left in ruins. They received a warning, but ignored it because of their riches. Their success and riches led them to believe they did not need to heed the warnings from Isaiah. Their hearts were already calloused by their success. Before judgment came I believe they had even greater success making their hearts even more calloused, the ears even more dull and the their eyes more tightly closed as they came to believe more and more they did not need to listen to God’s prophet and his words from God.
Then we come to John’s time and his Gospel and want to know why he chose to quote Isaiah 6:10 at this time. In the first nine verses of this chapter of John, Jesus was in Bethany having a dinner given in His honor and Lazarus – whom He had raised from the dead – was with Him. A large crowd of Jews came to see Jesus when they learned He was there and also to see Lazarus, the man who had been raised from the dead. So what was the reaction of the Pharisees to all of this?
10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.
And a little later we read
37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.
38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:
“Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
And this is from Isaiah 53:1 which continues to clearly prophesy the coming of Jesus and how He would be treated.
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem.
So did God blind their eyes and harden their hearts or did He give them over to the sinful desires of their hearts as Paul writes in Romans 1:24a Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts. Why did He do that? Because that is what they wanted. It is the same with the Pharisees in John as they wanted what they wanted more than they wanted to acknowledge that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ. What they wanted more than God was praise from men as John tells us.
42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.
God continues to reveal Himself to us, but we have the choice to look upon His wonders and acknowledge Him or to continue our lives with our eyes and ears dulled and our hearts hardened or calloused by our day to day living. The choice is ours to make.
It’s Monday and I hope you have a Great Week and where ever you are or where ever you go today and in the days ahead, you will see the wonders of God’s creation leading you to an ever greater appreciation for His word and for the word made flesh – His Son, Jesus the Christ.